A recent Freedom of Information request showed that Somerset County Council’s capital expenditure on new roads was £47 million in 2018-19, with £116,000 spent on cycle infrastructure. This is an extreme example, but in the years 2017-19 for every £1 of capital expenditure on walking and cycling infrastructure more than £13 was spent on infrastructure for motor vehicles.
Taunton Area Cycling Campaign, in close cooperation with Safer Walking and Cycling in Bruton and Bridgwater Area Cycling Campaign, have compiled a manifesto. This manifesto calls on Somerset Country Council to reverse the way it prioritises car traffic over walking and cycling in its design and resource decisions.
The manifesto is based on responses to a consultation with parish and town councils and other community organisations in Somerset in May/June 2020. Groups were consulted on an initial draft of the manifesto and the manifesto was amended to accommodate the comments, where possible. It has received support from many community organisations across Somerset.
Walking and cycling manifesto for Somerset
Somerset Climate Action Network has recommended that the five principal authorities in Somerset ‘remove barriers and lead joint funding bids to plan and develop effective cycling and walking infrastructure in all Somerset towns and key rural locations’. We very much welcome recent steps by the Somerset County Council to give greater focus to walking and cycling and the government’s recent announcements.
This manifesto sets out its signatories’ requests of the Somerset County Council as Highway Authority.
- Reverse the nationally prevalent prioritisation, which puts predicting and providing for cars first, with pedestrians, cyclists and those with limited mobility a distant second.
- Stop all investment based on ‘predict and provide’. To address long-standing historical imbalances future expenditure on Highways should normally be for maintenance and safety improvements only.
- Establish a specific and substantial budget with a named officer at Assistant Director level to champion the development of walking and cycling networks across the County.
- Adopt current best-practice guidance as standard policy:
– Manual for Streets Vols 1 and 2;
– The LTN 1/19 Cycle Infrastructure Design Guidance.
- The County Council does not have the granular local knowledge to plan, control and manage everything that needs to be done. Having set the appropriate standards, the Council should devolve elements of decision-making and public engagement to District and Local Councils and community organisations.
- Highways’ advice to Planning Authorities should be consistent with this Manifesto. For any new development, walking and cycling connectivity with local facilities should be considered first, and s106 contributions sought to ensure connectivity is delivered to an appropriate standard. If a proposed development does not or cannot deliver this, its refusal should be recommended.