Cycle Routes to Nowhere
Cycle Strategy is not working say Councillors.
In March 2016 the Borough Cycling Strategy was adopted, three years later we have a Cycling Strategy Update. At the meeting on 7 March Councillors were not happy with the lack of progress, design standards were “ very disappointing” more was needed on the ground “how do you cycle a proposal?” Resurfacing an unsatisfactory cycle route through Eastrop Park did not make it good quality. A hundred yards of legal pavement cycling and new road layout on the Harrow Way made cycling more difficult and frightening, not easier and safer. The Cycling Strategy was just not working, an investigation is now planned for Autumn 2019.
Heather from Cycle Basingstoke told Councillors that not enough was being done for cycling “no proposed cycle routes along the A340 and poor quality ones along the A30, A33 and B3400. Physical measures seem to be mostly repair and routine maintenance.” Cllr Laura James asked how many sites would be left without a cycle route to town – Heather said it was thousands of homes all along the A30 and A340 and round the hospital.
There was no clear overview of what existed, what was needed, what was planned so that progress could be mapped. Funding sources were also not clear, how much was made available and how it was being used. “we need to follow the money” said Laura James.
Councillor Cubitt said that “Heather knows her stuff”, we need to understand why the planning process is failing, why cycle routes are not being built when the houses are being built. She asked for a case study. This idea was taken up with enthusiasm, we need to understand how officers work on planning applications according to Laura James. If the planning process were strengthened it would be possible to get developers to build cycle routes to the design standards specified by the Borough. The wording of proposed actions in the Strategy also needed strengthening they said.
There were lots of studies and proposals but nothing much built on the ground. “How do you cycle a proposal?” asked Gavin James. The Cycle Strategy was obviously not working. Mark Ruffell said he would organise an event in the Autumn to look at case studies. Cycle Basingstoke would be asked to contribute ones. Councillors wanted action on cycle routes to schools. This was urgent as none were being created and pupils are now having to travel long distances from places like Manydown to Cranbourne and bus alternatives (if any) were expensive for parents.
The Strategy was “towncentric”, with nothing for places like Whitchurch and Tadley.
“We urgently need a crossing of the northern arm of the Thorneycroft roundabout if Manydown and the Leisure Pare are to be connected to Basingstoke town.” said Heather. Officers were now working on this we were told, but the Hampshire County Council was delaying it until there was more on the Leisure Park.
At the end C
ouncillor Ruffell (responsible for the Cycling Strategy) said that the Strategy was still work in progress, all comments would be taken forward and there would be an investigation with case studies in the Autumn.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Tell your local Councillor or Councillor Mark Ruffell what you think so your comments can be covered in the Autumn meeting. Individual letters and emails are better than a petition and provide evidence for needed changes. This increases the power of Councillors to do something for us. Remember the more people ask, the more likely we will get what is wanted.