Cycling breakthrough

Hampshire County Council says it wants to remedy useless cycle routes in the county and improve their adopted standards.

Frank Baxter said "we are listening"to cyclists, we admit that things like end of route signs are not helping people to cycle. There needs to be a major culture change across all departments. We will implement 6 cycling schemes (LCWIPs or Local Cycling and Walking Implementation plans) and search for all possible sources of funding. We will lobby central government to get money for cycling for Basingstoke.

As part of the culture shift towards cycling there will be a major workshop for officers on 23rd September. This will be introduced by a recorded presentation from Cycle Basingstoke which describes the mismatch between guidelines and what is actually built. Councillor Humby said as part of the Climate Change strategy they had to join up the dots and get collaboration between departments as well as with partners.

The update on the Hampshire Cycling Strategy was presented to the county Economy, Transport and Environment committee on Tuesday 17th September. Representatives from various cycle campaign groups attended. Tim Pickering (Waterlooville) did a 10 minute presentation to councillors. He quoted Transport for London research which says that people who walk or cycle to town centres buy more than car travellers, this is an opportunity to revitalise town centres. Routes for motoring had very few delays compared to people on the pavement who had to wait in the wet and the cold for a car to turn into the side road before they could cross. Repeated delays at side roads could add 15 minutes to a journey. Whose time and comfort was more important? Road layout design actually contradicts the Highway code which gives priority to people on the pavement if they are beside the main road.

There are plans for a cycling summit in early 2020. Councillor Martin Tod asked for cycle advocates to be part of the steering group when planning this.

Heather Rainbow was warmly welcomed by the chair of the Transport Committee, councillor Russell Oppenheimer, and she is optimistic that due to the good relationships which have been fostered we will see a change in the County policies towards cycling.

There are also plans for closer collaboration between all the campaign groups in the county. We had our first meeting on Sunday evening 15th September using zoom. We want to invite not just campaign groups to join a Hampshire Association for cycle transport, but also community and sports groups. For example many children cannot attend clubs or after school activities unless a friend or relative can ferry them to and fro by car. This is taking away young people's independence and self confidence as well as restricting their opportunities for fun and self development.

Councillor Hughes (Purbrook) said that if only 1.7% of the population cycle why should we spend money on cycling. In Basingstoke Borough 0% of the population travel to work by boat, unlike Venice where there are lots of waterways and no roads. Likewise, no space allocated for cycling --> no bicycles. Similarly build a new motorway such as the M40 there are no cars, at first, and then it becomes congested as more and more people motor even greater distances.

Councillor Phillpot for (Gosport) stated that he was

  • grateful to Sustrans assistance at a workshop in Gosport on cycling

  • Network is underinvested

  • Too much shared use

  • Unsatisfactory surfaces

  • Too many "speculative" cycleways with obstructions

  • Need to invest in improving existing cycle network

  • Tim’s presentation was powerful

Councillor Thierry (Ringwood) obviously did not know that roads are funded from general taxation, not from the vehicle excise licences, and that the licence was priced on the amount of emissions produced. This is amazing ignorance for somebody on the committee of the Local Highways Authority. He thought there ought to be a tax on bicycles as only people cycling benefitted from cycling infrastructure. He had obviously not read the Transport for London analysis of the benefits of cycling. Everybody benefits from more cycling, not just cycle users. More bikes = fewer cars. Fewer cars = safer roads, less congestion, less pollution, shorter journey times. I

Another dissonant note came from the head of Transport Stuart Jarvis who said there were no plans to promote modal shift and we need to maintain a balanced approach to transport. Balance in favour of motoring and against cycling presumably.

Mr Jarvis obviously was not aware of the economic benefits of investment in cycling:

  1. Boosts the high street and local town centres, and can increase retail spend by up to 30%

  2. Increased productivity - people who are physically active take 27% fewer sick days each year than colleagues

  3. Businesses see walking and cycling as key to attracting and retaining the staff they need to thrive

  4. New cycle lanes in London have helped some streets carry 5% more people at peak periods

  5. Prevents billions of pounds worth of health and environmental damage (one councillor complained you could not recoup savings to the NHS into the transport budget!)

  6. Socially active travel is accessible and inclusive, everyone enjoys the benefits.

If you want to ask questions or learn more, and possibly see videos of the event please come to the Annual General Meeting at BCOT on Wednesday 2nd October at 7pm. Tell your friends and bring them along. Membership of Cycle Basingstoke is free, but you do have to support our aims.

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