Councillors and officers see the huge economic benefits cycling can bring to West Sussex
At the West Sussex Cycle Summit councillors and officers heard compelling evidence of the huge economic benefits that investing in cycle infrastructure can bring to the county.
The event at County Hall on the 30th September was chaired by Rosemary French OBE, who in her introductory remarks highlighted the demand from businesses for high-quality cycle routes that will enable employers to safely get to work.
Cllr John O’Brien welcomed delegates to the Summit by outlining some recent key developments including the Government’s aim to double rates of cycling, which is supported by West Sussex’s new Walking and Cycling strategy: “Enabling cycling contributes to the county’s economy.”
“Over 300 potential new cycle routes have been identified and work is taking place to determine the top priorities. Walking and cycling is an important part of the transport mix.”
Rosemary French OBE, Executive Director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative said she is in contact with many businesses who are telling her that cycling helps attract more and better employees and keeps them healthier:
“Safe and sustainable cycling infrastructure is an economic necessity.”
She stressed the need for political leadership in delivering high-quality cycle infrastructure: “It’s not an add-on with windfall money.”
Delegates heard first from Dr Rachel Aldred, Reader in Transport at Westminster University, who spoke about the case for cycling and how “it’s about cycling not cyclists” and how cycling should be a normal activity for everyone across the age range. People should be able to “jump on a bike to get a pint of milk”.
Phil Jones, Managing Director of Phil Jones Associates in his talk about what makes a good place for cycling touched on his experience studying best-practice infrastructure around the world and how rapid results can be achieved with simple measures when there is the political will to do so.
Mark Strong, Managing Consultant at Transport Initiatives, picked up the theme of planning for a cycle network and how to use the latest planning tools such as the London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS) to accurately assess what you currently have and properly plan a cycle network in the same way you would for any other means of transport.
The final speaker was Mark Philpotts, a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation, who spoke about the types of infrastructure that work and how, despite much poor provision built over many years, there are now high-quality schemes appearing in the UK that we can point to and say “go replicate that, it works.”
In the Q&A session that followed delegates had a unique opportunity to quiz the speakers on matters such as how to find space for cycling (Cllr John Rogers: “We say we don’t have enough space – we do”) and how to bring planners and engineers up to speed with the latest practices (Phil Jones: Manual for Streets is “well out of date, there is a massive need to skill people up”).
As a final thought Mark Philpotts urged engineers to cycle the routes they are designing: “Take a bike and go and look at it. If you don’t like it, make a note of why.”
Rosemary French drew the summit to a close and thanked sponsors Rolls Royce Motor Cars and the Goodwood Estate for making the event possible.
Propensity to Cycle Tool demonstration
After the main event Rachel Aldred gave a brief demonstration of the Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) which has been developed as a strategic planning tool to show not only where cycling is commonly undertaken but also where it has the greatest potential to grow.
Rather than simply measuring existing cycle use on a route the PCT assesses the potential usage of a route (either existing or proposed) using certain criteria.
For the demonstration, Rachel chose the e-bike scenario to show how rates of cycling could increase if people used e-bikes for longer or hillier journeys.
All of the speakers’ presentations can be viewed here.
Photos by Mark Treasure