Roger Elkins, Cabinet Member for Highways & Infrastructure, opened the Summit by posing the question: “Can we get more out of development?”
Delegates heard how cycling improvements can be secured through the planning process and how Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) can be used to plan for and deliver cycle networks.
Matt Davey: Progress since the 2017 Summit
Matt Davey, Director of Highways, Transport & Planning, outlined what has been achieved since the last Cycle Summit in 2017.
“Lots more needs to be done to improve facilities for cyclists. LCWIPs are a way of clarifying our aspirations and a basis for seeking funding.”
Unusually for WSCC, who rarely set corporate targets, they have set a target of building around 7km of new routes each year (for the four years of the Walking & Cycling Strategy ). This has been achieved over the first two years with 5.8km provided in 18/19 and 6.6km provided in 19/20.
Some are segregated routes away from traffic while others are upgrades. Highlights include the two-way cycle track alongside the A259 between Flansham and Climping which opened in August 2018 and the off-road Pagham Harbour to Medmerry route which opened in April 2019.
LCWIPs require developers to provide facilities:
“Developers like clear guidelines: they need to know what to do, and LCWIPs are a way of achieving that.”
The new West Sussex Cycle Design Guide was adopted in September 2019. It is aimed at new development sites and contains advice about current best practice in providing cycling infrastructure. West Sussex now has a clear vision of what local planning authorities should expect of developers.
You can see Matt’s presentation here.
Steven Shaw: Securing cycling improvements through the planning process
Steven Shaw, County Highways Team Manager, began by explaining that the role of Highways is to assist in assessing the transport implications of planning developments: “We provide advice, not decisions.”
Over-arching design guidance is provided by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which can be used as a “hook” to secure improvements from developers, although there are limits on what NPPF allows councils to demand of developers (in part due to the “severe residual impact” clause).
Steven explained that West Sussex can help secure on-site and off-site improvements for cycling. On-site improvements include things such as secure cycle parking and well-connected permeable layouts within developments which encourage cycling.
Facilities must be to a high standard. For example, cycle parking must be in a convenient location such that cycling is a viable alternative to driving and new residential roads must create a friendly environment for cycling.
Off-site improvements are things such as on-road cycle lanes, bridleways and off-road cycle routes. The focus is now more on commuting rather than leisure routes.
Sometimes it is a question of what not to do, for example where a developer wanted to add an extra left-turn flare lane but instead was asked to mitigate the adverse effects by other measures. The need to provide good conditions for cyclists outweighed the small reduction in congestion.
The new Cycling Design Guide seeks to encourage developers to provide additional facilities that make cycling more attractive and help to remove barriers to cycling:
“WSCC are seeking both hard physical measures and softer promotional measures through the planning process to help encourage cycling and remove the barriers to greater take up in cycling.”
You can see Steven’s presentation here.
Roger Geffen: Planning policy and best practice
Roger Geffen, Policy Director of Cycling UK, stressed the importance of planning for a cycle network, seeking available sources of funding and building to a high standard.
Roger reiterated how investing in cycling tackles many of the challenges of our age: the climate crisis, air pollution, congestion, road injuries, physical inactivity and noise pollution. The government is set to miss its targets in these areas and whilst electric vehicles can address three of these issues, cycling addresses all six.
It is government policy to provide for cycling, as enshrined in the Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS). Funding per head has already risen (although it is still too low). Roger has been talking to both main political parties and the message is that their ambition has grown since the original strategy was adopted in 2017 and he is expecting to see more central government money earmarked for cycling.
LCWIPs are a mechanism for network planning: the key is to plan a network, not just individual routes. The important bit is the network plan:
“Getting people from any A to any B in their local area for all sorts of everyday trips.”
Using software tools such as the Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) you can work out desire lines – the continuous routes that connect the places people want to get to.
Roger outlined the four key principles of LCWIPs. First, on main roads you need physical protection. The faster and busier the road the more protection you need. Where speeds and volumes are low plastic bollards and planters may be adequate but busier and faster roads need more separation, such as a hedge. The key question is always: “Would you allow a child to cycle here?”
Second, for areas where traffic volumes and speeds are low, such as town centres, 20mph should be the norm. You then need signs sign only to indicate where this is not the case, reducing street clutter and making streets pleasant places for everyone.
Third, for junctions and crossings – where most collisions occur – you need greater priority for pedestrians and cyclists.
Fourth, integrate your LCWIP into your wider development, planning and maintenance policies.
You can see Roger’s presentation here.
Andy Winmill: Plan ahead to deliver your LCWIP
Andy Winwill, Associate Director of WSP, explained how to move your LCWIP from strategy to planning for delivery:
“There’s no point in having an LCWIP unless you fund and deliver the infrastructure.”
Planning must be evidence-based, focussing on where the most need is and where the most benefit can be had. You are looking for the most impact and value of money.
The WSCC LCWIP comprises six inter-community utility routes such as Bognor to Chichester and Horsham to Crawley. Route audits and spatial analysis of main trip origins and key destinations have been done. The next stage is applying the design guidance to work out the infrastructure needed.
You need to work out where people and where to they want to travel to: “The purpose is connecting people and places.”
The outcome will be a prioritised list of routes which can be used as a basis for future investment. There is currently no DfT funding available but there are other sources such as STIP and LTIP.
Tie LCWIPs into the planning process: “Make LCWIPs into an SPD (Supplementary Planning Document) so that they have a bit of teeth.”
Andy encouraged councils to map out schemes against potential funding streams and to build on the recent collaborative work by West Sussex and the Districts and Boroughs.
Taking a collaborative approach works best. This creates a consistent approach across the whole county.
You can see Andy’s presentation here.
Francesca Illiffe & Judy Fox: The LCWIP journey
Francesca Illiffe, Strategic Sustainability Manager, and Judy Fox, Visitor Experience and Marketing Officer, shared their experience of producing Adur & Worthing Council’s LCWIP.
Francesca explained how Adur & Worthing aim to increase levels of walking and cycling by delivering safe, accessible routes.
A&W are committed to addressing issues of safety, congestion and air quality. The council recognises the need to find ways of getting people about other than by car. The goal is to create liveable places where wellbeing are health are valued. Cycling is the only form of transport that addresses the climate emergency:
“LCWIPs deliver better developments, better policy and better discussions with developers.”
Having many organisations, both national and local, working together was crucial. The A&W Cycling and Walking Action Group chaired by the council leader gave political backing. The regular West Sussex Cycling Strategy steering group meetings were key in sharing problems and collaborating with other boroughs.
Francesca emphasised the value of local expertise and the role of the cycle forums with their local knowledge: “They challenged us and kept us on our toes.”
Crucial to their success has been political leadership and a strong working relationship with West Sussex.
The second draft of the LCWIP will be going out to public consultation shortly.(1) It will be an ever-changing document which needs to evolve and grow. The document is expected to be adopted by the council in March next year:
“That is then the beginning, not the end. The exciting bit is the implementation!”
You can see Francesca and Judy’s presentation here.
(1) The draft LCWIP can be viewed here. The consultation runs until Monday 6th January 2020.
Discussion: Could we do things differently?
In the discussion session delegates were asked what changes to the planning process could be made to increase levels of cycling.
Points raised by delegates included:
- The continuing need for political leadership
- The lack of transport planning expertise within local planning authorities
- The lack of funding for something that is supposed to be a priority
- The role of language – stop using the word “encourage”
- Cycle infrastructure should be in place from day 1, just like the roads
- Considering the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders
- Removing the red line boundaries from development plans
- The need for pre-consultation dialogue
- Challenging the NPPF “get out” clause
You can see a summary of the feedback here.
Delegates were invited to form a sub-group to take these ideas forward.
Following a quick Q&A session Roger Elkins brought the Summit to a close:
“We need to identify the priority routes to unlock future demand. Are our existing routes working?”