In a lively Q & A session chaired by Rosemary French the following points were made.
Rosemary French opened the session by speaking about a recent trip to rural Bavaria where there were tarmac cycle paths so “you can cycle between the villages, it’s amazing”.
Cllr John Rogers: “We don’t make enough use of the space we do have. We say we don’t have enough space – we do.” We could have “a lot more use of one-way” and parking on one side only.
MS: The Old Shoreham Road in Brighton didn’t even reduce the number of lanes, it just narrowed unnecessarily wide lanes which maintained capacity by slower speeds but smoother flows. (JR: and it stopped unsafe overtaking, which is good).
Allison Thorpe was concerned that the SDNP would miss out now that it’s “all about the economy and access to jobs”.
RA: It should be possible to give the evidence for cycling just as it is for roads where much of the evidence is ‘back of an envelope’.
PJ: It’s not about counting existing cyclists, but about the potential for cycling. The DfT are very sympathetic about the use of tools such as the PCT for models.
Rosemary French mentioned the great potential for a properly-surfaced Downs Link with B&Bs, shops etc., citing the successful example of Cranleigh in Surrey.
Cllr Derek Whittington said the session hadn’t mentioned the rural aspects and mentioned his “cunning plan for a 5 villages network”. He said his predecessor as cabinet member had given all funding to Crawley, Horsham and Haywards Heath. “If you can build something of lower quality, it generates demand. Landowners will not tolerate tarmac and like crushed limestone.”
David Young mentioned that you need a certain minimum standard due to public liability concerns and also raised the issue of how we fund new routes, especially as we can’t maintain existing assets: “Much of our infrastructure is camouflaged – it needs cleaning.”
PJ: DfT maintenance grant is expected to be based on a formula of how much cycle track LAs have – another good reason to count what you have and build more.
MS: You should build to reduce future maintenance liabilities, e.g. the sealed surface on the Centurion Way.
PJ: Maintenance is a political priority decision, e.g. in Copenhagen when it snows they colour-code key cycle routes to the city and ensure these are given priority for snow clearance (over car routes).
Cllr Peter Smith said that in Crawley “we tried to get continuous priority. We’ve ended up with short stretches of shared-use paths with side access. How can we progress into the 21st century?”
RA: The interface between the LAs and the Highways Authority is critical.
MS: In Durham we did a detailed workshop for all the planners and engineers to bring them up to speed with latest practices.
PJ: Manual for Streets is “well out of date, there is a massive need to skill people up, bring people up to speed”.
MP: “Engineers, take a bike and go and look at it. If you don’t like it, make a note of why.” “I’ve learnt how important gradients and transitions are.” [using his cargo trike]
PJ: We can draw inspiration from Denmark and the Netherlands but we have to find our own solutions.
Cllr Derek Whittington: “The thing that stops us most outside of towns is land ownership”: Owners say they like crushed limestone.
David Young responded: committed agreements with European funding mean they are looking for longevity [i.e. sealed surfaces] but tarmac means you need to go through the planning process and it has an environmental impact as well.
Peter Phillips asked what was a typical distance/journey time to get people out of cars and onto bikes.
RA: In the UK we have been too unambitious about how far people will cycle. The PCT doesn’t use a single cut-off distance. E-Bikes will be important for future planning
PJ: We are working with Highways England on their cycling delivery strategy. It’s really important to look at cycling potential [not just current activity levels].
Return to the report.