Make Hammond History

Big Business People Doing Important Big Businessy Things. They need Big Business Infrastructure. Like that Big Business Flipchart. For Big Business People

Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond MP announced big plans for transport infrastructure spending.

Along with the eight schemes announced by the Chancellor last week, work will therefore begin on a total of 24 schemes as a result of the Department for Transport’s spending review settlement.

The schemes given the green light today, subject to statutory processes, will deliver major upgrades to relieve congestion at the following locations either through widening or managed motorways schemes:

– M60 Junctions 8 – 12
– M1 Junctions 32 – 35a
– M60 Junctions 12 – 15
– M1 Junctions 39 – 42
– M62 Junctions 18 – 20
– M25 Junctions 5 – 6/7
– M25 Junctions 23 – 27
– M6 Junctions 5 – 8
– A556 Knutsford – Bowdon

The following key local infrastructure projects were also confirmed, subject to a best and final offer from local authorities:

– A new single carriageway bypass which will ease congestion in Sefton and improve access to the region’s motorway network;

– An integrated package of sustainable transport improvements in Ipswich including improved bus facilities and walking and cycling routes;

– Improvements to M5 J29, east of Exeter, providing access to new housing and employment areas;

– A bypass to the north of Lancaster, connecting the port of Heysham to the M6;

– Improvements on the A57 east of M1 J31, near Todwick;

– A new road in Taunton to provide additional cross-town capacity and access to areas of brownfield land; and

– A new bus station and associated transport improvements in Mansfield.

In addition, the Transport Secretary announced a pot of over £600m of funding for further local authority projects. Local authorities will be invited to bid for this funding over the next few months. Councils will be challenged to consider the cost, scope and possibility of local funding when bidding.

The Government believes this competitive process will ensure that the greatest possible number of schemes, with the best value for money, will be able to proceed, facilitating economic growth and providing jobs across the country.

Philip Hammond said:
“Whilst we have had to make some tough choices, I am pleased that spending on transport was treated as a priority for the Government in the Spending Review.

“This Government sees transport as a key driver of growth nationally and in the regions. So I am delighted to be able to give the green light to 24 new transport projects and a fund worth over £600m for many more schemes to bid for.

“Taken together, this investment will not only bring benefits in terms of reduced congestion, shorter journey times and more efficient public transport, but also provide a vital economic boost. For every pound we spend on Highways Agency schemes, on average we will get back £6 of benefits and in many cases there are even higher returns for local authority schemes.

“Transport is vital to securing the UK’s long term prosperity. That is why these schemes are so important and why I will continue to argue for investment which delivers long term benefits for both the travelling public and the economy as a whole.”

The Government also announced that the Highways Agency will continue work on developing a further 14 schemes in preparation for them to start in future spending review periods, as funding becomes available, and will review the design of a further four with the aim of finding a best value solution.’

I like the way in the detailed motorway plans, the hard Shoulder being used to increase traffic flow becomes a DYNAMIC Hard Shoulder! At least until someone breaks down. One shudders to think what cycling improvements have been planned for Ipswich.

History has shown us beyond doubt that building more roads and increasing capacity of existing roads just creates more traffic with the resultant knock on effects to surrounding areas. This has been common knowledge since the A40 Westway via the M3 Twyford Down to the A34 Newbury Bypass. However, Mr Hammond is oblivious to all this, just as the public enquiries were for many road schemes and ‘improvements’ through the years.

Bikehub reported on Sustrans response

‘… Sustrans has reacted strongly to Hammond’s announcement.

Jason Torrance, Sustrans’ Policy Manager, said:

“Sustrans is dismayed that the Government is missing a golden opportunity to put right a broken transport system, despite its green promises.

“The Secretary of State for Transport proudly boasts that his lengthy list of road transport schemes bring benefits of £6 for every £1 spent. But sustainable transport schemes that encourage active travel offer much better value, at £8 for every £1 spent. And they directly address the congestion issues that today’s announcement claims to solve.

“And there are other benefits.  Given that 1 in 20 UK people are now being treated for type 2 diabetes and 1 in 10 for obesity – both illnesses that are exacerbated by physical inactivity – improving the health of the nation, and tackling the costs attached to that, has to be seen as critical.  With this in mind not prioritising walking and cycling should be unthinkable.”’

The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club does not regard this as reacting strongly. In fact it’s barely reacting. Personally, I’ve written stronger letters to the Worthing Herald. The CTC website is showing no reaction at all. Anyway, that’s another debate.

The DfT has also just launched its THINK! ‘Be bright, be seen’ campaign.

Not content with building more dangerous roads, they seem to have entered the spirit of Halloween with a bit too much vigour on a site that is bound to scare children (and more importantly their parents) making cycling look like a dangerous activity and putting them off.

Here is an example ‘gory story’;

‘The girl who didn’t dress bright in the dark

She always liked to look her best

So didn’t wear a nice bright vest

Or any clothing that was bright

When she was out at nearly night

But traffic couldn’t see her see

And now she isn’t so trendy

A car drove right into her guts

And covered her with bruisy cuts’

I’ve checked and I still can’t find anything informing parents that when they drive, they are in control of a heavy vehicle that can maim and kill if not driven correctly, and that they have a duty of care to the children of others, not just their own.

The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club would like to start a campaign of its own;

Make Hammond History Reshuffle the Kerfuffle!

Obviously The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club wishes Mr Hammond no harm (although we would like to drive really close to him at speed if he ever gets on a bicycle). We feel that there must be wholesale reform of a Department for Transport that’s not entering the spirit of the twenty first century with their belief that ‘sustainable’ means ‘bigger roads’ or ‘electric cars charged by fossil fuels’.

We suggest getting brown wristbands made up to represent the utter dung cyclists have had to put up with and will have to endure now that many speed cameras have been switched off and Cycling England disbanded with no viable alternative and cycle infrastructure thrown to the provinces that couldn’t design a cycle facility if their lives depended on it.

A bit like this, but brown. And 'Hammond' instead of 'Poverty'.

Who would have thought that something as simple as cycling could be made to look so dangerous, complicated and strangely irrelevant in the wake of ‘progress’? Oh well, if ‘Make Hammond History’ doesn’t work there’s always ‘Make Baker Better’. The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club is open to ideas.

18 thoughts on “Make Hammond History”

  1. I thought I might add some detail to the road being built in Taunton. It is a few hundred yards of road and a bridge which will save drivers a few hundred yards of driving through the centre of the town. The roads it links are always saturated with traffic and so drivers will have a new way to move from one jam to another. Instead of encouraging drivers to use the park and ride it is about bringing more cars into the town. The cost of this folly is £7.5 million. It was supposed to be accompanied by a part time pedestrianisation of some roads in the town centre, the cost of which would be £150,000. The pedestrianisation has now been cancelled due to the spending cuts.

    Interestingly the building work on this started in May and will be completed in the next few months. It is not a new scheme as suggested by Hammond and it will do nothing to relive congestion. The construction of this road closed a well used cycle path with no provision to provide a temporary cycle route. Cars have been given a temporary road and many signs to divert the traffic. The signs for cars have been placed across pavements and cycle paths, making these more difficult to use.

    This road is a complete waste of money, with £2 million pounds of it’s cost coming from local money. That money could have provided a proper cycle path from the park and ride into town and been used for the full time pedestrianisation of the town centre. There would have still been plenty to spare for the desperately needed resurfacing of existing cycle routes and the infrastructure to link them up properly.

    There was some local opposition to the new road but the might of local business and the car centric council means the voices were lost. We have a cycling officer who doesn’t like separate infrastructure and thinks we should all be brave enough to ride on the car sodden roads…she doesn’t live in Taunton.

    Anyway… Thanks for your wonderful blog


    1. Nipper

      Thank you for the comments and the depressing notes regarding transport planning in Somerset!

      You have to remember that the coalition supports only Big Spending for Big Infrastructure that serves Big Business. They don’t want to waste time on piffling people that only need small spending for small vehicles where they can complete a journey with small amounts of hassle to then enjoy playing a small musical instrument. Bicycles have no place in Big Business. Nor Ukulele’s. Pity really. I guess we just don’t understand 🙂

      What makes me chuckle is the fact that the Conservatives pick up as though the last 13 years of Labour never happened, completely overlooking the fact that things have moved on a bit such as the Internet. Now we can all share up to the minute stories of unbridled incompetance and greenwash without having to find out how to get hold of a cycle campaign newsletter.

      Expect to see & hear more horror stories similar to your own over the next few months. Then see plans for bigger extensions when the current plans are completed and chock full of traffic.

      Best wishes


    1. That’s a favourite blog post of mine too. Copenhagenize picked a very good analogy with the bull in society’s china shop. In the UK motorists are immune as soon as they close their car doors to such things as a duty of care to others or politeness and receive woefully inadequate sentancing when they collide with something. Sorry! I meant when something collides with them! Silly me!

  2. If the Minister goes the policy won’t change and the last lot were all talk with very little action.
    We need to work with what we have but where is the voice of cycling? Who is it? Too many small groups: Sustrans, 20’s Plenty, CTC (who seem to have forgotten completely what they are supposed to be for); with great ideas but no National force and voice. Lots of moaning cyclists but no organisation to stand up for them

    1. Although I believe that Philip Hammond would be better off serving his party in another office so a Transport Secretary can come in that at least understands transport, I completely agree with you. I shall be writing about this further as cycle campaigning has reached a bit of a do or die moment. It can carry on like a twitching corpse always on the defensive and lurching from crisis to crisis or a national campaign could and should evolve.

      1. I’ll be interested to read what you say.
        Part of the problem is, I think, that which renders the CTC ineffective: cycling is very diverse.
        The needs of the mountain biker are nothing like mine which, in turn, have little to do with the needs of the commuter and shopper. I gave up on my local group after the chair said it would be ok to lose a shared pedestrian and cyclist path alongside a three lane one way feed onto a two lane ring road because “we will be getting a Debenhams”. Her electric bike shopping is nowhere near what I do.

      2. The problem with CTC, I find, isn’t the diversity of cycling. It certainly endeavours to cater for all tastes. The problem is the bottom line in that it is a members organisation. And, when all is said and done, it is a club for touring cyclists that would think nothing of taking to the roads of Cairo or Mumbai as well as Basingstoke. Whilst this is great (and I’ve used their legal services twice successfully when knocked off in classic ‘Sorry Mate I didn’t See You’ moments), it does mean that the campaigning agenda is set by very experienced cyclists that don’t know how to project themselves to a non-cycling public and certainly doesn’t understand their needs (and more importantly, their fears).

        The reason they campaign against segregation isn’t always because they are committed to the right to the road and vehicular cycling. They are against segregation because in the UK it always leads to the dangerous dross we have at the moment. If engineers took a less car-centric, holistic approach (such as in the Netherlands where they don’t always use segregation but a combination of solutions), then more seasoned cyclists would probably go for it.

      3. When cycling in the Netherlands what I saw was full segregation on all roads with speeds above 20mph and on the roads shared with cars there was no on-road parking and very few cars. In the UK we are saturated with cars and many are parked along the side of the road creating danger for cyclists. If we are to move forward there needs to be much less on – road parking. Then there needs to be a re-allocation of road space on the faster roads to provide segregated paths. How can we even begin to move towards this system, when every car owner will fight for the right to park outside their house and resent any road space being given to cyclists.

        Those of us who use bicycles for everyday transport are a tiny, tiny minority how can we get our voice heard? I am writing this with great sadness as I just want a safe and direct ride to the shops and work, something I will never see in my lifetime.

        @Ali B. (or anyone who can tell me) I don’t want to just jump in and criticise the CTC, but what are their great achievements in the last 25 years?


      4. Nipper

        The CTC successfully campaigned for the right for cyclists to use bridleways (long before the age of the Mountain Bike). I’m particularly grateful to them for that as the land around where I was brought up is a mixture of National Trust and MoD land criss crossed with wonderful singletrack (the other national cycle network)

        The fact that you can use the road at all is also down to CTC. Their only blip was successfully campaigning for the creation of the motorway network by following the logic Philip Hammond is running with at the moment; that it would take congestion away from minor roads leaving them free for humble cycle touring with a fair isle sweater and a grin.

        The CTC didn’t have the benefit of hindsight. The DfT does.

        And yes, there does need to be a massive cultural shift that probably won’t be achieved in our lifetimes but I want to give it my best shot to the death. It is bizarre (almost criminal) that something so simple as riding a bicycle, something that my father and grandfather did to get to work, something that a child can do and gain liberation, adventure and hours of enjoyment from should be made so difficult.

        There’s always a way though. There’s always a way!

        All the best


  3. Jim,
    A very measured and accurate critique of the challenge facing the likes of CTC and how their defence of the right to ride on the road is a reaction to segregation attempts in road engineering which are more about getting cyclists out of the way of motorists, regardless of how it inconveniences them(or worse, puts them at risk)

    Sadly, a lot of people criticise these organisations without recognising the stuff they have achieved. What we need is to influence their priorities, not further fracture the lobbying efforts by creating more groups. This would play into the hands of the dft and local councils by dividing and conquering.

    Look forward to your post on these orgs, finding your blog a breath of fresh air compared to some out there

  4. Your reply to me certainly gives me a fresh line of thinking re. the CTC.
    The CTC used to be a club for touring cyclists. Nowadays, I think, it tries to be all things to all cyclists. If you volunteer to be a Right to Ride representative they tell you not to mention touring.
    The CTC seems to seek to promote itself by any means to get a mention on tv or radio: potholes, Smidsy, Post Office.
    I haven’t met a single non cyclist who knows what a smidsy is despite the CTC campaign and I think the opposition to the recent Post Office commercial decision to do away with bikes is all part of the sound bite seeking. My postie doesn’t care. He hasn’t ridden a bike since he got knocked off his red Pashley and broke a leg two years ago.
    The CTC has done wonderful work in the past but that doesn’t make it fit for the present or future.
    I am cycle tourist and only stay in the CTC because the membership cost is made worthwhile by the legal aid available. I would welcome any organisation that had a coherent plan to address, and speak up about, the problems that cyclists face. In my view that is too many cars.

    1. I certainly agree with you. We must bear in mind that CTC can still only do so much however powerful it may get. The Dutch Cycling Union (Fietserbond) only has 35,000 members while CTC claims 60,000+

      However, one of the fundamental reasons the Netherlands enjoys such a rich modal share (apart from topography) is because they had that other important catylist, political will. This is why I personally believe we should make it a priority to remove Hammond from DfT. I’m not saying that the policies would change for the better overnight, but someone needs to represent the DfT portfolio that is understanding of all modes of transport.

      Cycling is perfectly capable of punching above its weight if it got its act together. My main gripe is that campaigners never seem to go on the offensive. They just wait for the next horror story before going on the defensive.
      We are supposed to be the quiet, sustainable solution to obesity and fear and crime in the community. We don’t represent anything bad. And we have Victoria Pendleton (in that instance I mean ‘we’ as in ‘all cyclists’. I’m not holding her hostage).

      All the best


      1. Interesting point about Victoria, and the rest of the cycling stars. You rarely see them acting as figure heads for cycling (other than the odd photo op telling you to wear a helmet and don a sky branded high viz vest). British Cycling’s only interest in commuters is as a way to meet their target for 100k members while doing little in return

  5. Jim, where do I even start with the DfT and Hoverboard Hammond? Pffft.. I can’t, not right now, for fear of raising my blood pressure too high…

    But touching quickly on the above comments it’s interesting that this is the second post I’ve seen in a space of a week (the other, admittedly, being my own about the LCC) where everyday and ordinary cyclists have expressed their dismay with the current cycle campaigns in the comments of said blogs. I’d love to hear your further articulate thoughts on this particular issue and if you have any ideas as to how to remedy this situation further do share (or drop me a line)


  6. I believe that ‘Political Will’ comes from the bottom up, not the top down.
    I don’t expect anybody to enter a ministerial role knowing much, if anything, about their brief. I do expect that they will be bright enough to learn and one of the ways they can learn is from pressure applied.
    I believe we need an organisation for cyclists to decide on what the priorities are (for me that would be segregation alongside major roads and lower speed limits in town) and to promote that hard to the government and general public. Our cause could easily be allied to that of pedestrians, and nearly everybody spends some time as a pedestrian, and promoted for the general good. It needs a focussed, national, hard hitting campaign to re educate all the ministers of government. They know the arguments; what they need is the public to see the benefits and the prospect of that translating into votes. Motorists will not vote for anything perceived as anti car, but they may vote for better and safer conditions for their nearest and dearest.

  7. Anyone know if the minister reads blogs like this? I’d suggest we get his email, invite him to either contribute or even write a guest post. It’l be written by someone in his department – but at least he’ll be aware.

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