West Sussex County Council – So 1980’s

Ah-Ga-Doo-Doo-Doo, Push the bypass through some trees.......

West Sussex County Council has just published its Transport Plan 2011-2026 (or LTP3). [It] sets the strategy for guiding future investment in West Sussex highways and transport infrastructure, and sets a framework for considering transport infrastructure requirements associated with future development across the county’.

This supersedes their LTP2 document, ‘which had the key aims of delivering safer, less congested and less polluted roads and improved accessibility.

Yes, I know. Please try to stay awake.

The main document runs to 80 pages and is filled with real treats if you like verbose greenwash barely concealing an utterly car-centric doctrine stuck firmly in the past. In their Long Term Strategy, this is what they have to say about cycling (Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club shall attempt to give a commentary in bold),

Cycling is one of the most sustainable transport modes and offers tremendous potential for improving our society’s health, economic efficiency and mobility, in addition to helping us tackle climate change. Maintaining or increasing the levels of cycling in West Sussex is, therefore, very important and will contribute to each of our objectives.

Cycling is also a popular leisure activity particularly in the rural area where the public rights of way network provides and extensive facility for cyclists to use.

The key aspects of our approach to cycling are:

Cycle Network Construction – Gaining a better understanding of, and overcoming, barriers which deter people from cycling (such as their current policy of not regarding the sheer volume of traffic as a problem but as an economic driver that needs to be catered for further to the detriment of everything else). Using a wide range of physical infrastructure, construct and improve joined up town networks and public rights of way which are linked in to new development. While balancing the needs of all users of the transport system ( should read, ‘While putting the motorist first’), cycle network infrastructure could include; cycle lanes, cycle tracks, signing, cycle stands, shared surfaces, toucan crossings, reduced speed limits, traffic calming, and refuges to suit local circumstances (or put simply, the same dangerous, cheap, poorly designed, compromised drivel that they’ve always provided).

Maintaining Cycle Infrastructure – maintain infrastructure to a good standard using an asset management approach which considers whole life costs, making improvements where these are needed and affordable. (No, the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club has no idea what ‘asset management approach’ means either. The ‘and affordable’ bit  probably makes the rest of it meaningless anyway as there’s never any money for cycling projects as local campaign groups are all too aware. To quote ‘The Day Today’, this is clearly written by people who have ‘an Armitage Shanks Defecation Interface Scenario’ as opposed to just taking a shit).

Travel Behaviour Change Initiatives – travel planning and promotional initiatives to encourage cycling and to identify local issues in schools, communities, businesses and new developments (issues might include the fact that no-one rides a bike to school or work because the roads are regarded as dangerous thanks to previous Transport Plans and the ‘cycling infrastructure’ provided was clearly designed by someone who had a childs Kaleidascope crudely sellotaped to each eye).

Skills Training – Bikeability cycle skills training to equip our community, and particularly the most vulnerable, with the skills they need reinforced by education delivered through school travel planning. (with this Transport Plan, the most vulnerable are going to need all the skills and travel planning they can get, which is quite strange considering we are talking about riding a bicycle which I always thought was quite a simple activity)

Community Involvement – involving the cycling community to highlight local priorities and to develop cycling infrastructure and initiatives to meet local needs (and then ignore them as it will involve cost implications. Whilst it’s good that they at least mention ‘involving the cycling community’, surely the whole community should be involved too as they are potentially cyclists).

Promoting Cycling – communicating the benefits of cycling through our Staff Travel Plan and by supporting national and local awareness events with our partners.

Phew! So what are the main priorities of West Sussex County Council?

Our priorities will tackle the key issues we face and bring about radical improvements to quality of life for the people and businesses in the County. Our highest priorities are:

1 Improvements to the A27 trunk road and complimentary public transport improvements to the current bottlenecks at Chichester, Arundel and Worthing (not currently programmed) to increase capacity, improve reliability and safety and increase the competitiveness of local businesses and attract investment. (increase traffic volume and create more congestion)

2 Programmed improvements to the A23 trunk road at the current bottleneck between Handcross and Warninglid to increase capaacity and improve the safety record. (increase traffic volume and create more congestion)

3 Maintain the highway network (to assist in the increasing of traffic volume and creating more congestion)

4 Whilst major schemes are a high priority for us, they are likely to take many years to deliver. It remains important that alongside these priorities we continue to work with our community to improve the safety record on our local roads, increase usage of healthy and sustainable modes of transport, and provide access to services (which is all lumped together at the end because it won’t happen all the while they persist in car-centric policies that increase traffic volume and create more congestion).

I can’t wait to see what other LTP3 documents across the country look like! It’s a plan for 15 years into the future that somehow manages to look 25 years into the past.

Here is another film of cycling in the Netherlands. Just because, really.

 

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25 thoughts on “West Sussex County Council – So 1980’s”

  1. As another resident of West Sussex, I am also going through the WSCC LTP. Note that, on page 10, we find this –

    “The Department of Health and Department for Transport have jointly published a new Active Travel Strategy. The strategy highlights plans to put walking and cycling at the heart of local transport and public health strategies over the next decade. The guiding principles for the strategy are that walking and cycling should be everyday ways of getting around… The Local Transport Plan takes on board the challenges this sets.”

    Which sounds brilliant, until you realize that ‘taking on board’ these ‘challenges’ actually means *nothing at all* in terms of practical initiatives which might, genuinely, put ‘walking and cycling at the heart of local transport strategy’. It’s a complete cop-out.

    I have just started to take an in-depth look at the cycle provision in Horsham, highlighted in the LTP, in particular at what WSCC consider to be ‘Cycle Routes’.

    The first in a long, and probably quite gruesome, series is here –

    http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/horsham-cycle-routes-route-1-cycling-on-the-route-to-nowhere/

    Mark

    1. I’ll be honest, the only time I cycle anywhere near Horsham is when on the Downs Link (which passes through Southwater) on my way up to Surrey. And now I know why 🙂

      1. Despite going absolutely nowhere, this Horsham ‘Cycle Route’ is quite safe. At least it has that going for it.

        Unfortunately I have plenty of reports on some dangerous ‘Existing Cycle Routes’ to come, including one that manages to combine extreme danger with being even shorter. And yes, this one is also marked on the WSCC LTP.

        The horror…

  2. Incidentally, Jim, have you read the Consultation on the LTP? Makes for quite interesting reading, particularly page 7. Namely –

    “By far the highest number of comments to the consultation were received about
    the need to develop coherent and safe cycling networks across the county and
    particularly within the main towns. Responses covered the following issues:

    – a perceived lack of overall ambition in the plan for developing cycling
    infrastructure and the need for increased levels of investment in safe
    cycling (and walking) infrastructure;
    – the priorities of traffic in highway design with a feeling that cycling and
    walking infrastructure is designed around the car, with the car being the
    priority;
    – associated problems with regular dismounting needed along routes for
    cyclists discouraging some cyclists from using the infrastructure;
    – safety concerns for cycling particularly for on-road routes discouraging
    cycling or leading to cyclists using pavements when they are not supposed
    to;
    – the need for more dedicated off-road cycle routes;
    – the poor standard of maintenance of existing cycling route infrastructure
    and some concerns about pot holes and the impact on safety;
    – the need for better secure cycle storage facilities;
    – poor cycling infrastructure in rural areas;”

    That could almost be an Embassy wish list.

    1. I did see the consultation bit. Funnily enough that list pretty much covers the response that our local campaign group submitted (co-written by me) and it was during the writing of this and realising the futility of it all that germinated the seed that became the Embassy in my brain. So you can blame the West Sussex LTP3! 🙂

  3. “Cycling is one of the most sustainable transport modes and offers tremendous potential for improving our society’s health, economic efficiency and mobility, in addition to helping us tackle climate change. ”

    For some reason when I read this very first sentence I got the feeling the writer does not think cycling is transport. Sustainable climate change blah blah… something for the green hippies to do to make them happy about their eco-friendliness, but not transport suitable for the everyman.

    1. Exactly. It’s a jolly nice condescending pat on the head really. A ‘well done you for cycling. We will look into it a bit more but after we’ve dealt with the far more important things like motoring’.

  4. The biggest challenge is that in many of the existing cycling community regard cycling as a recreational activity to be carried out at the weekend.

    Many people load up bikes on their cars and drive to a country park or to a national cycle route so that they can cycle safely off road. Cyclists who use bikes to commute tend to be lycra clad road warriors whose defence of their rights can be intimidating for pedestrians.

    Whilst British Cycling’s Sky Ride programme has merit in encouraging people to get out on their bikes and uses the ‘safety in numbers’ argument, their agenda funnels people towards the ‘club run’ model. Their belief is that led rides get numbers on the road which somehow improves motorist awareness and makes the roads safer. Better infrastructure for the solo cyclist (who wants to get somewhere) is not their priority.

    There is insufficient provision for the utility cyclist because the demand does not register with local authorities and not enough of us are putting the case in a coherent way. Local politicians will be most in touch with their own peer group – typically retired people who probably don’t even own a bike and who are totally car dependent.

    Progress depends on people like us who are all responding to consultations and putting the case to local authorities for piecemeal improvements in our local areas. That’s how government works in this country.

    1. Absolutely. I think there was reluctance from an Embassy point of view to get to involved in local affairs as Cycle Nation thought we were trying to wade in on their territory. However, I believe in encouraging people to get stuck in at local level and setting decent infrastructure standards (as opposed to guidelines) at national level to help them.

  5. “the ‘cycling infrastructure’ provided was clearly designed by someone who had a childs Kaleidascope crudely sellotaped to each eye”

    This just made me burst out laughing, while at work. Definitely one to remember 😀

    1. Why, thank you! There are plenty more where that came from. Actually, please feel free to chip in with your own at any point 🙂

  6. Oh Jim, you do make me larf! Not as much as LTP3 though. In Buggers Hill they want us to use the Green Circle Network (it is really designed to encourage local people to take an interest in wild life etc and is an infrastructure of bridal paths and footpaths) OK, 1) I’ve got to ride a mile to find a bit of it. 2)parts of it get churned up by horses and 3)It is really a “leisure facility” – no good for actually going shopping, to the library or leisure centre etc. As my grandma used to say “fine words butter no parsnips”!

    1. Ha! That’s terrible. I’ve had a look at the LTP – the ‘Green Circle’ seems to go right around the edge of the town – i.e. completely useless to anyone who might want to use their bicycle to actually go *into* the town.

      The logic seems to be, well, we’ve got to come up with *some* route that cyclists can use, never mind how practical they actually are.

      But at least you’ve got something. There isn’t even a “Cycling Infrastructure & Promotion” heading *at all* for the Horsham subsection of the LTP. Nothing.

      1. “But at least you’ve got something. There isn’t even a “Cycling Infrastructure & Promotion” heading *at all* for the Horsham subsection of the LTP. Nothing.”

        Surely that means it’s all in place and Horsham is W Sussex’s version of Groningen. They wouldn’t have just missesd it would they?

        The Burgess Hill Green Circle stemmed from the Friends of Bedelands Farm Conservation Society. Mid Sussex DC have leapt on it as an excuse for doing SFA – they are very proud of it. I suppose it’s an example of Big Society – well meaning but ultimately lacking in direction (literally). This lack of direction probably stems from the fact that cycling is something you do on nice days in the summer isn’t it?

  7. However, I believe in encouraging people to get stuck in at local level and setting decent infrastructure standards (as opposed to guidelines) at national level to help them.

    Jim, it’s those standards from the top that will help those at the bottom a great deal. That, and some substance from government level…

    I’ve had a meeting with our Councils Engineering manager this morning about access in & out of a town centre, along with extra cycle parking. He is a really nice fella (honest!) and is willing to listen, but the thing is, he isn’t working under a remit to wave a magic wand over Tameside and make the awkward decisions needed to make it cycle friendly. Cycling isn’t high enough up the Councils agenda.

    Another problem I’m having (suggestions on a postcard please) is a desire by some (i.e: non-utility cyclists) to label everything as a route & link them up to other ‘routes’. In a town centre where the plans we’re looking at have routes from a few different directions, it looks on paper that cyclists will be bombing right through the town centre as if on a club-run, a situation that the councillors dislike. The notion that people might want to ride into the town centre, have a wander round the shops, before leaving by the same route or another is just an alien concept to them!?

    P.S: Great ’80s pic. The fella on the left…it’s a bad look. His glasses must’ve been really crap!

    1. @Ian: you’re either really young or are blessed with the sort of brain that can blank out the memory of Black Lace. If it’s the former, here’s a link to their Magnum Opus ‘Agadoo’. Former members of Joy Division, their bleak, minimalist post-punk sound was a key influence on artists such as Radiohead and The XX.

      1. @ KarlT – you’re either really young or are blessed with the sort of brain that can blank out the memory of Black Lace. If it’s the former, here’s a link to their Magnum Opus ‘Agadoo’.

        My brain was doing fine with it until you mentioned their name ;>D

        Former members of Joy Division, their bleak, minimalist post-punk sound was a key influence on artists such as Radiohead and The XX.

        Thank gawd you made that bit up. You’ll be saying they’re up for a NME Godlike Genius award next LOL

    2. @ian… Another problem I’m having (suggestions on a postcard please) is a desire by some (i.e: non-utility cyclists) to label everything as a route & link them up to other ‘routes’. In a town centre where the plans we’re looking at have routes from a few different directions, it looks on paper that cyclists will be bombing right through the town centre as if on a club-run, a situation that the councillors dislike. The notion that people might want to ride into the town centre, have a wander round the shops, before leaving by the same route or another is just an alien concept to them!?

      Surely the thing to do would be to have a circular route around the town centre, with routes within on a large scale inset map? It is also worth pointing out that most of the major A roads in the UK start in the middle of major cities such as London, and yet long distance traffic does not follow the A3 into the City of London and then head towards the start of the A1, it uses the M25 instead. The A3 goes right into Old Portsmouth, but it is a city street at that point and not the Kingston Bypass.

  8. Same here in Swindon. Lots of pleasantries stated in the “Mission” and lots of talk of needing to reduce congestion and increase sustainability in the “Challenges”, even acknowledging that cycling and walking are hugely beneficial to the town. But then where’s all the money being spent? Mostly doing the following:
    – “Optimise the capacity of the highway network”
    – “use the latest traffic signal control technology and other traffic management techniques…provide of up to date and accurate information to allow people to make informed decisions about their travel choices”

    As an after thought we get: “It must also include measures to improve the attractiveness of alternatives to driving alone, particularly at peak periods.”

    Which is bizarre when you read this statement, which is really exciting and talks up the benefits of alternative transport methods:

    “Encouraging and making it easier for people to choose to walk, cycle or use public transport for everyday journeys offers a range of benefits for individuals and the transport network generally. By building increased physical activity, such as walking and cycling, into daily routines there are significant health benefits. An increased share of journeys undertaken by walking, cycling and public transport will reduce congestion and pollution on the road network, improving air quality and reducing accidents.”

    I should note that this statement alone states that walking and cycling meet most of our council’s transport “challenges”. And yet, what are they doing to bring about this nirvana of better health, reduced pollution, improved air quality and safer roads? Token gestures towards cycle parking, signage, off-road “routes” and marketing and promotion of travel choices – no targets for modal share increases, just vague notions of “better” and “more”.

    What line of logic they follow to get from “reducing congestion” to “traffic signal control technology” I simply don’t know.

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