Cycle Campaigning Simplified No 3 – The Cycling Action Travel Plan Strategy Solution

Sometimes a dog will gnaw away at something it shouldn’t. I’ve found that the best way to distract the dog is to find a nice stick and throw it, instantly releasing the thing that you don’t want gnawed. This is basically the same attitude that the Government & Local Authorities take with cycle campaigners.

The stick in this case is usually a document that either ends in ‘Action Plan’, ‘Strategy’, ‘Travel Plan’ or that perennial favourite, the Local Transport Plan (LTP). Cycle campaigners sometimes get very excited by such documents. Some will even have copies of the original ‘Action Plan’ or ‘Strategy’. These will often be between 10 and 20 years old and incredibly long and verbose with pictures of people in stonewash jeans on Raleigh touring or shopper bikes.

When I worked at CTC, there used to be regular meetings where we would all discuss what was happening in each department and what was happening in the wider World of cycling. Although I have the utmost respect and admiration for Roger Geffen (CTC Campaigns Director), my heart would sink when he would enthusiastically outline CTC’s involvement in the latest Government Cycling Strategy or 10 Year Plan. If I closed my eyes I could hear the Ministers saying ‘fetch the stick cyclists! Fetch! Go on! Over there!

Some of you may have just responded to your local authorities Local Transport Plan (or LTP3). This document will mention the word ‘sustainable’ quite a lot along with the usual airy fairy commitment to reducing carbon and regeneration. However, you will realise as you read further that to a Highways Department, this is best achieved by sorting out traffic bottlenecks to ease congestion on their strategic road network – in essence, not looking at the sheer amount of cars as a problem and using engineering to try and arrive at a solution. In the past, it would have been Bypasses, Inner Relief Roads and the stunning decision that dual carriageways in town and city centres would be a good idea to relieve congestion. Nowadays, with reduced budgets, it just involves expensive consultation fees and tinkering around the edges.

These documents will mention cycling in the same way that Samuel Beckett mentioned Godot. It will use phrases such as ‘upgrading infrastructure’ and ‘linking networks in town centres’ in a beautifully ethereal way but won’t actually commit to reducing car space in favour of walking and cycling, which is the solution.

As far as cycle infrastructure is concerned, there needs to be a concerted push for a National Standard based preferably on the Dutch model, which favours better streetscape design and segregated facilities where appropriate – basically giving the streets back to the residents. Until then we should be telling Local Authorities NOT to proceed with any more Cycle Paths or Shared Use Facilities as they are nearly always badly compromised by developers and Highway Departments’ agendas and designed by Rolf Harris on ecstasy.

Can you tell what it is yet? (Picture from Weird Cycle Lanes of Brighton & Hove)

For the moment, like Beckett’s famous characters, we’re left waiting, being treated like tramps on the roadside for an answer that will never appear if we continue with this drivel. Until the next round of Local Transport Plan Consultation or Government Cycling Action Travel Strategy, of course! Maybe THIS time will be different!!

A Cleaner, More Sustainable Worthing

'....and Worthing has its own H&M! Just like the one in Brighton and Guildford and.........'

Our cycle campaign group is at the moment finalising its response to West Sussex County Councils Local Transport Plan (LTP3). This will be the guiding document for county transport policy over the next 15 years. The word ‘sustainable’ is mentioned 68 times throughout its 103 pages

However, Paul Holden reports today in the [Brighton & Hove] Argus that, 

‘Shoppers could be helped by cheaper parking rates from January 1.

Worthing Town Centre Initiative is planning to inject New Year competition into parking, currently dominated by NCP.

The TCI intends to run the 180-space surface civic centre car park, off Stoke Abbott Road, on Saturdays.

Prices have not yet been finalised but it is believed the charge will be 50p an hour for up to five hours.

NCP charges £1.60 for an hour in the main multi-storey car parks and £8 for five hours.

However, it costs just £3 a day to park at the edge-of-town Teville Gate multi-storey and £2.50 for the neighbouring Broadwater Bridge surface car park, both run by NCP.

Town Centre manager Sharon Clarke said legal paperwork was now being completed after months of talks.’

Well done! Let’s encourage more traffic into the town with all the added pollution, stress and aggression of motorists trying to grab those cheaper spaces!

Surely it would have been a little bit easier to promote walking and cycling into Worthing (after all, unlike nearby Brighton & Hove, Worthing town centre doesn’t have any hills). It would work massively to this towns long term sustainable benefit (there’s that word again!).

Business chiefs and the Worthing Chamber of Commerce clearly haven’t worked out yet that if someone drives a car into town, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to fill it to the roof with goods. Encouraging walking and cycling ensures that local money stays local. People suddenly have money to spend on goods and refreshments as opposed to petrol and parking.

CTC in its document ‘Cycling: A Local Transport Solution’ lists the benefits to economic growth

  • Promoting cycling tackles congestion.  A lane of a typical road can carry 7 times as many bicycles as cars.[i]
  • Making town centres and residential areas cycle-friendly enhances their attractiveness, boosting property values and retail vitality.  It also supports local businesses, and maximises the “agglomeration” benefits of enabling businesses to locate close to one another.
  • Reducing the oil-dependence of our transport system is good for our energy security and our balance of trade.
  • There are also economic benefits due to improved health, e.g. reduced health-care costs and absenteeism, and improved productivity.

[i] Botma & Papendrecht, Traffic operation of bicycle traffic. TU-Delft, 1991.

The Wife, The Boy and I like walking about town and actually quite like the fact that the car parks are about the same price as an average shop at Tiffany’s as it’s quite an effective deterrent for us. It means we get some excercise, we get some bracing sea air and we’re not needlesly clogging up the town for what is essentially a 1 mile journey.

How many more cars do we have to try and cram into what could be a fantastic seaside town before the powers that be realise that it’s time to look forward?

Very nice after a cycle into town. And you'll burn it off on the way home.