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Headlines   Catching bike thieves in Cheltenham and Gloucester
Contra-flow for Naunton Lane
Highways Agency backs down on Shab Hill Lane
Kingsditch Lane changes pros and cons
National conference a success
New High Street bike ban threat
New Sainsburys not cycle-friendly
Pittville Circus Road / All Saints Road
Works planned for Prestbury Road

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National conference a successHeadlines

The CCN/CTC Autumn 2006 campaigns conference, hosted in Cheltenham on 25th November by Cheltenham Cycle Campaign proved a very successful event. Over 100 cyclists from across the country attended to hear and participate in discussions on a wide range of subjects. Cheltenham Cycle Campaign members assisted with the event, both in its organisation and on the day. Many thanks are due to all who so generously gave of their time and also to those who provided accommodation to cyclists from afar. Thanks are also due to Cheltenham Borough Council for its support - the conference took place in the Council Chamber and the conference was opened by council leader Councillor Duncan Smith. Topics of local interest included:

  • An address by Cheltenham MP and Lib Dem Shadow Minister for the Environment, Martin Horwood. Martin voiced his commitment to cycling (he is a member of Cheltenham Cycle Campaign) and outlined Lib Dem policies on the environment, climate change and cycling.
  • Local Partnerships: the experience of the Cheltenham Strategic Partnership, in which Cheltenham Cycle Campaign is represented by its chair, John Mallows.
  • The GCHQ BUG (Bicycle User Group). Tracey Maund outlined the history and achievements of this employer-based group.
  • Local action on climate change. Chris Hickey, Chair of Cheltenham's Sustainability Partnership, explained the importance of continuing local action to address this serious issue.

National topics included:

  • Cycling maps. Descriptions of intiatives by Cambridge Cycling Campaign, the Department for Transport and CTC on web-based mapping at local and national levels, including journey planners, road defect reporting and the uploading of images of good and bad practice.
  • Rights of way. David Moxon of CTC illustrated the anomalies cyclists can face in using rights of way.
  • European Cyclists' Federation: an update on recent developments by Cheltenham Cycle Campaign's John Franklin.
  • The Bike It sustainable schools project that is being implemented by Sustrans.
  • Bikeability: the national cycle training standard

The conference also saw the presentation of the 2006 National Cycling Project Awards by Cycling England chair, Philip Darnton. For conference delegates there were also social events on Friday and Saturday evenings, and cycle rides on the Sunday.

New Sainsburys not cycle-friendlyHeadlines

A new Sainsbury's store opened on 23rd October on the former Oakley GCHQ site but it's not designed to make access easy by bike. See full photo report

Works planned for Prestbury RoadHeadlines

Cheltenham Borough Council is planning works in the central section of Prestbury Road to assist pedestrians crossing the road and to reduce vehicle speeds. The main proposals are:

Kingsditch Lane changes pros and consHeadlines

The two mini-roundabouts at the junction of Kingsditch Lane with Swindon Road, Wymans Lane and Runnings Road are to be rebuilt together with other changes, some of which are aimed at cyclists.

This junction has long been a difficult one for all road users due to its size, the amount of commercial traffic and its speed, and a generally low-quality traffic environment. The new scheme will make some improvement to this by narrowing the carriageway, defining better its use by the addition of new islands, and clearer allocation of road space. However, these changes are unlikely to be sufficient as through traffic from Wymans Lane to Kingsditch Lane will still be able to travel fast through the junction, with little deflection, and the number of traffic lanes and the mini-roundabouts will maintain a hostile environment.

The scheme also features new footways intended for shared use by pedestrians and cyclists. These would cross several busy accesses on either side of the junction and would pass through the junction itself without protection. Most likely, they will make conditions for cycling more difficult rather than easier. Segregated facilities of this type are unlikely to be safe in a busy industrial setting such as this and more thought needs to be given to accommodating cyclists better on the road.

Cheltenham Cycle Campaign's preference is for traffic signals at these junctions and it will be reinterating this in its response to the Council.

Highways Agency backs down on Shab Hill Lane Headlines

The Highways Agency and Gloucestershire County Council have withdrawn their proposals to close off Shab Hill Lane, Birdlip, after fierce opposition by local cycling groups led by Cheltenham Cycle Campaign.

Shab Hill Lane runs from the A417 near the Air Balloon public house to the quiet roads around Shab Hill. One of these roads passes back under the A417 and provides a good cycling route to Birdlip village and beyond. This avoids a particularly nasty right turn off the A417 which is preceded by a stiff hill climb alongside a constant stream of HGVs.

When changes to the A417 were carried out in 1986, side road orders legally closed the entrance to Shab Hill Lane but as no physical works were carried out, cyclists were generally unaware of the legalities and have continued to use the road ever since. Then, last year, the Highways Agency decided to 'tidy up' arrangements by removing the connection, which quickly provoked a chorus of complaint from cyclists.

Although the Highways Agency conceded the principle of the objections it then looked only for a cycle 'facility' solution to the problem and in due course decided that it could not justify the cost of new cycling infrastructure. It therefore continued to proceed with its original proposals. However, following a meeting with Cheltenham Cycle Campaign, the Agency became more sympathetic to a simpler solution and has now announced that it is not to proceed with its proposals, cancelling at 10 days notice its application to the magistrates court. It will instead propose a traffic regulation order to ban turning into Shab Hill Lane by motor vehicles, leaving a left-turn entry (the only one that really matters) by cycles unaffected.

For its part, Cheltenham Cycle Campaign hopes that in future the authorities will consult more up-front, and recognise that the retention of key cycling routes is not necessarily (or even preferably) associated with blue signs and white paint. Simple solutions can be best for everyone.

Catching bike thieves in Cheltenham and GloucesterHeadlines

POLICE are trapping bicycle thieves by planting nobbled machines that move slowly. The "sting" bikes are modified so pursuing officers can catch crooks no matter how furiously they try to pedal.

A police spokeswoman said: "Anyone who tampers with them will be filmed by officers waiting around the corner and arrested as they pedal off."

The bikes are being left around the streets of Cheltenham and Gloucester. Two 16-year-olds were arrested as they tried to steal one within five minutes of it being left in Cheltenham high street. They were both charged and will be appearing in court. The Mirror, 23rd June 2006

Pittville Circus Road / All Saints RoadHeadlines

A new mini-roundabout and pedestrian refuges are proposed for the junction of Pittville Circus Road and All Saints Road. Cheltenham Borough Council says that the scheme is intended to:

  • Reduce the speed of all vehicles at and near the junction;
  • Help cyclists to make the right-turn from Pittville Circus Road to All Saints Road;
  • Help pedestrians to cross these busy, wide roads.

In addition, some new parking places are to be provided nearby in All Saints Road for use by the driving test centre. Cheltenham Cycle Campaign agrees that this junction is a difficult one for many cyclists. It is, however, awaiting the arrival of more detailed plans before commenting on the scheme. The devil is often in the detail and we will be looking particularly for whether cyclists are likely to be squeezed in too narrow a space at the new refuges.

Contra-flow for Naunton LaneHeadlines

Cheltenham Borough Council has published proposals to install a contra-flow cycle lane in the one-way section of Naunton Lane between Thirlestaine Road and Naunton Park Road. This will provide a useful link for cyclists accessing the Naunton Park area and is a facility for which Cheltenham Cycle Campaign has been pressing for some time.

New High Street bike ban threatHeadlines

Cheltenham Borough Council is once more considering a ban on cycling in all pedestrianised parts of the town centre during the daytime. Cycling would still be permitted before 10am and after 5pm to facilitate commuter journeys.

Councillor Rob Garnham (Con), Cabinet deputy for the Environment, told a meeting of town centre transport groups: "We've got a situation where cycling rules in the town centre are inconsistent and there are issues of anti-social behaviour. If people think bikes are dangerous, we have to look at that. We want a town centre which people can enjoy but is accessible. In the morning and at commuter times we want people to cycle to work. Then we have shoppers who use the town centre outside of commuter times."

However, Councillor John Morris (Lib Dem) said that it was a poor decision to impose a cycling curfew. "There are perceptions that cycling in public places is dangerous but there's no evidence to back that up. My other concern is that people work flexible time these days and 9am to 5pm doesn't work any more."

Cheltenham Cycle Campaign opposes a ban as this would remove important routes across the town centre as well as to and from it. It is very unlikely that a ban would reduce cycling by those who are discourteous to others; it would mainly inconvenience law-abiding cyclists. It is very unlikely that sufficient resouces would be deployed to enforce a ban. It is no more difficult to prosecute a cyclist for riding inconsiderately than for riding where cycling is prohibited, so a ban is not necessary to take action against unruly riders. It is, however, a pity that the opportunity was missed to demarcate a clear route for cyclists when the paving slabs between Rodney Road and Cambray Place were replaced recently.

The decision as to whether a ban is to be implemented is expected to be taken by the Cabinet in November.

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