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Headlines   Bath Road crossings
Cheltenham MP speaks in Westminster cycling debate
Getting new housing development right
Greet Road, Winchcombe
Large development plans for Ashchurch
Much needed to make proposed Ashchurch Sainsburys cycle-friendly
Mystery as to how many people are cycling
Paralympian James Brown to speak at AGM
Park Place cycle lanes
Park Place cycle logos in place
Rickshaw transport for Cheltenham
Sustainable development funds for Gloucestershire
The Times cycling campaign
Thirlestaine Hall redevelopment
What, no bikes?
World Environment Week bike ride - 14th June

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Mystery as to how many people are cyclingHeadlines

Many people have remarked that there seem to be more cyclists in Cheltenham and certainly at a national level cycling numbers are growing, boosted by this year's Olympic successes.

However, the cycle counts carried out by Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign do not reflect this. This shows a small increase in cycling between April and October 2012, but the level is only back to the average for the past decade. It is much less than a year ago.

The Cheltenham cycle counts have been carried out bi-annually since 2002 at nine locations around the town. They suggest that the amount of cycling in Cheltenham is remarkably immune to trends elsewhere. This was good when cycling nationally was still declining while in Cheltenham it held steady, but are we now missing out on wider cycling growth?

It's never a good idea to read too much into any single set of data but the long-term trend in Cheltenham has been consistent and there would appear to be no special reason (bad weather, for example) as to why the latest count should be in error.

You can read more about the Cheltenham cycle counts here.

Paralympian James Brown to speak at AGMHeadlines

James Brown, paralympian bronze medallist and world silver medallist, will speak about  his journey to the top ranks of cycle sport in Cheltenham on 8th November. He will also be sharing his views and experience on cycling for leisure and everyday journeys.

James will be talking after Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign's AGM, to be held at the Exmouth Arms, Bath Road Cheltenham from 7.30pm. Anyone is welcome to attend.

James hails from Northern Ireland and was part of the Irish paralympiic team. However, he lives and trains in Gloucestershire.

Park Place cycle logos in placeHeadlines

Gloucestershire has now laid cycle logos near junctions and the traffic island in Park Place, Cheltenham, as suggested by Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign.

At the beginning of the year the former narrow cycle lanes were not reinstated following resurfacing as there was insufficient space to meet current standards. Instead some of the centre lines were removed to encourage traffic to go more slowly.

Many cyclists preferred the new arrangements but some felt more at risk, so we suggested the use of cycle logos to highlight where motorists should particularly take care passing cyclists, especially past the traffic islands where some were inclined to 'squeeze' cyclists by driving past within the too narrow space either side of the islands.

C&TCC would welcome feedback on the new arrangements.

Sustainable development funds for GloucestershireHeadlines

The Government has awarded Gloucestershire County Council substantial funds to take ahead measures to encourage sustainable transport. The Council's plans centre around Gloucester and Cheltenham town centres and aim to increase the number of people walking, cycling and using public transport to travel to these places.

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign was involved in early discussions about this project. Indeed, without our commendation and that of other local organisations, it is unlikely that the Government funding would have been provided.

Now we have started discussions with Gloucestershire about what is to be done. The project lasts for 3 years, so not everything will be delivered quickly.

Our main aim for Cheltenham is to see better access to the town centre by opening up all one-way roads to two-way cycling. Making cycle journeys more direct and thus quicker and simpler than travel by car will, we believe, encourage more people to cycle. There are also a number of places around the town where changes could make travelling towards the town centre easier. And as a bigger project, we want to see the Honeybourne Line extended from the railway station to Shelburne Road, which would give people living in a large part of western Cheltenham better access to both station and town centre.

More cycle parking and direction signing are likely to be included in Gloucestershire's plans and these may be some of the elements delivered first as they are seen as 'quick wins'.

Much needed to make proposed Ashchurch Sainsburys cycle-friendlyHeadlines

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign has responded to a planning application to build a new Sainsbury's foodstore on Ashchurch Road, Ashchurch. In so doing we have commissioned a detailed cycling audit of the area that looks at current conditions for cycling along Ashchurch Road and the impact that the foodstore plans would have on cycling in the future. We commissioned the audit in response to a quite inadequate non-motorised users' audit provided by the developer. The latter does not identify any of the problems for cycling in the area, portraying it instead as some kind of idyllic world. It has clearly been produced by someone who never cycles!  Our cycling audit may be seen here.

We have shown that conditions along Ashchurch Road on either the road or the shared-use footway are quite unsatisfactory and in many places unsafe. The road is suitable only for the most confident cyclists while the cycle path along the footway is discontinuous and well below the standards required for such a facililty.

The proposals for the foodstore will make conditions very much worse, with a large roundabout at the store entrance that will increase risk on both road and footway. There is no provision to approach the store directly from Northway and the long and sometimes unpleasant detour involved will ensure that the store maximises car use rather than minimising it (a condition of the planning rules). Cycle parking is to be provided at the store, but access to it will be quite unsatisfactory.

The Highways Agency (responsible for the A46) has already applied a Holding Direction to the planning application as the developer's documents are unsuitable in many ways. We are urging the Highways Agency, Gloucestershire County Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council to support our demands for better access to the store when cycling and a step-change improvement to conditions in the area. We have a meeting with Borough planners later in August.

If you live in the area, please consider sending your own comments to the Planning Department of Tewkesbury Borough Council.

Greet Road, WinchcombeHeadlines

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign has been concerned about recent new housing developments that propose to include cycle parking in the back gardens. This is not a convenient location and unlikely to encourage home owners to consider cycling for local journeys.

Another proposal for new homes off Greet Road, Winchcombe (adjacent to Winchcombe School) makes the same mistake - is there some common (but poorly-informed) guidance that everyone is following? We have urged Tewkesbury Borough Council to require cycle parking close to dwelling entrances and at least as convenient as car parking.

We have also drawn attention to the kind of standards to be expected for a cycleway/footpath to be provided from within the development to Greet Road. Vehicular junctions at either end are important, with the cycleway constructed at carriageway level so that there are no uncomfortable dropped kerbs.

Thirlestaine Hall redevelopmentHeadlines

Application has been made to redevelop the Thirlestaine Hall site in Cheltenham (between Sandford Road and Thirlestaine Road) to provide care and non-care housing.

Cycle parking is proposed within the redevelopment but there are no details. Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign has sought liaison with the developer to ensure that what is provided is appropriate for the circumstances.

We have also noted that a 'Non-motorised-user' audit of surrounding roads is no more than a pedestrian audit. There has been no consideration of how cyclists are affected and we have offered to carry this out.

Rickshaw transport for CheltenhamHeadlines

A new local company, Rickshaw Revolution, is hoping to start plying for hire in Cheltenham shortly. The company has applied for a Hackney Carriage licence from Cheltenham Borough Council and hopes that arrangements can be agreed earlier than the September timescale so far indicated.

The firm will operate a taxi service, wedding and hospitality transport, tourist trips and low-carbon delivery services. At present it owns three cycle rickshaws, made in China.

Rickshaw Revolution website

Large development plans for AshchurchHeadlines

Two new developments are planned for Ashchurch: a large Sainsbury's store and redevelopment of the current Ministry of Defence site to provide up to 5,000 new homes.

Both sites will connect only onto the A46 trunk road, which is a busy route with a lot of traffic travelling between the M5 and Evesham. Cycle facilities along this road are currently to a very low standard and much better provision for cycling is going to be needed for the developments, not least for the substantial number of children likely to cycle to Tewkesbury School (which currently has the highest cycling ratio of any school in Gloucestershire). At present the plans show a new roundabout at the Sainsbury's entrance which will make cycling more difficult both on the road and the shared footway. The MoD redevelopment suggests a green corridor through the site itself but there are no known proposals for connecting this onwards to and beyond the motorway.

C&TCC has registered its interest in the developments with both developers and Tewkesbury Borough Council and is seeking talks with the Highway Agency (responsible for the trunk road) to review the whole A46 corridor and its impact on cycling.

Getting new housing development rightHeadlines

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign has recently commented on planning applications for new housing development in order to encourage the new home owners to cycle for local journeys.

In Cheltenham redevelopment of an existing site at 88 Prestbury Road will provide 11 new houses. The road layout seems fine as does the egress onto Prestbury Road, but what caught our eye were the 'cycle stores' shown on the plans. Now it's good that the developers have recognised the importance of providing somewhere for people to keep bikes, but in almost every case the stores are to be located at the further end of the house gardens, involving going through 2 gates both to and from the stores and an inconvenient walk across what could be muddy grass!  Car parking, on the other hand, is to be provided close to the house doors.

We have commended that cycle storage has been considered and the positive statements about cycling in the development transport assessment, but have stressed to the Borough and the developers that cycle storage needs to be conveniently situated near the front door to be useful. It certainly shouldn't be any further away than car parking.

A green field development on the outskirts of Winchcombe is to provide a much larger number of new houses. Vehicular access is from Gretton Road with a footpath across to Greet Road and Winchcombe School. We have asked for the latter path to be built as a cycle and pedestrian path and, given the lack of physical constraints, this should be to the full recommended standard of a 3 metre cycle way with an adjacent 1.5 metre footway. We have also stressed the importance of getting the junctions right with the roads at either end, using vehicular, not pedestrian, design.

This development also refers to cycle storage in back gardens but the exact locations are not shown on the plans. Again we have told Tewkesbury Borough and the developments of the need for cycle parking to be conveniently situated close to the house doors.

Although access to the site from Gretton Road should pose no problems for cycling, we have noted another proposed footpath that will give a much shorter journey from the houses in the centre of the estate, so have suggested that this, too, should be built for cycle and pedestrian use.

World Environment Week bike ride - 14th JuneHeadlines

The University of Gloucestershire, in conjunction with Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign, is organising an evening bike ride as part of its events to celebrate World Environment Week (11th - 15th June).

The bike ride will take place on Thursday 14th June, leaving Fullwood Lodge car park at Park Campus at 6pm. It will be a leisurely and guided circular ride of about 1.5 to 2 hours, finishing at The Jolly Brewmaster Pub on Painswick Road.

The route will take in the back streets of Cheltenham and nearby country roads and there will be several guides to cater for riders of different speed.

The ride is open to everyone (but children must be accompanied by an adult)

Park Place cycle lanesHeadlines

Park Place has recently been resurfaced and at present it is not intended to replace the cycle lanes that were there previously.

The problem is that the road is too narrow to accommodate cycle lanes to the minimum width that is now specified – 1.5 metres. The previous lanes were quite a bit narrower than this and there is evidence that motorists often drive closer and faster past cyclists in narrow cycle lanes than where there are none, as they treat the lane line as a boundary to where they need give proper consideration. Narrow cycle lanes sometimes have a poor safety record.

It would have been possible for the council to implement 1.5 metre advisory cycle lanes into which motorists could drive when no cyclist is present, but Gloucestershire considered that this was too confusing. Instead they have removed the centre line along much of the road. This can have the opposite impact on driving behaviour to cycle lanes; drivers no longer have any certainty about where other vehicles will travel so they tend to drive slower and more carefully.

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign is supporting the new arrangements on a trial basis and would like to receive feedback of cyclists' experiences in using the road. Is it better or worse than previously and are there are particular concerns? Please let C&TCC know and we will report back to the council.

Cheltenham MP speaks in Westminster cycling debateHeadlines

Martin Horwood, the Member of Parliament for Cheltenham and member of Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign, spoke in a special Westminster Hall debate on cycling on 23rd February. The debate was in response to The Times' Save Our Cyclists campaign, which is calling for more action to encourage cycling and to make it safer.

77 MPs attended the debate, which is an exceptionally high number, echoing the growing interest in cycling. Remarkable, too, is that there was almost no dissent among the MPs from all the main parties as they spoke in support of cycling and the need to give cyclists a better deal on the roads.

Martin Horwood made the point that cycling is a relatively safe mode of travel and that the health benefits greatly outweigh the risks of injury. This was echoed widely by other speakers who called upon the Government to do more to promote cycling is a wholely positive way, for boosting the number of cyclists is the surest way to enhance safety. There were also calls to make the resources available to address road design that made cycling more difficult.

Another local MP who spoke was Ian Carmichael, MP for Stroud.

The full debate can be viewed on Parliament TV.

What, no bikes?Headlines

The strange sign on the left appeared recently at the junction of Green Lane, Brockworth, and the A46 Painswick Road. It suggests that motorcycles and pedal cycles are prohibited (except for access) but not cars. This is contradicted by the sign on the right that reflects the true status of the road, which is prohibited to motor vehicles but not to pedal cycles.

This is clearly a signing error but what is so odd is that the sign on the left should not exist as it is not an authorised combination of symbols, so it wasn't a case of someone simply taking the wrong sign off the shelf. It looks as though the signmaker inadvertently used a pedal cycle symbol when he should have used a car one and the error was not spotted by anyone right through to when it was erected.

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign has reported the mistake to Gloucestershire Highways who are investigating.

Bath Road crossingsHeadlines

Gloucestershire County Council is proposing to add a centre island and buildouts in Bath Road, Cheltenham to reduce traffic speeds and to provide crossing places for pedestrians. A centre island would be placed just north of Montpellier Drive and buildouts (without an island) further north.

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign has told Gloucestershire that the centre island is likely to prove detrimental to cyclists and the lane widths of 4.0m are within the range where some motorists will try to overtake a cyclist without there being sufficient room for this to be safe. The Department for Transport recommends lane widths of at least 4.3m where traffic speeds are up to 30 mph. Furthermore the location is on a hill and cyclists riding up hill will need more space while many drivers will be less prepared to wait behind someone riding slowly

C&TCC also believes that the buildouts will not be helpful for pedestrians, affording them no right of way. Our preference is for zebra crossings at both locations.

The Times cycling campaignHeadlines

The Times is running a cycling safety campaign which started off well with an encouraging eight point manifesto, including things like 20 mph default urban speed limits and more cycle training; things we heartily agree with. It changed tack on Saturday towards requiring us to dress like space men, even though there’s no evidence to support this, rather than like the Copenhagen cycling which they are also extolling.

Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign made the following initial submission, and might follow this up as the campaign progresses. Have a look at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/contact/ and let us know what you think:

A great cycling manifesto - well done. Big improvement on what the media usually say, echoing what cycle campaigning advocates have been saying for years. Keep clear of helmets - apart from wrongly assigning the onus, they haven’t reduced overall casualty rates for everyday cycling. Individuals can make up their own minds from cyclehelmets.org. Part of the reason is that helmet promotion adds to the scaremongering which deters cycling; try not to make it worse. It’s more people cycling which really makes it safer (Smeed’s Law).

So please acknowledge that even now cycling’s health benefits outweigh risks twentyfold (ref. BMA ) and that walking and many other everyday activities can be more dangerous ( e.g. ref. M Wardlaw). Nevertheless something needs to be done. But be cautious calling for any old facilities and infrastructure. Despite sound guidance in the DfT’s publication LTN 2/08 this country’s shoddy examples often do more harm than good, even for novices who might get a false sense of security from shared footways and narrow cycle lanes. Even your illustration on Friday has snags, like passenger doors opening. Top quality is imperative, Dutch style ideally.

British Cycling’s and the pro cyclists’ support is fine, but would you make F1 drivers your main source on safe urban driving? You have called on the CTC, but what about London Cycling Campaign, the scores of other campaigns across the country and their federation Cyclenation? They have been doing donkey work locally for years and know the issues better than most. You rightly call for cyclist training, yet no mention of ‘cyclecraft’, on which the National Standard cycle training is based. Maybe ‘cyclecraft’ is what the newcomers to cycling need to help them keep out of trouble.

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