This years Cycle Active City Conference was unsurprisingly held online but was still attended by nearly 300 delegates from their homes or offices. campaign member Tim Pheby who on our behalf and has provided the below summary of some of the talks.
Opening session Richard Furness DfT Deputy Director of Active Travel
As we know the Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. Emergency Active Travel Fund £225m for cycling and walking measures were delivered at pace including pop up lanes and widening pavements. In York changes were made (and in some cases later removed) on Bishopthorpe Road, Tower Street, Coppergate and Marygate car park but we are still waiting for the EATF scheme between Clifton and Bootham.
Bike sales up 40% in 2020 and cycle use up 46% – the only vehicle to see an increase with 200% increases on some weekends.
Gear Change cycling strategy and LTN 1/20 Cycling Infrastructure design guidance were also both launched during lockdown intended as step change in the Government’s policy for cycling with ambitions targets and increased funding. Targets were set for by networks of cycle routes with protected bike lanes on busy roads and priority junctions delivered through Local Cycling and Walking Investment Plans (LCWIP). With £2 billion of investment is planned by 2025, Rupert reiterated that schemes funded by DfT must meet LTN 1/20 guidance.
A poll of delegates about LCWIP showed York is one of the few local authorities that does not have a plan. (Sustrans have done the first stage of the plan for CYC – information gathering – but matters seem to have rested since then)
Active Travel England – an new national body to help put Gear Change strategy into practice is coming soon they are not sure what format it should be – either within the DfT or an external agency like National Highways (was Highways England). I asked if ATE would be looking at all or a sample of Local authority cycling schemes to check they adhered to LTN 1/20 standards. The answer was it would be up to ATE. I worked for the last Government cycle quango Cycling England which had a budget of £5m, cycling funding for 2021/22 will be over £400m so resources for cycling are much greater now.
Funding for Active Travel – Roger Geffen Policy Director Cycling UK
As well as welcoming the funding increases outlined above Roger mentioned the Network Management Duty guidance which means local highway authorities like York must consider measures like cycle lanes, road closures, 20 Mph zones, school streets.
However he pointed out that the £2 billion over 5 years in England is £7 a head while in Wales and Scotland they are spending over £20 a head on active travel. He also flagged up that the Planning Bill could be used to promote cycling and walking more through building on previously developed ‘brownfield’ sites rather than on undeveloped sites out of town which are often car based. Upcoming changes to Road Traffic offences and Highway code should help cycling and walking by giving cyclists and pedestrians priority at side road crossings.
He stressed linking towns and cities to nearly settlements, which is very relevant to York with many outlying villages being hard to get to by bike safely e.g. Wheldrake, while other have improved connections e.g. Poppleton and Bishopthorpe.
Brian Deegan – Low Traffic Neighbourhood – Design workshop
Brian designed a LTN live in Whitley Bay after asking the delegates for a location. I had lodged in the area when I worked for Sustrans in Newcastle so knew the area well. He stressed the importance of cutting off all the rat runs which Sat Navs and Google maps find and involving local people – the local experts – in the design process.
Brian Deegan – CYCLOPS junctions – Cycle Optimised Protected Signals
Brian did a rough design of a CYCLOPS with a orbital cycle track at traffic signals at a junction on the A5 in Hertfordshire. He drew on a map firstly narrowing the wide junction, then put pedestrian crossing on all arms of the junction on desire lines – this existing junction only had green man crossings on a couple of arms. Then he drew cycle crossings on the outside of the pedestrian crossings (in Holland they have them on the inside of the pedestrian crossing). Crossings are separated which is a main tenant of LTN 1/20 – cyclists should have their own space and not share it with pedestrians or motor traffic. He then joined the cycle crossings up with cycle tracks with mini zebras for pedestrians to cross them. CYCLOPS junctions have been installed in Manchester and there are plenty of signalled junctions in York that could benefit from this treatment e.g. Layerthorpe/James Street which has loads of room.
Thanks to cycle campaign for organising attendance. My take from attending is that York is lagging behind other cities on cycling having once been rated top cycling city by the Dft funded English Cycling Development Team in 2004. It needs to develop a LCWIP with stakeholders to access funds to improve the cycle network. On design Officers need training in LTN 1/20 and visits to see the new schemes in Leeds – city centre , Manchester – CYCLOPS junctions – and Newcastle – John Dobson St and Heaton Rd -so they can see what can be done to protect cyclists on busy roads. White line cycle lanes on roads have been shown to increase cycle accidents and will not help people wishing to cycle. With increased funding and better quality designs that protect cyclists we can get York cycling again.
Other talks from the conference can also be viewed on YouTube at your leisure, a big thanks to Tim for attending on our behalf and providing a write up and to Landor LINKS for hosting the conference and providing the campaign with a place.