Open Letter to Councillor Bailey

Letter sent to Councillor Bailey today:

Ely Cycling Campaign is sometimes invited to comment on cycling-related projects. It is our experience that such invitations almost always come after the decisions have been made and those decision are poor. They are poor because the infrastructure is noncompliant with current design principles, being unsafe, unpleasant to use and do not connect places that people want to go. The facilities will be underused and therefore are a waste of money.

We have recently been ‘consulted’ on the cycling provision around the new Angel Drove Roundabout, at the western end of the Southern Bypass. The cycling and walking layout is a done deal and yet again, we believe that as an afterthought, the Campaign has been consulted so that some box can be ticked. We note that what has already been built does not take into account the role of infrastructure at the Roundabout in the overall provision for cycling in the District.

Another recent example involved Ely Leisure Village. Cycling access to the Village effectively stops at the underpass -cyclists have to dismount and walk the remaining 100 yards to the parking. We could have told you that stopping short like this was very unattractive to cyclists, putting them in conflict with pedestrians as well as being inconvenient. This is also a missed opportunity to begin a cycling connection between Little Downham and Ely. We were not consulted in the decision to cancel the planned Village cycleway. You have wasted money.

On the connectedness issue, we know that schemes must sometimes be staged. We see this with the shared route between Witchford and Sutton and are pleased to see that the Witchford end is now being upgraded. However, planning attention is often focussed on what is about to be built without considering how the current project fits into, for instance, the Local Plan.

Please can we meet up so we can look into improving the quality of input to highways projects, so you spend money effectively, building infrastructure that people will use. If we discuss just one scheme that will help us understand how to spend money better, then cycling access to the Railway Station might be a good case.


ECC letter to Cllr Bailey

4 thoughts on “Open Letter to Councillor Bailey

  1. Ely can Ill afford to continue growing in size and failing so spectacularly to properly accommodate cyclists. All you will get is a gridlocked polluted town. There are no safe routes in and out of the centre or to the station for cyclists. We need to get to places like school and work everyday. We need much more than a couple of cycle routes in each housing estate. We need proper joined up routes and a clear message to all road users that cyclists are considered equal.

  2. 17th April 2018
    Dear Mr Powell

    Your Ref: Cycling in Ely

    Thank you for your letter of 9th April 2018 which raises a number of points.

    As you are no doubt aware, Cambridgeshire& Peterborough Combined Authority is now the Transport Authority for Cambridgeshire under the leadership of the Mayor, James Palmer, and as such is responsible for transport planning and the preparation of the Local Transport Plan (LTP) which sets out the strategy for cycling and road infrastructure across the county. The Combined Authority is just about to embark on the development of a new LTP which will take around 18 months to prepare. In the meantime the Combined Authority is working to the existing Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LTPs which have been combined into a single document. Most delivery of infrastructure by the Combined Authority is currently commissioned through the County Council or Peterborough City Council.

    The East Cambs Transport Strategy, which produced many of the schemes that are now in the Transport Investment Plan for East Cambridgeshire, was subject to extensive consultation throughout its development and Ely Cycling Campaign along with other interested parties had the opportunity to submit thoughts and proposals to influence the very initial concept stage of the resulting schemes.

    All proposed cycling infrastructure schemes across the county do go out for public consultation and are therefore open to input and comment by Ely Cycling Campaign. The extent and timing of that consultation varies according to the location, type and scale of the scheme. Whilst I can understand your feeling that schemes can appear to be being presented as a “done deal” I genuinely do not believe that to be the case; officers and Members are interested in getting feedback from communities and often make amendments to proposals as a result. I can immediately think of the scheme that is currently being implemented on New Barns Road in Ely, which changed as a result of input from the community.

    The cycling team has tried in the past, for example in Cambridge, to work with interested groups from a “blank piece of paper”, but those groups have always asked for a starting point or options to be presented. Therefore, it is usually helpful to have a proposal to show people as a starting point for discussion.

    Taking the example you mentioned in your letter of the new Angel Drove roundabout at the Ely bypass, officers are trying to “future proof” that element of the bypass by doing what is possible, within the confines of the bypass scheme as a whole which I appreciate are limited, to deliver something which can later be linked up with other cycle infrastructure as and when funds become available (just like the approach to the A142 Witchford to Sutton shared use scheme). I have discussed the Angel Drove roundabout with officers and they are keen to receive your detailed comments on the proposals.

    I am distressed (as any elected Member should be!) to hear that you think some of the schemes that have been delivered in and around Ely are a waste of money. It would be really helpful to me if you could provide a list of those schemes that you consider are underused and/or a waste of money so I can discuss these with officers as working examples.

    You also mentioned in your letter that you consider schemes have been delivered that are unsafe. Every scheme that is implemented undergoes a robust, comprehensive and independent four stage road safety audit. As an elected Member, clearly, I have to leave safety assessments to those that are suitably qualified.

    I have said this to you before, but I think it is important to explain again as you have raised it in your letter, that the cycle route around McDonalds at the Ely Leisure Village that was included in planning application documents is part of the Sustrans route to Little Downham and is an aspiration of the County Council if funding becomes available. Contrary to what you have said, I think it was a good and pragmatic use of public resources to include this proposal in the planning application to secure planning permission for it, so that it can be delivered in the future, should funding become available.

    With regard to wider access to Ely Leisure Village, I do appreciate that you are seeking dedicated cycle path connectivity all the way in to the site, not just to the edge of it, but as I have explained before, site constraints just simply didn’t allow for that. I do think it was fantastic that East Cambs District Council was able to secure delivery of the A10 underpass by the cinema developer, which has really opened up a very attractive cycle and pedestrian route from Ely to the site.

    Ely is an incredibly popular, small but rapidly growing city, serving a large number of villages and settlements as well as Ely residents, and attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Ely is also a medieval city with many small and constrained streets – balancing the needs of all transport users is always going to be an act, and there will always be differing opinion about what is correct in terms of that balance!

    What is frustrating to me, and therefore I am sure lots of other people, and what may be the crux of all this, is the lack of documentation that sets out a coherent plan, from which schemes can be picked off and delivered when funding is available. The County Council has won a small amount of funding from the Department of Transport to produce a “Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan” over this financial year. The plan is likely to be largely made up of proposed schemes and ideas that are already in various planning documents, but I do think it gives us an opportunity to provide a coherent picture of what is required in and around Ely and to fill in any gaps that may exist.

    Of course I would be delighted to meet with you and it would be helpful to understand at that meeting what Ely Cycling Campaign would like to see in terms of consultation, that it doesn’t already have access to, and how you think consultation improvements could be made. As part of that, it would also be really helpful to me to understand a bit more about your organisation (beyond that available online), especially in terms of the geography of your members and your decision making processes. Perhaps you can provide me with some more detailed information in advance.

    You mentioned that it may be helpful to talk at the meeting about cycling access to Ely Railway Station. To help with preparation and to decide who best to have at the meeting, are you talking specifically about the proposals related to the Ely bypass, Station Road and the railway underpass, that we discussed recently at the Ely Bypass site office, or do you mean access to the Railway Station from further afield, in a more general sense, as an important transport hub?

    Given that most projects in Ely are dealt with by the Highways Team, I will ask Andy Preston, Highways Projects and Road Safety Service Manager to arrange and attend the meeting and I will also invite my fellow Ely County Councillor Lis Every.

    Andy will be in touch, and I look forward to seeing you.

    Yours sincerely
    Anna Bailey
    CCC County Councillor – Ely South
    ECDC, District Councillor – Downham Villages

    Cc: Lucy Frazer MP, Mayor James Palmer, Cllr Mathew Shuter, Cllr Lis Every, Graham Hughes (CCC), Sally Bonnett (ECDC)

  3. What is happening as a follow up to Anna Bailey’s letter. As someone who has just recently got back into cycling through using an e-bike, I’m particularly interested in cycling route developments around Ely and the surrounding villages.

    1. Ely Cycling Campaign representatives met Cllr Bailey on 8 May. The topic was improving the quality of input to highways projects, so money is spent effectively, building infrastructure that people will use. We did not stick with a focus on just one project as we had suggested.

      Cambridgeshire has secured 30,000 GBP to produce a Cycling and Walking Plan. By now (August 2018), Highways ought to have started on this Plan and we have been promised a public consultation later this year. The target is to submit this Plan to the Department for Transport in the summer of 2019.
      As for the detail discussed in the 8 May meeting:
      Cllr Bailey denied the failure to provide segregated cycling access to the cycle parking in the Leisure Village is a problem -not minuted but you can read above that she is in denial. Note that there is no segregated cycle access to the new leisure centre either.
      Highways built the Lisle Lane shared pedestrian/cyclist facility on the wrong side of the road. The explanation from Highways was ‘That was where the space was’.
      Highways advised that a plan for making the west end of Broad Street safer will be out for public consultation later this year. From what I subsequently garnered, a ‘raised table’ will be proposed as the main safety feature of this plan, the idea apparently being that it will slow down cyclists as they come down Back Hill.
      ECC made various suggestions for the changes near the low railway bridge. None of these suggestions was taken up in the plans that subsequently went out for public consultation. There is no crossing of the new by-pass for cyclists near Stuntney Causeway. The cycle crossing of the bypass at Angel Drove is at grade, very poorly designed and goes nowhere.
      Highways agreed that once the bypass had been built, there would be space on Angel Drove for a cycling-only facility. If this idea were ever taken up, we would need to ensure it was not just paint on the road but more importantly work out what this infrastructure would connect with.

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