Steve Barclay MP pushing for Ely to Chatteris cycle route

letter-steve-barclay-mepal-manea-routeFollowing our successful campaign, the missing section of cycle route between Witchford and Sutton is now under construction. Once complete it will give a cycle route using segregated cycle lanes and relatively quiet village roads from Ely to Sutton and Mepal.

In a letter published in the Sutton Pepperpot (pictured) North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay writes that he is pushing for that route to continue via Manea to Chatteris. Steve’s office has been in contact with us and the Cycle4Chatteris campaign group to try to get this project going.

The idea is to open up the maintenance roadway along the north west side of the river Delph to cyclists and pedestrians. The roadway, which goes between Mepal and Welney is owned by the Environment Agency. It was recently used for the Ouse Washes Experience organised by the Ouse Washes Partnership and Ely – Hereward Rotary Club. The roadway links to Manea and from there on to Chatteris.

One crucial part of the route would be a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the river Delph at Mepal. This would link the route directly into Mepal village avoiding the A142. Without a new pedestrian and cycle bridge the route would be a lot less useful.

 

 

County Council build dangerous pinch point despite our objections

20141021_170125In March last year we became aware that Witchford Parish Council had requested that the County Council build a central island pinch point on Main Street at the entrance to the village.

We arranged to talk to the Parish Council and emailed the County Council officers to raise the following concerns.

1. It will make the road significantly more dangerous for cyclists.

Central islands of this type force the motor traffic out towards the edge of the carriageway into the area of the carriageway used by cyclists.

The negative effect in this case is magnified due the to the position of the proposed island. The proposed position is on the transition out of the 30 mph zone and so will mean traffic leaving the village at that point will be accelerating, the proposed island will then direct that accelerating traffic into the path of any cyclists using the road.

2. It will not have the desired effect of reducing traffic speed.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s advice on speed calming measures* describes the effectiveness of central islands in reducing speed as:

“Not very effective as a speed reduction measure on its own (2-3 mph)”

Furthermore it recommends them for:

“Traffic islands are a useful and cost effective way to provide some carriageway narrowing, to focus the attention of drivers and to provide crossing facilities for pedestrians.”

There are no pedestrian crossing requirements at the location of the proposed island.

*Cambrigdeshire County Council’s advice has been removed from their website it was online here – http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/transport/trafficmanagement/policy/speed_reduction_measures.htm

We were told there would be a working party and asked to be involved. We heard nothing.

20141021_170150Last month we discovered (buried in the Parish Council minutes) that a second island for the other end of the village was planned similar to the one already ordered. Note we had not been contacted by any of the County Highways engineers responsible for this island despite raising concerns.

Today the County Council installed the island and as predicted by us it creates a nasty pinch point for anyone cycling along the road, which many people do because  the alternative is a narrow, windy, badly maintained, unlit shared use path.

We’d like to know

  • Why our reasonable concerns were ignored?
  • How this obviously unsafe design passed a safety audit?
  • Whether the County’s Cycling Officers were even consulted?

What happened to the Sainsbury’s £500,000?

IMG_20140927_120200203Many of you will have read in the news last week that East Cambs District Council, after spending two years working out what to spend £500,000 of developer contribution on, will in fact, hand the money back to Sainsbury’s.

Many people are reasonably outraged at this outcome, and Ely Cycling Campaign aren’t too pleased either. We have spent much of that two years working with East Cambs District and Cambridgeshire County Council on schemes to improve cycling provision in the city. In particular, we have been working on what would have been Ely’s first fully segregated cycle only path on the road network, all the way along Lisle Lane. The Council themselves have spent money with transport consultants on feasibility work. Now we hear the money is gone and although we haven’t had a detailed conversation with the Council since we heard this news, we assume that all bets are off with regard to Lisle Lane and various other improvements that were envisaged as part of the funding.

How has this happened? The Chief Executive of East Cambs District Council tells us that the situation is simply unfortunate because the money could only be spent on mitigating the traffic impact of the development and that the store hasn’t generated enough “traffic” movements to warrant any mitigating measures.

This version of events begs a number of questions – not least of all, why did the council take us so far down the track of developing schemes on which to spend the money, including spending their own money on consultants, only to tell us now that the developer monies could only ever be spent on road/car based schemes?

IMG_8452It is instructive to look back at what was said by East Cambs District Council at the time that Sainsbury’s was being built. Indeed, the leader of the Council at the time Peter Moakes was reported to have said in the Cambridge Evening News:

People often ask what happens to this money and whether communities really do benefit. With the money we will receive from Sainsbury I think anyone who walks, cycles, drives or catches a bus in Ely will see a difference.

“We want the bulk of the money to pay for any improvements which need to be made to the transport network in Ely,” continues Councillor Moakes. “This is not just about cars as the work will look at how to make life easier for pedestrians and cyclists too.

This directly contradicts what CEO John Hill has said about the money ONLY being available for traffic impact mitigation measures. Despite what Cllr Moakes said at the time, it seems the development IS just about cars and with a bus service which many understand is about to end, the claims that all road users and pedestrians will see a difference ring very hollow today.

We must also take issue here with the definition of the word “traffic”. Once again the car centric mindset seems to have prevailed here with the assumption that traffic means cars. We’re told that the store has had no significant “traffic” impact. We do know however that the development of the Lisle Lane area, linked to Pocket Park has increased the numbers of pedestrians and cyclists, for whom the provision is pretty poor, including the inaccessible, unused cycle parking at Sainsbury’s. As Ely grows, the footfall and general usage of Lisle Lane will continue to grow too, as of course will the number of cars. Lisle Lane will become a key access route through the city for the North Ely developments. It is bordering on preposterous to hand this money back on the grounds that it’s “not needed” simply because two years in to the development we don’t have gridlock.

Finally, we cannot ignore the part that Sainsbury’s has played in all this. They appear to have lived up to the image of the big scary corporate beast that no-one will dare stand in the way of, least of all a tiny under-resourced District Council. Indeed, they made pretty quick work of grabbing back money that to them is small change but which for Ely was meant to be a substantial investment in our community. We haven’t even seen the slightest indication of a gesture of goodwill or an attempt to consider alternative ways to invest the money for the benefit of Ely. So much for caring about their communities and their customers.

Ely Cycling Campaign  call on East Cambs District Council to meet with ourselves and other stakeholders – including Sainsbury’s – to consider how to move forward with the schemes that are now in jeopardy as a result of this situation.

Ely Station Cycle Point

Ely Cycle Point - Rosie and DollyAbellio Greater Anglia (AGA), who run Ely station, are about to tender for provision of a Cycle Point at the station, which is due to be constructed by March 2015. They are tendering at the same time for a Cycle Point to be provided at Norwich station. One Cycle Point is currently in existence, provided at Leeds station by AGA’s sister company Northern Rail details here. Ely Cycling Campaign has recently received copies of the tender documents.

The essence of the Ely Cycle Point is to provide retail cycle maintenance and sales, cycle hire, and cycle parking, in the form both of paid-for ‘premium’ parking – in locked compounds to which only those paying for ‘premium’ parking will have access – and free parking.

Draft Lease area - Ely Cycle PointThe Cycle Point will be located in part of the station building, in what is currently retail space in the old Rosie and Dolly, to the left of the station entrance as one approaches from the city. The premium paid-for parking will be adjacent to and behind the building (between the building and the platform). The free parking will be partly at the front of the building, near where some cycle racks are currently, and partly (the majority) at the far end of the station building, between the end of the building and the embankment of the A142 underpass. The cycle parking currently on platform 1 will be removed once the Cycle Point is established.

Free SpacesThe tender documents provide for 210 free cycle parking spaces, mostly in covered two-tier racks, of the type which now exist in large numbers at Cambridge station. There will also be some single-level free parking using Sheffield stands (though this will be a small part of the total). There will be either 150 or 200 premium paid-for cycle parking spaces (the tender documents seem to be inconsistent about this figure).

There are about 180 free cycle parking spaces currently on platform one, and a handful outside the station, so the new provision will represent a slight increase in the number of free spaces.

The initial charges for the premium parking will be: daily ticket £1.00 (available only during staffed hours); weekly ticket (Monday to Sunday only) £4.00; monthly ticket £12.00 per calendar month; annual ticket £99.00; with a £10.00 refundable deposit for the access swipe card.

We understand, though this is not part of the tender documents, that there are also plans to increase the size of the Ely station ticket hall, and to provide further doors into and out of the ticket hall – changes which are badly needed and long overdue.

The tender process is to a tight timescale, which is linked to the availability of external funding for the project, and we do not know how much can now be changed.

We have a number of questions about the tender documents, which we have sent to AGA.   We think that the proportion of premium paid-for cycle parking spaces to free spaces is probably wrong, and that there should be proportionately more free spaces and proportionately fewer premium ones. We have asked if this can be considered (the point was made by a number of those attending the AGA cycle forum in late July 2014).

AGA also operates ‘secure’ parking at other locations, which involves parking in a secure cage, a key to which is obtained by a refundable deposit of £25, but which is otherwise free. This seems very desirable, and we have asked whether some of the premium parking could be replaced by parking in this ‘secure’ form. We are also concerned that the free parking located at the end of the station building may be rather secluded, giving rise to an increased risk of theft (the tender document suggests that the free parking would be covered by CCTV). We have asked AGA whether all of the free parking could be located at the front of the station building, if necessary by removing car-parking spaces there, and replacing them with car-parking spaces in the area currently designed for free cycle parking.

Abellio Greater Anglia cycle forum

Abellio Greater Anglia logo Class 156The train operating company Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA), which runs trains to Ely and manages Ely station, has recently established a cycle forum, which is intended to be a means of communication and discussion between the company and those interested in the intersection between train travel and cycling in the AGA franchise area.
Continue reading “Abellio Greater Anglia cycle forum”

New school – Old mistakes

As part of the North Ely development for 3000 houses the planning application for the new primary school has been submitted. The new school will be in an area between Cam Drive and Lynn Road, two major roads in Ely which connect to the A10 and have heavy lorry traffic and no usable cycle infrastructure.

The planning document mentions as one of it’s key design drivers:

To develop the existing access routes, identified in the site master plan, to provide safe
segregation for vehicles and pedestrians.

and:

Strong pedestrian and cycle links.

and:

Pedestrian and cyclist access is to be encouraged with the integration of footpaths with cyclelanes into the proposed highways infrastructure (Endurance Development Master Plan).Vehicular areas, car parking and drop-off is clearly identified with safe segregation.

So the usual shared-use paths which don’t work should encourage cycling and walking. Now let’s see how the car parking and drop-off is segregated:

school_access

Right, so there are drop-off points all around the school and pedestrians and cyclists have to take their chances in between. Just like pretty much any other school where most people drop their kids off by car because it’s too dangerous to let them walk or cycle.

Let’s assume some people want to walk or cycle anyway, how are they supposed to get there:

As part of the Ely development master plan, new pedestrian/cycle routes will be extended to link into and around the new primary school development.

And that’s it. No details at all. So we have a new school which will be on a major access road to a 3000 houses development, surrounded by car parking drop-off points. No pedestrian crossings, no details of cycle paths connected some non-existant cycle routes.

Anyone want to predict how most people will take their children to this new school?

So – what could be made better:

  • At the very least remove all the drop-off points near the entrances and move them to the back (by the sports fields) or create a designated drop-off area, e.g. next to the staff car park.
  • If you have to keep the drop off points on the opposite side of the road to
    the school, where are the crossing points to get the kids across?
  • Truly segregate pedestrians from cars, not just with words!
  • Segregate the cyclists from the pedestrians. Provide modern infrastructure, not the same old shared-use path that neither cyclists nor pedestrians find safe
  • Make the public square at the front lager with prominent cycle parking and plenty of benches and some playground enquipment to create an environment for people where parents and children can wait during drop-off and pick-up time.
  • Is it easier to walk or drive? Is it further to walk or drive? Make walking and cycling as convenient as possible and make parking and driving harder and more time consuming so it actually saves time to leave the car at home. Only then will people be encouraged to walk or cycle!

This is what we would like to see:

school_access-alt2

  • Drop-off parking away from the entrance, e.g. by the sports fields.(in yellow)
  • Safe crossing points outside all entrances to allow pedestrians to take the shortest route (in black)
  • Segregated cycle routes on all roads in the new development (in red)
  • It should also be considered how traffic near the school can be reduced. Can the roads be made one-way? Do they have to be through routes or can they be cul-de-sacs?

Please don’t make the same old mistakes and try to see how similar schemes work successfully in other places.

Local councillors fail to support Space for Cycling

Space4CyclingTakeUpWe hear a lot from councillors about how they want to allow more people to cycle but it seems that when there is an opportunity to make a commitment they fall short.

The CTC is now coordinating a national Space for Cycling (it started in London). The campaign has a simple message, provide space on the roads for cycling. It’s been shown in other countries that if you provide space for cycling people will use. It allows more people to leave the car at home and take the bike instead. It’s not rocket science.

Today the CTC has published a map showing the number of councillors supporting the campaign across the country. In Cambridgeshire (home of the nations ‘cycling capital’, Cambridge) it’s currently a pitiful 4%, just 3 councillors.

[UPDATE] Since we first published this post 3 more councillors have registered support bringing the total to 6 or 9%. But still none from East Cambs.Continue reading “Local councillors fail to support Space for Cycling”

Ely Cycle Forum – April 30th 2014

A meeting of the Ely Cycle Forum was held at the Cutter Inn on April 30th.

First up was an update from Abellio Greater Anglia regarding Ely Rail Station. Although Geraint Hughes had planned to attend, he sent his apologies and Patrick Joyce covered his points in his absence. Cycle parking is to be increased to 450, effectively doubling the current number of bike spaces. Double-height racks are to be installed, along with a secure storage area. Access to this will be free although a deposit will be required for a card or key. It is hoped that this will be in place by Autumn 2014, although it should definitely be completed by the end of this financial year. There will also be a shop with bike hire, sales and maintenance similar to the setup at Chelmsford station.

Continue reading “Ely Cycle Forum – April 30th 2014”

Velo Festival: Bike Life 2014 @Ely

The County Council are organising a “Velo Festival” this summer with a big event in Ely on Sunday June 1st in the Market Square, we’ll be there with a stall.

Here’s the description from the official flyer

Come and spend a fun packed afternoon at the first in a series of Bike Life events, where there will be an array of exciting cycling activities to try out. Get tips, advice and support on bicycle maintenance from Dr. Bike; pedal up your own delicious smoothie on a pedal powered smoothie
maker; take up the Brompton challenge and see how quickly you can assemble, race a lap and put down a Brompton; and see a history of the bicycle with a display from the March Vintage and Veteran Cycle Club. There will also be a Street Velodrome in which you can take the
challenge to speed around a specially built cycle
track, promising to be an exhilarating activity for
cyclist of all abilities and spectators.

The Street Velodrome is a mini portable version of the kind of track used for the Olympics – more info here http://www.streetvelodrome.com/

The Saga of the “Car shaped Cycle Rack”

car-bike-rack-2On the 28th November 2013 Ely Cycling Campaign contacted East Cambs. District Council to ask permission to site the County owned Car Shaped Cycle Rack in the Paradise Car Park outside where the “temporary” Post Office had been put up.Tracey Harding at East Cambs. informed us that the area was now under the control of the Post Office, So she would contact them.

Continue reading “The Saga of the “Car shaped Cycle Rack””