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Headlines   20's Plenty for Cheltenham
Bank Holiday cycling festival in Tewkesbury
Cheltenham bike sales boom
Cycling remains steady in Cheltenham
Green Lane cycle track changes
Innovative Tewkesbury cycle route signing to go ahead
Local Transport Plan consultation
Martin Horwood outlines opportunities for cycling
Meeting with County officers
New Manual for Streets
Starvehall Farm development
Tewkesbury railway path improvements
Tewkesbury town centre master plan
Town centre to be opened up for cycling
Twenty's Plenty for Us

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Martin Horwood outlines opportunities for cyclingHeadlines

The MP for Cheltenham, Martin Horwood, was guest speaker at the Annual General Meeting of the Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign on 26th November. Martin cycles regularly in Cheltenham and has been a member of C&TCC for some years. He is now Chairman of the national Lib-Dem transport committee and therefore follows closely and contributes to the transport policies of the Coalition Government.

Martin drew attention to the fact that prior to this year's General Election, both the Lib-Dems and the Conservatives put forward policies that were supportive of more cycling. The Conservatives saw cycling as an important part of their Quality of Life agenda and promised extra funding to promote cycling. Cycling was also recognised by their Economic Competitiveness Group as being associated with economic progress.

The Lib-Dems had various policies to support cycling. They wanted it promoted in Local Transport Plans, safe routes in all new developments and recognised it as important for liveable cities, in limiting car use particularly with regard to the school run and in reducing the need to travel. They also supported better cycle parking at stations and more accommodation for taking bikes by train.

Martin noted that since the election the budget deficit was dominating policies with less money all round. However, the Coalition Agreement is a cornerstone of policy that all Government departments have to abide by and this includes a specific commitment to support sustainable transport initiatives including cycling and walking. Also, Norman Baker is the minister with specific responsibility for cycling and he is very pro-bike.

It is noteworthy that in the recent cuts in expenditure, transport had fared better than most departments and the balance of spending here has shifted markedly away from roads towards public transport. Cycle training, known as Bikeability for children, is to be supported for the rest of the parliament. And there is to be a Sustainable Development Fund for which cycling projects easily meet the requirements of supporting economic growth and CO2 reduction. There is also to be an Expert Panel on sustainable transport to guide policy. And the Government is to maintain its support for cycling at the Olympics, which boosts the public image of cycling far beyond the sport.

In these contexts, the prospects for cycling look good. On the other hand, in pursuing a localism agenda money for local authorities will no longer be ring-fenced. Cycling here will have to compete with day care, libraries and other local services.

Martin urged C&TCC to take advantage of the Sustainable Development Fund by drafting bids for Gloucestershire to submit. They might be based on C&TCC's 'wish list' of projects, which Martin endorsed. He would like to see Cheltenham become a model cycling town and would give what support he could in this direction.

In response to questions from the audience, Martin offered to raise with ministers funding for Bike Week, which is likely to lose all Government money and perhaps commercial funding too. He would support an initiative by the Cheltenham & County Cycling Club to establish a BMX track in Cheltenham. And he offered to help mediate with the Gloucestershire Police over allegations that they do not always take complaints from cyclists seriously.

Innovative Tewkesbury cycle route signing to go aheadHeadlines

New signing for cycle routes in Tewkesbury is to be installed early in the New Year. The new signs will give directions between all the communities in the Tewkesbury area by both road and the principal cycle paths. In some cases dual routes will be indicated to cater for different journey purposes.

An innovative feature of the signs is that instead of showing distances, they will show approximate journey times in minutes, both by cycle and on foot. A few other places in Britain have trialled this type of signing, such as in Worcester as part of its sustainable demonstration town project. But this is believed to be the first time that such signing has been introduced so comprehensively across a whole town.

A principal reason for indicating journey times is so that more people may realise just how quick travelling by bike can be. In this way it is hoped that more people will give cycling a go. 86 new signs are to be used to implement the project, which is being funded by the Healthy Towns project.

The design of the signed network was carried out for Gloucestershire County Council by Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign treasurer, John Franklin.

Tewkesbury railway path improvementsHeadlines

Gloucestershire Highways has told C&TCC members in Tewkesbury that there are plans to improve the older sections of the railway path by laying a tarmacadam surface. The present rolled stone surface suffers from water and mud.

Funds have been applied for, but it is not yet known when these may become available. In the meantime a street lighting failure along part of the path should be fixed soon by Central Networks.

Town centre to be opened up for cyclingHeadlines

Gloucestershire County Council is consulting on plans to allows cyclists to use town centre roads in Cheltenham.

Under the proposals, introduced at the request of the Borough Council and the Police, cycling would be permitted in High Street between Winchcombe Street and Pittville Street (past Marks & Spencer), and along the pedestrianised sections of Regent Street and The Promenade. However, High Street and Promenade cycling will only be permitted in one direction, from east to west in High Street and north to south in The Promenade. Gloucestershire say this is in line with the one-way regulations on adjacent roads.

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign believe that one-way cycling will be unenforceable and is also unjustified and we will be telling the councils this. There will be plenty of times when cyclists will want to go the other way just for local access. In due course we would like to see all the one-way streets in the town centre opened up for two-way cycling, as is becoming increasingly common practice in European towns. This can be of great benefit to encouraging cycling by improving permeability.

If the scheme goes ahead, it will start early in 2011 and initially run for an 18-month experimental period. If the experiment proves successful, it will be made permanent, perhaps after no more than 6 months of the experiment has passed.

Another street that deserves a review is Lower High Street. It has become common for cyclists to (illegally) use the one-way section in both directions with no apparent problems except at the Boots end. It needs to be considered how this can be regularised.

Cycling remains steady in CheltenhamHeadlines

The latest biannual count of cyclists carried out by the Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign shows that the number of people cycling during morning commuting hours in Cheltenham has gone down slightly since April this year, but that the number remains at about the average for the past 9 years.

1,072 cyclists were counted over 9 sites around the town. Of these, 20% were women and just 6% children. Across the UK as a whole, cycling has been increasing over the past two years but Cheltenham shows a more static picture. On the other hand, while UK numbers were falling over most of the past decade, those in Cheltenham remained steady then too. This may be in part because the overall level of cycling in Cheltenham is high compared with most other towns and less subject to sporadic variation.

The full results of the cycle count can be seen here. The next count will take place at the end of April 2011. If you would like to help with this activity, which provides essential data for both the Borough and County councils, please contact us.

Twenty's Plenty for UsHeadlines

20 mph default speed limits across reidential and other urban areas are catching on across the country. National campaign www.20splentyforus.org.uk reports that over 3 million people live in such areas across 15 towns and cities. Distinct from the familar zones with their physical calming, they rely on a community consensus and low cost signing.Results are impressive.

We recognised that lower speeds are more important them almost any other measure for helping cycling and so organised for national activist Rod King to address a meeting of councillors, (Boroughs and County), council road safety and traffic officers, police, Institute of Advanced Motorists, Living Streets and community workers in July. The interest has grown and we have given follow up presentations to the Voluntary and Community Action group and to Cheltenham's Low Carbon Partnership. Shire Hall's review team of 20 mph has engaged Rod King to address them in November.

Meanwhile the local campaign's email, Cheltenham@20splentyforus.org.uk, has been enhanced by a google news and discussion group. If you would like to join the group email chairman@cyclecheltenham.org.uk

Local Transport Plan consultationHeadlines

This is the last chance for the public to comment on Gloucestershire's draft Local Transport Plan.

Whilst Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign welcomes the general tenure of the document in promoting active travel, there are still some large schemes in the document that could adversely affect cycling. C&TCC is drafting a response to the whole document but it would be useful if there were some individual submissions from members.

Our Cheltenham specific recommendations are here and you may care to support them.

Deadline for feedback is 15th October 2010. The complete Plan (LTP3) and summary can be viewed here.

Tewkesbury town centre master planHeadlines

During the summer a member of the Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign committee attended a seminar to discuss the master plan and to agree a vision and objectives. Final decisions will be taken in 2011 involving a number of different community organisations, businesses, politicians and officers.

The session was guided by CABE, the Commission on Architecture and the Built Environment, with messages which many of us are familiar with. It was a session that would not have been out of place at any of our own cycle planning conferences, with examples from continental Europe and the UK. The focus was very much on reducing the impact of the car, and enhancing the character of the town.

The vision is aspirational and ambitious. It will be delivered in stages through a creative approach to partnerships and funding. We will need help with our input into the process from our members living in Tewkesbury.

New Manual for StreetsHeadlines

The Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation has published 'Manual for Streets, Vol 2' to supplement Vol 1 published by the Department for Transport in 2007. Volume 1 was concerned with adopting a new approach to traffic in residential areas with the focus on liveability, lower speeds and the creation of an environment sympathetic to people. Volume 2 extends a similar philosophy to most other urban roads, including A and B roads but excluding trunk roads.

Adoption of the recommended techniques could make our towns much more friendly for cycling and Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign is urging Gloucestershire County Council to put the principles into practice. Instead of the sprawling motor-traffic oriented big roundabouts and one-way systems, we might then get infrastructure that is concerned about people rather than just moving traffic and solutions that are more appropriate for their location than standard off-the-shelf road designs taken from a motorway design manual.

Some of the principles advocated by Manual for Streets 2 include shared space, where road users need to interact more with one another which leads to lower speeds and more care; and less generous visibility so that this is not abused by drivers going faster than is appropriate.

Gloucestershire has told C&TCC that it is studying the new guidance and will then consider if and how it might be applied.

Meeting with County officersHeadlines

On 6th October, Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign joined other cycling representatives in our second meeting with Nigel Riglar, Gloucestershire County Council's Director of Planning and Economic Development. Nigel cycles himself and offered to host a series of meeting to see how Gloucestershire can best deal with cycling issues. We've had no other regular meetings with the County since its Cycling Forum last met in 2009.

The meeting discussed the setting up of local fora to deal with specific items involving both the local borough/district council and Gloucestershire officers. There's a long-standing successful forum in Stroud and C&TCC is maintaining useful contacts for Tewkesbury, but we haven't yet managed to get a Cheltenham forum in operation again (there was a successful forum in the days with Cheltenham Borough Council had highway powers but since the transfer of those powers back to Gloucestershire liaison has been unsatisfactory).

Highway maintenance was discussed and the possibility of doing minor works to benefit cycling at the same time as some maintenance works. Money for cycling is likely to be scarce with the current financial constraints but this could be a way of getting something done, in effect at zero cost. We are particularly concerned that some resurfacing schemes have reinstated unsatisfactory, narrow cycle lanes that have caused problems. It would have benefited cyclists, and saved money, if that had not happened.

Some issues concerning the new Local Transport Plan (LTP3), currently in development, were discussed, pressing the county to take a more holistic view of cycling in order to overcome some of the major infrastructural problems that deter cycle use. We were told that it is intended to apply a cycle audit to new schemes and some planning developments and we were offered, on a trial basis, information about new developments in the pipeline so that we might consider if there are implications for cycling.

The next meeting with Nigel will be next Spring, when the County should be a lot clearer about its budget.

Green Lane cycle track changesHeadlines

Gloucestershire County Council is proposing to reduce the length of the road closure in Green Lane, Tewkesbury to enable access to a new adjacent development. The southern end of the road closure would be moved northwards by 7 metres.

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign has no objection to the proposal, but has asked Gloucestershire to use the opportunity to improve the convenience of the cycle tracks through the closure. At present there are two narrow tracks which are further obstructed by bollards, making passage awkward. We have asked that either the tracks are widened, or the bollards removed.

20's Plenty for CheltenhamHeadlines

Towns and cities across Europe, including several like Portsmouth and Oxford in the UK, have recognised the benefits of widespread 20 mph speed limits. These include better ambience, less congestion, improved road safety, easier walking and cycling. Even motorists can benefit.

Traffic calming, long a main aim of cycling activists, is now recognised by the Department for Transport in their hierarchy of provisions for cycling (ref DfT LTN 2/08) - they are encouraging local authorities to explore the scope for more 20 mph areas - not just the limited and relatively expensive 20 mph zones which have road humps and other physical infrastructure. Living Streets (AKA the Pedestrian Association) is very keen, as are cycling campaigners.

So when national organisation www.20splentyforus.org.uk wanted to publicise the potential benefits for Cheltenham, cyclecheltenham jumped at the chance to help. Rod King, one of 20's Plenty's key activists, will be explaining the schemes and benefits at Francis Close Hall, University of Gloucestershire, on Thursday 22nd July from 4 to 6 p.m.

Let's see whether they can be as successful in Cheltenham as they have been with the towns and cities listed on their website. If you are interested in attending, drop an email to Cheltenham@20splentyforus.org.uk

Cheltenham bike sales boomHeadlines

Cycle sales in Cheltenham continue to increase despite the recession, with many people taking advantage of the Government's Cycle To Work discount scheme which offers up to 50% off the cost of a new bike and accessories.

See: Gloucestershire Echo.

Bank Holiday cycling festival in TewkesburyHeadlines

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign will be taking part in a festival in Tewkesbury on May 30th and 31st as part of the health and fitness initiative. C&TCC will have a stall and a Dr Bike bike-check stand on both days. In addition, on the Sunday we will be organising a treasure hunt and on the Monday leading local rides for people wishing to find out more about the best ways to get around Tewkesbury on a bike.

The festival will be based near Swilgate bridge, south of the Abbey.


Starvehall Farm developmentHeadlines

The developers have published their plans for new housing to be built on the site of Starvehall Farm between New Barn Lane and Prestbury Road, Cheltenham. The plans include a new link road between the above two roads and a new roundabout at the junction of Prestbury Road and Priors Road, the idea being that through traffic from Priors Road to the racecourse will in future go via the new link road and avoid the double mini-roundabouts in Prestbury.

At an exhibition, the developers explicitly said that cyclists would be accommodated on the new road, but then mentioned design features such as narrowings and splitter islands which often squeeze cyclists where drivers attempt to get past in too little space. They also announced an off-road cycle/pedestrian route along the west side of the road linking to Prestbury Road. This had the appearance of a shared-use footway which in inherently unsafe.

C&TCC Treasurer John Franklin, a local resident, has written to the developers about these shortcomings and received a reply that their highway consultants will consider the points raised. Too often developments such as this are undertaken by people with little idea of what works best for cycling, so it is hoped this might result in a better outcome.

Where the new link road meets New Barn Lane and Prestbury Road there will be T-junctions, which should be better for cyclists than roundabouts.

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