The committee met via Zoom on 13 February to review campaign priorities and issues.
After a busy few months, including our responses to the Cheltenham Air Quality Management Plan, our proposal for a safer alternative for the cycle spine through longlevens, and contributing to the Bishop’s Cleeve LCWIP consultation and early engagement on a Mini Holland for Cheltenham, we spent time this month discussing how we can ensure the voice of local cycle users is heard more effectively, and how we ensure local decision makers understand the need to engage with those who need and will benefit from local initiatives.
We also reviewed a number of open issues;
Cheltenham Cycle Parking
The campaign has been sharing the Cheltenham Borough council survey [now closed] on developing a secure cycle hub in Cheltenham, and has met with the council to look at how this could be a useful facility.
We’ve also been invited to suggest locations for more general cycle parking in Cheltenham. This is timely, as we are currently developing a map of all cycle parking available in the town, and have a developed wish list based on past member feedback.
We’ll be inviting our newsletter subscribers next month (March 2023) to help us make this as representative as possible, and are also eager to hear from those in Tewkesbury and Bishop’s Cleeve who can help us expand the mapping there.
Updated Third Party Reporting in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire Constabulary recently launched Operation Snap, which is meant to offer a streamlined reporting process for video footage of dangerous driving behaviour, such as mobile phone usage and close passing of cyclists.
We’ve updated our popular online article to include this new reporting method.
We’re also engaging with Gloucestershire Police on potential barriers within the process including the requirement for third party disclosure consent requested by the form.
We also raised that the example given on the form for describing an incident actually describes a Road Traffic Collision, which should not be reported via #Opsnap, and has the potential to suggest the force is only interested in serious encounters, rather than more preventative activities.
The OpSnap FAQ on what can be reported via the form
The example provided on the submission form
We’re interested to hear from local cycle users on their experiences of third party reporting, and how offences are handled.
Cheltenham Spa Station
The committee has a growing concern with GWR, Network Rail, Sustrans and the local councils on the lack of progress in the station car park, and the creation of the off-road link from the Honeybourne Line to Shelburne Road, and on to the A40.
As a reminder, GWR were given over £800,000 of Department of Transport cycle-rail funding to redevelop the forecourt. At present, they have only delivered some high density cycle racking which we estimate only costs tens of thousands of pounds, and a shared ‘path to nowhere’ along the edge of the car park. The new layout also severed the direct link to Honeybourne Line that used to run through a copse of woodland, now removed to create more car parking.
We have been engaging with GWR over the last couple of years to reinstate the connection across the forecourt, and have an agreed compromise solution to restore a continuous link.
However, this has not yet been progressed to delivery, and we are concerned as another financial year reaches its close that the opportunity may be lost.
We also haven’t seen a start on the ramp connection to the A40, which should have been underway in January 2023 on the last revised timescale shared by Network Rail.
As the campaign has built some connections with GWR, we continue to seek to engage to get the scheme progressed, but are also beginning to consider other campaign actions to raise the priority of addressing the current defects and delays.
Shurdington Road development
We previously responded to the planning application for a major housing development along the Shurdington Road, noting the lack of modern cycle facilities, and the inherent risks in the proposed highway changes.
Our original comments to Cheltenham planning on Thursday 3 Feb 2022
Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign would like to object to the proposed development on land at Shurdington Road (20/01788/FUL) on grounds that the proposed additions and modifications to the highway network will not deliver the ambitions of the submitted transport plan, nor are they aligned to the local transport plan, CBC’s CP5 sustainable transport policy, and the council’s declared council emergency.
Whilst we note there has been engagement with Gloucestershire County Council highways department, we wish to highlight three key areas of concern that are not considered in their response;
1) The proposed north-south cycling link, a vital piece of infrastructure within the development boundary, is shown as a 3.5 shared use path. LTN 1/20 key principle 2 recognises that ‘cyclists must be treated as vehicles and not pedestrians’. Section 6.5 of the same guidance recognises that shared use paths are now inappropriate in urban environments due to the very different needs of pedestrians and cycle users, and this is reflected in the Gloucestershire local transport planning document PD2.1 section 3.3.8 which states ” It is also clear that cycling and walking – as two vital active travel modes – should not conflict with each other”. LTN 1/20 Section 6.5.5 further advises “Where a shared use facility is being considered, early engagement with relevant interested parties should be undertaken, particularly those representing disabled people, and pedestrians and cyclists generally. Engaging with such groups is an important step towards the scheme meeting the authority’s Public Sector Equality Duty”. There is no evidence that such duty has been disposed.
This will be a route with periods of very high pedestrian use as children and families make their way to school, and to be a viable and desirable route, we recommend there should be a planning condition for separation of a pedestrian footpath and a discrete cycleway, the latter of which guidance recommends should be of minimum 3m width.
2) We have separately raised concerns with Gloucestershire County Council about the proposed highways modifications that enable the development. In summary here, we record that whilst there are elements of modern cycle infrastructure, there are substantial gaps in the network which, when assessed against current cycle safety standards fall well short. This includes pinch points on cycle routes, frequent requirements to stop and wait for traffic signals, sharp ninety degree turns, and extensive use of narrow shared paths contrary to current guidance highlighted above. The general strategic road geometry surrounding the development is loose, enabling motor vehicles to retain high speeds even at key crossing points for pedestrians, and at points of conflict with cycle users. The A46 Shurdington Road carries over 10,000 vehicles per day, including heavy goods traffic, and compounded by the decision to retain a 40mph limit, the proposed development will be separated from the majority of trip destinations in Cheltenham by undesirable and low quality cycle infrastructure, increasing reliance on motor vehicle use even for short trips. We believe that the shared paths represent no more than a token gesture and that a revised approach is required. If there is no ability to downgrade the strategic A46 route or create sufficient separated space west to east within the development, then fresh consideration of modal filtering to create accessible parallel routes is likely to be required.
3) We note particular concern for the proposals at the junction of Shurdington Road and Moorend Park Road which create several new points of conflict between different street users. The design here also fails to make any provision for cyclists making a return journey towards the development from the town centre. We believe that a planning condition should specify the requirement to review this junction in light of the LTN 1/20 safety standards, and to make proposals appropriate for a junction with high volumes of strategic network traffic.
The campaign is happy to work with the developed to support them in meeting their duty to engage with local stakeholder groups, and to provide appropriate infrastructure in support of their stated transport plan ambitions.
The application was rejected by Cheltenham Borough Council, with transport being one of their concerns. The developed has now appealed this decision to the national planning inspectorate, and the campaign comments will now progress as part of this process.
We enjoyed our first breakfast coffee social in Coffee#1, and have decided to make this a monthly meetup to give a space for local people interested in cycling and sustainable active travel to connect and swap ideas.
We’ll also be bringing along any live questions or problems that we’re working on as a campaign to kick around. Our next event is on 7 March between 7.30am and 9.30am in Coffee#1, Montpellier Gardens, and you’ll find more information here.
We’ve been critical of the early prioritisation of rural sections of Gloucestershire’s Cycling Spine, but remain eager to understand how it will impact cycle behaviours and whether it does deliver value for money. As part of this process, we’re conducting cycle counts along the length before, during and after construction.
We’re always looking for new volunteers to help with the counts, so do contact us if you are interested in helping.
Our membership remains stable, although it is a busy time of year for renewals, so do check if your membership is due. We’re totally volunteer led, and your small donation of £5 helps us undertake our diverse range of campaign activities, including running our website and producing campaign literature and maps.
Don’t forget, we also have free stickers available, which you can use to promote and support the campaign on your bike, kit or stuff.