Committee members met virtually for updates on campaign activities over the last month, during which we have welcomed a further two members to the campaign.
Publication of our critique of the Severn Vale route.
Our detailed article on the problems with Gloucestershire County Council’s reliance on the 26-mile ‘cycle spine’ route had been well received, and widely read following shares on social media.
The committee hoped that this will become a valuable reference document, highlighting the importance of an integrated approach to promoting local, urban cycling if the necessary levels of cycling are to be achieved in Gloucestershire.
** Campaign Impact – A question referencing our commentary on the 26-mile cycle spine was asked by a local councillor to the cabinet member for highways at the May 2022 County Council meeting **
Cycle infrastructure scheme updates
Cheltenham to Gloucester B4063 Cycle Route
In line with our commitment to still ensure the Gloucester to Cheltenham route delivers on safety and quality, the committee noted the full plans are now available for the continuation of the route to the Estcourt Roundabout.
Following the requirement placed on the council by the Department for Transport to review the plans after the campaign and others raised concerns, the external input appears to have improved them, but there remain many issues.
Committee members are in the process of arranging to meet with GCC officers and the scheme consultant for a site visit to examine these.
Bishop’s Cleeve to Cheltenham Cycle Route
We believe the council have now been advised of whether their bid for funding was successful, and that an announcement on this is imminent.
** Post committee update – Gloucestershire appears to have been successful, announcing it has been awarded £14 million which should support the delivery of the long awaited Bishop’s Cleeve cycle route **
Committee members who had raised objections last year had recently received a generic email explaining that the scheme was too far progressed to be significantly reviewed, whilst acknowledging that it was not being constructed to LTN 1/20 standards. The committee has very low expectation for the quality of the shared path solution alongside this 40mph road.
No further updates have been received on the Moorend Park Junction, where the committee has raised particular concerns about conflict between left turning motor vehicles and cycle users proceeding North along the Shurdington Road.
The committee discussed the challenge that these road schemes are approved through the planning process, but that by the time they have made available to the public, they have already been ‘signed off’ with a letter of support by the county council highways team. This makes it very hard for the Cheltenham planning committee to take an alternate view without risking appeal. The ideal arrangement would be for the highways team to engage with the campaign when considering significant changes to the network, but this sadly does not occur in Gloucestershire at present.
M5 Junction 9 and A46 (Ashchurch) Corridor Scheme
The cycling campaign has been contacted by the scheme consultant for developing the walking and cycling strategy that sits in parallel to the substantial road expansion plans around Junction 9 along the A46 east of Tewkesbury.
We have offered our expertise and insights, but also highlighted in our initial letter of engagement that any token facilities alongside such a major road expansion is unlikely to mitigate the harms of increased motor vehicle traffic.
The southern route links to our previous raised concerns about the apparent overscaling of the new junction within the M5 Junction 10 scheme.
The committee also noted in passing the substantial additional tarmac created by the out of town retail development at Junction 9, and the new impact of this complex set of junctions on existing traffic flows.
We will continue to update members as this scheme and its impacts emerge.
Work has now concluded on the long awaited works for sections of the Honeybourne Line disturbed by roots or ground changes. The campaign assessed that the quality of the works was poor, with only a superficial resurfacing that is likely to break up again, and which has created additional humps because it has not been blended to the existing layer. Several sections appear to have been left unaddressed.
The campaign will be writing to CBC to feedback on the works.
Our ‘wish list’ is one of the most important sections of campaign activities, highlighting the achievable, local interventions that could unlock significant change in cycling rates by creating coherent and direct routes and addressing key risks.
When we launched our new website, we made the decision to maintain the wish list on the old server due to the backend database that supported it. The committee reviewed a paper on the importance of the wish list, and agreed that now was the time to update the ‘front end’ appearance onto our new website.
This would also provide an opportunity to review the list, and members will be invited to contribute, including the development of a similar list for Tewkesbury.
Use of video evidence
A committee member is awaiting a long-delayed Freedom of Information request on how Gloucestershire Police use video evidence submitted by cycle users in Gloucestershire. We plan to open a survey on experiences and confidence in this process with members and cyclists across Gloucestershire later this year.
The campaign noted the outcome of the local elections, including the successful election of Tabi Joy, a previous committee member, to Cheltenham Borough Council.
To help members show their support of the campaign, and to increase public awareness, the committee is exploring the production of a range of free stickers and decals for bikes and equipment.
The committee continued its discussion on next steps and priorities for campaigning. As noted in our critique of focus on the Stroud to Bishop’s Cleeve cycle route, there is currently little alignment between Gloucestershire County Council’s approach and the campaign view on how to deliver significant increases in cycling.
The committee has previously agreed that it would not compromise on what it believes to be an evidence based view. We agreed to continue seeking to engage with GCC wherever possible, and remain willing to offer our expertise and local community insights.
We also agreed that detailed work on strategic network proposals would have only limited value given this gap in collaboration, but that we would focus on developing a couple of key proposals.
We would also seek to work with Cheltenham Borough Council, where there are appears to be more connected relationships, to promote cycling in areas within their control.