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November 2021 C&TCC Committee Meeting

This was the final full committee meeting before the AGM, where we met for updates on key campaign areas, with a particular focus on how we unlock change at Cheltenham Spa railway station, and how we can support snagging along the West Cheltenham cycle route.

Cheltenham Spa station and Honeybourne Line

The campaign has a number of concerned that it has been raising for many, many months since the final scheme details were published, and since construction started, including;

  • Requirement to dismount at the end of the Honeybourne line with no continuity of access to the forecourt
  • Lack of protection for cycle users who will be continuing their journey towards the proposed connection up to the A40
  • Absence of cycle parking for non standard cycles, and no clear path to access the cycle parking
  • Unnecessary loss of platform level ‘sheffield stand’ type parking
  • Wider concerns about a hostile pedestrian environment, with desire lines crossing the taxi parking

The campaign had also provided initial feedback that, whilst accepting the 3m ramp to the A40 was now a fixed point, the turning circle required after the footbridge was set too tight for cycles, and that the entrance to the ramp at the end of Shelburne Road could be greatly improved by using a small fallow triangle of land currently owned by the neighbouring school.

After some initial positive discussions with GWR over the summer, alongside Sustrans who have now taken over responsibility for supervision of scheme delivery, the campaign has not received any further communication, despite attempted contacts.

The station car park during the first full race week, showing the closure of the section of car park that allows cycle users to access the Honeybourne Line without dismounting, and a vehicle exiting the buy short stay car park across the pedestrian and cycle desire line.

The committee agreed to pursue a final attempt to restart the conversation through all available routes, noting that the shift to the new GB Railway model could further confound the opportunity to salvage the half million pounds of cycle-rail investment spent at the station.

West Cheltenham Transport Improvement Scheme (WCTIS)

Phase 1/2 of the scheme (Arle Court roundabout) is now nearing completion. The underpass has now re-owned with separated cycle lanes of varying width, and the cycle priority route now continues across the entrance to KFC/Travelodge, removing a previous ‘cyclist dismount’ sign that has broken the National Cycle Network route for many years.

The route continuity is looking increasingly positive, particularly with the adoption of a single phase crossing of Telstar Way (a recommendation the campaign made in its original consultation response), but there remain problems with street furniture that obstructs what would otherwise be sufficient path widths.

**Campaign impact** Since meeting, and following contact from the cycle campaign and other local users, the poles have been removed, and new signage is being prepared.

Photo of the B4063 approach to the Arle Court roundabout with the pole now removed.

Whilst these are great campaign outcomes, they highlight the importance of involving those familiar with the range of cycles and people that travel around our towns to avoid the need for costly rectification works.

There remain some concerns, particularly the tight turning circles into the underpass, further compromised by the ‘non-radiusing’ of the corners. Committee members agreed that it would complete a safety audit of the scheme once works had completed.

Nearly completed works approaching the Arle Court underpass, where cycleway width narrows to 1.8m and there is a tight, right angled turn to access the underpass, despite the available space to the right of the photo
One of the unlit bollards installed at each approach, narrowing the cycleway to below recommended widths, and making it difficult to keep a good speed up when cycling up hill away from the subway, and forcing cycle users into the leaf litter.

**Campaign impact** Since meeting, and working alongside the local liberal democrat group, campaign members have secured a commitment from the council that the bollards will be removed.

Phase 3/4 improvements between Benhall Roundabout at Gloucester Road have now commenced. Despite a positive site meeting, the county council rejected the major recommendations in the feedback we provided, including no further safety measures for the Tennyson Road crossing. There is now confirmation of a continuous coloured surface, and a proposal to reopen Kingsley Garden to Oldfield Crescent to address concerns of turning vehicle ingress, but the campaign will closely monitor this location given the risk of parked vehicles impacting the cycleway. Early sections of the cycleway that are away from the road look promising.

There is ongoing communication with the council about the section between Griffiths Avenue and Church Road. On this section, adjacent to a 40mph road, the current plan is to build a 2m width cycleway with a kerbed drop into the carriageway. This is against current standards, which would recommend at least a 0.5m buffer from traffic. We have again emphasised the need to review this location before the dividing trapezoidal kerb is installed, or to consider either lowering the speed limit to a more appropriate 30mph or using a shared path for this section given how compromised the planned width will be.

A46 Shurdington Road near Leckhampton School

At the last meeting, the committee agreed that the plans were so compromised that they were irremedial in their current form to LTN 1/20 standards, and that the campaign would instead raise a general comment to this effect. At this stage, no reply had been received.

A committee member had also attempted to engage with the headteacher of the new school to highlight the impact of such a poor scheme on the safety and transport choices of their future pupils, but again, no response had been received.

B4063 Cheltenham-Gloucester route

GCC have now finalised their proposals for the first section of this route, and construction has commenced.

A ‘meet the contractor’ event had been held, which showed that the timescales for construction of the route were slow, and that it will be at least 2023 before the route provides any continuity to Churchdown. Whilst the route itself may now have been improved to current standards, this long period with no benefit highlights the challenges of the current council strategy to focus only on developing the spine route, rather than a more mixed approach that also addresses connectivity within local communities.

Construction timetable for the Cheltenham to Gloucester cycleway shared during the contractor event.

Following a question from the campaign, the contractor has confirmed that, unlike the Arle Court works, they will not be using ‘Cyclist dismount’ signs during the roadworks when the carriageway remains open, an important change that brings the works up to current guidance.

20s Plenty

The campaign has been approached about how it can support the rapid adoption of 20mph urban speed limits, a policy now being adopted by many other local authorities, and which the campaign has had a long record of advocating for.

A report had been prepared for scrutiny following a debate triggered by an opposition motion

Based on the discussion, it appeared there is little will to accelerate rollout more quickly across Gloucestershire, and the campaign agreed that it was important to keep collaborating with other campaigning organisations, representing a wide range of pedestrian, cycle and motor vehicle users who would like to see this life saving intervention brought into far more areas.

Bishops Cleeve to Cheltenham Cycleway

A campaign member is still awaiting a response to a freedom of information request to support the campaign in assessing the changes at the A435/Southam Lane junction, and whether the council has a clear route and plan for funding the scheme going forwards.

AGM & social

The AGM was already arranged and advertised to occur following the committee on Thursday 11 November. It was agreed that the committee would open for consultation a plan for the coming year, and that members would be invited to get involved in shaping the priorities.

The committee also agreed that it was a good time to provide an opportunity for members to get together again after a long break due to COVID restrictions. A social has been organised for 2pm on 28 November at Deya Brewery.

We hope you can join us. There will be a chance to discuss the plans for the next year, as well as meet committee and other members.