CONSULTATION: Elsie Whip??? – Local Cycling and Walking Plan Consultation

Elsie Whip – Eh? That’s what it sounds like.
The LCWIP (local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan) is now out for consultation for our area. It heavily affects Whitchurch.

A draft  Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP)  has been developed by Hampshire County Council, Sustrans (a charity making it easier for people to walk and cycle) and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

Investment in Cycling and Walking
Hampshire County Council (HCC) and Basingstoke and Deane Borough (BDBC) want to invest in sustainable transport measures, including walking and cycling infrastructure.

The introduction states:
If we are to meet our 2050 Vision, our Climate Change Emergency targets, and our Public Health goals we need walking and cycling to be safe, direct, and attractive for everyone from ages 8 to 80+.
We need our networks to be accessible to everyone and cater for the majority of users, whether they are walking with a double buggy, have a health condition or disability that makes our public spaces more difficult to use. We have been challenged in recent years by walking and cycling advocates to do better.


This is the chance to have a say on local routes, facilities and infrastructure.
What is need in Whitchurch to help you walk or cycle? traffic levels, speed, pavement widths, surfaces, cycle parking – they can all have an effect, but what is most important>
All these can be commented upon and specific locations plotted on an online map.

“Walking and cycling are practical everyday ways of travelling, for even just part of a journey, that can help to make us healthier, happier, greener, and more equal…”

The LCWIP can be accessed here:
LOCAL CYCLING and WALKING INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN

WHITCHURCH has an opportunity to ensure it becomes a better place.

Visitors to Whitchurch using the Silk Mill cycle parking.

NEWS: Cycles for Ukraine and others

The last few weeks has seen work being carried out on donated bikes to help others enjoy the pleasure of cycling, for shopping trips, riding to work or leisure rides into the countryside.

This has included servicing of bikes which have been passed to Ukranian refugees who have fled the horrific situation in their own country.
However it also helps anyone else who wishes to take up or return to their bike.

Whitchurch Bicycle Users (BUG) undertakes a free ‘Dr Bike’ cycle safety check that can assess and highlight any work required before any expensive repairs are commissioned.
The ethos driving the service is simply to help people get back on their bikes.
See: DR BIKE SAFETY CHECKS

Small safety critical adjustments can be undertaken for a donation to charity, and advice is freely provided for any further work that might be needed along with independent advice on other providers.

Cycles prepared for Ukranian refugees.

NEWS: Mill Springs Path update

The Mill Springs sports pitch area which is to be transferred from developer David Wilson Homes to Whitchurch Town Council seems to be fraught with problems and delays.

The much needed football pitches have not yet been commissioned to the dismay of players and their teams wishing to use them. Wildflower areas were missed, then planted and then inexplicably mown down. Cracks appeared in the cycle/foot path while the ‘chicane barriers’ continue to prevent access for many who have mobility issues, contravening equalities legislation.

Remedial surface work
This week part of the top surface of the cycle path was removed after some test holes were made to see what was causing the cracks. It looked as if planting left under the surface had begun to break through. Around an inch of tarmac has been scraped off, in an area stretching from Micheldever Road to about halfway down the hill.

Let us hope that the remedial work is successful and that it includes removing the source of the issue and not just covering it up only for it to appear again. Will there be a guarantee on this?

Top surface has been scraped off.

No progress on ‘chicane barriers
Meanwhile there has been no progress on the two access points where ‘chicane barriers’ remain as hazards and obstructions. It has been brought to the attention of Whitchurch Town Council on numerous occasions that they breach the 2010 Equalities Act and do not comply with government DfT requirements for design and construction.
There are other more suitable solutions that can be used but ‘chicane barriers’ are invariably unacceptable as they discriminate against many mobility buggies, adaptive wheelchairs and disabled cycles.
Such ‘chicane barriers’ are currently being removed throughout the country and have also been the subject of court action resulting in costs being awarded. But in Whitchurch…

There is a very simple solution.
If David Wilson Homes remedied the designs before they become the responsibility of Whitchurch Town Council it could save the Whitchurch taxpayers thousands in potential future lawsuits should there be an incident or a discrimination claim. Hampshire County Council has provided a simple low cost solution; however…
We shall see if common sense prevails.

Restrictive barriers remain.
At least someone added a ‘cone’ – maybe to warn users 😉

NEWS: Hampshire Transport and Climate Emergency

A Day in Whitchurch? No its not like this; at least not all of the time.
Yet too often it is, with congestion, traffic danger, street furniture damaged, driving on pavements, pedestrians blocked, children at risk, cycling threatened, cracked footways and pollution…
Is that what we want?

Hampshire CC’s Local Transport Plan 4 which will affect us all is out for public consultation.
With Whitchurch due to grow further and with the resultant pressures there will be on the roads, rail and the environment, LTP4 really needs implementing now with over 50% of CO2 emissions coming from transport.

A really useful workshop meeting was held on Saturday (14th May) in Winchester for discussing responses to the HCC’c consultation on its Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4), which sets Travel and related Climate Emergency policies for the next decade and onwards to 2050 – and importantly ‘putting people first’.
Walking and cycling were to the fore along with reduction of car use, improvements to public transport and meeting climate change targets.

Around 40 attended the meeting, mostly in person, but also including some on Zoom with good presentations from County Councillor Martin Tod and Phil Gagg of WinACC. There followed an excellent sharing of ideas along with group working on various aspects of the proposals.

The strongest message was that this a massive opportunity for change and it needs to be grasped.
Delay in dealing with the issues of Travel and Climate cannot be put off any longer.

Although there are some reservations relating mainly to the long timescale, the lack of budget commitment and unclarity on the methodology used. However the principal aims of this Plan are to be commended.
PLEASE respond to the consultation.
LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN

https://www.hants.gov.uk/transport/localtransportplan

NEWS: An ambitious Plan for transport in Hampshire

Hampshire County Council has launched a public consultation on its ambitious draft Local Transport Plan. This will set the policies for the County’s travel and transport needs and will influence government spending.
With Whitchurch itself likely to expand the Local Transport Plan could and should be a strategic part of any development that might take place.

The document (Local Transport Plan or LTP4) is packed with hopes and ambitions and on the face of it would be a sea-change for Hampshire, bringing travel and climate change to the top of the agenda in planning considerations.

Much is made of the aims to “Live Locally, travel less” and “prioritise walking, cycling and public transport”. This would all be very good for sustainable travel modes if adopted and implemented.

The draft Plan is based on two Guiding Principles:
ONE:
Significantly reduce dependency of the private car; and
TWO:
Provide a transport system that promotes high quality, prosperous places and puts people first.

Each Guiding Principle is then broken down into Core Policies which lead to Theme Policies (see diagrams below). There is a particular focus on the climate emergency and the environmental impact of transport.


A Big Question
LTP4 is big on aims but the Big Question to ask is is this yet another exercise of hopes and ambitions or is there any meaningful commitment that will ensure that the Plan can be delivered? This would mean a political will complete with investment that goes beyond production of a ‘Report’?

Opportunity
This is perhaps the biggest opportunity to address travel and related climate issues for many years. Hampshire Cycling groups of which Cycle Whitchurch (BUG) is a participant are collaborating in developing a response.
Locally, Whitchurch Town Council is to decide whether to and how to respond.

Read the draft plan here and provide feedback
The 12-week consultation runs until 26 June 2022 and you can read the information pack and complete the response form here:
LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN

NEWS: Jubilee Cycle Trail

A new Platinum Jubilee Cycle Trail has been announced today, to coincide with the 70th Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becoming monarch. Queen Elizabeth came to the throne on 6th February 1952 and is the first British Monarch to reach this amazing 70th year milestone.

Based on Whitchurch, but can be joined anywhere on the route, the full details of the special Platinum Jubilee Cycle Trail will be launched later this Spring and will follow an easy 25 mile route using country lanes and parts of the National Cycle Network.
It will be made available in time for the National Jubilee Holiday which takes place in June with a four-day UK bank holiday weekend from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June 2022.
The route will pass many other Jubilee memorials and features including those of previous monarchs which will make an interesting features to look out for.

A map and gps file will be published in the week before the Jubilee weekend.
It will be suitable for families, groups and individuals to complete.
Details will be available through contact@cyclejubilee.org.uk

NEWS: It gets worse at Mill Springs

It is not only the below standard cycle barriers that restrict users that are causing problems, but now the path surface itself is breaking up, and that’s all before the cycle route / pathway is officially handed into public ownership.

There are now further problems developing on the Mill Springs shared Footpath/CycleWay.

Small mounds are appearing in the tarmac surface as organic material below that had not been removed is starting to push through the substandard construction. These ‘mounds’ are already starting to crack. Over the winter any water in them will freeze and expand, breaking up the surface further and creating a danger not only for cycling but also as a trip hazard to pedestrians and anyone with sight or mobility impairments.

The issue has been brought to the attention of Whitchurch Town Council as this should really be remedied before the path is handed over from the developer into public ownership.
If not dealt with now it may result in expensive maintenance and repair costs as well as potential legal claims which could then fall on local residents to pay. Most are starting to appear at the top end of the site but they are appearing lower down too.

The longer it is left the worse it will become.

Below – just some of the cracks already appearing.

NEWS: Value of Town Centre Cycle Parking

Whitchurch Town Council removed the ‘new’ town centre cycle parking as it was deemed to restrict access to some businesses – amongst the reasons it was claimed that it prevented them using the pavements to park on for loading/unloading.

The result is as expected – those visiting town by cycle are using shop windows, bollards, street signs and drainpipes to lean their cycles against.
This can justifiably upset some people.

Survey
The Town Council ran a survey to seek where parking was required and most respondees wanted parking in the town centre close to where they were visiting. However Councillors decided cycle parking should go elsewhere.

But cycling is good for trade
There are numerous studies that have shown provision of such facilities increases trade and they have made themselves into planning policies. Unfortunately Whitchurch lags behind and the centre with its car congested roads along with pavement parking is seen by some as making it unattractive to visit.
See:
PARKING VALUE and ECONOMICS

Missing the point
Some believe that painting some of the buildings, or smartening the town bollards with black and gold paint will revitalise the centre into a tourist hotspot. Yes they may make it visually smarter but they will not address one of the underlying blights – that too many unnecessary motor journeys clog the town with motor traffic, increase dangers, raise air pollution and create an unpleasant experience.
Lobbying will continue.

Meanwhile the Urban Cycling group has produced the following image.
It seems to be very pertinent to the situation in Whitchurch.


NEWS: ‘School Streets’ trials commence in Hampshire

“A new trial scheme will test how a healthier and safer environment for young people walking and cycling to school could be achieved. It will create low traffic areas at the start and end of the school day…”

Hampshire County Council is running a trial at three schools where streets close to schools will be closed to non-essential traffic at drop-off and pick-up times.

Could the roads near the Primary School in Whitchurch benefit from such a scheme?

HCC say:
The closures will be managed by trained stewards in high-visibility vests between 08.15 – 09.00 hours and 14:30 -15.30 hours approximately. 

Certain exemptions apply, including anyone cycling, residents, emergency services, school transport, blue badge holders, deliveries, businesses within affected area of the street and carers of residents on the street. Any parking restrictions will operate as normal. Unless exempt, parents will not be permitted to drive into the closure zone to drop off or pick up their children. 

Traffic near the Primary School.

School traffic around the two Whitchurch schools is known to be notorious for speeding traffic, blockage of drives, parking on and driving along the pavements and drivers leaving engines idling.

If the trials in Farnham, Gosport and Holbury in the New Forest are successful it is hoped to roll out schemes throughout the County.

NEWS: Highway Code – a new hierarchy of priority

As part of a Highway Code review in perhaps one of the most long-awaited developments, a new hierarchy of priority has been announced by the Department for Transport.
Could this benefit some of the traffic problems in Whitchurch?

The hierarchy places pedestrians at the top and the heaviest and potentially most lethal road users at the bottom. 
To see such a principle introduced could see major benefits for those who travel around Whitchurch which suffers from narrow pavements, poor crossings, speeding traffic, HGVs and a lack of cycle facilities.

The hierarchy being planned is: 

  • Pedestrians 
  • Cyclists 
  • Horse riders 
  • Motorcyclists 
  • Cars/taxis 
  • Vans/minibusses 
  • Large passenger vehicles/heavy goods vehicles 

Cycling UK has produced a YouTube video to explain the hierarchy.
LINK: How to make junctions safer for everyone | Cycling UK

With reference to cycling, a DfT statement said
“car drivers will be responsible for ensuring cyclists are safe, while cyclists will be responsible for looking out for pedestrians ”,
adding that the hierarchy
“does not remove the need for all road users to behave responsibly.”