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
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
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 interestingfeatures 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 email@example.com
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.
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.
“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. “
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.
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.
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.”
Naomi House/Jacksplace, hospices for children and young adults and just down the road from Whitchurch, is one of the most worthy charities in the area. And you can support them this August with a challenge. Why not give it a go?
Cycle 105 miles your way – over a day, a weekend, a week or across the whole month of August. Start at any time – its your choice..
This is a challenge for cyclists everywhere; rides of all types will count towards your total!
You can take on the challenge alone, with your family & friends or colleagues, the choice is yours! Track and share your progress using a fitness app to keep an eye on your mileage or just log it yourself.
Take part in Pedal 4 Play and make your miles count!
Is this one of the worst fails for a barrier on a cycle path?
It has already been noted that the barriers installed on the Mill Springs shared Cycle/Pedestrian path cannot be used by a number of users, yet they still remain.
The chicane restrictions are an accessibility nightmare for cycles using a trailer or a family tagalong. They could also restrict work bikes, tandems, hand cycles and tricycles, and that’s before the needs of mobility scooters are considered. Double buggies are also likely to be hindered.
Below design standard for accessibility In addition the barriers fail the Governments published design guidance (LTN 1/20) that states very clearly that: “Access control measures, such as chicane barriers and dismount signs, should not be used.” Basingstoke and Deane’s Cycling Strategy states: “Users of specialised equipment – includes users of trailers, trailer cycles, tandems and tricycles, as well as disabled people using hand cranked machines. This group requires wide facilities free of sharp bends and an absence of pinch points or any other features that force cyclists to dismount.”
Another question is being asked – was an Equalities Impact Assessment undertaken? Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council as the planning authority should be able to provide that, but haven’t.
But another problem is occurring especially at the western end near the sports changing rooms. The installation is also restricting access to maintenance vehicles for the three sports pitches. While there are two bollards that can be unlocked to allow access, maintenance vehicles are then confronted with the staggered barriers across the path. These vehicles are taking to the surrounding grassed areas, completely destroying it and creating a stony bare unsightly eyesore – and when it rains stones and mud get washed down into the road below causing additional hazards.
Can anything be done? Yes. The area is currently under the management of Mill Springs developer David Wilson Homes, but will soon pass into the ownership and responsibility of the Whitchurch Town Council. This should be remedied before that takes place. Let us hope that before the site is handed into public ownership this issue is resolved or future costs may rest on local residents. It has also been suggested that should anyone fall trying to negotiate the barriers it could also lead to potential injury claims.
The solution would seem to be a very simple one; remove the superfluous staggered barriers both here and at the other end; retain lockable bollards to retain access for service vehicles; make access to all legitimate users possible; comply with requirements of the 2010 Equality Act, and remove the need for maintenance vehicles to churn up the grass. Sorted. Except it isn’t, at least not yet.
NATIONALLY Its not just local routes that suffer such poor designs but also the Sustrans led National Cycle Network. Listen to hand cyclist Ellis Palmer, then look at the barriers in Whitchurch at Micheldever Road end of the Mill Springs path (pic below): Link to Video: BARRIERS ON NATIONAL ROUTES(Sustrans / Ellis Palmer)
New cycle parking has been installed at the White Hart in the centre of Whitchurch.
Cycling levels have increased considerably recently, with Whitchurch becoming a popular destination. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, gentle lanes and river valleys and with a selection of shops and cafés, it has hit the cyclists radar as can be seen by the numbers who visit. Research has shown that investment in cycling facilities can increase revenue considerably resulting in forward looking businesses supporting the activity. See: CYCLING CAN INCREASE TRADE
Owned by family brewers Arkell’s, the White Hart provides excellent food, drinks, and accommodation, with a very friendly welcome and is highly recommended. Dedicated cycle parking is low in the town after the Town Council removed parking provision from the centre although it is looking to relocate it elsewhere. That exercise is believed to be ongoing.
An important requirement by those who cycle is that parking should be very close to and convenient to where they are visiting. The White Hart achieves this with the parking incorporated into its new outdoor area. A visit to the White Hart should not be missed.