Sustrans new direction or the same old?

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Philip Benstead
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Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby Philip Benstead » 7 Sep 2016, 9:34am

I am wondering what will be the new direction of Sustrans with the appointment of it new CEO
Xavier Brice http://www.sustrans.org.uk/news/xavier- ... -executive
In the past sustrans relied on the construction of it cycle track was with volunteers but now it mostly done by local authorities’ sub-contractors, is this an improvement. A friend of mine who rides a recumbent said only last night he tries sustrans routes he is always disappointed.
In the past sustrans have been criticized by rather indirect routes on road and poor quality of it off road routes in term surfaces and signage. I would to know if this has change in different part of the UK.
I been told tonight that John Grimshaw had said that many of its NCN routes do not meet the required safety standard and that it was the local authorities’ responsivity to deal with that.
Some people on this forum have criticized me for suggesting Sustrans less than prefect, I would like to say I am not attempting to derail the reputation and work done by thousands of unpaid sustrans volunteers. It the same with the any volunteer they are at the heart of many environmental type organisations I only wish them to be used to greatest effect and not treated with total disregard.
Is the article below fair or disjointed ? Was it ever true or have things changed?

https://onthelevelblog.wordpress.com/20 ... rporation/
Philip Benstead | CTC London and FORMER CTC Councillor SE
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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby MikeF » 8 Sep 2016, 9:20am

Philip Benstead wrote:In the past sustrans relied on the construction of it cycle track was with volunteers but now it mostly done by local authorities’ sub-contractors, is this an improvement.
I'm not aware that was the case in this area. Sustrans had input into routes, but I'm not aware of any sections of the NCN that were constructed by volunteers. Sustrans helped with some of the funding, but construction was carried out by LAs and other bodies. Have you examples of construction by Sustrans volunteers?
"It takes a genius to spot the obvious" - my old physics master

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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby Mark1978 » 8 Sep 2016, 9:24am

That was my understanding too, that volunteers can help with the likes of undergrowth clearance, dealing with damage, some signage etc. But laying the actual surfacing, even if it's gravel, is specialised work.

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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby pwa » 8 Sep 2016, 9:34am

MikeF wrote:
Philip Benstead wrote:In the past sustrans relied on the construction of it cycle track was with volunteers but now it mostly done by local authorities’ sub-contractors, is this an improvement.
I'm not aware that was the case in this area. Sustrans had input into routes, but I'm not aware of any sections of the NCN that were constructed by volunteers. Sustrans helped with some of the funding, but construction was carried out by LAs and other bodies. Have you examples of construction by Sustrans volunteers?


Yes, in South Wales Sustrans routes were surveyed, designed and constructed by Groundwork Trusts and Local Authorities, employing the services of contractors. Most of the funding came from sources other than Sustrans. Sustrans helped to ensure that the bits of route joined up to make a network, and provided guidance on standards. When the routes were being constructed a Sustrans representative would attend a meeting once every few weeks, and pop down to have a look at the work on the ground once in a while. Most of the maintenance is today done by the local Authorities.

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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby ANTONISH » 8 Sep 2016, 9:37am

I've never been impressed with Sustrans Phil.
I get the impression that successive goverments are throwing some lottery money in their direction and hoping that keeps the cyclists off the road - so they can get on with the important stuff like the expansion of powered transport.
At the millenium where the 5000 mile? NCN network was unveiled we had a club run from Rochester to Woolwich to try the new paths. In Gravesend the route went through some sort of alleyway . There was so much growing in the path that it was like forcing through a shrubbery. Bikes had to be carried aloft - broken glass underfoot. On the sea wall between lower Thames road and Woolwich the surface was some sort of soft sand - we were all experienced cyclists but had difficulty remaining upright.
Over the years I've been back to see if things have improved (they haven't)
I don't blame Sustrans for all the problems with NCN but it seems very like those charities that exist for benefit of their executive.

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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby PT1029 » 8 Sep 2016, 9:38am

The section parallel to the railway on the east side of Kennington (just south of Oxford) was built by volunteer labour. A friend of my worked on it. The tarmac surface is now quite undulating.

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Philip Benstead
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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby Philip Benstead » 8 Sep 2016, 10:01am

MikeF wrote:
Philip Benstead wrote:In the past sustrans relied on the construction of it cycle track was with volunteers but now it mostly done by local authorities’ sub-contractors, is this an improvement.
I'm not aware that was the case in this area. Sustrans had input into routes, but I'm not aware of any sections of the NCN that were constructed by volunteers. Sustrans helped with some of the funding, but construction was carried out by LAs and other bodies. Have you examples of construction by Sustrans volunteers?
a friend of mind worked on a sustrans route , next time i see him i will ask him the location
Philip Benstead | CTC London and FORMER CTC Councillor SE
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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby Si » 8 Sep 2016, 10:18am

Some recent activities I've been involved with with Sustrans when I worked for them:

- cycle trains / ride to work days
- supplying bikes to local employers (so that their staff can ride rather than drive between sites) and Top Cycle Locations work with employers
- Active Families - getting families on bikes and enjoying the outdoors to improve health and mental wellbeing
- cycle training: teaching people how to ride safely on the roads and how to maintain bikes
- work in schools: teaching kids how to ride and spanner bikes and getting kids interested in cycling
- starting community cycling groups, members of which then became ride leaders, NSIs, etc so they in turn could get more people into cycling

It's a pity that many can't see past shonky cycle routes to the other stuff that sustrans does these days, especially as a number of the shonky cycle routes tend not to be sustrans work, or as sustrans planned them. For example we did a walk through of a local potential cycle route...the sustrants advice was: redirect the bus route off it, resurface the road, create filtered permeability to remove the rat-run. IMHO this would have created a nice on road cycle route in a quiet residential area. What the LA actually did was........ put up blue cycle route signs....that was it, just some signs. Of course other routes are sustrans work and there is lee-way for improvement.

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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby Philip Benstead » 8 Sep 2016, 10:28am

Si wrote:Some recent activities I've been involved with with Sustrans when I worked for them:

- cycle trains / ride to work days
- supplying bikes to local employers (so that their staff can ride rather than drive between sites) and Top Cycle Locations work with employers
- Active Families - getting families on bikes and enjoying the outdoors to improve health and mental wellbeing
- cycle training: teaching people how to ride safely on the roads and how to maintain bikes
- work in schools: teaching kids how to ride and spanner bikes and getting kids interested in cycling
- starting community cycling groups, members of which then became ride leaders, NSIs, etc so they in turn could get more people into cycling

It's a pity that many can't see past shonky cycle routes to the other stuff that sustrans does these days, especially as a number of the shonky cycle routes tend not to be sustrans work, or as sustrans planned them. For example we did a walk through of a local potential cycle route...the sustrants advice was: redirect the bus route off it, resurface the road, create filtered permeability to remove the rat-run. IMHO this would have created a nice on road cycle route in a quiet residential area. What the LA actually did was........ put up blue cycle route signs....that was it, just some signs. Of course other routes are sustrans work and there is lee-way for improvement.
but should that be sustrans job?
Philip Benstead | CTC London and FORMER CTC Councillor SE
| 0794-980-1698 | philipbenstead1@gmail.com |
Organizing events and representing cyclist in southeast since 1988
Cycle Ride? http://www.meetup.com/socialcycling4u/
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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby Vorpal » 8 Sep 2016, 10:35am

My experience is that Sustrans is a bt of a mixed bag. There are some very good rangers, and the projects I was involved with, working with schools a few years ago were very good.

I *really* dislike barriers though (for anyone who has read my other posts on the topic of barriers, this is obvious), and I hate that sustrans paths are littered with the things. I also found a great deal of resistance to any changes, such as asking for their removal in the Sustrans organisation (except for rangers) in the East of England. I was even told by one manager within Sustrans that one set of absolutely ridiculous barries was 'necessary' with no reasonable explanation.

Whilst I can past the shonky cycle routes to the good stuff they do, to me the unusability of all those tracks littered with barriers makes up for the good stuff. :twisted:
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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby Vorpal » 8 Sep 2016, 10:39am

Philip Benstead wrote:
Si wrote:Some recent activities I've been involved with with Sustrans when I worked for them:

- cycle trains / ride to work days
- supplying bikes to local employers (so that their staff can ride rather than drive between sites) and Top Cycle Locations work with employers
- Active Families - getting families on bikes and enjoying the outdoors to improve health and mental wellbeing
- cycle training: teaching people how to ride safely on the roads and how to maintain bikes
- work in schools: teaching kids how to ride and spanner bikes and getting kids interested in cycling
- starting community cycling groups, members of which then became ride leaders, NSIs, etc so they in turn could get more people into cycling

but should that be sustrans job?


It should be the job of anyone who can and wants to do it, from Sustrans to Cycling UK, local campaign groups, cycling clubs, individual cyclists, British Cycling, Bikeability instructors and bike mechanics. The more, the merrier.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby Philip Benstead » 8 Sep 2016, 10:41am

Vorpal wrote:
Philip Benstead wrote:
Si wrote:Some recent activities I've been involved with with Sustrans when I worked for them:

- cycle trains / ride to work days
- supplying bikes to local employers (so that their staff can ride rather than drive between sites) and Top Cycle Locations work with employers
- Active Families - getting families on bikes and enjoying the outdoors to improve health and mental wellbeing
- cycle training: teaching people how to ride safely on the roads and how to maintain bikes
- work in schools: teaching kids how to ride and spanner bikes and getting kids interested in cycling
- starting community cycling groups, members of which then became ride leaders, NSIs, etc so they in turn could get more people into cycling

but should that be sustrans job?


It should be the job of anyone who can and wants to do it, from Sustrans to Cycling UK, local campaign groups, cycling clubs, individual cyclists, British Cycling, Bikeability instructors and bike mechanics. The more, the merrier.
so what about NCN is it a lost cause?
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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby Vorpal » 8 Sep 2016, 10:48am

Philip Benstead wrote:
Vorpal wrote:
Philip Benstead wrote: but should that be sustrans job?


It should be the job of anyone who can and wants to do it, from Sustrans to Cycling UK, local campaign groups, cycling clubs, individual cyclists, British Cycling, Bikeability instructors and bike mechanics. The more, the merrier.
so what about NCN is it a lost cause?

Probably not. There are some facilities that are decent. And even more that could be very good, if only the barriers were removed.

I hold out hope that someday, these barriers will no longer be considered acceptable in the UK, and that they will generally be removed, or replaced with minimalist type barriers, so that it is possible to be reasonably certain of navigating a Sustrans path with tandem and trailer, recumbent trike, etc.
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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby admin » 8 Sep 2016, 12:06pm

Philip Benstead wrote:so what about NCN is it a lost cause?


No, certainly not. Even here in West Sussex the importance of a "National Cycle Network" route is something that the most motor-friendly councillor or officer can understand. So we can put a bit more pressure on to get decent cycleways built to be part of the NCN.

Once decent cycleways are built ordinary people flock to use them. Then you have ordinary people on bikes benefitting, and councillors start to see potential votes in providing more cycleways.

The NCN isn't in any way the complete answer, but it's a very useful focus to get transport planning heading in the right direction.

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Re: Sustrans new direction or the same old?

Postby Si » 8 Sep 2016, 12:12pm

Philip Benstead wrote:but should that be sustrans job?


Sustrans = "Sustainable Transport" - which bits of the list do you think have no relation to sustainable transport?