Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Rocinante
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Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby Rocinante » 2 Oct 2019, 12:57pm

I have just started taking my daughter to preschool, using a trailer (baby brother comes too). I use a pavement cycle track for about 2 miles which serves a 4-18 school (c. 1000 students) and a science park but is otherwise rural (greenbelt).

The path is moderately well used by parents on the school run and commuters going to the science park. However, it is very varied in width and in parts has broken fences leading to steep drops to an algaed river, and is also not lit. Passing with a trailer or wide panniers if someone is going in the opposite direction can be hair raising and the adjacent road goes past at 50mph.

Do forum readers think it is worthwhile (me) starting a campaign to improve the route eg by widening or sorting out maintenance issues or will the relevant authorities be of the opinion that there is a path already, why improve it when budgets are already tight?

For comparison, most cyclists take 15 mins to arrive by bike, cars on a similar journey can take 30-60 minutes due to traffic levels. I'd love to encourage others to ride too but I have found many parents are scared of the path.

Rocinante
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby Rocinante » 2 Oct 2019, 1:57pm

I wanted to add that
1. It is a state school, open to all in catchment.
2. I have read the Cycling UK campaigns guide to starting a campaign but have been held back by a comment from a local member of a different national cycling charity who said that it was basically impossible to get improvements once routes are put in.
3. I am completely committed to cycling but don't have much time with two small children so am wary of investing time heavily for zero result.

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 2 Oct 2019, 2:05pm

Certainly worth trying. Whereabouts are you? There may even be people posting here who know the route.
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mjr
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby mjr » 2 Oct 2019, 2:14pm

Richard Fairhurst wrote:Certainly worth trying. Whereabouts are you? There may even be people posting here who know the route.

Or an existing local cycling campaign group that would welcome the help with that route.

Improvements to existing routes do happen. It all seems a bit of a lottery, though, whether you find a sympathetic councillor or council officer or a brick-wall, whether it's a route that plans already existed for, whether it's somehow eligible for one of the tiny pots of cycling funding and so on.

Maintenance issues should not be difficult. Even the stupidest Transport Asset Management Plan I've seen would still fix a fence protecting a steep drop if it's reported and chased up.

Widening to current standards will probably be more difficult, but shouldn't be impossible. Lighting is even more difficult because that's a fairly big ongoing cost, councils hate taking on ongoing costs these days and cyclists are legally required to use lights anyway.
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gaz
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby gaz » 2 Oct 2019, 8:02pm

Agree with the posts so far.

Maintneance of fence lines should be easiest to achieve, widening will be more challenging and perhaps bring objections, lighting will need a serious budget and probably also bring objections.

See if there's an established local campaign group to work with. Look for allies amongst existing and potential users.
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flat tyre
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby flat tyre » 2 Oct 2019, 8:30pm

Try your local town councillor. If they had agreed the climate emergency then they should be looking at initiatives such as this.

Rocinante
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby Rocinante » 2 Oct 2019, 8:43pm

Richard Fairhurst wrote:Certainly worth trying. Whereabouts are you? There may even be people posting here who know the route.


Thank you, route is from Abingdon to Culham, south Oxfordshire broadly speaking.

Rocinante
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby Rocinante » 2 Oct 2019, 8:52pm

Thanks all for encouragement and some very useful suggestions. There are local cycling groups who could be good sources of ideas. Also, in Oxford, there is Cyclox; I hadn't thought of them for guidance.

I really like the idea of breaking down the problems into components like mending the fences, that makes it seem easier. The lighting isn't critical so can bin that idea now.

Finally, we have some LD & Green councillors, so that could be a good coincidence.

Some great food for thought, thanks all.

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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby mjr » 2 Oct 2019, 9:53pm

Great! I know Abingdon and would love to ride that one some day. Good luck. See if the school will support you. I hope the European School will.
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby Bonefishblues » 2 Oct 2019, 10:05pm

Rocinante wrote:
Richard Fairhurst wrote:Certainly worth trying. Whereabouts are you? There may even be people posting here who know the route.


Thank you, route is from Abingdon to Culham, south Oxfordshire broadly speaking.

There's a lady who is the Oxfordshire CC cycling officer (incorrect title alert!) who is charged with development of cycling and infrastructure in county. They are actively looking for projects, so we're hopeful ours will gain traction.

I'll leave it with you.

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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 3 Oct 2019, 7:28am

Ah, good. I’m from the other side of Oxfordshire (Charlbury) so know some of the people you need to talk to!

Start with dropping a line to Robin Tucker - he chairs Oxfordshire Cycling Network which is an umbrella group for local cycling campaigns, so he’ll be able to put you in touch with other people campaigning in the area. Contact details at http://cyclingukoxfordshire.org/about-us/

Definitely talk to your local councillors. Cycling is a big election issue in Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire County Council has a long term ambition to improve cycling facilities in that area though I don’t think any works are imminent on this path: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/resident ... ng-network

There are more possibilities but I won’t go on for too long! But good luck - fully agree that path needs sorting.
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby atlas_shrugged » 3 Oct 2019, 10:26am

@Rocinante

You are very lucky. Oxfordshire is one of the few counties that publish a Cycle Design Guide. You can download this on the internet as a PDF.

I would advise using this spec as a big hammer to campaign for a cycle track upgrade especially where it is not compliant with Oxfordshire's own specification. Name and shame the bits of the path that are not compliant. Have a look on the excellent Cllr Bartington's twitter site to see how she does this. Either get your own twitter site or piggyback onto existing sites by working with other groups. I have also thought of putting up correx signs saying e.g. warning this track is non-compliant according to e.g. CD195 para xxxx.

Cyclox are an excellent group and I am a member. Their remit extends 5 miles outside the oxford ring road. Even though this may not extend to the tracks you have interest in, they still have extensive experience and interesting speakers to their meetings. They would definitely advise you.

I am based in Cranebridgeshire and like Oxfordshire this has very poor cycle infrastructure. We do not even have a Cycle design guide. Shameful really when politicians from both places constantly brag about how many cyclists they have and how wonderful things are.

We also have organisations such as Sustrans that provide tracks. However these tracks are more suited for leisure as they are quite indirect, they have barriers, and also have unsuitable surface e.g. gravel. Therefore they are not so suitable for transport (commuting, school run etc). Sustrans knows this and would like to upgrade their infrastructure but need large amounts of government funding. Unfortunately government is spending money on roads for motor vehicles and nothing for active travel.

Good luck with the campaign.

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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby brynpoeth » 3 Oct 2019, 10:33am

Used to know Abingdon well too :wink:
I vaguely remember the road towards Culham
I should try involving the media
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby Vorpal » 3 Oct 2019, 2:25pm

This kind of thing is what got me started in cycle campaigning.

Before I had kids, I just cycled on the road. Once I started trying to use segregated routes, I fould how truly awful some were and began campaigning for change.

With time, stubbourness and hard work, it is possible, even likely, that you can get improvements. Join the Cycling UK campainging network and get advice from other campaigners. Don't expect change to come fast.
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hondated
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Re: Starting campaign to improve cycle path in SE England

Postby hondated » 16 Oct 2019, 10:48pm

Rocinante wrote:I have just started taking my daughter to preschool, using a trailer (baby brother comes too). I use a pavement cycle track for about 2 miles which serves a 4-18 school (c. 1000 students) and a science park but is otherwise rural (greenbelt).

The path is moderately well used by parents on the school run and commuters going to the science park. However, it is very varied in width and in parts has broken fences leading to steep drops to an algaed river, and is also not lit. Passing with a trailer or wide panniers if someone is going in the opposite direction can be hair raising and the adjacent road goes past at 50mph.

Do forum readers think it is worthwhile (me) starting a campaign to improve the route eg by widening or sorting out maintenance issues or will the relevant authorities be of the opinion that there is a path already, why improve it when budgets are already tight?

For comparison, most cyclists take 15 mins to arrive by bike, cars on a similar journey can take 30-60 minutes due to traffic levels. I'd love to encourage others to ride too but I have found many parents are scared of the path.

Good luck with that then !
I have just got back home from a Bespoke cycle group meeting who have been campaigning for better cycling facilities in the Eastbourne area for 15 years and any success they have had as been only achieved by the hard work and dedication of just a few people.
And although they have had limited success there is still so much more to achieve. For instance a great length of our promenade bans us from cycling along it even though it would be safe to alongside pedestrians. Perhaps the problem we have down here is that the powers that be in the local authority seem to be anti cycling and yours are not like that but be prepared for a long hard fight to achieve what you want to.