Problems with new Town Centre Scheme
Neil Garratt has written (slightly edited) about the new traffic scheme affecting Loughborough:
It is a real concern that the ill-thought(?)-out placement of a dropped kerb on the corner of High Street and Baxter Gate and the unsigned appearance of a "cycle lane"(?) is going to lead to a serious injury or fatality. I refer to the 90 degree turning from the High Street into Baxter Gate which is a blind corner. Buses and lorries regularly mount the kerb. I have witnessed a near fatality, where a disabled lady in a motorised scooter was attempting to cross into the Market Square. The view towards the Poundshop and the High Street bus stops is often obscured and vehicles frequently drive down the right hand side, turning sharp right. I saw a lady nearly wiped out by a van driver. There is no crossing marked out on the road. No pedestrian lights or anything to protect pedestrians or cyclists.
Cycling along Baxter Gate is more than perilous: it is used both ways by cyclists, but it appears most drivers think it is a one-way road. I've seen cyclists get to the end of the "lane" (white lines drawn on tarmac) only to be confronted by the side of a bus or truck speeding round the corner without any indication there might be a human being on two wheels coming the other way.
Finally, it's comical (but not funny, if you get my drift), that there is a sign by the blind corner, facing south down the High Street as another "lane" appears which indicates "Cyclists Only". Again, there is no indication to drivers that in fact the whole of Baxter Gate and round the corner into the High Street is 2 - way for cyclists. This is a dreadful situation and indicates the total disregard for cyclists and pedestrians by whoever planned this mess. Someone will be killed or seriously injured and I hope a Councillor sits up and takes note sooner not later.
I spoke to a Community Policeman in the Market Place about it and we stood watching traffic movements around that Baxter Gate / High Street turn. It really wasn't designed by someone who ever gets out of a car. My worse fear is for disabled people and pedestrians.
Roger Hill and John Catt have already walked the ring road with County Council officers and identified a number of situations where small changes could much improve the situation. Another meeting is to be arranged to review the cycling provision along Swan Street and in the town centre.
No Cash on Cycling Delivery Plan
The timing of the draft Cycling Delivery Plan’s release (a year after it was first promised) was something of a surprise – it happened mere minutes before the House of Commons was due to debate the future of cycling in Britain, giving MPs little time to absorb its contents.
Unfortunately, its aspirations to increase cycling are not backed up by a firm funding commitment. Instead, it says: "working with local government and businesses, we can together explore how we can achieve a minimum funding packet equivalent to £10 per person each year by 2020-21."
Over 25 MPs made impassioned calls for a better deal for cycling and pointed out its benefits, expressing their dismay at the Plan’s funding deficit.
The Plan glosses over the most important recommendation of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s (APPCG) Get Britain Cycling report, i.e. the creation of a cycling budget of at least £10 per head per year, rising to £20 as cycle use increases. This should be enough to help Britain catch up with Germany, the Netherlands or Denmark. Set against the Government’s £24bn for road building and £40.6bn for HS2, such expenditure would be very good value. It also falls short of other Get Britain Cycling recommendations, especially on cycle use targets, consistent high design standards, guidance for cycle-friendly road infrastructure and action on lorry safety.
In response to the debate, cycling minister Robert Goodwill MP said: "This is the first time that the Government have included that £10 figure in a document, and I have to say that, having let the genie out of the bottle, I intend to do nothing to try to put it back."
Get everybody active every day
Public Health England (PHE) has published, ‘Everybody active, every day’, a framework for national and local action to address the national physical inactivity epidemic, responsible for 1 in 6 deaths and costing the country an estimated £7.4 billion a year.
PHE is calling for action in health services, social care, transportation, planning, education, sport and leisure, culture, the voluntary and community sector, as well as by public and private employers to make active lifestyles a reality for all, specifically to:
- change the social ‘norm’ to make physical activity the expectation;
- develop expertise and leadership among professionals and volunteers;
- create environments to support active lives;
- identify and up-scale successful programmes nationwide.
The framework paints a bleak picture of the current state of the nation’s health, citing that 1 in 6 deaths are inactivity related (the same as smoking), with 33 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women not active enough. PHE calculates that this costs the UK an estimated £7.4bn a year, and has the potential to destabilise public services if the current trend continues.
Unsurprisingly, PHE sees being active as central to both our physical and mental health. The framework spells out what it believes is necessary to turn around the burgeoning health crisis, including an aim for more adults to be active for at least 150 mins a week and to reduce the numbers who are currently active for less than 30 mins.
The creation of environments that support active living is seen as crucial to building more physical activity into everyday routines. PHE argues that pedestrians, cyclists and other active travel users need the highest priority in terms of road and urban development. Consequently, town and transport planners are seen as key, and PHE will look to encourage them to work with public health professionals at a strategic level.
Recognising the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations to promote cycling for transport and recreation, the framework also highlights NICE encouragement for primary care practitioners to identify inactive people and deliver programmes for their benefit.
Encouragingly for cyclists, the framework places the creation of attractive environments for cycling and walking high on its list of five steps which local areas should take to support change.
The UK population is now 20 per cent less active than we were in 1961, and current trends could see this increase to 35 per cent by 2030. The framework argues forcibly for a change in the public mindset from Westminster to local authorities to stem the rising tide of obesity.