Sunday, 20 July 2014

An e-mail I'd like to share

This is the response of the cabinet member at Kent County Council for Environment and Transport, David Brazier, to someone's objections to the scheme that, in my opinion, will lead to a large decline in the use of the bicycle as a mode of transport in Maidstone. I've started a petition to stop this, which explains more, and it would be great if you could sign it.

I've added a few emphasises, these are my own. Otherwise this e-mail is unedited:

Thank you for your emails regarding the recent outcome of the public inquiry into the application for the Powerhub site in St Peters Street, Maidstone.

The application was subject to assessment by the KCC Transportation & Development Team.  It was recognised that the reduction of the wide footway on the northern side of the St Peters Bridge would be a disadvantage of the development proposal.  However, this would be offset by the additional capacity for traffic that would be gained by widening the carriageway over the bridge to four lanes.

The width available for pedestrians and cyclists on the northern bridge would be reduced to 2.5 metres.  This is too narrow to maintain the existing segregated space, so pedestrians and cyclists would have to share this space.  KCC recognises that this is an important route across the river for cyclists, and that it connects to cycle routes on either side, however the numbers of cyclists using the bridge have been fairly low; generally in single figures during peak hours.

Therefore, on balance, KCC did not make an objection to the regeneration proposal for Baltic Wharf, as the overall impact on the highway network could be mitigated by the off-site works. We accept that these measures are not helpful to cyclists in a location where cycling on the actual carriageway of the gyratory would be extremely difficult.  However, my officers did not consider that we could sustain an objection to the development on these grounds.

KCC does not hold cyclists in contempt. I ride most days, wishing the traffic would go away, but accepting the realities of life. 

I appreciate that this may not be the response you had hoped for, however I hope that the information provided is useful and fully explains our position on this matter. 

So it turns out KCC does not hold cyclists in contempt.  They just give off that impression because they accept the realities of life.

Please sign the petition to stop this scheme going ahead. This could be any town, please don't let it be mine. Thank you. 

1 comment:

  1. The quote that really exposes the flawed thinking is: "however the numbers of cyclists using the bridge have been fairly low; generally in single figures during peak hours."

    Using this information to defend the removal of cycling provision totally misses the point. Assuming these figures are reliable (I'd like to see how they measured it), the automatic assumption of KCC seems to be: cyclists don't use it, therefore it is not a significant cycle route.

    Surely an equally plausible reason is that cyclists don't use it because the bridge is not an attractive/safe route for cyclists in its current configuration. The driving standards and road system are pretty poor for cyclists, but personally I prefer it to that knackered old cycle path which has a number of problems typical of the 'cycling as an afterthought' nature of town planning. Five things I immediately see wrong with it.

    1 - I'd still have to use the road into Maidstone until the path starts on the west side of the bridge at the Travelodge. Using the path then means I have to jump onto the pavement. Which leads me onto...
    2 - Looking at Google Maps, there are two lamp posts in the middle of the cycle lane at the Travelodge. One is at the point cyclists are supposed to join the path, it's incredibly narrow there if there's any pedestrians around.
    3 - Pedestrians! You can paint the 'lane' red if you like, but that doesn't exactly stop people vaguely drifting across into your path, and frequently not caring to get out of the way even when they do see you. In fact, if you look on Google maps (Aug 2012) you can see a mother pushing her kids around in the cycle lane despite the pedestrian side being completely empty. (,0.517135,3a,75y,326.41h,75.59t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sxmSccxs0ksH0feuVJdHxkg!2e0?hl=en)
    4 - Road surface quality and debris. It's a big problem, especially with high pedestrian traffic and the litter/glass this seems to generate. The road is better (I'm not saying it's good though!) on both counts.
    5 - When you get to the east side, the cycle path abruptly stops for a few metres and you have to cut across pedestrian's path to get to the confusing segregated cycle lane that goes through the subway.

    Unless I specifically need to get there, I would avoid the town centre completely and I would happily add a few miles to my ride to do so. Surely that's why cycling rates are so low across the bridge. For those not confident enough to be on the road, this is hardly an attractive alternative.

    These criticisms apply to a lot of cycle paths around Kent. If they could properly segregate cycle paths and maintain them, then that might encourage a few more people to cycle. The madness is that this is one really quite good way to reduce congestion, but I'm not sure that sort of thinking enters into the process.