Chichester’s Cycle Routes will be Dead and Buried if Poor Development Plans are Implemented

The Chichester Observer has published a photo and video documentary and a news article about the event and the Chichester Post has also written a story on it.

Setting up for protest on 18th May 2019
Setting up for protest on 18th May 2019

Many thanks to Louise Curry of Earth to Heaven Specialists in Handmade, Natural Willow Coffins for the loan of the coffin. It was beautifully, tastefully but simply crafted from natural materials.

We sent the following text to the local press to explain our objectives and motivations-

Campaigners met on Saturday to raise awareness of planning decisions that will affect the future quality and safety of cycle-ways in our city. Residents are aware that some planning for cycle routes is ongoing due to all the new developments coming to the City.  Cyclists are keen to get across the message that provision must be of the highest quality to enable more people to leave their cars at home. Local campaigners were lent the coffin by Louise Curry of Earth to Heaven Eco Friendly Coffins. The Coffin represents the campaigners’ grief at the prospect of losing much loved cycle provision through a series of poor planning decisions.

Michael Neville, a resident of Bosham who cycles into the City for work, explained that he was particularly anxious about the proposed plans for Westgate. Michael said, “The plans incorporated into the S106 agreements show poor cycle provision. I use the A259 every day and at every stage of my commute, poor planning of new development is destined to make cycling increasingly impractical and unpleasant. There has to be an acknowledgement of a climate emergency.  Every stage of planning must not simply consider, but prioritise opportunities to get people out of cars and moving around on foot or by bicycle”.

Mark Record added, “I fear that the car-centred design of the mini-roundabout at the junction of Sherborne Road and Westgate will prevent future cycle ways joining when the new access road from WHF gets put in. This locks in poor design on a key part of National Cycle Route 2”.

John Grimshaw, the original architect of Centurion Way and founder of Sustrans, contacted the campaigners expressing his disappointment with slow progress. “What a long struggle! One despairs that planning for walking and cycling provision is not being prioritised. Of course they should be taking a continuous and good quality route suitable for all through to the City Centre. Please let me know how best I can provide support“.

Sarah Sharp, Former Chair of ChiCycle, “I have come down to find out about the event today and to speak to campaigners about their concerns. I hope that the new Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure plan that the councils are working on will give us a much needed new chance to put together higher quality plans for the future – not only for the people in White House Farm but also for around the City with all the new developments going in.”

Could there be a Path to Unite our Divided Communities?

The Summerdale and Graylingwell estates are divided by a fence. Local Summerdale resident Steven Eccleston spoke with ChiCycle about the situation. He has two children and an exciting new play park has been constructed near his home. Previously there was a regularly used shortcut but a fence now prevents his family making the convenient short trip to the new play park.
Charlotte Webber by the community dividing fence
Charlotte Webber standing by the community dividing fence, picture from the Chichester Observer

It is not only play park outings that the fence prevents. The blocked route was a convenient link for Summerdale residents to reach the new Aldi and Iceland shops. The Chichester Observer reports that Tracey Hoff “A disabled Summersdale resident said she can no longer walk to her local church after a fence was put up blocking a pathway.” Steven’s partner Charlotte Webber also spoke to the Chichester Observer and explained “the fence segregates lower income families and makes them feel neglected and, dare I say, deprived”.

Steven doesn’t understanding why local authorities and Linden Miller homes are unable to cooperate to provide even the most basic links between communities. He told us “There seems to be no connectivity between anywhere in Chichester and getting about without a car always involves having to go miles out of your way”. In local consultation meetings, Linden Miller developers frequently state their commitment to transport infrastructure allowing permeability between their developments and surrounding communities. Something is evidently going wrong in the negotiations between local residents, planning authorities and housing developers. ChiCycle will encourage residents to engage in discussions to help resolve these community transport issues.

Have Approved Plans Already Ended the Future for Cycleways to the West of Chichester? It looks like they may have!

ChiCycle is seeking advice as to whether the “West of Chichester Strategic Housing Development Cycle Strategy for Phase 1” plans have already been approved by local government. The document includes a sketch of a new arrangement of the Sherborne Road mini roundabout. The details included in the sketch are vague but viewed in conjunction with other draft plans they show a cycle route layout that is worse (more dangerous and less practical) than no cycle provision whatsoever.

Anotated Sherbourn Rd Roundabout
Annotated diagram of proposed roundabout at southern end of Sherbourn Rd

The Southern Access Rd enters the mini roundabout as shown from the left of the plan. When compared to the existing road layout the position of the kerb-stones on the road’s North side are identical to the existing roadway. In fact the road encroaches slightly closer to the Northern property boundaries where the “overrun area removed” section runs.

The distance between the Mile “Stone” marked on the sketched plan and the existing kerb-stone is only 252 cm. There is no cycle way shown running along the southern side of the access Rd on this section of the plan and indeed other draft plans show no cycleway is intended to run along the southern side of the roadway either.

According to the developers “The northern side of the spine road has principally been chosen for the shared cycle/pedestrian way as it facilitates the creation of a continuous, cycle friendly recreational route which requires no crossings of the primary access road. A subsidiary benefit is that, by being located on the northern side of the road, it facilitates easy access to the local centre, which includes the primary school, community centre and local shopping parade.”

Tape Measure showing width of proposed two way traffic cycle and pedestrian link

Therefore evidence suggests, the intention is to run a cycleway carrying all bike traffic (in both directions) only along the northern side of the Southern Access Road. As this traffic passes the Mile “Stone” it will be on the start of a blind curve running on a pavement width of only 252 cm. This narrow pavement will presumably be carrying the entire cycle traffic from two national cycleways, the “South Coast Route No2” and “Centurion Way Route 88”. This will also be in addition to cycle traffic from the Saltern’s Way and the residents of the new West of Chichester development who are unlikely to brave heavy traffic on the St Pauls Rd B2178 which has no plans for cycle provision.

It is important to note that this heavy two way cycle traffic, pinching onto the start of blind bend along the 252cm wide track, will also be shared with, children accessing and leaving Bishop Luffa School, parents with prams, disabled and elderly pedestrians from the new Whitehouse farm development, Fishbourne and also Centurion Way. It seems unlikely that “These features follow the principles outlined in page 21 of the Sustrans Handbook for Cycle Friendly Design (2014) and section 3.5.3 of the London Cycling Design Standards” as the Lindon Miller developers claim. It is merely a narrow pavement only running along one side of a road that is barely adequate for current pedestrian use alone.

Could two similar cyclists really pass safely on this pavement while elderly-disabled users also share the path?

A significant risk associated with inadequate and dangerous cycle infrastructure, is that it provides motorists with an expectation that cyclists are not entitled to use other parts of the highway. This is exemplified by cyclist experiences on the Northgate Gyratory where cyclists avoiding the poorly designed road layout regularly experience life threatening aggression from motorists. This type of aggression will eventually lead to fatalities and maiming of people adopting responsible, sustainable transport modes.

Allegedly the pavement on the far side of the road in this photo is a candidate to become a shared footpath-cycleway!

Another area of concern with the Housing Development Cycle Strategy is the indication that a short section of pavement opposite Chichester College will be considered a shared use Cycleway/Footway. The plans indicate that the visibility at the crossing pedestrian crossing is 28.7 meters. Field measurements indicate this is an overly optimistic estimate, especially  when trees are in leaf. It is hard to imagine anyone would cycle this pavement because it is such a short length of path running around a blind bend. However the vulnerability of people attempting to cross onto it is a serious concern.

The visibility of the pedestrian crossing is very poor from the A259 Roundabout

This post has only touched on a couple of the issues presented by the Housing Development Cycle Strategy but these all indicate that the proposed plans are both impractical and dangerous. If similar plans are put into action they will prevent practical cycling for anyone wishing to head out of Chichester to the West. The road layout will prevent residents of the new housing development adopting sustainable transport modes. The National cycleways will effectively be  isolated from the city centre. It is essential that we act quickly to reverse these retrograde plans that condemn Chichester residents to a life of motorcar dependency.

The National Cycle Network South Coast Route (No2) Destined to get Even Longer!

You might imagine, after many years of campaigning about extending cycleways, ChiCycle would be excited and enthused over the prospect of a cycle route being made longer! However, we are concerned that the National Cycle Network South Coast Route (No2) is destined to become longer only by virtue of it being made increasingly convoluted. People will soon have to travel even further just to reach the same destinations. Unfortunately the section from the City’s Market Cross to the Fishbourne underpass is threatened with being diverted yet again!

Prior to 2013, the route between the Market Cross and the Fishbourne underpass followed virtually a straight line as can be seen in the map below.

South Coast Cycle Route followed direct path over level crossing
The South Coast Cycle Route (No2) originally followed a direct path with a level railway crossing.

Google maps still show images from the railway level crossing arrangement.

previous level crossing, looking eastwards from the Fishbourne side.
Google view of the previous level crossing, looking eastwards from the Fishbourne side.

There were several accidents on the crossing and the Bishop Luffa School had safety concerns for students, so a foot bridge was erected. Unfortunately the footbridge adds approximately 225 meters distance to the journeys between the Fishbourne underpass and the Market cross. It would have been convenient if both the footbridge and the level crossing options were left open for the cycle route users to choose between. A map of the current route can be seen below.

South Coast Cycle Route (No2) Routed over narrow footbridge

There is often congestion on the narrow bridge when pedestrians and cyclists use the bridge at busy times of the day.

Picture of the opening of the footbridge printed in the Chichester Observer
Picture of the opening of the footbridge printed in the Chichester Observer 2013

Although the bridge does provide safety from train collisions, cyclists (and anyone else using the ramps) are now required to make two huge zig zags with sharp 180º turns at each end. This considerably lengthens journey times.

Draft plans drawn up by the White House Farm Development show a much bigger diversion is being considered. It stands to increase journey lengths by 501 meters over the original cycle route’s length (from when the route included the level crossing). This represents an increase of 276 meters above the increased length caused by the footbridge. Bearing in mind many commuters follow the route in opposite directions at the start and end of the day, this would add over one kilometre to the distance they travel each day. To put that distance into perspective, it is approximately one kilometre (as the crow flies) between the Chichester Waitrose and Tesco supermarket car parks. The map below shows the route outlined by the draft Whitehouse Farm plans.

Whitehouse Farm Draft Plan Proposal for diversion to South Coast Cycle Route
Whitehouse Farm Draft Plan Proposal for diversion to South Coast Cycle Route

The red lines indicate the proposed cycleways. Once the bridge has been crossed coming from the Fishbourne side, there will be no path to follow directly towards the city along the south side of the new Southern Access Rd. Instead, pedestrians and cyclists will be directed North West away from the city centre. The new diversion first takes people past the south side of a new roundabout where shortly afterwards they will reach a toucan crossing. After using the toucan crossing to cross the road it will then be necessary to pass the roundabout a second time on its opposite north side (that is if cycleway users wish to travel to the city centre).

The draft plans do not make it clear how cyclists should negotiate the spur road going from the roundabout into Bishop Luffa School. Shortly after passing this entrance to Bishop Luffa School, people will  find themselves passing a spot they have past for an incredible fourth time! Indeed they will have been past the spot twice in both directions on the zig zag ramp on the bridge. Then they will have also been past the same spot going in either direction on both sides of the new road. The ChiCycle team feel this may seriously dissuade people from wanting to commute. Even more concerning, it may persuade cyclists to adopt the alternative route past the Tesco petrol station. However this alternative route requires filtering across two lanes of a dual carriageway before then crossing the additional two lanes travelling in the opposite direction. This route appears a significantly less safe option. 

The draft plans show a bus pull in area is situated next to the cycleway on the north side of the Southern Access Rd. It seems likely crowds of students will gather on the pavement area here. The plan does not make it clear if or how the cycle way will be separated from crowds of students using the school buses. Without separation this will cause a serious impediment to the passage of cycles along the pathway.

The Whitehouse Farm draft plan referred to here has previously been published by the Friends of Centurion Way in their Dossier. A copy of the draft plan is shown below.

Vectos Plan dated 12/12/14 Plan No. 110013/A/32 revision B (from page 29 of the Dossier)
Vectos Plan dated 12/12/14 Plan No. 110013/A/32 revision B (from page 29 of the Dossier)

Striving for Improved Cycle Provision and the start of a new Video Project

Following  the 5th April County Council meeting where our councillors unanimously supported Mr Michael Jones motion on Climate Change,  ChiCycle wish to promote focus on sustainable transport and pressure our local politicians into adhering to their commitments. If our elected representative are genuinely committed to the objective of a zero carbon society, then this must be reflected immediately in our local town planning decisions. All new housing development must now be designed to promote sustainable modes of transport over and above the conventionally accepted desires of the motoring lobby.

Unfortunately current planning decisions for local housing developments do not follow the high aspirations of our elected officials. Draft plans for Whitehouse farm development show significant potential for down grading at least three local cycleways and footpaths. Local cyclists, pedestrians and environmentalists must reject these sub standard plans and demand a reappraisal targeted towards provision towards sustainable transport  infrastructure.

To emphasise the importance of preserving existing cycle and footpath networks, ChiCycle is beginning production of a few short videos documenting the benefits local people enjoy from these community assets. The first of these videos follows Centurion Way from the bridge over Newlands lane to Chichester City centre.

The project is very much inspired by the work of Richard Vobes who produces videos under the name of the Bald Explorer. Indeed we are shamelessly copying (stealing) some of his mobile video making techniques but are unlikely to achieve his high levels of production quality. His website and videos are an enjoyable and fun look at local history and community and worth a watch.

 

 

Whitehouse Farm Development Endangers Three Popular Cycle Routes

Salterns Way, ChEmRoute and Centurion Way are all under imminently threatened from plans for a southern access route linked to the Whitehouse Farm housing development.

Saltern’s way is a delightful cycleway that leads from the Market Cross in Chichester all the way to West Wittering beach. It leads through miles of rural countryside and around the perimeter of Chichester harbour.

Cyclists using Saltern's Way
Cyclists using Saltern’s Way in April

ChEmRoute is the name of the project to upgrade the cycle way provision between the centres of Chichester and Emsworth. This also forms a vital section at middle of the National Cycle Network South Coast Route (No 2). The South Coast Route covers a distance of 361 miles from Dover to St Austell.

Cyclists using the Southern Coastal National Cycle Network Route No2
Cyclists using the Southern Coastal National Cycle Network Route No2

The Centurion Way is a much loved 5.5 mile (9km) path that runs between Chichester, Lavant and West Dean following the old dismantled Chichester to Midhurst railway line, which closed in 1991. There are plans to extend it all the way to Cocking in the heart of the South Downs.

Centurion Way as it passes beneath Brandy Hole lane
Centurion Way as it passes beneath Brandy Hole lane

The ChiCycle team has seen draft plans showing a new busy road  dissecting Saltern’s way and the ChEmRoute paths and the removal of the entire section of Centurion Way that runs adjacent with Bishop Luffa school. The 1600 home Whitehouse Farm development is destined to be the largest ever in Chichester’s history. The developers have pledged to open a new southern access road by occupation of the 225th home – and even earlier for construction traffic. The ground is already broken for construction of the new homes, it cannot be long before construction of the access road must begin. Unless high quality provision for cycling is provided for the existing cycleways they will become less appealing, less direct and significantly more dangerous with the heavy increase in traffic. Segregated cycle ways are needed between the green railway bridge and the town centre or existing local sustainable transport users will be forced towards motor-vehicle dependency. We need the local authorities to encourage the cities new residents to walk or cycle into town by making sound planning dissensions before construction begins on the new access road.

Salterns Way, ChEmRoute and Centurion Way converge
Salterns Way, ChEmRoute and Centurion Way converge exactly where the new road will be constructed!

Despite grave concerns for the future of the path, our group still see room for optimism. Many of us attended the recent 5th April County Council meeting and heard the motion on Climate Change being debated. Reducing local carbon dioxide emissions was stated as being of highest priority with particular attention being drawn to the importance of promoting and enabling walking and cycling.

Councillors Peter Catchpole (Holbrook speech) and Dr Kate O’Kelly (Midhurst speech) declared that all West Sussex housing developments must now include at their earliest stages adequate infrastructure to allow a future modal shift towards sustainable transport.

Jacquie Russell (East Grinstead South and Ashurst Wood speech) pledged West Sussex Counties ongoing commitment to their Walking and Cycling strategy.

Jamie Fitzjohn (Chichester South speech) overcame his issue with the term “humans have caused climate change” after speaking of the influence of subterranean rivers of molten iron. He concluded that humans do indeed have a climatic impact and compromised on the term to then support the motion.

There was also a substantial public demonstration of support for the motion calling for emergency climate action to be taken and a report from the Chicheter Post can be read here.

Climate action march outside county hall on April 5th 2019
Climate action march outside county hall on April 5th 2019

West Sussex county council’s concrete committent to reducing transport driven CO2 emissions gives the Friends of Centurion Way enormous hope for the future. The Whitehouse Farm Southern access road threatens to dissect three popular cycle routes: Saltern’s Way, the Chichester to Emsworth coastal route and Centurion Way. Our local planing priorities are rapidly changing to embrace sustainable transport. We now look forward to local residents participating in constructive consultation so we can find ideal solutions to these challenging planing issues.

Cyclists’ fear over city traffic (Safe cycle routes fail to materialise)

The Chichester Post is running a story explaining how previously promised safe cycle routes are no longer likely to be put in place in Chichester. The full article is available to read here.

Promised Cycle infrastructure now seems unlikely to arrive at Graylingwell
Promised Cycle infrastructure now seems unlikely to arrive at Graylingwell

The Post reports:
“Graylingwell Park housing developers agreed to build a cycle route. But county councillor Jeremy Hunt said he did not think this would happen because of opposition from Chichester Festival Theatre and Chichester District Council.”

The Paper also adds:
ChiCyle co-ordinator, Sarah Sharp said: “We have always said that new development needs proper links and road crossings as well as safe, segregated routes to allow people to leave their cars at home and feel safe while cycling into the city or crossing the road. New developments go in, but somehow it seems that developers and the council officers are unable to deliver the promised cycle and walking infrastructure. ”

The ChiCycle team are anxious a frequently repeating pattern is emerging. New housing developments are being granted planning permission based on conditions that are never met or enforced in practice. Indeed in this case the local authorities have actually impeded the project by refusing to reallocate space in a car park to facilitate more sustainable forms of transport use. 

Published government planning guidelines explain:
Planning obligations are legal obligations entered into to mitigate the impacts of a development proposal. This can be via a planning agreement entered into under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 by a person with an interest in the land and the local planning authority; or via a unilateral undertaking entered into by a person with an interest in the land without the local planning authority. Planning obligations are also commonly referred to as ‘section 106’, ‘s106’, 

The ChiCycle team concern that a community may engage all its efforts into consultation to ensure responsible planning decisions are made but this is a meaningless waste of their time unless there is a realistic expectation that these s106 planning agreements will be adhered to. What chance do Chichester residents stand of transitioning towards sustainable transport use, when even new developments fail to deliver safe opportunities for residents to cycle?

Climate Change Protest 5th April

9:45 am: March to Declare Your Support for calling A Climate Emergency!!!

Last time the council adjourned making a decision on the 15th Feb so we are holding another demonstration now they will be debating the issue.

Additional actions will include drawing chalk earths on the pavement and engaging with people. (Note that we aim to do this on the pedestrian streets – not confrontationally on the roads)

Climate Emergency Graphic
Support the Motion calling a Climate Emergency by witnessing the meeting from the public gallery.

For more details follow the this link to the Worthing Climate Action event on facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/542396519616177/

The County Council Meeting will be held at 10.30 Friday 5 April 2019 at County Hall, Chichester.

You may download a PDF format poster to advertise the event using the following link.

Bristol City Council – Climate Emergency Resolution Declaration Passes Unanimously!

Bristol City Council has backed an ambitious new pledge for the city to become carbon neutral by 2030 – 20 years earlier than previously agreed.

The Bristol Post is carrying a story on the Council’s declaration that can be read here.

A You-Tube video of the Bristol Council meeting can also be viewed in the media window below.

Bristol now joins Frome Town Council in declaring a climate emergency who have also committed to becoming carbon neutral by the year 2030.

Climate Emergency

Totnes Town Council have also declared a climate emergency and a link to the draft minutes that can be read here

It is a promising sign that local authorities are finally acknowledging the extent of global climate crisis and particularly significant that London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has also declared ‘climate emergency‘.

Acknowledgement of  climate emergency is an essential move forwards but only a tiny step towards implementing the significant changes necessary to transition society towards sustainability.  Let’s hope appropriate actions follow these declarations.

Wishing everyone (especially Chichester’s community of cyclists)  a very happy new year (on behalf of ChiCycle),

Mark Record