Last Respects for Gina McWilliam

Gina McWilliam’s funeral took place on Monday 30th December. She was killed while cycling along the A259 in Fishbourne.

Gillian Turnbull has placed a small shrine for Gina McWilliam at the roadside in Fishbourne on behalf of everyone at ChiCycle.

It bears the message;
Gina, we at ChiCycle will change our road systems, in your honour, fight the battle that you would have fought to save cyclists and pedestrians.

WSCC Position regarding Gina McWilliam’s death

Email from Andy Ekinsmyth of WSCC regarding Gina McWilliam’s death. Share by Jeremy Gould:

Thank you for your email message. I am deeply saddened by this terrible event and my thoughts are with the family, friends and all of those affected.

The tragic accident on the A259 at Salthill Road is currently subject to a police investigation. I am sure you will appreciate that that these matters are both complex and sensitive and that it would be wrong to try to draw any conclusions until such time as the police investigation is complete and the matter has been concluded either in a criminal court or following a Coroner’s inquest. While the police investigation is ongoing I am unable to comment specifically with regard to the recent accident as it is essential the police inquiry remains open and transparent and that nothing enters the public domain which could prejudice the outcome of that investigation. This is of course true for all such investigations.

I would like to assure you that WSCC takes road safety extremely seriously. WSCC has an established group that specifically considers each and every road death or potential road death with a view to reduce the likelihood of a similar incident from reoccurring. The group consists of staff experienced in all aspects of road safety, and highways and traffic engineering. Sussex Police also have a representative who acts as a conduit between the police and highway authority investigations. As part of the WSCC investigation traffic officers from one of the local highways team attend and inspect the scene within 72 working hours following notification of an incident, initially to establish if there are any immediate safety issues which need an immediate fix. This inspection took place on the 25th November 2019.

I can confirm that the Chichester to Emsworth route achieved a high score using Sustrans’ RATE tool, and as such is the second highest ranking inter-community utility route featured in the West Sussex Walking and Cycling Strategy 2016-2026. The Strategy prioritises schemes for feasibility investigation, with feasible schemes progressing to the design stage with a view to identifying funding to enable future delivery.

In light of this, and with the advent of the LCWIPs (local cycling and walking infrastructure plans) in 2017 along with the awarding of 60 days technical support from the Department for Transport via their consultants WSP. Chichester to Emsworth is one of 6 inter-community utility routes that will feature in the ‘Draft West Sussex LCWIP’, which is due to be submitted to the Department for Transport in mid-December. The LCWIP process involves: auditing routes, recommending feasible improvements in line with best practice guidance, highlighting challenges/proposing alternative options and a high level costing. I am yet to see the draft final report which I expect will be made more widely available once it has been approved.

The LCWIP is not in itself a delivery mechanism – it is a document that can help to make the case for directing investment and securing external funding where this may be required. It can also help secure improvements through local development sites where these are proposed. This is vital because, due to their long-distance nature, improvements to routes featured in the West Sussex LCWIP are likely to cost many millions of pounds, and so external funding contributions will be required in order to deliver them. To put this in context, our annual budget for all local transport improvements (the Integrated Transport Block allocation from the government) is £3.7m. To provide one kilometre of 3m wide shared path adjacent to the highway costs approximately £550,000.

In addition, we have asked Highways England to complete a feasibility study for the Chichester to Emsworth route through its Designated Fund programme (Cycling Safety and Integration). A study was commissioned during 2018/19 but work on this route was paused alongside other similar projects due to funding concerns. Highways England have been reviewing the programme of projects and we await their decision.

As you are aware the ‘Chichester District Council LCWIP’ looks at routes within the city boundary. In terms of Chichester to Emsworth this means from the A27 underpass at Fishbourne Road East. In addition, I can advise that improvements to Westgate will be provided as part of the Whitehouse Farm development.

With regard to collision data, I note that Sarah has forwarded the link to the casualty data on our website, however you can also request a more specific data study by contacting the data team at accident.data@westsussex.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Andy Ekinsmyth

 

One of many responses to this email shared on facebook- this from Rupert Emerson:

It is worth just reading this statement carefully. Note for example “recommending feasible improvements in line with best practice guidance”. I see no best practise anywhere in Sussex. There might be something in London I think but it is as rare as hen’s teeth. The Department for Transport guidance is quite good having said that, but somehow it never happens that way. On another point, money. There is money already being spent by WSCC but it is being wasted on pots of paint. I wish they would stop doing that. Instead save it up and build 100 metres of a cycle route properly, say for example out from The Cross. Then when funds allow internally or externally build another piece. One of the beauties of the Chemroute design is that it can be done this way. However when you hit something like a roundabout you have to be decisive in changing the infrastructure but what I think will happen is that bits and bobs will be done and difficult bits left, which is worse than doing nothing. Now we come to the really worrying bit. Shared path. Is the idea to create a shared path alongside the road? If so £550,000 for one kilometre is a hell of a waste of money. Don’t do it. A separated cycle path is what is required. I hope you are not saying cyclists share with pedestrians, please! Of course the whole decision making process and the plans are kept so secret. Not once has WSCC thought to bother to write and tell me what they have in mind, or tell me of something in the public domain that I could look at. Having been one of the UK’s leading transport researchers I find this very disappointing. Talk of high priority, reports etc. therefore strike me as a smokescreen for inaction as summed up by Dick Pratt. If you think I am being unfair Andy Ekinsmyth then send me your current plans and ask me to comment.

We need 100 New Members to Promote Safe Happy Cycling

We need you, your friends and family to join us so we can make safe, happy cycling a reality in Chichester. ChiCycle is now ten years old and we are celebrating  by running a recruitment drive to expand membership. See if you can spot any of our one-hundred recruitment postcards that we are discretely displaying and distributing in public spaces. Each postcard displays a stylish and classic bicycle and bears a unique hand written message inviting the reader to get join ChiCycle.

If you haven’t found one of these beautiful postcards yet, please use the contact details below to join!

This card above has the following text;

Dear Friend,
To celebrate ten years of Chichester’s cycle campaign, we need 100 new members. For safe, happy cycling to be a reality in Chichester for everyone and to prevent another tragic death, get on board.
(contact)
Email:- getintogear@chicycle.co.uk
Phone:- 07833525190
Post :- 2 Ormonde Avenue – Chichester – PO19 7UX

Please get in touch, drop us a line

If you find one of our classic bicycle post cards, please pass it on or leave it positioned in a public space where it may invite others to join.

Looking forward to meeting new members and making Chichester a haven for Cycling, 

Mark Record (on behalf of ChiCycle)

Cyclist Killed in Fishbourne

A 45-year-old local woman, who has not been officially named yet, has been tragically killed on the A259 (reported here in the Chichester Post). She was pronounced dead at the scene of the indecent. It is incredibly sad that a woman taking a responsible decision to adopt sustainable transport, has paid such a great price. She regularly cycled to work between Fishborne and Bosham which ought to be a simple, safe and sensible cycle ride between two adjacent harbour villages. Our thoughts are with her family in this difficult time of their loss.

For decades local highway planning has prioritised motor vehicle use above all else! Vastly expensive projects have been undertaken like the A27 dual carriageway built between Portsmouth and Chichester in parallel to the already existing A259 and B2146 roads. Money from this project was supposed to have been put aside for a cycleway but this funding has apparently vanished into smoke. There is now an agreed plan to expand the A27 yet again with a huge stretch of dual carriageway ruining ancient woodlands in order to bypass Arundel. The A27 around Chichester is also in line for developments which appears entirely focused towards motor vehicle users.

ChiCycle has hosted the ChEmRoute action group webpages for almost a year. The ChEmRoute pages outline the proposals for  provision of a safe, direct high quality cycleway between Emsworth and Chichester. Although there is already a designated cycle route along the A259, the existing cycle way provision is piecemeal, poorly integrated, indirect (often leading away from a desired direct route), virtually impossible to follow and in places dangerous. The ChEmRoute action group has long highlighted the neglect for the safety of cyclists along the A259. ChiCycle members also strongly challenge the indifference shown towards cyclists (and pedestrians) by local planing authorities. We believe it should be quick, easy and safe for everyone to make local journeys without resorting to driving a motor vehicle. More needless deaths like this cannot be tolerated.

Mark Record (on behalf of ChiCycle)

Playing Out on South Street on International Car Free Day 22nd September

To help celebrate and recognise International Car Free Day, ChiCycle is financing the costs of the Chichester Car Free Day Campaign who are holding a Playing Out event on South Street. Transition Chichester are also giving the event significant administrative support. Chichester Lions, Priory Rotary Club and  Chichester Rotary Club are all advising about management of traffic and offering help on the day.

The Playing out event will run from 12:30 to 15:30. It should be a lot of fun and the organisers will warmly welcome any help people are able to offer with staffing the event on the day. Please get in touch with the organisers if you can commit to giving help on the day by emailing volenteers@carfreechi.org.uk.

An example of a playing out event is shown below.
Playing Out in The Rain

A recent survey shows Just how popular the event is with local businesses.
Chart Showing Support

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.