Keep People Safe

Another crash at Basin Road unfolds its tale of human pain and agony. We don’t know the cause of the crash as police are still seeking witnesses, but we do know that not enough is being done to keep people safe in Chichester.

Click this link to read Sussex police report of the recent Basin Rd incident

We know that timescales to deliver any improvements to this area are very slow and linked in with the major development to the area. If the Highways Infrastructure is to be left in the hands of the Developer I am seriously concerned that we will not end up with high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure that we need to promote people’s health and well-being and fulfil our climate change commitments.

Traffic danger on Basin Rd
Traffic danger on Basin Rd

We need urgent and radical re-designs of this gyratory system and all the other major gateways into the City. Above all we must start to put people first and champion people-centred places. Up to now our Highways Engineers have pursued the need to keep traffic moving, fighting congestion with more roads – all in the name of continuing economic growth.

We need to change all that. We aspire to healthy, green, clean and safe places for people to be. It is that which will attract more people into the City.

In the meantime, the state of our roads seriously puts people off walking or cycling. Whole areas become no-go zones – places we learn to avoid if we can help it. As a victim of a Road Traffic Collision on this very same road, I have changed my shopping and leisure habits radically as a result. I am only one person and my concerns are undeniably more acute than most people’s but I am not alone. We continue to push people on bikes and on foot into the margins at our peril.

The well being of the City doesn’t, contrary to most people’s beliefs, depend on abolishing  or reducing car parking costs. It depends on people knowing they are safe.

At the moment we are not. We need to do more to ensure that we are. Waiting for WSCC and CDC to act is not enough.

New Cycle Racks for Chichester City?

Chicycle is extremely concerned that we are spending nearly £20,000 of public money on replacing perfectly adequate cycle racks.  This is essentially a “prettification measure”. When you decide to travel by bike, when we as councils planning for health and to prevent climate change are trying to encourage cycling, the colour of the racks doesn’t matter. You need more racks… and you need to spend on safety on the streets. But replacing like for like is not essential especially despite all the planning documents (Chichester Vision Feasibility Study, Walking and Cycling Strategy, Growth Plan, Chichester Area Strategic Transport Investment Programme, Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan…) we don’t have a single length of segregated cycle lane to show for it – we have been commenting on such studies on behalf of ChiCycle supporters for nearly 10 years. All we are proposing today do is put in what, I must say, look like rather plain and sterile new racks as replacements for our perfectly sound existing racks.

Rustic traditional bike safely locked up
Rustic traditional bike safely locked up

Council tax has gone up again this year. In the past three years the city council’s precept has gone up by 3 ½ percent and 3 percent – which is in line with inflation if not everybody’s salary – but this year it’s up by  5 ½ percent which is well ahead of inflation and salaries.  We owe it to our residents to take stock of what we are spending their money on.  And I simply don’t think that a £20,000 prettification project is value for money. Particularly not when the hospital-sterile steel frames are so very unsympathetic to the city centre appearance and the oldy-worldy atmosphere of our York flagstones that visitors come to see (and fall over). (On the one hand we are wishing to retain the old flagstones and on the other we want to revamp the old fingerposts, bins and racks for shiny new steel).

Bike locked up on East St
Bike locked up on East St

If we are going to spend money, at least let our citizens and visitors see safety measures and something worthwhile, not just a very expensive spring clean.  CIL monies should and must be spent on sustainable infrastructure that links the new developments into the city centre and allows people to travel sustainably and safely around the city. CIL monies should mitigate against the new development – this has nothing to do with a vanity project of “smartening up” the city especially when major safety measures are not being prioritised.  We are repeatedly told that here are different pots of money and we can’t finance public realm / highways projects. There seem to be a lot in the pots for less important things for example a multitude of statues. When vital safety measures aren’t being funded, the pots need to be shared out better.

Road Space Audit updates

Friday 1st March sees the start of the consultation into parking on our city streets.

There will be an exhibition on Friday and Saturday in the City Council, North Street from 10 am – 4 pm as well as on 20th March. There will be one chance to get to the exhibition in the evening in Swanfield Community Centre 2-8 pm on 25th March.

The consultation will go live on Friday too.

https://haveyoursay.westsussex.gov.uk/…/chichester-propose…/

It might be worth going along to find out more details as it will affect you if you drive into Chichester or if you live here and need to park on the street.

One of the downsides of charging for parking might be that we see more people wanting to pave over their front gardens with the loss of plants and drainage.

The wider aspects of the Road Space Audit have been put on the back burner, but it might be worth mentioning your support for more road space being allocated to bikes and buses and the “to not through” idea which aims to reduce traffic, or reducing the number of inner city car parks.

It might be worth asking where the monies from the charges are going.

Could they be put towards sustainable travel?

Car Free Day

Car Free Day is an international day that has been around for many years – it has long been a dream of mine to make this a focus for health and activity and clean air in Chichester. As a by-product I hope this would give the opportunity for more people to cycle more safely without fear or worry.

In 2010 I helped organise a take-over of a car parking space in Northgate Car Park but my dream has been to do something much larger and involving the whole community – a real celebration of the inner city space that we own collectively but don’t often use – or only allow motorised vehicles to use freely.

There are lots of spaces within the city walls of Chichester that shout out for more use to be made of them. They are the hidden away bits that you discover when you aren’t on the main streets – when you wander behind the shops or cut down a twittern for example behind M&S alongside the Oxmarket or behind the Pallants and Baffins Lane. Much of this space is given over to bins and car parking and deliveries – but I imagine that this space used to be gardens, orchards and workplaces fitted in between or behind the houses. There are also some amazing trees if you look up behind St John’s Street for example – behind the new UK Harvest headquarters on Market  Road there is a bit of the city walls I have never seen before and some huge trees! Please do go and explore this for yourself.

The Car Free Day idea would allow some of these spaces to be used more creatively. You can imagine a pop up park, or children’s play area or mini farm with animals fitting into these under-used spaces.

There are so many fun things that these spaces could unlock – street art on the ground with chalks, or music spaces for people to relax and listen and dance.

We are calling on the community to come behind the Car Free Day idea and sign up to support it here: http://carfreechi.org.uk/join-cfcc

It is only with your support and engagement that we can get this to happen.

We would like this to be a community day to recapture the city streets for people to encourage residents and visitors to wander and discover and explore these hidden corners. To take time and not to rush around in a car but to enjoy the cleaner air and quieter streets we would be making.

I have put in a Freedom of Information Request about asthma levels in the area. Although the reduction of disease is very much one of the driving forces behind this idea – there is so much more fun we could have in bringing together and celebrating our city on such a special day. It is the potential for positive change that a car free day brings with it that I want to be the key idea to take away with you from reading this post.

 

 

Cycle Forum needs a new Chair

The  Chair of the Cycle Forum,  Ian Smith, is moving on. Many thanks go to him for this voluntary position which he has served with dedication and thoroughness. Commenting on behalf of the Forum on many a planning document and persevering through all the bureaucracy set in our way.

It is important that this group continues as it is a key link between the cycling groups and the community and the councils.
We have input from Sustrans, SDNPA, the Selsey cycling group, Friends of Centurion Way, CDC and WSCC.

The Forum was founded in 2010 as I noticed that we didn’t have a Forum but Worthing and Crawley and other places in Sussex did. The Cycle Forum brings together campaigners and the councils and the community a few times a year to share news and updates about cycling. Over 30 people turned up on 6th July 2010 (I think that was the date) in County Hall. This was an impressive start and we have had various Chairs in the intervening years.

It is really, really important we find an individual who can step up to this role. There is a lot to get involved in – 27th Feb is a key stakeholder meeting for sustainable travel plans. We ideally need a representative to go along to this meeting (afternoon).

We cannot afford to let this really valuable Forum fade away. If you can get involved and come to the next meeting or speak to me to find out more that would be great.

The next meeting of the Cycle Forum itself is 25th March at 6 pm at County Hall. The Forum doesn’t meet every month but has various sub-groups that work underneath it that meet up in between times – eg the Friends of Centurion Way Users’ Group.

Yes, there is a bit of reading of council documents involved but it really is a unique opportunity to get the voice of people on bikes heard – and it also plays a key role in standing up for people on foot too as so often their voices are not heard either in the room where the “Growth” plan seems to be the main motivation for everything.

If you think you would like to get involved, please do email me sarah.ccc13@gmail.com or phone me on 07789 843556 for a chat about the role.

Some views on the Local Plan and Peter Brett Associates Report January 2019 

ChiCycle – Some views on the Local Plan and Peter Brett Associates Report January 2019 

Research from New Zealand has shown that congestion and carbon emissions can be reduced by investing in safe walking and cycling paths. https://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/otago701085.html?mc_cid=00a14af008&mc_eid=5c9c8f87c6

This is news that appears to have escaped the policy makers at CDC and planners at Peter Brett Associates.

As Coordinator of ChiCycle, Chichester’s Cycle Campaign, I am reading the Local Plan Review with caution as walking and cycling should be put at the top of the list according to NICE whereas the measures listed in the local plan are vague and promised in a multitude of future studies.  NICE statistics reveal that physical inactivity is responsible for one in six deaths and one in four adults are obese in the UK.  However whatever the Plan promises, WSCC has committed to only building 28km of cycle routes over the whole of the county for the next 5 years.

We need to prioritize other means of getting around not always the car. The Peter Brett Associates document is particularly disappointing as it doesn’t include a single crossing for people to cross the road, dangerous inner city junctions aren’t on the list for any improvements, our walking and cycling links over the A27 seem to be impacted.  Cycle paths are mentioned in the Local Plan but it doesn’t spell out what we mean by this – painted lines on the road are not going to deliver the modal shift we need. We need the plan to qualify the routes as direct, convenient, attractive, inclusive, segregated and safe.

A Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan is being developed by the councils but unless we know there are earmarked reserves to implement the plan, the fear is that these routes won’t be of good enough quality or joined up.

The previous Local Plan was counting on modal shift levels of 7%. This has now been reduced to 5%. This is disappointing considering the need to reduce our carbon footprint and increase physical activity.

There are no plans to increase safety at Eastgate, the roundabout at the junction of New Park and Spitalfields near the University or, the roundabout near Sainsbury’s at the end of Westhampnett Road. The fact that we were supposed to have a crossing of Oaklands Way linked to the Graylingwell development and this isn’t included in this Local Plan as a junction needing upgrading doesn’t inspire confidence that 12,000 new houses will make it any easier to walk or cycle in the city.

The plan also includes no practical measures on how to improve our air quality. Indeed the report states that there are no constraints on the plan due to air pollution, which is difficult to believe. Residents are already making decisions to avoid walking down certain streets as they know the air quality is bad.

Joe Irvin, chief executive of Living Streets*, the UK charity for everyday walking, said: “For decades our towns and cities have been built to prioritise motor vehicles resulting in unhealthy air, congested roads and a decline in people walking everyday journeys.” It appears that these plans are pretty similar – a priority has been put on traffic flow on the A27 and scant attention has been paid to getting people fitter and enabling them to cycle or walk safely.

*https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/new-roads-cyclists-pedestrians-priority-safety-cars-deaths-nice-planning-guidelines-obesity-a8710836.html