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LCR Active Travel Commissioner Update

Hello pedalling people. It’s about time I put some thoughts on paper for you tireless campaigners in these dystopian times. The role of Active Travel Commissioner couldn’t have been stranger since the outbreak of Covid. Talk about a rollercoaster!!! Where to start?
At the beginning of 2020 I went on a field trip with academics from Liverpool Uni to Holland and Belgium. We met some inspirational people from Delft and in particular Ghent. What a job they have done there. The Mayor and council redesigned their whole cityscape and then, in one weekend, placed barriers and camera traps everywhere to make it really difficult to drive through neighbourhoods and nearly impossible to drive through the city centre. They set up a control centre linked up to traffic cameras and helicopter cameras to be ready to try and manage the ensuing chaos as Monday rush hour started. They were prepared for a week long rethink of their plans. On Tuesday they packed up and went home. There was no chaos. The traffic evaporated as people had realised it was easier to walk or cycle to where they wanted to go. Amazing what is possible with the political will and vision.
A month later all the traffic evaporated in Liverpool as we entered the first lockdown. The pandemic has been so depressing in so many ways but there have been a few positives. I know that stepping out of our front doors on the first day of the lockdown and hearing only birds will live long in many peoples memories. I was asked by Comms to do a series of short videos encouraging people to walk and cycle round their local areas. I needn’t have bothered. Everyone just did it anyway. You will all remember the scenes. A cyclists dream appeared in the middle of a pandemic nightmare.
The government released the Emergency Transport Funding and Liverpool City Council in particular, led by Mayor Anderson, jumped on it. In went the first of six promised ‘pop up’ lanes. Wow this could be it! Are we finally changing direction? Not so fast. As soon as the first routes went in the backlash started. I was even abused on camera while doing an interview for The One Show “get rid off these f**king bike lanes!” The rollercoaster ride continued.
Let’s be frank, some of the ‘temporary’ interventions have been rushed and some are no good but some are amazing and worth fighting for. The New Chester Road, Vauxhall Road extension, Halton bus lane, Kingsley Road to Crown Street. All imperfect but still demonstrate what could be done in a more attractive permanent manner in the near future.
Even the most noisily objected to, West Derby Road, has registered over 40,000 journeys since it was put in. The point is that what the last year has allowed is the chance to try things differently. Will Bold Street ever have traffic again? Surely Castle Street, in the heart of the city, will remain pedestrianised when we all return to ‘normal’?
Invaluable experience and knowhow has also been gained. I know that council members and officers have been on a learning curve as steep as The Big One in Blackpool but they have pressed on regardless. Liverpool, with Councillor Sharon Connor leading the charge, has really held firm and the next tranche of lanes and interventions is still on track to be delivered in the first half of this year. The next few months will be crucial. The Tranche 2 funding is dependent on better consultation with members and stakeholders. My task is to support the politicians and officers in every way I can as they put the case for the plans.
Merseyside Cycling Campaign’s help in any guise will be vital. Lobby, cajole, beg, text message, post. Encourage.
Who would have thought this time last year that the region would be building over 60 miles of segregated bike lanes in just over a year and in some cases at the expense of motorised traffic space? A bold experiment. A little bit of ‘Ghentification’! The rollercoaster ride goes on.

Simon O’Brien

Pop-up cycle lanes in Liverpool

Liverpool City Council identified two initial cycle routes, forming an arc from Sefton Park to West Derby Road. This list was later expanded to seven routes, shown on the map. In the town centre, they announced Bold Street and Castle Street would be pedestrianised.
Despite an initial delay caused by a nationwide demand for plastic bollards, the first two cycle routes were in place by June. On returning to Liverpool in July, I took my first ride along the route. I was impressed by the feeling of safety along West Derby Road, as well as the satisfaction of cruising past a line of cars stuck at the lights. Subsequent improvements have included the ‘floating’ of car parking to protect the lane, and accommodating two lanes for traffic eastbound – whilst keeping the cycle track. However a more fundamental issue of providing no safe route to the city centre remains, which must be holding back ridership.
The construction of the third route in Liverpool started in September between the city centre and Bootle. Starting from Hatton Garden, the route runs along Vauxhall Road, Commercial Road and Stanley road as far as the border with Sefton Council. A later extension down Dale Street to the crossing of Byrom Street created a 2.4-mile route of new and upgraded cycle tracks. Together with the Regent/Dock road cycle track, the cycle network in north Liverpool is starting to emerge.
As the hot summer of 2020 moved into the autumn, councils across the country began removing pop-up cycle infrastructure, notably the hugely popular Sunrise Cycleway along the coast near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. However, Liverpool has remained supportive of cycling throughout, retaining and improving its pop-up infrastructure – not giving in to a small but vocal opposition. The transformation of Bold Street and Castle Street looks likely to stay permanent after being widely praised.
For many reasons 2020 was a year to forget, however for cycling it will go down in history as a year of great progress. Nationwide bike shops ran out of stock due to huge demand for new bicycles, with levels of cycling increasing by over 200% during the first lockdown. In Liverpool, thousands of journeys have been made on the pop-up cycle lanes, even if we do not have the 100km network promised originally, three routes are a good start. Other milestones in Liverpool last year were the completion of the Princes Avenue cycleway, the start of roadworks on The Strand and Lime Street (which include excellent cycle provision), and the rolling out of electric city hire bikes. With all this good news, 2021 will surely be another great year for walking and cycling in Liverpool.

Phillip Marshall

See more at Philip’s blog https://liverpoolcyclist.wordpress.com/

Who is your councillor?

It is important that we let our councillors know what our concerns are, where we think they should focus their efforts and so on. Of course there might also be situations where we want to give positive feedback.

We’ve created a page to quickly find contact details for your local councillor, for any ward within the Liverpool City Region, all based on your postcode. If any of your councillors are on twitter and we have found them there, we will also give you a link to their twitter page.

Some councillors are quite active on social media like twitter, and it is a great way to contact them and encourage a response to your query or comment that is immediately publicized.

Please check it out on our “Find Your Councillor” page.

Have you recently joined MCC online?

Dear New Members

If you joined the campaign recently (since about June 2017) and have NEVER received any emails from us (via mailchimp or otherwise), please get in touch by email to merseysidecyclcingcampaign@hotmail.co.uk. We are having a problem with the online registration form which has been compromised. Don’t worry, your email address is safe, and not stored online. The problem was that it was attempted to display spam on our website by using the online form, which we for now have disabled.

Thank you for your patience,

The MCC web team.

 

 

 

 

 

Space for Cycling, Rally 22nd April

SAVE THE DATE!

22nd of April is International Earth Day. We want to show how important cycling is to us:

We are planning to be part of events that will be held all over the country, coordinated by CyclingUK and organised by local campaigning groups, like MCC.

Current thinking is to hold a mass rally at the Pier Head in Liverpool, from 11am on the 22nd of April. Please comment here or email with more ideas. We would also appreciate volunteers to help organise and promote the event.

Come on your bicycle, bring a banner or flag, or whatever you can think of, to show your love of cycling and to support our campaigning efforts.

Download a poster to print out Space-for-Cycling-1

Please note: As an attendee you take full responsibility for any travel arrangements and attend the event entirely at your own risk.

Merseyrail Bikebus, a user report.

During the track renewal work of the Wirral loop Merseyrail are offering a unique service for passengers with bicycles. Please read this report by Paul Rogers, a cycling and bus enthusiast who we are proud to have on our member’s list. You can follow Paul on twitter, his handle is @cyclist13:

 

 

Firstly  this appears to be a first in the UK a dedicated bus carrying bikes and cyclists together for rail replacement services, so a big thanks to Merseytravel, Merseyrail ,Network Rail and Arriva bus drivers and its staff at Green lane for the conversion work.

http://www.merseyrail.org/wirral-track-renewal/bikes.aspx

Bike Update. We have listened to our passengers and have decided to run a Bike Bus, which is a vehicle that can carry bikes and owners together.

The bus is a single decker bus run and driven by 2 dedicated very friendly, helpful professional drivers, branded both sides and back as “BIKE BUS”, painted blue and white, running hourly from the side of Hamilton Square station, Bridge street, to Liverpool Tithebarn Street, under the old station clock, near Moorefields stations, 1 minute walk if that. See timetable above.

There are seats for 9 cyclists to the rear of the bus, and floor mounted racks for a similar amount of bikes, the racks hold the front and rear wheels of the bike and a  movable arm attached to the floor clamps onto the  frame.

The racks look as if they can accept a tandem  as there is adequete space between the racks,(see pictures), and the drivers have access to elastic cords, but fat bikes may struggle eg bikes with 4 inch wide tyres.

The Driver will show you how to secure your bike, start loading  from the back of the bus when loading,and work forward, it makes it easier for new boarding cyclists to load their bikes so they dont have to squeeze between bikes.

As the bus runs hourly there is plenty of time to unload, wait till bus stops as there are no grab rails, a bit weird if used to having seats to hold onto.

A few other things of note, the bus is warm, got back tonight soaked through, and nice to get onto a warm bus,its also a recycled bus, it was a service bus, then a bus driver trainer, now a bike bus  = recycled bus.

Finaly let Merseytravel and Arriva bus northwest know your thoughts, and hopefully the scheme/bus can be used on other rail replacement services.

Paul Rogers,  a cyclist and bus enthusiast (@cyclist13).

Wirral Loop Renewal – Update

Success! Merseyrail have finally acknowledged that an important proportion of their customer base want to use bicycles in combination with the trains. We will have a way to cross the Mersey during the track renewal that is not just relying on the ferry service. Please refer to the bike bus timetable here.

This is great news for everybody in Merseyside who wants to continue using their bicycle during the track renewal and a great testimony for all campaigners, from individuals to organisations as ours as well as the local groups of CyclingUK (formerly CTC).

Islington Road Scheme, Site Visit

Islington Road Scheme, Site Visit

While it is highly unlikely that you can change planning decisions around a massive road resurfacing and improvement scheme while standing on a traffic island in the middle of the junction of St Anne Street and Islington, it is good to meet a representative of the council and of the construction company involved to help make some improvements and comments on the design that will inevitably proceed, for the most part, in its original form.

To this end Don, Ian and Stella from the Merseyside Cycling Campaign met Karen Stevens, Liverpool City Council’s Cycling and Walking Officer and Spencer Pritchard from Amey to look at the plans for the junction and how cycling would fit in. Don was also representing Cycling UK and Stella was giving input for the Liverpool Pedestrians Association.

Islington Plan

Google Map of the Area

 

The plan is to put in shared footway provision from Byrom Street up to Soho Street on New Islington, to improve pedestrian and cycle crossings at the junction and to provide a link to the new LCCCS provision  on Dale Street.

Karen agreed that this should be seen as a first step leading to better, segregated, provision in the future and that increased usage would hopefully strengthen the case for further improvement. Spencer said he would take several of our concerns to his management including:-

  • Improving the dangerous exit from the provision onto St Anne Street Northbound by extending the shared space.
  • Future-proofing some of the Puffin crossings by providing drop kerbs large enough for Toucan crossings to be provided in the future.
  • The danger of running provision across the large radius turn into Soho Street which encourages vehicles to turn in at high speeds.
  • The need for short response times at the Toucan and Puffin Crossings. Widening the inside lane from St Anne Street to Norton Street to accommodate cyclists who wished to stay on the road.
  • Widening the footway at narrow points on Hunter Street to avoid conflicts.

It was pleasing that Karen and Spencer were willing to join in with discussion of matters that were not part of the scheme. For instance, using Christian Street and an existing path to provide an alternative route to the very unpleasant Byrom Street/Hunter Street as well as giving a direct link to the Leeds Street provision. The idea of shared footway on Norton Street to give safe access to the much quieter Kempston Street was also mooted and there was plenty to say about the dire nature of Islington; a 30mph road of near motorway proportions and near motorway speeds at times.

The nature of the meeting was very positive with Karen outlining several plans for the area and the city in general, that will improve cycling provision and uptake in the future.

All in all it was a good meeting that left us feeling that things are moving forward in the city, not as fast or as well as we would like, but forward nevertheless.

Merseyside Cycling Campaign at Skyride 2016

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Skyride was a great event, as always, with thousands of people riding around the city showing how popular cycling would be if it was safe. The MCC stall in Sefton Park, staffed by Lawrence, Don and Ian, was there to inform visitors about our campaign and cycling issues in general as well as to attract new members.

Everyone we saw was thoroughly in favour of the aims and the work of the MCC and enjoyed talking to like minded folk. Many left with new ideas about places to cycle in the surrounding area and how to build rail travel into accessing them. Lots of tales of near misses, potholes that need filling, wasted opportunities for cycle provision and cycleways that need maintaining were swapped as well as stories of long distance journeys in foreign lands, cycle camping, country pubs and just the general brilliant nature of cycling.

During the day forty two new members were signed up adding to the strength of our collective voice. The sun didn’t shine much but it didn’t rain and as ever it was a happy and rewarding day at this event.