Pedal Press Summer 2006





All articles welcome for inclusion in next issue of Pedal Press to be sent by email or disc to the Editor


Nobody Cycles Today: True or False?

Councillor John Coyne is a member of the Green Party for  St Michaels Ward and has been a keen supporter of the MCC and a cyclist for most of his life. John poses a question which he invites the views of Pedal Press readers.

"Nobody cycles today". That was the consensus of a group of young people I met at a citizenship session for school refusers. As a "nobody" whose cycling is their main transport, I could see their point of view.

Fear of road danger is a real block to cycling for many people - including some members of Liverpool City Council. Cycle lanes might be part of the answer to that but I often find I make a bad choice of destination so maybe it's my own fault the cycle lane goes elsewhere!
Even if there were the political will to actually enforce cycle lane obstruction and to reallocate the road space in the first place, I think it would be a slow, difficult and expensive process to create a penetrative cycle network in this Victorian city. That does not mean that we should not try.

Increasingly I find that residents in my ward (St Michaels) raise the issue of the speed of motor traffic. I wonder if it is a good time to campaign on that issue and to seek to release the huge suppressed demand for cycling in that way. Road danger would be much reduced if the current 30mph speed limit was actually enforced on the arterial and main distributor roads, if a 20mph limit was the norm for local distributors and a 10mph limit was the norm for narrow terraced streets - "Home Zone" style.

As Merseyside's first Green Party councillor, perhaps it falls to me to make the most radical demands for local cycling and I would be interested to know the views of the Cycling Campaign on the best way forward for that.

John Coyne

john.coyne@liverpool.gov.uk

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20's Plenty! - a reflection by MCC's chair

The ‘20’s plenty’ campaign is set to become a part of Merseyside Cycling Campaign’s strategy and recently has been highlighted in this journal. John Coyne proposes taking speed control to a higher level, with 20 mph the norm, proper enforcement of 30mph, and a 10 mph restriction in narrow, terraced streets. This strategy would be placed at a higher priority than a cycle network and its engineering infrastructure. To demand enforcement of an existing law that aims to protect all citizens from death and severe injury seems a reasonable objective, hardly radical.

That this could, at the same time, release the full potential for cycling with its attendant 10 years average increased lifespan, reduced congestion, noise and pollution seems a most compelling argument. The next stage would be dialogue with Council officers, and we might avoid concern over the tyranny of ‘vote loser’ status by seeking the lead from local residents.

Derek Gould

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Muesli Eater writes from Liverpool:

Cyclists Dismount (or Joined-up thinking, Liverpool-style)

According to its Cycling Strategy, Liverpool should have completed 13 major cycle routes by 2002.

In fact, only 1 of those 13 has been completed as a fully usable cycle route. This is known as Radial Route 8A to the cognoscenti, or the Woolton route to those who ride bikes.

It runs from the University at Crown St to the Woolton end of Woolton Rd, crossing Wavertree Playground in the process. I believe it cost about £240,000 for traffic lights, dropped kerbs, traffic calming etc.

The route is also being promoted through leaflets that show it running through the playground.

The gate at the Fir Lane entrance to the playground has now been locked up, (see picture opposite) contrary to an understanding between Parks & Highways departments to keep it open. At the side an anti-pedestrian/disabled A-Frame has been installed to discourage people on or off bicycles from entering or leaving the park.

If you are inconvenienced by this arrangement you can:

Dismount, squeeze through the barrier, cross the mud to the path, remount (don’t try this if you are broad shouldered, use wide handlebars, have heavily loaded panniers, or are being pursued by the ungodly after your worldly goods).

Ride around the park on Smithdown Rd or Wavertree High St & hope you don’t get splattered.

Ditch the bike and use your car.

The Parks Manager has advised us that “In an effort to manage an alarming increase in antisocial and criminal activity centred on the park, we have had to take a number of measures to limit the degree of access around the park perimeter.

Unfortunately this has included temporarily closing the double gates at the same location.

By providing an “A” frame to the adjoining pedestrian gate we have sought to mitigate this and keep the cycle route as open as practically possible under the circumstances.

I realise that cyclists will have to dismount in order to manoeuvre their cycles through this entrance but I hope that this inconvenience can be tolerated ….

We have also received a letter from the Leader of the Council, Warren Bradley, who is also a Wavertree Councillor and a cyclist. He says:..”owing to the rise in anti-social activity with scrambler bikes & motor bikes, the City Council were left with very little alternative regarding the access & egress within Wavertree Mystery.”

…. “As a City Council we have to look at public safety first & foremost, and unfortunately following the implementation of the route, this anti-social issue has come to light which had to be dealt with in a proactive way to work towards eradicating these idiots…”

It is not clear what antisocial and criminal activity closing the gates is supposed to suppress. Particularly since no effort has been made to restrict access from Wellington Road.

The hole in the fence proudly referred to as an “adjoining pedestrian gate” does have a bright yellow A frame. It is of course unsuitable for an urban park entrance, not only does it discourage people from entering; it is below the standard required for disabled access.

Civil disobedience:

Mathews Motors of Commercial Road, Vauxhall, are reported to be continuing to wage their campaign of civil disobedience against the forces of law’n’order by blocking the cycle track. The Police, who deal with obstruction, have “spoken” to the owner on several occasions.

Parking Services, who deal with parking offences, have issued 11 parking tickets in the last 15 months. They report that “the location is regularly visited by Parking Attendants; however, as is often the case, as soon as they arrive at the location, the vehicles are moved before any Penalty Charge Notices are issued.”

No Parking:

The bike stands in Renshaw St and Berry St were ripped out to allow the roadwork’s to go ahead, but a year later have still not been replaced. This despite the fact that the Council have bought 10 stands at taxpayers’ expense to be installed there.

Despite spending a small fortune on Hope St, no cycle stands have been put up outside the Phil. The Phil was identified in an MCC survey for the Council as being deficient in cycle parking, but of course the scheme designers ignored it. Culture vultures will have to use the traditional lampposts to secure their steeds.

It was reported at the last Cycle Forum that Liverpool Vision don’t like “clutter” in streets. Cars do not qualify as clutter so they’re OK?!

In the wilds:

Outside of the City Centre, there seems to have been vigorous activity. The Council have been quietly installing new cycle lanes, toucan crossings, signs, and Advanced Stop Lines all over the place.

Pedal Press:

After reading the last issue of Pedal Press, Liverpool’s new Highways Manager asked to meet MCC to discuss cycling issues. It turns out that Mr Holford practises what the City has been preaching for years – he cycles to work, uses public transport, and doesn’t have a car.

Hopefully he will be able to encourage a new culture of compliance with the Council’s policy of encouraging cycling.

Staff news:

It is with regret that we announce the departure of Liverpool’s Cycling Officer, Paul Thomas, after less than 2 years in post, to the greener pastures of the Sustrans Manchester office, where he will be Maintenance Manager for the North West.

Paul, like his predecessors, worked unstintingly to deliver the City’s Cycling Strategy, and it is certainly of concern that the City has been unable to retain the services of staff of this calibre.

The post has been readvertised with commendable speed. And the Council, with equally commendable foresight, have not just left a hole in the service. They have obtained the services of a consultant engineer – Mark Windrow- to look after cycling during the interregnum on a part time basis.

Welcome News:

It is with pleasure that we announce the arrival of Councillor Eddie Clein as Chair of the Cycling Forum. Councillor Clein delivered the welcome speech to Sustrans last year on their 10,000 mile ride.

Religious Fundamentalism:

Seen parked, on the pavement, on a street corner, during a church service, car with sticker saying: “THIS CAR IS PROTECTED BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS”.

If the owners’ driving skills are as good as his knowledge of the Highway Code, he certainly needs divine protection. So will the rest of us. Hallelujah!!!

Committee News:

MCC have been forced to appear for the third time this year in front of the Councils’ Traffic & Highways Representations Committee. Each time we are defending the City Councils’ Cycling Strategy against attacks by officers seeking to dismantle it.

This time it was to try to stop a proposal to divert a planned cycle route to accommodate an allegedly desperate need for Pay ‘n’ Display car parking in Old Haymarket (by the River Café near the Birkenhead Tunnel).

These encounters are pretty bruising for all concerned and the outcome is never certain. This time Councillors Millea, Fielding & Antrobus deferred their decision, and, in a quite extraordinary move, MCC were asked to conduct a Cycle Audit on the proposal.

Cycle Audit is a design procedure used to ensure that schemes don’t make things worse for cyclists and if possible make them better…………………Watch this space!

Hidden Gems:

Do make a point of visiting St James’ Gardens, behind the Anglican Cathedral. Some magnificent voluntary labour has gone into tidying up the park, clearing trees and undergrowth to open up views, and planting wildflowers which are glorious at the moment.

And you can ride your bike there, the Philistines not having arrived at the gates yet to close them!

Richard Hebden

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We are so lucky!

It was just one of those days that, on reflection, reminded me that I am so very lucky to be involved with cycling on Merseyside and, more than that, I get to earn my living through helping others to experience the considerable pleasure that riding a bicycle can provide. By way of brief explanation, I am employed by the SMART Charitable Trust to run their cycling project called Cycling Across the Ages (CATA) whose main purpose is to promote good health through the medium of cycling.

So, whenever I have the opportunity to cycle to meetings with colleagues and friends promoting the benefits of cycling it is only natural that I do so. That was the case on the morning of June 8th this year when I was going to the offices of the Breckfield and North Everton Neighbourhood Council to meet Bob Blanchard and Frank Prendergast along with Gavin McLaughlin, the Cycling for Health Co-coordinator of North Liverpool Primary Care Trust. I’d promised to help those enthusiastic people to organize a ride along the Loop Line during Bike Week.

In fact, I suppose, that marvelous cycling facility called the Loop Line has prompted (for me) this uncharacteristic reflection. Because the meeting at Breckfield was timed for ten o’clock and my usual time of morning departure from home is shortly after 7.30 I had plenty of time to cycle there. My 25 mile, or so, route started with a ride along the coast at Southport and out past the Pier to the start of the Trans-Pennine Trail and from there to the Cheshire Lines Path to Maghull. That, in itself, is a pretty good start to a working day and it seemed everyone else I met on this stretch was in an equally good mood whether they were fellow cyclists, runners or people out walking their dogs. Along with scores of young rabbits on view, I saw something I’d never seen in the natural world and that was a pheasant with its very young chick. I have seen pheasant chicks before but they had all been “farmed” ready for the rich and famous to shoot at on country estates, so the sighting was quite warming.

Anyway, on I pressed enjoying my early morning ride in dry and pleasantly warm conditions and making for Switch Island to see how cycle friendly the layout now is with my intention to join the Loop Line at Aintree. After all this way the stretch between Maghull and Aintree was my first bit of real on-the-highway riding; not bad really. From there it was traffic-free again before I left the Loop Line at Walton Hall Park and crossed the dual carriageway to make my way up through the side roads to Stanley Park and on to my destination. Yes, the day had started very well, and I was feeling quite content, if not a little smug.

The meeting also went well with the route and timings being agreed and everyone looking forward to a good turn out for the ride up to the Halewood Visitor Centre for lunch and an afternoon of backtracking to Breckfield.

After the meeting I made my way over to the Loop Line again for the ride down to my base in Netherley. Once again, I felt I was out in the country even though, logically speaking, I knew I was still cycling within the confines of the City of Liverpool. I think it was this part of my morning’s activity that has really prompted me to put down in print something of the feelings and pleasure that such a simple pastime can give, especially in the right surroundings.

Between Norris Green and West Derby I came across two workers who were clearing glass and debris from the track and, slowing down to pass them, I said something to the effect that “if they were doing the work just for me, I was very grateful”. Seriously, though, I did add that the work was well appreciated by us all. The brief exchange of words was accompanied by smiles and friendly appreciation, all round. The day was still going well.

Perhaps a mile further on a cyclist from the opposite direction very helpfully let me know there was a slight problem up ahead. Aren’t we cyclists fine people in that we tend to look out for each others safety and welfare? Many a time I have had offers of assistance whilst changing a punctured tube whilst out riding. I bet you have also encountered this, and have been the one offering help, or at least making sure they were OK. Anyway, the problem turned out to be nothing more than a mischievous piece of rope draped across the trail that was quite easily removed before it could do any harm.

hilst removing the rope two more cyclists came by and stopped to make sure all was well. It turned out that they were patrolling police officers based at Lower Lane. During the course of the ensuing five-minute chat I happened to mention that a former colleague from our project had joined the police force and I believed he, too, was based at Lower Lane. Before I had hardly brought my hand down form above my head to describe this tall young man they had already identified him by name. They also added that he was always out on his bike somewhere. Small world, isn’t it? I, of course, asked them to pass on my regards happy in the knowledge that the influence of the Loop Line brings you into contact with friends you never knew you had, but have a connection with existing ones.

Now, I was on the final leg of my morning’s ride and looking forward to satisfying the appetite for food that had gradually built up within. However, I must tell you about yet another example of the camaraderie of the Loop Line. As I approached Gateacre I noticed a lady cyclist coming towards me and, just as others recognize styles of walking, we cyclists tend to pick out riding mannerisms. Just as I thought, “that looks rather like Lyn” she looked up, waved and slowed to a stop so that we could catch up on what we were all doing. Lyn is a lady who possesses a bus pass but much prefers, now, to walk and cycle for most of her journeys. She was also one of my first recruits to our cycling activities when a bicycle was loaned to her for the purpose of short local rides and outings. Very soon, she decided that she needed a bike of her own and very pleasing it is to see it still in very regular use, three years later. She was making her way up to Sainsbury’s to meet her son for lunch and, obviously, has no qualms about doing this on the Loop Line, alone.

As Lyn and I were talking, she turned and pointed to a gentleman rider coming along from the Childwall direction. He stopped and we both said “Hello, Ted, how are you?” Ted was yet another member of CATA’s cycling group that uses the Loop Line for fresh air, exercise and as a communications corridor. Once again, we can repeat how valuable is this facility. Without such a cycle route I doubt whether Cycling Across the Ages would have been half as successful in persuading so many people to consider cycling as an on-going means of transport and exercise. Long may it remain in place as a most valuable asset and, as can be seen, a facilitator of good, old-fashioned social interaction. I thoroughly enjoyed my morning encounters whilst cycling between home, meeting and office. Yes, I am very lucky to be doing what I do.

By the way, around 30 pedallers in total enjoyed the Bike Week Ride from Breckfield to Halewood and back. A reaction, repeated by so many of the participants, was that they never knew so much green space existed in the city. So, we cannot let this part of it be taken away, can we?

Gil Taylor

gil_taylor@btconnect.com

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Merseyside Local Access Forum

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 placed a new duty on Highway Authorities to establish a Local Access Forum for their area.

The function of the Merseyside Local Access Forum is to make the countryside more accessible and enjoyable for open air recreation, in ways which address social, economic and environmental interests.

Some notes from the last meeting.

Knowsley

M62 J6 Proposed Improvements - Feasibility study being undertaken on the development of a footpath/cycleway from Stadt Moers Park to Cronton Road utilising the redundant Potters Pit Bridge over the M62. Looking for possible funding sources.

Thingwall Hall, 3 Footpaths claimed by the Liverpool 14 Community Action Group against landowners REDROW. Investigation by officers ongoing, planning approval not yet granted

Liverpool

Talks have taken place between the Rights of Way section and a representative from Parks and Environment to undertake the maintenance responsibility of Public Rights of Way that pass through or are adjacent to Parklands, Leisure amenities and Cemeteries that are within the cities ownership. We have identified approximately 22 footpaths of the existing network that would be undertaken by Parks and Environment section, which will free up Rights of Way resources for other areas. Maintenance works will include vegetation cuts, clearing obstructions and litter, and provision of safe passage along the right of way. Inspections will still be undertaken by Rights of Way Section.

There is a serious problem of fly-tipping along Brunswick Street and the access to the newly constructed paths located along the Mersey Way footpath. There is also a problem with flooding coming from a cracked manhole located next to the allotment gardens

Sefton

Crosby Footpath No.6 – Obstruction (boulders) on path, still awaiting solution for removal of obstruction. Litherland Footpath No.1 – Flooding on path following development on adjacent site by Bellway Homes, path has a Temporary Closure Order. New Walks Leaflet – Sefton Coastal Footpath.

Planning Application S/2006/0329 – To breach the River Alt to alleviate flooding, this will impact on local footpath.

Wirral

Twelve Quays – A route has been agreed which goes across the Dock area. It has yet to be finalised on paper etc but an approach has been made by User Group Organisations to incorporate into this scheme a number of Permissive Footpaths, which already exist. These routes are on Council owned land and would eventually be added to the Definitive Map and Statement when the finalised route across Twelve Quays is added.

Don Thompson

Member of the Merseyside Local Access Forum

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Cycle Training in Merseyside schools

You may have heard about Cycling Solutions, the company set up by Neil Kay (of map fame) and Colin Langdon (former secretary and chair) a few years ago. Neil and Colin set it up to deliver cycle training and consultancy expertise to anyone who needed it, and was willing to pay. See www.cyclingsolutions.co.uk.

We got some work in the first three years, but we operated very much on a shoe string, neither of us being able to take a wage of any sort. Then last year, we converted to a Community Interest Company and became a 'social enterprise' operating on a not-for-profit basis (well we weren't making one anyway). More info. www.cicregulator.gov.uk/

Not long afterwards we won a contract from the Merseyside local authorities to deliver national standard cycle training to schools. Between January and April we recruited, trained and deployed 33 staff to deliver training to 1250 school children across Merseyside. We're now in our second delivery phase and are currently teaching 1350 children a 5 week course of cycle training complying to Level 2 of the National Standards. We will be repeating this after the school summer holidays to reach our target of teaching 4,500 children this year.

We hope to be teaching even more in future years, 4,500 sounds a lot but its only about a quarter of the children in that age group. We're currently recruiting a couple more trainers and refining some of our procedures before, hopefully, embarking on a full programme of additional summer cycling activities.

And now the Government announces another £15million for cycle training! We are out there, ready and waiting to help them spend it. There's loads more children waiting to be trained and loads of keen new instructors. You can't miss us, we wear bright orange T-shirts!

Colin Langdon & Neil Kay

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Life is Electric!

For some 20 odd years I have lived with my husband who is an “80 mile on a Sunday” cyclist, and a regular commuter by bike. In the early years I did attempt to go out with him on various forays but always fell sadly short in terms of prowess and stamina! I don’t drive and have therefore relied on buses for my 4.5 mile commute to work. This would take in the order of 75 minutes each way. Having become increasingly frustrated by the local buses in terms of reliability and expense, I needed to find an alternative. Through MCC, I discovered the possibilities of riding a bike with a bit of electric “back-up”. They very kindly loaned me a Giant La Free to test drive on my commute to see how it would fit in with my daily routine. To say it fitted is an understatement!

My commute is now down to just under 20 minutes! You can use the electric boost if and when you need it (for example the first 1.5 miles from my house is quite a climb). I was so impressed that I have now bought a bike of my own and am finding that as my fitness improves I need the boost less frequently, but it is always there for steep hills (and windy days!). In terms of costs, etc, you get approximately 20 miles from each charge (depending on how much you use the power of course) and the charge takes about 3 hours and costs about 10p! The joy is that it does not need a licence or taxing etc and you can ride it in public parks (I take mine through two lovely parks on the way in to work)
I cannot recommend this mode of transport highly enough and would like to sincerely thank MCC for putting me on the right road!

Judith Apter

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Sefton Section

There is no news from these areas in this edition. If you have any news for the next edition please send it to PedalPress

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Wirral Group News

Wirral Council Cycle Forum met on 20th June. Cllr. Phil Gilchrist introduced the new Cycling Officer, Mark Osborne, who has worked with his predecessor, Cathy McNulty. Also introduced was Cllr. Jerry Williams. Representatives of MCC (Wirral Group), Cycling Project for the North West, CTC, and Wirral Cycling Campaign attended.

The first item was a presentation by a design team member on the detailed implementation planning for the Port Sunlight Station to Clatterbidge Hospital cycle route. This scheme was delayed from 2005/6. A number of amendments were recommended by the cycling representatives. However, fundamental reservations were expressed by them about the principle of spending a sum which has rocketed to £150,000 on this isolated route, which is unlikely to generate many cyclists at this time. They considered that such funding should be used now to re-enforce the programmed District Cycle Plans/Cycle Networks (including that for Wallasey) on which detailed planning was about to start.

Substantial funding for the second phase of the Wirral Way, together with a match-funding bid from the Mersey Waterfront, is being sought. There are good arguments for completing these improvements, but there is only a small benefit for the urban cyclist. Improvements for cross-docks cycle routes between Wallasey and Birkenhead are to be developed this year, and will hopefully link with the Wallasey network.

The Council appears unwilling to "ring-fence" cycle funds allocated for the implementation of cycle networks (to prevent their use on "ad hoc" cycle schemes which may emerge from time to time). However, the Cycling Officer does attend Highways "Forward Planning" meetings so that the cycling perspective can be introduced at an early stage of proposals.

The Council is about to publish its revised Wirral Cycle Map, and will be distributed to schools. Proposals for a range of cycling facilities on Bidston Moss (former land-fill site) are advancing, now that ownership issues have been resolved. Cycling as a sport is to be introduced to the Borough's schools. Health initiatives have been undertaken by the Cycling Officer together with the Road Safety Officer for Cycling.

Your MCC representatives welcome the positive relationship with the Council on cycling matters, but continue to be concerned about the slow progress in developing cycle networks. Comprehensive route facilities for the urban cyclist are paramount in our view, and will need to be introduced before safer cycling and a reduction in congestion and pollution can become a reality.

Roland Graham was out promoting the work of the MCC at a Green Fair organised by the Wirral Green Network these are regular events with the next one on 25th November 2006 at Westbourne Hall, West Kirby. from 11.00 till 4.00.

Andrew Hodgson and Chris Beazer

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All articles welcome for inclusion in next issue of Pedal Press to be sent by email or disc to the Editor

© Merseyside Cycling Campaign 2006