Present: Sue MV, Robin, Barry, Steve, Jon
We started off the meeting by looking at the text of the Loughborough & District Cycle Users’ Campaign Pedal Power article on cycle infrastructure funding and the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy document. The conversation turned to cycle routes – both between towns and within the town. Should we be focusing on the latter as the Strategy explicitly talks about aiming for short journeys to/from work and school or to/from other (public?) transport options as part of multi-modal longer journeys.
Robin suggested that running regularly tours of local cycle routes might be helpful, as it is sometimes difficult to find the start or end of cycle routes. Cycle maps can also be hard to read and difficult to match up to other mapping such as Google Maps or road atlases.
Robin said that in Bristol they have a scheme to help people learn to cycle safely on the roads. Sue said that Loughborough has had a similar scheme in the past, but that it may have lost its funding? If so, could Strategy money be used by the council to reintroduce it? Feeling safe and confident on a bike is a big plus to wider use – Barry said that the introduction of cycle paths had made him feel liberated.
Robin said that cycle route signage is often small and difficult to spot. Both it and cycle maps could really do with road names on them so that they are easier to find.
Talked briefly about walking infrastructure. As a pedestrian Jon said one of the worst bits of path he’d come across in Loughborough is on the Ashby Road alongside the University campus, where the brook crosses under the road. There the path narrows severely, and there isn’t room for two pedestrians to pass, let alone meeting an oncoming cyclist. Need to ask widely for similar issues other pedestrians face. Some people may find shared cycled paths/footpaths worrying to use, especially if cyclist are going fast and don’t use their bell to announce their presence.
We talked about wasting money on cycle infrastructure that isn’t maintained or enforced. Many cycle lanes are not statutory and so are ignored by drivers, and parked over, forcing bikes back out into the flow of traffic. Jon mentioned that the shared use cycle path alongside the campus on Ashby Road has very worn markings – if they need to be there why aren’t they maintained? If they don’t need to be there it would make lots of other routes more cost effective to make into shared cycle paths. Steve said parking on the ring road was a major pain and made the new cycle infrastructure dangerous to use. Sue pointed out that in London some cycle lanes now have a physical concrete kerb between the cyclists and motor vehicles. Some discussion about the dangers posed to cyclists by buses.
We really need to encourage all groups (pedestrians, cyclists and drivers) to obey rules better. There are good and bad individuals in each group – we must be careful not to tar the good with the brush of the bad. Fines and enforcement were discussed, including how jay walking (crossing the road at a place other than a pedestrian crossing or against the red walking signal) are fineable offences in other countries, and often enforced too.
Robin raised the question of how well disabled users in adapted bikes can make use of the cycling infrastructure. That’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked, as cycling can be liberating for such users. Sue knows a lady who may have some input on this.
Steve floated the idea of a “courteous campaign” as a way to encourage people to consider other road users. Could be practical and relatively cheap to implement. For example hi-viz vests or straps and bumper stickers with some suitable logan and branding. Such information could be made available at lots of the events Transition Loughborough already hold, thereby getting the message out about safer road (and path/cycle path) use. This could mean that we can help make a practical difference (something that is often difficult for us to do in the infrastructure driven transport world).
Next steps: we need to contact Councillor Max Hunt who is keen to hear about ideas on this topic and see how he’d like to proceed (get a list of ideas from us, or meet with us, or meet with a wider group?).