Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wish Lists

What caught my eye this morning was this “£5m bus travel ‘wish list’ includes day traffic bans”. Apparently Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) has bid for some money from the Government’s Better Bus Areas Fund. This is apparently aimed at increasing passenger numbers in urban areas. Which implies reducing the number of cars within those same urban areas. If you read the article it seems to be a bunch of bits and pieces. Although perhaps I am just being a bit cynical.

Cambridge Guided Busway run trials for interested locals (April 2009)

The article also mentions another fund – The Local Sustainable Transport Fund which is another Government initiative aimed at economic growth and reducing carbon emissions – worth £560 million in total. CCC put a bid in but weren’t successful. If you believe the politics it was because the CCC planned to cut the bus services.  Although apparently the “Council has reinstated £1.5m of those cuts”.

Several thoughts spring to mind here – would you believe a Council was keen on public transport when it starts cutting their budgets?  It also makes me think that the Government has created some “slush funds” through which it can reward those councils that do its bidding. Now of course I am sure it is really all above board and not managed like that at all.

Also looking at both the Bus ideas and the bid we put in the last time there seems to be a whole load of bits and pieces – whereas I would have thought that this money would be better suited to catalysing bigger changes. If all that is needed is a bit of fiddling then those Funds are better spent elsewhere. The bid seems to include calls for substantial amounts of money for planning and publicity – and not enough of bolder moves that might actually create a modal shift. For instance the Chisholm Trail – joining the dots between the Southern and Northern sections of the CGB has a bid for only £41K and yet cycle counters require £30K.

Parking is tight in Cambridgeshire!

One area of spending I am at best ambivalent about is on “More road signs to warn motorists of traffic conditions”, at £18,000 they are not cheap and at best might slightly improve a car journey, I’d prefer to see the money spent on reducing the need to drive into Cambridge.

Cycle Ride Signs – Isleham

I was pleased to see that “Crossing the road brought up to speed” might reduce the waiting time at pedestrian crossings. Some crossings in Cambridge do seem to overly favour the road users – there is even a suggestion that “if people do see pedestrians given priority, hopefully they will think about not using the car for relatively short journeys and will walk instead”. Unfortunately it will take more than that in terms of joined up thinking – but it is a start.

Crossing the CGB – mind the step

In my view they should focus the spending on the critical items that might actually create change – then the publicity is easy. The trouble is many of us really don’t comprehend the importance of public transport – we either drive or can walk or cycle – yet it can be critical. As you might expect “How will we get to Tesco when our buses disappear?” is about Elderly residents in Cambridge who will be disadvantaged when buses are re-routed because of the Station improvements. We ought to remember that we will all get older one day.

Talking of which a “Tandem bicycle hearse is up for sale”. Apparently the owner, Reverend Paul Sinclair, 46 is not fit enough to operate it – he is  “a biker not a cyclist”. Mind you Outspoken Deliveries have taken delivery of three trikes capable of carrying cargos of up to 1/4 tonne – they must be fit enough – perhaps they could buy the Tandem Hearse?

A Tandem – somewhere between Hull and Cambridge

Here is an interesting hobby – creating GPS track pictures. I am not sure I’ll be taking it up though.

And finally: I never thought I would have anything in common with Peter Hitchens who writes for the Daily Mail. His views don’t really accord with mine. However it turns out we have both been knocked of our bicycles by cars in SMIDSYs. He suggests that through the creation of safer cars (Seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, airbags etc.) it has created a subconscious carelessness leading to roads becoming “statistically safer because the soft targets have entirely retreated from them”.

I can’t disagree with that – you only have to look at how cars and buses whizzing around schools at the beginning and end of the day make cycling much more hazardous. (I cycle in such an area most weekday mornings). Some schools seem to actively discourage cycling – “Your daughter can’t cycle to school because it’s not school policy”. So much so that Sustrans has a page on “Can Schools ban cycling” – no but they can ban bikes on school property! The CTC has a “Right to Ride to School campaign”. It is changing though.

Cycling home from School – Long Road Cambridge

My wish list? Well I have some minor lurgy-thingy at the moment and my old wound (SMISDY – broken collar bone) aches a bit as well.) Roll on longer, warmer days!


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