KENDAL CYCLE PATHS – ACT NOW!

It's the day you've all been waiting for!! Cumbria County Council have made public the summary LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan) telling us all what amazing new cycling infrastructure we can expect to get here in Kendal.

You can see the document here.

Out of the twenty pages the really important page for people interested in being able to cycle safely in Kendal is labelled as page 17 (but is page 18 in the PDF viewer)

ARTICLE LAST UPDATED 20th MARCH TO CONFIRM ARRANGEMENTS FOR MEETING ON 22nd MARCH

Kendal LCWIP Cycling and walking Plan 2022

 

What new routes are we getting - and when?

What you need to know is that the plan for the next 5 years (i.e delivery by 2027) is the blue line.

There is no funding for any of this yet. 

The blue line is:

the existing provision along the old canal and the part of river

a new path that goes north along the river from the Mintsfield Industrial Estate and pops out by Sainsburys

Hurray! A new cycle path - surely that's great news?

I've spoken to people in the know at the Council about this proposed new route, and been told it will be incredibly expensive to make this a tarmacked and lit route.

So there's a big risk this won't be useable all year round for commuting.

It's also a remote route, away from all housing and roads, so there are concerns as to whether people would actually feel safe using this route, especially in the dark.

We also have to ask whether this is the best choice for investment given we've got the Shap Road cycle path that goes in the same direction (please don't roll your eyes when you think about Shap Road Cycle Path).

So, what will we actually get with the LCWIP?

Beyond improving an existing traffic free route and one new, dubious route - NOTHING for AT LEAST 6 YEARS! 

  • No new routes to primary schools or the college
  • No improvements to the existing poor quality routes we've got elsewhere (especially Shap Round and Burton Road)
  • No improvements from the main residential areas to get to the canal / river corridor
  • No improvements to routes from the canal / river corridor to the town centre
  • No quick wins such as School Streets or Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
  • Nothing to make it easier to get into town from the new Gooseholme Bridge
  • Nothing to improve the route through the centre of town, from the college through to Windermere Road.

So, basically by 2027 we may - or may not - have more or less exactly what we've got now, with a few tweaks.

KNAR

There's a big elephant in the room, which much be mentioned.

On page 7 (or 8 in the PDF) the LCWIP ties cycling infrastructure through the centre of town (from the college along Highgate and Stricklandgate to Windermere Road) to the building of a new road (the Kendal Northern Access Route).

Whether or not, in a time of climate change, the Council should even be mentioning road building and cycling in the same document is up for debate.

The important thing to know is that the road doesn't have planning permission or funding.

And if it does eventually get both, it will take ages to build.

There's SO much that could be done to make that route much more welcoming to visitors to Kendal, as well as for residents and workers who use it on a daily basis.  Saying that nothing can be done until the road is built is very short-sighted.

And despite your thoughts on whether or not the KNAR is a good idea or not, we need to see action on reducing car dependency YEARS (if not decades) before any road is built if we're going to avoid the town grinding to a halt.

Recent roadworks have proved the roads are running so close to capacity at the moment and it's only going to get worse.

Am I right in feeling a little overwhelmed at the lack of ambition in this plan?

Yes, you are!

In 6 years we may - or may not - have a few better junctions on the canal path, some better signs on the river, and a new leisure route to Sainsburys.

In 9 years we may - or may not - have a second route along the river through the centre of town and then out towards Natland.

Yes - that route along the river loads of people already use, although it's not officially a cycle path. That one. 

No wonder you're frustrated.

At this point feel free to insert your own thoughts about the benefits of cycling such climate change, physical and mental health, reducing congestion, battling rising fuel prices, reducing dependency on Putin's oil, just being a quicker way to get around town, how it makes you happy to ride a bike .......

In fact, you could just read pages 2 - 12 of the summary LCWIP which will explain why getting more people cycling in Kendal is SO important.

I know many people reading this have fed back to the council many times with ideas on what needs to be done to improve cycling provision in Kendal, and I know you, like me will be VERY disappointed with the lack of ambition in the plan.

I know many of you will have responded to the public consultations.

In fact only 19% of respondents to the initial public consultation answered “Yes” when asked if proposed network took them where they wanted to go.

Did they listen, and extend the routes?

What do you think?

But I thought you were going to the LCWIP meetings and telling them what was needed?

I did - I've been to all the meetings.

I've mentioned all the above.

Many times.

I am sorry I haven't been more successful.

I did succeed in getting them to:

  • add improving the Shap Road Cycle Path (stop rolling your eyes) into the "beyond 8 years" plan
  • include mention of the 20 mph plan
  • replace the phrase "Cycling and walking has a much lower carbon footprint compared to other forms of transport and undertaking more journeys on foot or by bike could help to tackle climate change" with "Cycling and walking has a much lower carbon footprint compared to other forms of transport and undertaking more journeys on foot or by bike  will help to tackle climate change"

What I did learn is it's all pointless, as quite a lot of the councillors don't think there's any votes in making it safer to cycle around Kendal.

It's quite handy then, isn't it, that we're coming up to local election time, with CCC being replaced by the new unitary authority.

Good timing to let them know that cycling / active travel is actually an important issue to many of the voters of Kendal.

What can we do to let my councillor know I want safer cycling quicker than 6 years?

The document is being discussed / approved at the "County Council Local Committee for South Lakeland"  on Tuesday 22nd March 2022 at 10am, along with another proposal about a 20 mph speed limit for the town.

What can you do:

TIME PAST ON THIS ONE: Before 23:59 16th March 2022

Email a question or a statement to be read out at the meeting (you need to let them know if you intend to be there in person, of it you'd like them to read it on your behalf)  to [email protected]  - Further details on how this works - see below for my statement 

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO DID THIS - A LEAST 5 SUBMISSIONS WERE MADE - WELL DONE!  

By END OF Monday 21st March 2022

Email members of the committee, letting them know your thoughts on the plan.

The key councillors to email are:

Nick Cotton - Chair (Lib Dem) -  [email protected]

Geoff Cook - Vice Chair and Kendal Highgate (Lib Dem) [email protected]

Stan Collins  - Upper Kent (Lib Dem)  [email protected]

Peter Thornton - Kendal Strickland and Fell (Lib Dem) -  [email protected]

Shirley Evans - Kendal Nether (Lib Dem) [email protected]

Brenda Grey - Kendal South (Lib Dem) [email protected]

Chris Hogg - Kendal Castle (Lib Dem)  [email protected]

I recommend emailing at least your local councillor, plus the chair and vice-chair.  You can copy the others in too if you want, and if you live outside Kendal you can find the other councillors in attendance here.

On Tuesday 22nd March 2022 - LET THEM KNOW YOU'RE WATCHING

Attend the meeting - it takes place at County Offices, Busher Walk, Kendal at 10am and is likely to last about 2 hours, if the minutes of previous meetings are to go by.

I have written confirmation from CCC that it is an open public meeting.

If you've got a couple of hours it's a way of showing that you want faster change to make it safe to cycle and walk around Kendal.   To show that you're watching what our councillors do.  In a totally legal, and really rather boring way. You don't need to do anything, other than perhaps clap when the public presenters speak.

Many people will be at work or school, so cannot attend meetings such as this, but if you are free from just before 10am until about 12 noon it would be wonderful to see you there.

I will be there presenting my statement (below) - I have been asked to arrive at 9.40am to prepare for this but will join you in the public area once I've said my bit.

What should I write?

My statement is below if you want inspiration.

I'm not providing exact wording for you, as it's far more powerful when people use their own words, but things to consider mentioning could include:

  • lack of quick wins
  • lack of routes to primary schools and residential areas
  • lack of aspiration to get people out of their cars and onto bikes
  • dependency on the KNAR for the link through the centre of town

If there is there a route you regularly drive but could cycle if there was a safe cycle route then this can be really powerful

This is my statement which I have emailed to the council

I have sent this to [email protected] 

I appreciate the hard work that has been undertaken by the team to produce this document, and I really do hope that it delivers widespread modal shift so that the 78% of Kendal residents who also work in the town are able to leave their car at home and either walk or cycle.

The recent IPCC climate change report together with the current record fuel prices are sobering reminders that this a pressing issue that requires immediate and widespread action.

These are the main observations I've drawn from the summary LCWIP:

  • There is a huge potential for active travel in Kendal and the benefits are far reaching
  • The residents of Kendal are keen to see investment in active travel and are happy to dedicate road space to this
  • People want to walk and cycle from where they live to where they work and shop, and to where they and their children get educated and enjoy themselves.
  • They would like to feel safe whilst doing this - not just for part, but for all, of their journey
  • The above points are all backed up by a lot of studies, surveys, and plans. So many in fact they need 15% of the document to list them all and another 30% to discuss them.

I have several areas of extreme concern with the Summary LCWIP.

The misleading wording that building of the Kendal Northern Access Route (KNAR) is going to result in an “expected reduction in traffic and reduced need for vehicular capacity” remains, as does the link between improving the key route through the town centre for active travel.

The data in appendix 4 of the KNAR outline business case clearly shows a very significant increase in the number of junctions in Kendal approaching or exceeding capacity by 2036, whether a new road is built or not.   The KNAR may slightly reduce volumes from the huge peak, but not to a level where widespread active travel is suddenly possible.

We need urgent and significant modal shift years before the road is built to avoid such over capacity on the road network.

It is very disappointing that the Highgate / Stricklandgate cycle route is still shown as being dependent on the KNAR (the dotted red line on the cycling network map).

Surface composition, lighting and remoteness on the Priority 1 northern river route means this could end up being a leisure route rather than an active travel route

Direction of travel on Wildman Street means it will be difficult to return to Sandylands estate from the town centre by bike.

Poor design on the Shap Road and Burton Road provision is not conducive to increasing active travel along these key corridors.

There are no quick wins that can be delivered from within existing budgets.

There is no plan to increase cycling rates for children and young people going to primary schools or Kendal College.

There is no acknowledgement that improvements to bicycle technology will increase the distances and gradients it is possible to cycle.

There is no plan of action around the "soft" measures also needed to encourage modal shift, such as bike storage, cycle training, and junction priorities.

I do hope that the LCWIP can act as a catalyst to increase the pace of change here in Kendal, but in its current format (tied to the KNAR, with unambitious timescales for delivery) it is unlikely to do that.

Where cycling and walking initiatives move into design and implementation phase I would be more than happy to help facilitate engagement with the local cycling community. We all know that it’s the finer details of a route that determine whether it’s usable or not.

I look forward to successful funding bids for cycling and walking infrastructure on its own merits.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me

I really appreciate everyone who bought me a virtual coffee after the last set of meetings with the council.  Sorry I couldn't reply to you all in person - but it really does help to give me the encouragement to keep going!

And thank you to all the people who have offered advice on how to proceed with responses to the council - your help is absolutely invaluable.

 

 

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