What do you think to this response from CCC about our cycle paths?

This blog is a follow up to one I wrote earlier this week, about the plans for cycling and walking in Kendal.  You may want to read this one first, for this one to make any sense.

A reminder - the consultation closes TODAY (Friday 26th November 2021)

Response from Cumbria County Council to my blog

On the evening of Thursday 25th November 2021 I received this response from Cumbria County Council:

As discussed on Tuesday, we believe the Kendal LCWIP presents a clear ambition for improving cycling and walking infrastructure in order to facilitate modal shift.  Whilst we want to be ambitious we also need to be realistic about what is deliverable. We have therefore focused for the short to medium term on the river and canal cycle corridors as the central north-south spine with branches connecting to key destinations, such as schools, town centre, station etc.

In relation to KNAR, we advised when we met that we are working on the development of an outline business case which by reducing through-traffic in the town could release additional capacity that would allow for further opportunities to improve cycling infrastructure on key routes in the town centre. 

Demonstrating local support for the LCWIP will be important in being able to secure funding for delivery.  We would like your continued engagement in the LCWIP and next stages of development to help us in securing funding to create continuous and safe cycle routes. 

Thanks for your time and input.

My response to Cumbria County Council

Thank you so much for your response.

I would like to take the opportunity to respond on a point by point basis.

As discussed on Tuesday, we believe the Kendal LCWIP presents a clear ambition for improving cycling and walking infrastructure in order to facilitate modal shift. 

Our definitions of "ambition" and "improving" are clearly very different.    I have had the good fortune to walk and cycle in places where there is a clear ambition for improving cycling and walking infrastructure in order to facility modal shift.

Places such as The Netherlands, Denmark, Portland (Oregan), British Columbia and South Dublin.  So I know what is possible. I know what it feels like when you can cycle or walk safely from door to door at any time of the day or night.

I also see authorities in the UK who are rising to the challenge of creating immediate modal shift, and seeing the huge changes that have been made since the start of the pandemic.  The list is growing daily, as public opinion changes, government guidelines are issued and the climate science becomes irrefutable.

I then look at Kendal's LCWIP and do not see that same level of ambition.

Whilst we want to be ambitious we also need to be realistic about what is deliverable.

I am under no illusions that everything in the LCWIP is going to be delivered.  Indeed, as it stands, I understand that every improvement in the LCWIP is dependent on unsecured funding.

My understanding, from attending all the LCWIP meetings was that the whole point of the LCWIP was to create a network of different options, that when funding is available at different points in the future it would be possible to be bid for.

That different routes could be picked up and used to attempt to get some investment depending on the nature of the investment.

This is why I feel it is important that the LCWIP contains the widest number of options, so if and when funding becomes available a comprehensive network can be delivered.

We have therefore focused for the short to medium term on the river and canal cycle corridors as the central north-south spine with branches connecting to key destinations, such as schools, town centre, station etc.

I have looked at the cycling map.

Kendal LCWIP cycling and walking consultation survey

I have looked at the walking map.

Kendal Walking Map Consultation 2

Could you please explain to me where the cycling and walking links are that go to the following schools:

  • Castle Park School
  • Dean Gibson School
  • Ghyllside School
  • Heron Hill School
  • St Thomas School
  • Sandgate School
  • Vicarage Park School

I am also very interested to know when this decision to focus solely on the river and canal cycle corridors as the central north-south spine was taken.

It was not discussed in any of the LCWIP Project Working Groups I attended.  It was not evident in the draft second consultation document I was sent and to which I responded to on 6th October 2021.

Was this decision to focus solely on the river and canal cycle corridors as the central north-south spine discussed with the other organisations with their names on the LCWIP, namely South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) and Kendal Town Council (KTC)? 

I think it is important for the voters of Kendal to understand which of their local representatives were involved in this discussion.

Kendal Cycling and Walking Consultation - who wrote it

 

In relation to KNAR, we advised when we met that we are working on the development of an outline business case which by reducing through-traffic in the town could release additional capacity that would allow for further opportunities to improve cycling infrastructure on key routes in the town centre. 

I have attended a large number of meetings about cycling and walking infrastructure in Kendal over the past 4 years.  At none of those meetings was the improvement of the existing cycling infrastructure on Stricklandgate mooted as being made dependent on the building of the KNAR (Kendal Northern Access Road).

Every time I gather opinions from the local cycling community the existing provision along Stricklandgate is highlighted as one of the many pieces of Kendal's "cycling infrastructure" in desperate need of improvements to make it safe for both cyclists and pedestrians.

This was in scope for the LCWIP in the first consultation, and included in the draft of the second consultation.

How was the decision to deprioritise Stricklandgate reached? And was this discussed with SLDC and KTC?

The LCWIP now makes the delivery of any cycling infrastructure past the businesses of Highgate into the centre of town dependent on the building of the KNAR.

How was the decision to make the delivery of cycling infrastructure dependent on road building? And was this discussed with SLDC and KTC?

I realise that the consultants who work on this plan, and indeed Cumbria County Council itself, will not be around to actually deal with the implementation of this plan.

But the people of Kendal will be relying on it for future administrations to bid for funding.

By including this dependency, it removes options for the future of active travel into the town centre.  It shows lack of aspiration for modal shift.  It says that the car is king in Kendal.

Demonstrating local support for the LCWIP will be important in being able to secure funding for delivery.  

The cycling and walking community in Kendal has shown tremendous interest in the LCWIP process - evidenced by the 485 responses to the consultation on the first iteration of the plan held in May 2021.

69% of the respondents told you that the routes in the draft did not, or only partially, connected to the places they wished to cycle (and 49% for walking).

This, combined with the various written responses shows that there's a demand for MORE not less in the plan.

In addition to the LCWIP I have also co-ordinated on several occasions feedback from the cycling community.

We responded in detail to the Shap Road cycle path proposals, including detailed commentary on the proposed route -drawing on our experiences of the Burton Road development.

I personally spent time walking the route with various parties, and provided feedback on the issues with the design post implementation. I know I am not the only person to have done this.

The response to my recent blog is indicating that support from the local community for ongoing consultations, plans, studies and surveys is starting to wear thin, and the lack of action becoming increasingly frustrating.

We would like your continued engagement in the LCWIP and next stages of development to help us in securing funding to create continuous and safe cycle routes. 

Yesterday I was speaking to a young man - I am 30 years older than him.  He cycles to work across Kendal everyday.  He said to me "Do you think they're waiting for a fatality before they make the improvements needed?"

That one sentence made me realise I must not give up on this.

Kind regards,

Karen

What next

The closing date for the Kendal LCWIP online survey is Friday 26th November 2021.

Here is the link to the online survey

Download the document first, and the cycling and walking maps.

I have attended all these meetings in my own time.  If you’d like to help support my continued involvement in campaigning for safer infrastructure you can support me through KoFi

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