Tuesday 3 May 2016

Response to 2016 Election Surveys - Labour

I don't have to travel far to find a Labour candidate who answered the Camcycle survey - sitting councillor Nigel Gawthrope has answered (the only one of the 5 Kings Hedges candidates who has!). 

So, does he support Making Space for Cycling?
Yes, I support the guide, though on balance I think it's easier to apply it in the design of new developments rather than redesigning Kings Hedges. I would like to see much more investment in providing good cycleways along the lines of the Dutch model.I would also like to see improvements in the general maintenance of pavements and road surfaces.There are far too many hazards for pedestrians and cyclists at the moment caused by the lack of maintenance and poor condition of the highways
Errm... So yes he does, sort of, but this is a complete cop out. No one, no one, has or will suggest redesigning Kings Hedges, merely that some of the roads therein could be changed a little. Thats all Making Space for Cycling is - and instead he's waffling on about  new developments? Sorry mate, we're not all moving to new developments so unless you're going to support safe cycling space where we live, you're not supporting us. At all. We've got major road re-designs on the cards in the ward, especially on Arbury Road - why aren't you yelling from the roof-tops that you'll make that road safe for cyclists? Why aren't you pushing for excellent facilities so we can ride out from this ward all the way down Histon Road or Milton Road to the city centre without mixing with really hostile traffic?

His comments on the question about school kids (some improvements on Arbury Road, dealing with rogue school parking, train kids) are cut-and-paste enough - I might have hoped that he'd want to extend the goal of getting great cycle routes to all schools, but never mind.

Its his answer to the next question, namely "What experience do you and your family have of cycling? Do you have any different concerns about younger or older family members cycling than you do yourself?" that really gets my goat:

I'm afraid the only cycling I do is my daily commute to work, which is in the city centre. I do this for speed and convenience.I don't often use my car to come into the city centre, I invariably use public transport. When I do cycle to work one thing that annoys me though is other cyclists and pedestrians wearing headphones, oblivious to their surroundings and a hazard to other road users
Hang on a minute... What? Your were asked about your biggest concern about older or younger folk riding and you bellyache about people riding with earplugs? Seriously? Get a sense of perspective. You're more bothered by a guy with ear-buds on a bike than someone in a car? You. Are. Wrong.  What a dreadful, dreadful example of crass cyclist myself attitude. In fact I'm so disgusted by this I almost don't want to continue - but lets soldier on. 

Does he have ideas for more city centre bike parking? No, but he wants to blow Labours trumpet about what they're doing and the inevitable re-development of Park Street that might (but probably won't) get us more bike parking. He's in favour of developers not messing up bike access during construction but hasn't given us a clear idea how he'd do it. He can't name anywhere that it would be hard to take a non-standard bike (laughable, the ward is full of such poor access points for bikes, literally full of them) but confusingly he does name Arbury Road in this context - why he thinks thats hard to get even a wide bike down when he's ignoring all the railing-chicanes that prevent the ward having excellent bike permeability I don't know. He makes encouraging noises about Mitchams Corner, but doesn't tell us how he'd change it. And his comments on antisocial parking making cycling hazardous don't really go far enough - he's ignored the endemic problems of pavement parking and blocking of cycle access across the ward.

But, heck, maybe the next ward will have a better Labour candidate. The Arbury candidate hasn't responded, so if we head down towards the Cam we encounter Margery Abbett in East Chesterton.

Space for Cycling? Yes. Simply put. Although I'd like to hear a little more about how she'd show this support.

Getting kids to school?
I would like to see more children walking or cycling to school. If cars were not allowed in the vicinity of schools then it would be a safer environment for children and this might encourage parents to allow children to cycle.
Wow. Simple, effective, workable. Great.

On her own cycling experience and fears for others who are young and old, sadly she's not really answered what those fears are - although she's a fan of training. Slightly disappointed by this answer. She's also not really got ideas on where more bike parking can be put in town (is it really that hard? Am I the only one who sees the spaces where we could put more bike locks?). And, sadly, no detail on how she'd maintain cycle access during building projects or the problem of access for non-standard bikes (and how cornering on a tricycle relates to this question in any way is lost on me).

Her comment on which junctions need fiddling with is fair - but information on how she'd change them would, again, be welcome. And, sadly, her answer on parking and cycle safety? Meh. Bit of a non-entity of an answer - seriously, I don't care about resident consultation schemes, I care that you put the safety of human beings going from A to B above the convenience of commuter parking, and I'm disappointed that Labour candidates don't feel that the safety of children riding bikes to school is more important than whether a residents group give enough of a damn about parking issues to make a fuss.

So - on the analysis of these two Labour candidates, it would be foolish to suggest that Labour are pro-cycling. They're not. Even a bit. 

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