Wednesday 26 April 2017

Cambridge Local Election Survey - Liberal Democrats

So the other big political force in Cambridge is the LibDems. Its a big ask for them to take too many wards in the City but I've a feeling they'll do better this time round than they have previously.

Up for the LibDems in Kings Hedges is Jamie Dalzell, and he's responded to the survey. He's also one of the candidates who've responded to me reaching out to talk to me.

Does he ride, what needs doing for other folk (kids, older folk) to help them ride?

I myself cycle to and from work and currently ride a recumbent tricycle along Milton Road most days. Trikes are bit wider than normal bikes and therefore it has highlighted access issues to me (discussed later) and some hazards on routes such as the narrow bike lanes by the Golden Hind pub.
My partner commutes between Suffolk, but has a conventional bike for evenings and weekends around Cambridge.
Although we do not have kids, I am a school governor and Cheney is a teacher and therefore we are both acutely aware of the scrapes younger cyclists can get themselves into. Young cyclists can lack experience and, sometimes, consideration. It is therefore very important that we have safe cycle paths along key routes to schools.
Ok, fair enough. Hard to get into the mind of a 'cumbent rider at the best of times, but this seems pukka. I've seen the bike, its quite a fun looking thing. I can't disagree that its important to get kids to school.

What challenges are there and how do we address them?
We do have some significant gaps and obstacles in the King’s Hedges cycle network which I believe do discourage more vulnerable potential cyclists.
As noted by other local campaigners, the current plans to improve the cycle way along Arbury Road is limited by the narrow sections closest to Milton Road. I understand that plans are being developed to link this into the rest of the cycle network along Milton Road by a different route, but a cycle route should always be judged by its most hazardous sections.
This has recently been illustrated on Green End Road (documented online by Richard Taylor) where the recent cycle lane additions do not make sufficient room for buses and appear to be regularly
We also have a number of tight chicanes and awkward bollards (such as the ‘pram arms’ on the route between Ramsden Square and Campkin Road) which make it difficult/impossible for trikes and children’s trailers. I have raised this with officers and I am pushing for review and improvements (which would be a lot easier if elected as a Councillor).

This is good stuff. I'd add in that there are other roads where segregation is needed, and I'd signpost routes through Kings Hedges better - but I can't add much to this.

City deal, what its doing, what else it could do?
The City Deal has pledged to deliver some great projects. Focussing on cycling, an example would be the Chisholm Trail, which should provide a fantastic connection to the new train station and an alternative and highly accessible cycle route across the whole city.
However there are some considerable weaknesses in projects (for example, recent replanting of hedgerows on Arbury Road) that have been highlighted by campaigners but exacerbated by the accountability deficit of the City Deal, with key policy documents not being subject to consultation or public discussion. These situations undermine the credibility of the City Deal and often create conflict between different community groups (e.g. on the doorstep, poorly implemented cycle routes are often partly blamed on cyclists).
From my experiences, many of the best ideas (one noted above) come from the local community. Similarly the worst mistakes could often be avoided by better community engagement (especially as we are lucky to live in a city with so many highly-engaged groups).
Therefore, as a Councillor, my focus would be ensuring that City Deal continues to look for ideas from across our community and conducts meaningful consultations when finalising plans. Extending this, I also believe that any proposals should include a detailed review of opportunities to engage local children.
For example, when designing the ‘planting’ sections for Milton Road, could local schools run projects to help decide which trees and hedges should be incorporated into final designs? I think this could be a fantastic way to develop future stewardship of our area.
I find that to maintain my usual level of cynicism I have to raise the bar here a bit. Its a great response (and I think based in part on discussing such issues with him). There are other barriers to cycling in Kings Hedges, primarily the lack of good cycle facilities on some of the other roads, but there's also a bit of a problem with some actually very good through routes being hard to navigate because they're not sign posted at all. And getting kids involved in re-planting schemes for roadsides? Well, yes. Absolutely. Excellent idea.

His list of junctions that need improving is fair but a bit brief. And his thoughts for fixing bike parking problems in the city centre are fair enough (although I'm dubious about creating a new retail/community hub around the new railway station for various reasons). Nothing spectacular here but clear support for improvements. And a good simple answer regarding commuting routes into the city.
With recent news regarding local pollution levels and worsening congestion issues; I am keen to support the principles of Greenways proposal, with better cycling connections for orbital villages offering many benefits.
However, the success of this ambitious project will depend upon the quality of routes and, in particular, safety and avoidance of conflict with pedestrians and drivers.
Yep. No point building a cycle route thats crap.

And, likewise, his views on Milton Road are simple and succinct - but I'd personally like to hear a bit more about the importance of priority at side roads. I know thats implicit in backing the 'Do Optimum' stance but I tend to think it should still be said.

Well thats all good - pretty much a good approach for cycling there.

Sadly the Arbury candidate hasn't answered yet, but Ian Manning down in Chesterton has.

So does he ride, does his family etc.
I cycle to and from work every week day. I’m training for two triathlons this year so am starting to get experience of sports cycling for the first time.
For younger members it’s much more important that they are separated from motor traffic in particular, but pedestrian traffic as well. It’s also important for their routes to be as green and look as inviting as possible in order to encourage cycle at a young age.
That said, properly protected routes are important for cyclists of all ages – the real divide is between those who feel under-confident about cycling, regardless of age.
Fair enough and honest I think. And I think its true that protected routes are the key.

Regarding challenges for cycling, especially children and those who use a bike as a mobility aid, I kind of feel his list is a bit short. There's more than that wrong in his ward! But there's also nothing there I disagree with. He's not wrong about any of it.

And on City Deal:

 Overall the City Deal should be being far more radical. I have been pushing for it to use experimental techniques, modelled on the New York experience – since getting a motion through the County Council several years ago. 
Experimental schemes should be the default, not the exception. This would allow for far better, and more transparent, consultation. It would allow for more ideas to be tested. I do not accept that the City Deal needs to tow the line in order to reatain future money – it is only by taking residents with us and delivering quality that will see us get the remaining money allocated. 
The City Deal should be trying out extra revenue generating measures to subsidise the bus network before physical changes such as closing roads permanently.  
Finally, the City Deal should embrace (as it has begun to) SMART traffic management - ie demand led measures that can be altered as that demand changes.
You can almost feel the frustration - he's a guy who's keen to get things changed but he's finding that the City Deal is more of the same, only rather than giving us patchy provision with baffling consultation on one project at a time its hurling crap at us from multiple directions at once. I get it.

He's keen to get a lot of the junctions in Chesterton improved for cycling, which is fair enough. Regarding cycle parking in the City Centre, he likes the idea of some of that being on Mitchams Corner and also favours lots more little racks - I don't really get that but there you go. Mitchams isn't central enough really.

Regarding commuting in to Cambridge:
The City Deal Greenways idea I support, but I have serious doubts about how well the implementation will be done, based one the current Labour/Conservative administration current projects.
Bikes being allowed onto trains is a key thing, especially with the new train station –t hey should be allowed at peak times, with extra space allocated to allow this.
I fully support the Chisholm Trail and Vice Chair its liaison forum.
Where possible, road space should be reallocated to allow wide, fully segregated, cycle lanes.
Yeah, ok. I've only one gripe, and its a recurring one that just reached gripe overload. 

I don't want fully segregated cycle lanes 'where possible'. Its not an optional extra. If its not possible on a main route then that main route needs sufficient re-engineering to make it possible. Thats not negotiable - there IS road space.

I also quite like his experimental approach for Mitchams Corner - I can see a lot of merit in his suck it and see approach to experimenting on this junction, and it is somewhere that needs a lot of work. I seem to recall that there was a community newsletter there that had the subtitle 'a community, not a roundabout'. Well yes, it could be that. But it isn't.  

And Milton Road?
Priority over road junctions, both legal and physical.
The cutting back of bushes on blind corners, to allow visibility of incoming cars of cycles, and of cycles to see out coming cars.
Trailing of some of the Dutch style round about designs proposed by the cycle campaign.
More trees: green features have been shown to calm traffic and create a more pleasant environment for everyone.
Any improvements do need broad support – which is what was so pleasing about the work that the Cycle Campaign did with local Residents’ Associations.
Ok. I might have expected some support for the specific 'do max' proposal. But ok.

So from these LibDems I've got to say I've nothing much to grumble about. Positive responses, supportive of cycling and with some willingness to try to change things for the better. I've got to say, there's a lot to agree with here.

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