Wednesday 26 April 2017

Camcycle Local Election Survey - The Labour Party

I'm not starting with Labour out of any sense of favouritism. Got to start somewhere so I'm picking the party that our current county councillor represents. She (councillor Fiona Onasanya) isn't standing again, but as luck would have it our local candidate has responded.

So does she ride and does she get that concerns for kids and old folks riding might not be the same as hers?

I don’t own a car, and my bike is my only mode of transport. I cycle to work every day and into the centre of the city several times a week. I’m a relatively slow cyclist. I can cycle from my house just off the top of King's Hedges Road to Cambridge railway station in half an hour and to Addenbrookes in 45 minutes (haven't timed myself on the new Cambridge North station yet).
I frequently cycle to Addenbrookes for medical appointments and my personal experience, as well as that of many North Cambridge residents I've spoken to, is that cycle parking facilities could definitely be better over at Addenbrookes. More dedicated space and safer covered facilities would help several people from my neck of the woods not feel put off at the thought of making the trip by bike.
Well... Ok, as far as it goes. 'Fully segregated high quality cycle routes facilitating safe, efficient riding by minmising conflict and prioritising healthy, green transport in a safer road environment would perhaps be a more complete view. Its a good answer but could go further.

So what are the challenges that stop people riding in the ward, especially those who otherwise struggle to get about, and how would you address that?

Cycle lanes along Milton Road, King’s Hedges Road and Green End Road are in very poor state of repair from years of underfunding by the Tory-led County Council.
Woah. Let me stop you there. It really doesn't matter that these facilities (especially on Milton Road) are in a poor state of repair - they're unrideable. Like the Kings Hedges Road one takes you on and off the road at every side junction, its narrower than people are in places, it swaps back and forward with parked cars and it is in every important sense inadequate. Tarmac breaking up is the problem? No, the problem is that the Kngs Hedges road route were devised by someone completely stupid. And Milton Road shared use facility? So notorious its got a phenomenon named for it.

But the rest of the answer is better. Depressing but better.

 If elected to the County Council I will work to ensure that more money is spent on maintenance of cycle paths and also pavements, as too often there are patched repairs that last only a short time before degrading again back to a very poor state. This isn't ideal when we think about encouraging the elderly, children, or first time cyclists on to the road. Several areas could do with looking specifically at improving cycle safety by prioritising cyclists, for example at the bend of Green End Road near the shops by the junction with Water Lane.
The City Deal needs to think longer term when implementing agreed schemes and take the chance to significantly improve the current state of roads and pavements. On Green End Road, they should strip back and completely resurface the roads (and pavements) rather than just paint over the current poor surface. Many residents are disappointed that new schemes don’t seem to include fixing existing problems with pavements and surfaces and are too superficial.
Sad but true. Fair.

And on the City Deal, what its doing and what else it should do?

Having attended most of the Local Liaison Forums conducted in my area, I am fully behind the resolutions that were passed for Milton Road and Histon Road.
In general, I would look most favourably upon any measures aimed at prioritisation of public transport, cycling, and walking. The Greenways proposals are very good. Segregated cycle lanes need to be put in wherever possible. Cycle parking facilities should be included in most public transport hubs.
Yeah, ok. Succinct but I agree.

What junctions need fixing to ride and how?
From talking to residents, the junctions of King’s Hedges Road, Milton Road and Green End Road have been of particular concern recently but all junctions shared with other motorised vehicles could do with looking at. Advanced green lights for cyclists improve cycling safety at controlled junctions and I'd quite like to see a few of those being introduced, as they would be very useful in helping regulate traffic to the advantage of cyclists, for example at the Union Lane junction with Milton Road.
Fine, its a start, but awfully unambitious. We're digging up Milton Road for the city deal and you want advance lines and lights for cycling? We can be more ambitious than that, you also say you support 'do max' options for Milton Road and that surely has better in it. This is a huge opportunity to REALLY fix the Arbury/Union/Milton junction. Likewise the junction with Green End Road.

City centre bike parking is the next question and the answer is reasonable. As for Milton Road:

 According to the plans that the Residents have submitted to the City Deal, I’d like to see segregated cycle lanes safe for people to use to cycle into the city regardless of experience or level of confidence on a bike.
We need segregated cycle lanes in both directions with some shared use areas where they are needed, for example around schools.
Can we not have this clearer? High quality, segregated cycle routes of a sufficient width to be safe in (2m+), with priority over side roads and re-design of roundabouts and junctions to prioritise pedestrian and cyclist safety? I mean thats what we need. Why not say that?

So thus far, at least our Kings Hedges candidate, she's not bad. Hasn't come across as the best Labour candidate ever in one of these surveys but she's supportive of cycling and not bad at all.

Ok, lets go further afield and maybe head in to Arbury. Jocelynne Scutt is the candidate there.

Does she ride and concerns for lass able (older, younger) riders?
I have cycled since a child, learning in a country town in Western Australia with my elder sister. I cycled to and from home to the Australian Institute of Criminology and the High Court of Australia in Canberra, ACT, daily in summer (wonderful) and winter (freezing) months and the between seasons. In Cambridge I cycled daily when up at Girton in the 1970s, and when Visiting Fellow at Lucy Cavendish (2010-2011) also ... although less frequently in recent times as I travel by X5 three/four times a week which means (because of location) walking to and from the bus stop is dictated. My siblings have all cycled although not as regularly as I due to location (USA, London, etc for example), similarly with other relatives.
Sorry like but thats just bizarre. No one asked for name-dropping institutions she worked with.. This isn't meant as an opportunity to casually drop parts of her CV into the response. I find that I don't much know about her experience of cycling in or around Cambridge from this answer.

So what stops folk riding, especially kids and folk who need a bike as a mobility aid? She's given us perhaps the most expansive answer I've ever seen to a survey question. I'd like to pick out some highlights but there aren't any - there's mroe from her CV here, and some ideas that yeah, we should facilitate cycling for everyone, of all abilities, but I can't help but feel that for the most part what she's saying is fiddling around at the edges. High quality cycle facilities are the only answer, we know that, we've known that for years, lets stop even discussing paint on shared use paths. Its a distraction.

On City Deal (what are they doing and what should they do) she's clear, succinct and fair:

The 'Do Optimum' for Milton Road - endorsed as Resolution 1 and incorporated in other resolutions of Milton Road Local Liaison Forum, and 'Do everything' - endorsed in the Histon Road LLF resolutions incorporate proposals for ensuring cycling and pedestrian safety along these two major roadways. As Chair of Milton Road LLF I have supported 'Do Optimum' and all the resolutions of the LLF and continue to do so. I have worked to ensure that they are taken into account and modelled by officers. I support the resolutions of Histon Road LLF and will work to have them taken into account as I have worked vis-à-vis the Milton Road resolutions.

One idea raised by a resident during canvassing and which I consider has merit is that of Park & Cycle - establishing secure parking for cycles at Park & Ride sites, so that these sites can be used by cyclists coming from villages, leaving their cycles safe and secure (say parking 'sheds' accessible by electronic access cards) and taking the bus into Cambridge and back. This is an idea worth exploring.
I like a bit of thinking aloud. The cycle and bus idea, well, maybe. Its worth asking. And I like someone saying precisely what they want too - and with regard to those two schemes she's done so. One would have thought commenting on Arbury Road here would have been apt too.  I'm beginning to think that this is going to be a question that few candidates can contribute much to though - is that ALL you can think of you want for cycling from City Deal, on top of a couple of roads being fiddle with?

On junctions her answer is simply excellent, I have to agree with most of what she's said. And for getting people in to Cambridge... Again, pretty good. But lets be honest, its not much to ask for candidates to just 'get' that the only answer is safe, segregated facilities along routes people can see and get to. Two candidates in and no one has said the bleeding obvious yet.

Regarding Mitchams Corner? OK. She agrees it needs sorting. And she's blessedly brief on Milton Road after having gone into it in an earlier answer.

So we've got two Labour candidates here - and they're both ok. I mean I'm not looking at them thinking they hate cyclists,they're giving very measured responses - nothing particularly earth-shaking, nothing especially radical. But nothing especially bad. And thats a step on from some earlier Labour candidates. A big step on.

So far so good, I just wonder why they're not a little more forthright. Cycling is a huge equaliser. Its a great leveller. If facilitating the cheapest, greenest, cleanest, healthiest, least divisive form of transit isn't core Labour then I din't know what is. And I'm left wondering why they don't get that there's one game in town - good infrastructure. Thats the only proven solution.

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