Tuesday 30 April 2019

Camycle Local Election Survey - My Answers

Its only fair, after roasting local election candidates over their replies (some of which were great, some rubbish) that I should put my own views forward for criticism. Feel free to have a go at what I've said if you like.

Because when I open up the web page it goes straight to West Chesterton, I'll answer those questions. Enjoy.

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 for yourself?
Myself and my partner ride all the time, its our primary means of transport. Sometimes its for fun too - we're happy going on longer rides, thats normally on the faster road bikes, whereas commuting tends to be by chunky hybrid, and trips to the shops and the allotment are by the sturdy ex-posties bike with or without the trailer. Neither our families live here in Cambridge nor do any of them regularly ride - like most people, in most parts of the country, adverse road conditions put them off. And thats from childhood onwards - I don't blame my siblings from dissuading their kids from riding in places they live, which are all entirely car-centric and hostile to cycling.

But if I'm honest those concerns, while amplified for kids and the elderly (and those less able bodied), are the same for everyone and can be addressed the same way - safe infrastructure should be there for us all to ride on.

Camcycle believes that more people cycling has positive benefits for individuals' health and the city by reducing congestion and air-pollution. What is your vision to encourage more people of all ages and all abilities to cycle as a preferred mode of transport?
It isn't so much my own vision as it is the clear evidence of decades or research on transport choices - there's one game in town, and thats high quality, segregated infrastructure. I know people like to talk about educating cyclists, teaching drivers, good policing, places to lock bikes and in work showers but the impact of all of those measures combined pales into insignificance next to the provision of high class infrastructure.

So my vision is for all levels of local government in Cambridge (City, County, Mayoral and Greater Cambridge) to commit to installing said infrastructure at every opportunity. Our sister city, Cambridge in Massachusetts, has passed law requiring that cycle infrastructure be installed on every major road project. And thats the way we need to go - the provision of safe routes for whole journeys, not just where its easy to build. Restricting car access to the city centre is also a no-brainer - it should be a beautiful place but its choking with fumes, and that has to change.

People can quibble about that all they like - but there's no room for more cars, bus routes will always be slower and indirect and we're not getting any kind of underground Metro for decades. To free up road space, make our air cleaner and our city safer for everyone, dedicated cycle infrastructure is the only game in town. Anyone saying otherwise is demonstrably wrong.

Our volunteers spend a lot of time scrutinising planning applications for failures such as lack of secure cycle parking, poor access, failure to fund nearby improvements to make the roads safer, and so on. Many of these things get let through by officers and councillors in clear contravention of the Local Plan. The lack of a full-time cycling officer makes this situation even worse. What are your main concerns about the planning system, and how would you seek to make improvements?
I feel your pain.

The answer I think you want is that I'd push for a full-time cycle officer at the City Council. And yes, I would, and I'd make cost savings to employ one by trimming away some of the endless deadwood in middle management at City level. All too often the people that the Council employs to do work around the city are brilliant, but they're not enabled to do their jobs by managers who just get in the way. I have absolute confidence, from first hand experience, that plenty of savings can be made there to employ a full time cycling officer.

But thats only part of the problem - another part is that planning is ludicrously slanted in favour of developers and against councillors and residents. And with the best will in the world no one local authority can change that. What they CAN do however is use the media and activists such as yourselves far more effectively - while a depressingly dull planning meeting might not get the attention it needs, calling activists and the press in to hilight oncoming planning disasters is a weapon that few councillors seem willing to use. That has to change - if the law is stacked against sustainable transport in development then we must be willing to win in the court of public opinion first, and that eventually changes the system.

Cycle theft is a city-wide problem, and the greatest frustration is focussed on the Cyclepoint parking facility at the main Cambridge rail station. Official response to cycle theft at Cyclepoint has been subject to a breakdown of relationship between those in authority. When somebody tries to report their bike has been stolen they get a run-around between the railway company, the British Transport Police and the local police. What can the city council do to encourage the necessary co-operation between Greater Anglia and Cambridgeshire Constabulary?
Its easy to bottle out of this question by saying its not a councillor thing, its a police thing. But I won't do that. I've seen how it plays out when you report anything relating to crimes against cyclists in Cambridge - the cops want you to shut up and go away and they'll do whatever it takes (frustrating you by losing details, not taking reports, refusing to accept that dangerous driving can be a thing without a collision, etc.) to frustrate you. But then when you call in a councillor, or bellyache online and a councillor pushes it (as Oscar did once when I had footage of a dangerous driver in the city centre) then the Police take notice. Councillors don't have direct sway over policing priorities but their views carry way more weight with the police than the rest of us can manage. Bluntly, councillors in the city must collectively approach Cambridgeshire Constabulary and British Transport Police and tell them that we've had enough. We absolutely require that for each reported bike theft at Cyclepoint footage from CCTV is consulted and images circulated to catch the thief. And, likewise, across the city wherever there is camera footage it must be accessed.

Its hard to imagine the police being so blase about the theft of anything else - councillors at each local area committee must push the police to prioritise crimes against cyclists, including bike thefts, in every part of the city.
Protected junctions where walking and cycling traffic are fully separated from motorised traffic have been proposed by Cambridge Cycling Campaign for junctions being rebuilt by the Milton and Histon Road GCP projects. Which junctions do you think would benefit from similar safety improvements within the Cambridge area?
There was a recent discussion on Twitter about cycle junctions in Cambridge, and I think it was Al from Camcycle who asked whether there are any junctions in Cambridge designed well enough for cyclists. After some consideration the considered, all round response was 'no, not really'. This makes the answer 'well all of them' quite easy, but its (a) unhelpful and (b) glib. But starting with the developments on Milton Road, I'd take the simple approach of addressing each junction in the city in order of the number of cyclist injuries reported there. Lets not guess or blunder about - the data is available and is a simple, unambiguous guide to the action plan we need.

Ultimately no bike journey is better than its worst junction. The more junctions we fix, the better whole bike journeys will get.
 The eastern section of Arbury Road near Milton Road is narrow, filled with parked cars creating a cycle safety hazard, and speeding traffic far above the 20mph limit. How would you propose to create safe cycling conditions along this part of Arbury Road, for instance by extending the new cycle lanes?
To be honest I wouldn't have started the Arbury Road project without a plan to do the whole road. Its absurd that there's going to be a short stretch of reasonably decent cycle lane completely unconnected to anywhere else thats worth cycling - at one end there's the dogs dinner of the Arbury Road/Kings Hedges junction where we don't connect up with anything, and at the other the plan is for the route to disappear and we're apparently meant to ride all round the houses and keep out of the way of the car drivers on Arbury Road. Fuck that for a game of soldiers, its not going to encourage anyone to ride to work from, say, Orchard Park to the Beehive. We have to stop these delusional part-projects and stop planning officers patting themselves on the backs for shit like this, its just not on - the current facility being finished on Arbury Road represents a failure, not a success.

The South/East end of Arbury Road isn't even that hard to fix, I find it inexplicable that we didn't see a plan emerge before the work started at the other end of the road. I'd make it one way for driving, ban parking on one side, and install a fully segregated contaflow lane for cycling on the other side. If there is room I'd put fully segregated cycle lanes on both sides, if there isn't I'd install hard speed restrictions to tame motorists there (they treat it like a long, straight drag track right now)

And thats before we consider what should be done on Union Lane...

Monday 29 April 2019

Camcycle Local Election Survey 2019 - The Purple Team

Not that UKIP have any hope here, at all. I mean even at their best they flopped here, but hey, this is a local election for local issues and I'm sure their demented requirement that a staunchly Remain city should give a shit about them is something we can overlook...

Except of the three candidates they've put up in the city none of them have responded. Not one. And thats a real shame from a comedy perspective because we've seen some right train crash responses in the past.

So in light of them not responding, and the known track record of folk like Berkinshaw, I'd like to award them a -50/10. Seems only fair.

Camcycle Local Election Survey 2019 - The Blue Team

Not a whelk in Hades chance in this ward, but fair is fair, lets find a couple of Tory candidates and treat them the same as we have the others.

In Kings Hedges there are two seats up, but the Tories have selected two candidates and arbitrarily I'm picking the epically named Eric Barrett-Payton. Just as well like, the other guy didn't answer yet.

His concerns cycling and for those who are more vulnerable?

Some family members have cycled and I was a very keen cyclist when I was younger, but not now, due to problems with joints. My main concern is the lack of safe places to park and lock a bike where ever we want to stop at our temporary destinations
Really? Thats your main concern? Not that councillors direct the Police to target children terrified to mix it with articulated lorries? Well I don't share your values then.

How would he get more people cycling because its leaner, greener, more economical?

 More places where it is possible to park a bike securely would help
Bit of a one trick pony, Eric? Like, did someone beat you to a Chelsea lock once and you've not recovered from the emotional trauma? Look, bike locking helps, but its not the be all and end all. Likewise his answer on planning is, well, not dismissive so much as not in any way invested in cycling as an issue. And his answer on cycle theft demonstrates that he doesn't understand the role of our elected police commissioner, the relationship between Cambridgeshire Constabulary and British Transport Police, the role of the provider of protected cycle parking, or that of councillors in setting policing priorities at an area level in Cambridge.

And on physical barriers to cycling? He's just wrong.
This is a tricky balance between the requirements of walkers and cyclists to have full access, but safely, without the risk of rogue motor cyclists using unsuitable routes. There is no excuse for not having full access for pedestrians, but it is more difficult to see how larger bikes can be accommodated and still deter motorbikes. Technical innovations might provide an answer in future, perhaps something like a low style that allows you to lift over a three wheeler, or other larger bike and trailer, which would be possible for them, but not heavier machines, although this is not an ideal solution, it might be some improvement in the present situation
I don't want to sound uncharitable but... Ok, lets be honest, I don't care if I come across as uncharitable, nor am I going to mask what I'm about to say by putting 'with respect' in front of it. Alex here is an idiot and basically wrong about most things. 0/10 for turning up and not being actively hostile to cycling - like I'm just glad I don't have to give you a negative score.

Now we've been mooching abut North Cambridge with all the responses so far and frankly I'm bored, so we'll go and look at what Manas Deb has to say in Queen Ediths.

His  experience of riding and concerns for more vulnerable riders?
I cycle with my little boy in weekdays for his school run and with family in weekends. My son has passed level 3 in cycling year before and we send him for cycling courses arranged by his school from time to time. Last year I have purchased an advanced multi gear cycle with a carrier for my son to use for his school journeys safely.Addenbrooke’s round about and Queen Edith’s Way round about is unsafe for cyclist and pedestrians due to the absence of zebra crossing and unfortunately elected Lib Dem Councillors are doing nothing to improve situation. Children should be taught about road safety at early age and I have made my child aware of few unsafe cycle paths and he cycles on his own using Queen Edith’s Way round about and Hills Road.
Oooh. A bit of politics. Well, yeah, that roundabout is crap. But (1) libdems aren't in power in the City, thats Labour which is what this election is for, so can do little there and (2)  the transport authority is the County, they're really best place to take action here, and thats Tory, thats your team. So yeah, I get your frustration and share it, but your political point scoring here backfires spectacularly when we analyze it.

On to what Manas would do to increase cycling:
Cycling is certainly a good exercise to keep one physically fit. Cycling increases cardiovascular fitness, improves joint mobility, decreases stress level and strengthens bones. Motorised transport is noisy, while its emissions reduce air quality and add to the greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. Cycling can also reduce congestion and the journey times of other road users, particularly in Cambridge City.
My vision to encourage more people of all ages and all abilities to cycle is to first Improve safety and perception of safety, providing infrastructure that encourages active transport, such as creation of direct or shorter routes for cyclists and pedestrians. Encouraging a culture of active transport, understanding that the barriers are different for different populations.
One of the things that New Labour learned from the Tories was that sometimes a simple message said simply is better than a more verbose one. Infrastructure, infrastructure and infrastructure. Just say it dude - everything else, the cycling culture, the respect that people get when they're no longer treated as an out group, it all follows from that. You're right to look at safety and subjective safety - thats done through infrastructure. You're right that this is a different threshold for different populations but all of them are addressed by infrastructure.

His answer on planning is enthusiastic and clear that he wants to make improvements, but perhaps a little thin on how he'd change things. Tough, nuanced question, and while Manas here has avoided an own goal here he hasn't cleared the ball away.

On to bike thefts...
Cambridgeshire has been hit by a wave of bike thefts. Police data shows a total of 4,296 bikes were recorded as stolen by police in 2017/18.That works out as an average of 12 every day. The figure is up by more than 500 from the 3,793 bikes stolen the previous year. It is the highest it has been since 2010/11, when there were 4,374 bike thefts.
Lib Dem Councillors have failed to raise this bike thefts issue with local police seriously. If elected as Councillor, I would work with City Council to introduce cycle marking initiatives and continue to deliver the message that people have to lock up their bike safely and take the time to security mark their bikes and register the details of their bike with Bike Register. I will also work closely with Police & Crime Commissioner to allocate additional police resources dedicated to reduce cycle thefts.
He doesn't like the Liberal Democrats, does he? I don't really go in for the squabbling between party candidates and I just wish they'd all just fucking grow out of it, but there you go, I'm an idealist. He's well informed as to what the problem is, but not really getting just how little resource is needed to make an enormous impact here - that the difference between looking at footage of cycle thefts on CCTV and not doing so is literally expending 5 minutes of time digitally chopping to the point of theft. Bike marking isn't the issue here, the Police giving this zero priority and actively making it hard to report crime to keep their numbers down, in a way that the Commissioner must surely be fully aware of, is the problem.

There's a Queen Ediths specific question on verge/bike lane/pavement parking next and while he's right in his desire to combat this he's missing out on a handy local bye-law that would stop parking on verges overnight. Right spirit here, needs a bit more information to get in and fix it.

So... Hard to grade this one. He's spot on in so many ways but seems to sacrifice making a good point to make a political one as often as not. 7/10 - some excellent moments, and he gets what the needs are, and he's someone campaigners can work with and, I do hope, influence favourably.

That gives us an inelegant 3.5/10 average for the Tories. Slightly more shit than Labour.

Camcycle Local Election Survey 2019 - The Green Team

As the Green party are the nearest thing we have to a third party in Cambride, in that they have a councillor and the Tories and UKIP don't, lets do them next. Although their chances of still having a seat after the election are up in the air, they're still (for the moment) ahead of the blue and purple teams.

So... The local candidate Angela Ditchfield hasn't answered (I've often said of her I think she's a good egg but I'm never sure her heart is in the whole 'getting to be a councillor' thing).

So I've got to cross in to Arbury where I find Stephen Lawrence. On his own experience cycling and what should be done for those more vulnerable:
Lifelong cyclist.
Yes - those with either a more cautious approach or a lower level of energy need to be catered for specifically
Catered for how, specifically old chap? And is it really true that they need -specific- help or is it more the case that helping cyclists out, all of us, is of disproportionate value to the most vulnerable?

On how to get more people to choose to cycle...
 Sort out the dozens of "dodgy locations" that subconsciously say "cyclists are not form of transport worthy of consideration".
You know Stephen, I'm beginning to think you aren't taking this seriously. Sort out how? You're going to make them appealing to cyclists by doing what?

His answer to planning issues and cycling is more or less a complete non-entity. He didn't grasp it.

Nor, really, are his answers to the other questions worthy of consideration. Sorry to talk all interwebby, but I just can't even.

1/10. Thanks for turning up.

I'm now bouncing around wards to find one where another green candidate has answered, and eventually I'm stopping at West Chesterton where Shayne Mitchells first answer on his(?) own experiences cycling and needs of vulnerable cyclists is brilliant and needs repeating word for word:

 I've cycled all my life, and everyone in the family cycles, mostly as a way of getting around. I love cycling - you feel free and alive - and I can't imagine living without it. I've been lucky to live and cycle in Rome - which was never frightening like Cambridge, as you knew you could trust drivers to (a) notice you and (b) be careful around you.
But following a back injury some years ago, my balance and strength are not what they are, and I have become very aware of how scary it can be. Cambridge is far from being the cycling paradise it is popularly believed to be - too many people drive fast and aggressively and with disregard, even contempt, for cyclists and pedestrians. 
Our daughter has a short cycle ride to Parkside Sixth. I find it depressing that I am glad she is not at Hills Road/Long Road/Impington, simply because getting there by bike involves unpleasant junctions/motorway roundabout, and the like. Simply because the cycling infrastructure is quite inadequate.
Likewise his answer on what should be done to get more people cycling is exhaustive and detailed, but I would take issue with some of his priorities...
Yes, it is dispiriting how few, relatively, people cycle. And what a narrow demographic it is.
While waiting for the bus in Northampton Street, I often pass the time counting vehicles and bikes. The usual ratio is around 1:7. This despite its being a main route for cyclists.
1. A 20 mph limit throughout the city, following on from the successful 20 mph limit in side streets. (If you are throwing up your hands in horror at the prospect, and think it unworkable, remember how so many people threw up their hands in horror at the proposal of a 20 mph limit in side streets - and how it's mostly happened effectively with no kerfuffle.)
2. Decent WIDE cycleways on the road on main roads - Milton Road, Elizabeth Way, Chesterton Road, etc - on the lines of the cycleways on Hills Road.
3. Advance cycle stop lines at all traffic lights.
4. Cycle crossings and pelican crossings - rejig the controls so that they give priority to cyclists/pedestrians crossing the road. At present, they prioritise motor traffic, leaving us waiting in the rain/wind/cold twiddling our thumbs waiting ages for green crossing light.
5. Park andRide - better facilities for cyclists. Normalise it.
6. Use images of older people/women to encourage cycling. Cycling used to be a normal means of transport among middle-aged women in Cambridge. It isn't now - people say they used to, but are discouraged/frightened.
7. Decent bike parking WITH COVERS to keep your saddle/child seat/paniers dry. You don't expect to get into a wet seat in a parked car, so why a bike?
8. Buses and taxis - encourage them to give "cycle awareness" training to drivers. Get the drivers to go out on a bike and see what it's like when buses and taxis pass too close.
Well I can't agree with all of it, ASLs aren't all they're cracked up to be if you can't safely reach them. But there's a heck of a lot there to work with. Its just a but broad and I worry that the prime message, the one thing we know works, which is good quality infrastructure, is lost in among the noise. I'm left thinking its all a bit Andy Preview - all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.

On planning I think his is the best answer I've read, I hope Shayne and the folk at Camcycle don't mind me cutting and pasting so many of his responses but its worth it:
Employ (again) a full-time cycling officer.
Planning system - look at best practice in other places to improve how we, the public, are informed of planning applications. Eg put the site notice on a bright colour and put "This will affect you" in large letters.
Lack of transparency in planning system - can the local newspapers be persuaded to cover applications/meetings more?
 There's an element of wanting to bang heads together in the response regarding cycle thefts, which I share. And on which junctions should be modified such that cyclists and pedestrians get better protection from motorists, the answer 'all of them' followed by a few examples seems heart-felt and at least thought out. I don't disagree with much there.

The last question is a really interesting one restricted to this ward:
The eastern section of Arbury Road near Milton Road is narrow, filled with parked cars creating a cycle safety hazard, and speeding traffic far above the 20mph limit. How would you propose to create safe cycling conditions along this part of Arbury Road, for instance by extending the new cycle lanes?
And the response, extending cycle lanes further down Arbury Road, restricting car parking in front of the shops on Arbury Road, all sounds good but rather shows that the candidate is a little behind the curve on this issue. There's a proposal to make the South end of Arbury Road one way (hopefully only for motoring - it would be absolute murder to stop cycling there), and thats a game-changer.

So all in all, a lot of passion and some in-depth thought from this candidate, but its a little bit of a muddle in places. Still, very good - 7/10.

That gives the Green team an average of 4/10 - as ever, their candidates are a real mixed bag.

Camcycle Local Election Survey 2019 - the Yellow Team

Historically there used to be three parties had a hope in Kings Hedges. I was talking to an ex-LibDem councillor yesterday and he told me that they always treated the ward as a three way marginal because there's a persistent Tory vote that never seems to go away. But getting real for a moment, its a long time since the Tories did anything but belly-flop here, and the only real opposition is the yellow team.

We've got two candidates for the two seats (which is a mistake guys - why wouldn't you want to maximise your chances of getting one candidate into office?) I'll pick one of them to review and look or another in a neighbouring ward. Tossing a coin I'm going to consider Luke Hallams responses.

On concerns for older and younger cyclists, and his own experience cycling...
I mainly travel on foot and I do not currently own a bike. I only cycle occasionally when I borrow a bike from friends. I am therefore not confident riding on roads but I am currently looking into going to a Bikeability course to improve my knowledge and confidence. From my perspective, better cycle routes, with segregated bike lanes (that don’t suddenly disappear onto a busy road) would really encourage me to cycle more and I think would really help younger cyclists as well.
Luke, if you're reading this, firstly, thats spot on. Well done. Secondly, give the guys at Outspoken a call and talk to them about what training options are available. Its not the be all and end all, but it won't hurt. And thirdly, get in touch with me, we'll see if one of our spares in my garage can be fitted to you, and come out for a ride with me and my other half - it sounds like the biggest thing you're lacking is confidence, and thats best obtained by riding with people who do this, here, every day. Failing that you've got a whole lot of yellow team cyclists, surely one of them has a spare bike and can ride out with you?

On how to get more people out on their bikes:
Increasing the number of cycle lanes is one way to make people feel more comfortable about taking up cycling. I believe there is value in shared cycle schemes, working with robust public transport to ensure that there is always an alternative to car use. Our wider anti-idling campaign will help draw attention to the environmental cost of vehicles, and will encourage people to cycle instead.
Well thats most of it covered. Infrastructure is the biggie - although some reference to policing (total lack thereof with regard to motoring) would be appreciated here too. But on the whole... Good.

Regarding planning and council work, he's supportive of having a full-time cycling officer, and raises a fair concern regarding the new developments coming to the ward. Perhaps an acknowledgement that councillors could themselves do more could be there too, but, again, nothing to disagree with here.

On cycle theft his suggestion of getting reps from Greater Anglia and the Police in the same room is fair, and the acknowledgement that police resources are stretched is reasonable. Although frankly I've never heard anyone say 'well you know, investigating (theft of something that isn't a bike) isn't going to be a priority because of resources'. And I would have hoped that he'd have understood his role as a councillor would put him on North Area Committee, giving him a vote to instruct local Police officers to prioritise cycle theft.

And on specific barriers to cycling in the ward? He's picked some of the major constrictions and told us how he'd solve them. Top marks.

I'm giving Luke 9/10. I know. I'm as surprised as you are. He's nailed most of it, he just needs a tiny bit more attention in some answers.

So we went off to Arbury last time when looking at Labour, lets drift south into Chesterton and see what we find there. I see that Owen Dunn is standing. In fairness beating the Labour candidate, Gerri Bird on cycling issues isn't hard. Whats his experience riding and whats the problem for more vulnerable riders?
Cycling is my main mode of transport. I cycle 30-50 miles a week commuting around Cambridge, mainly on the road but also using some off-road cycle paths. I sometimes use a bike trailer to do large shopping trips.
I also cycle for fun and do 100km-200km rides with Audax UK (http://www.aukweb.net/)
I'm a fairly confident cyclist and usually cycle on roads, but many younger or less confident cyclists and those with disabilities find on-road cycling too scary. They benefit from having segregated cycle routes which are protected from motor traffic, and I'm keen that the city's network of segregated routes grows (and connects!)
So he's pretty serious about his bike. I've seen him on two wheels, not seen him out with the trailer, but have no reason to doubt that. And he's spot on about cycle facilities - although I'd say maybe an acknowledgement that they'd be good for him too would be worthwhile.

Regarding getting more people riding, I can't disagree at all:

 We need to make it easy and pleasant to get around by bike. This means:
* continuous segregated cycle routes which are well signposted and don't just disappear
* more bike parking on more streets, and sufficient bike racks in business and residential developments
* more permeable development so that cut-throughs make local journeys much easier by bike
* encouraging businesses to provide showers and changing facilities
We need to take action on air pollution so that getting around the city is feasible for those with breathing difficulties. Measures such as monitoring air quality, reducing engine idling, and tree planting will contribute to this.
I would only suggest that this needs to be clearly ordered - work showers won't help at all unless there's safe access to ride there. The only game in town that really works is infrastructure, everything else follows as a result of more people riding.

On planning his desire for a full time cycling officer is fair, and his desire to work with officers to hard-wire cycling into planning responses is worthy. I also think there's a party line emerging here - you guys want a full time cycling officer? Brilliant. So do I. Whats your costing for it? How much will it cost and how will you pay for it? Can you, for example, tell me which other post you're going to cut or reduce to part-time to pay for it?

The next Question in Chesterton is about Nuffield Road and basically how its a motorist dominated death trap. He doesn't fluff it, and provides a fairly detailed response and I actually appreciate how he holds back from going for the political jugular by not talking about how the previous consultation was fluffed when only residents rather than the school and medical centre were asked. His answer is considered and fair, acknowledging a clear need to protect pedestrians and cyclists by physically stopping cars getting on the pavements and providing a protected cycle route.

Regarding physical barriers to cycling, he lists the kinds of barriers that are a problem without listing the locations of where they are in his ward or (confusingly) in Kings Hedges which the question asks about. Take the trailer on a jaunt around the ward Owen, you'll find a few.

But on the whole? Splendid from Owen. 9/10

This means the Libdems have scored an unprecedented 9/10 - both of their candidates are on message, rational, fair, and simply know what they're talking about on cycling issues.

Camcycle Local Election Survey 2019 - The Red Team

As the team thats currently winning in Cambridge, having a majority on the City Council, lets do Labour first.

Kings Hedges, the ward I live in, has two seats up for grabs this time after the death of one of the Councillors (a Labour councillor and mayor). So some parties are standing two candidates, which should give us a lot to choose from here.

Sadly only one of the candidates from Labour has responded so far, which is unsurprising because as far as I can tell Kevin Price doesn't particularly give a shit and is a fine example of how Labour think any old buffoon with a red rosette can win here. But another, Alex Collis, has replied.

Collis has form talking about cycling before, and I'm afraid it isn't good form as you can see from this thread. Her tendency to generalise about cyclists and specifically concentrate on negative stereotypes speaks volumes, but lets not hold that against her. Well, not much. Lets see what she says in response to the survey questions...

The first question is a bit of a warm up effort:

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 for yourself?
 And her response...
I do not own a car, preferring to either walk or cycle as often as possible. Half of my family still lives in Cambridge and all are regular cyclists; my own son is now an adult but I do have concerns about my younger nieces and nephews' safety when cycling, particularly on main roads such as Newmarket Road and Histon Road where there is such a high volume of traffic. Although they see/learn good cycling practice from their parents, they are inevitably more vulnerable and less able to judge situations or assert their position as cyclists.
Call me picky but I worry when someone is asked about their experience cycling and they respond with their motoring status first - from a strictly identitarian perspective its worrying. You weren't being asked about whether you drive, you were asked what your experience of cycling is. Its fair to comment that some roads are busy and thats a problem, but I'm worried about how this response immediately places blame on the more vulnerable younger cyclists for being less able to judge their surroundings or assert their position than other. She's immediately shifting responsibility to groups bringing so little risk to others that it can hardly be measured and away from motorists who bring all the risk. Worrying. Very worrying.

The second question is an opportunity for candidates to really open up about what positive steps they might favour for cycling. Thus:

Camcycle believes that more people cycling has positive benefits for individuals' health and the city by reducing congestion and air-pollution. What is your vision to encourage more people of all ages and all abilities to cycle as a preferred mode of transport?
And here the candidate immediately crashes and burns. When asked how you'll do things positively for everyone in the city, because we all benefit from less pollution, noise, road danger, etc. she immediately becomes an apologist for motoring. The question doesn't set cycling advocacy against motoring, but the candidate immediately does:
 I haven’t owned a car for over ten years, getting rid of it as a conscious decision on environmental grounds. Even then, Cambridge was horribly congested and the air quality noticeably deteriorating. Not everyone is going to feel similarly or choose cycling (over driving) as a mode of transport so a diversity of approaches will be needed. Information on health and environmental benefits of cycling will need to be freely available and well publicised, but will not work on its own. Action is also needed.
Thats your plan? Accept people will drive but tell them it would be nice if more people cycled? There isn't a single person who doesn't know that doing a bit more exercise and burning a little less fuel makes good financial sense, good ecological sense and a great deal of personal fitness sense. But she goes on about cycling advocacy and soft measures to encourage. This is nonsense - research going back decades shows a single measure works to increase cycling uptake, and thats the development of safe cycling infrastructure to cover whole journeys. No commute by bike is better than its worst junction - you can't whisper in peoples ears that cycling is good for them if their lived experience is the murderstrip cycle lane on Kings Hedges Road. Epic failure from the candidate here.

Question 3 is much mure nuanced and subtle than I suspect any of the candidates are going to realise (were you being a little too clever here Camcycle or am I reading more into this than you intended?)
Our volunteers spend a lot of time scrutinising planning applications for failures such as lack of secure cycle parking, poor access, failure to fund nearby improvements to make the roads safer, and so on. Many of these things get let through by officers and councillors in clear contravention of the Local Plan. The lack of a full-time cycling officer makes this situation even worse. What are your main concerns about the planning system, and how would you seek to make improvements?
So basically its a question loaded to put the blame on councillors in all sorts of ways. They haven't chosen to give a cycling officer time or remit to go through planning in detail, they haven't instructed planning officers to fully prioritise cycling in planning. and councillors themselves are waving through dreadful planning applications that enormously under-deliver on cycling. The clever response would be to address all three issues and explain how the candiate would push to do better. Does Collis give that clever response? No, not really, apparently officers and councillors need better training and something about cars being at the centre of planning. Again, its not about doing things for cyclists, its about not doing everything for motorists so, again, she's playing us off against motoring in an absurdly uneven fashion. Not good enough.

The next question is about cycle theft across the city but with specific reference to Cyclepoint. And the candidate, rather than demonstrating an understanding of the problem (police flat out refuse to look at CCTV footage citing the frankly insultingly stupid notion that they must look at 8 hours of footage, spending 8 hours, to find an image of when a cycle was stolen rather than repeatedly look at half way points to find a view the culprit inside of a minute) the candidate talks about stakeholders and basically waffles. The issue isn't lack of work from 'stakeholders', it is purely a regulatory and policing one. Nil points.

The next one is about permability and physical barriers to cycling in the ward and across the city. Bit of a banana skin question this one - you can immediately tell whether someone cycles in and around the ward by whether they've found the insane and frustrating routes blocked to cyclists for no apparent reason. And does she get it? No. I mean she's only just now talking about cycle lanes, and she has't picked out any of the specific locations in the ward that are a problem. And I'm sorry, if your argument that narrow cycle lanes are bad because they're physically harder for disabled cyclists you're missing the point more profoundly than I know how to address.

So, all in all, I'm going to give Collis an absurdly generous score of 1/10. I don't think her head is in the right place on cycling at all, and even though she says she rides a bike its obvious that many of her answers have come out of a 'not a motorist' place rather than that.

Looking further afield, lets hop over the road and look at the now well established candidate Carina O'Reilly.

She doesn't really answer regarding experiences of younger and older cyclists, but does highlight that she rides here and abroad. Ok, but half an answer.

Regarding getting more people cycling because it benefits us all in so many ways:
I think the priority for encouraging cycling is to provide safe and segregated cycling facilities. Cycling among traffic is very intimidating for new riders.
Pretty much nailed it, although I'd go further and say that safe facilities are brilliant for all riders. But with specific reference to the question, she's spot on.

On the planning question she's perhaps a little pessimistic, but like most pessimists I suspect Carina would say she's a realist:
 The planning system as a whole is under-funded and planning decisions are very restricted by law. There is very little systemic change that is possible at City Council level; we are limited by the law and by losing 40% of our budget in the last few years. Unfortunately, until there's a change in government, we are more reliant on good work done by citizens and volunteers than anyone would ideally want.
While thats all true, many of the changes to planning applications needed to make things a whole lot better for cycling aren't that great, and there are clear things that the City can do to make this better (which perhaps if I get time to write my own responses to these questions, I'll elaborate on). But all in all, she's speaking from an experienced, grounded perspective here - reading this I don't see any silly ideas or misunderstanding of the problems and it makes her come across as someone cycling advocates could work with.

On the cycle theft question she's again clear this isn't a city power, but acknowledges that working towards a clear reporting system would help. I am however surprised that she's missed out the simple thing she as a councillor (and the labour group as councillors) could do, which is instruct local police to treat cycle theft as a 'local priority' via. the city Local Area Committee system. Bluntly, if for example the Police come out with nonsense about not looking at cctv footage because it takes too long at a public meeting, Councillors are in a position to publicly and vocally call them out on this shit. But instead the NAC on which she sits has frequently empowered bellyachng about cyclists rather than policing for them through its police priority decisions. Hit and miss answer there I feel.

Now the fifth question here is a ward specific one, namely:
How will you work with the GCP to improve walking and cycling proposals in their Histon Road scheme, in particular with regard to children cycling to school at the Mayfield Primary School, crossing Histon Road near Carisbrooke Road, and within the narrow section of road from Aldi south to the junction with Victoria Road?
And her answer...
 We have already submitted proposals for a crossing in this area and are hoping to make progress on this this year. I use this area regularly for cycling and I am keenly aware of the difficulties and dangers for all cyclists here.
Well the whole Histon Road thing is going to be a fight over the next couple of years and I fully anticipate that its going to run and run. I would have liked to see some more detail of the proposals here, there's not enough to judge the candiate on this answer really.

Question 6 is about improving cycling on Carlton Way, and she replies that she'd like dedicated cycle routes there. I agree entirely, and its almost that simple - the question should reasonably be extended to 'and then what?' when you get to either end, as there's huge potential to turn this into a major North/South route for cycling in the city incorporating Stretten Avenue, and linking Roxburgh Road, all the way along the route already there (but terribly surfaced and poorly laid out) to the Science Park. But a good, clear, simple, fair answer.

Carinas answer to number 7, about junctions separating walking and cycling from motorised traffic, concentrates mostly on Mitchams Corner and Chesterton Road - perfectly fair to hilight those places because although they're not in the ward they're unavoidable for those living there and clearly need addressing.

So for Carina O'Reilly, considering the whole body, there are a couple of places where I'd like to see more detail and hear a bit more about what she's proposing, but whats there is all positive, reasonable and sensible. I'd rate it 7/10.

So for those two candidates, I'm giving Labour an average score of 4/10. Which isn't great if I'm honest, but we've seen worse.

Camcycle Local Election Survey 2019 -Summary

It has become something of a tradition here that the local cycle campaign group surveys candidates for views on cycling issues in the run up to elections. But its more of a niggling bad habit that I go through those responses and praise, mock or pour 'meh' all over them.

As ever, thanks you Camcycle for doing this. Its a worthwhile on occasion hilarious exercise.

So here's the deal. I've gone through them party by party, picking a couple of candidates from each. I've always picked a candidate from my own ward (Kings Hedges) if I can, and go further afield for others, until I've been through at least two of each party.

Liberal Democrats

This year is, as always, a mixed bag.

Got to say that I'm always surprised by how poorly the Greens come across in this - its like they're struggling to get good candidates or motivate themselves to try at all. Shame. If you look closely at your green candidate it might be the case that you have a cracker, but don't assume it. And this pains me - my instinct is to vote Green, but on the strength of their responses here, I'm not convinced to do so at all.

The Labour and Tory parties suck - averaging 4/10 and 3.5/10. Be very careful voting for either if cycling matters to you - some candidates are much better than others but on my sampling I'm unimpressed.

The LibDems have excelled themselves. I'm not saying that if I'd gone in another direction for my second candidate I was guaranteed to find another as good (is it Tim standing again in Arbury? Always touch and go on cycling). But on the strength of these two candidates, both being pretty close to spot on, I'd give other candidates my attention on this subject. Its just a shame that there has been a complete lack of any contact from the LibDems, at all, ever, over this or any other subject in this local election campaign. No calls, knocks, campaign literature, anything. Shame, there are a couple of points I'd like them to clarify on other subjects before voting for them.

At least UKIP have fucked off into the sunset.