Monday 29 April 2019

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.

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