Walking and Cycling: Local Councillors’ Views

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At the recent local election for Warwickshire County Council, a number of new councillors were elected to represent their residents, in addition to many who retained their seats. Nuneaton and Bedworth is now a Conservative controlled area and given the soundings on active travel from the national Conservative government over the last year or so, I am interested to hear the viewpoints of the local councillors. To that end, I have written to each asking them a series of questions which I will publish here, if and when I receive their replies.

Update: 30 June 2021

Sadly, no responses have been received as of this update. I have followed up with all councillors in a further email on 15 June 2021 and the opportunity remains open for any councillor to respond should they wish to.

Before sending out the email, I asked publicly for any feedback and based on that, I have tweaked the order slightly and delayed sending the message until now in order to allow a period of settling in for the newly elected representatives. I am aware the questions are perhaps a little long, but I like to be clear. I also didn’t want to send numerous emails on a similar theme over time on the basis that I understand councillors can be busy and don’t necessarily want to be spending a lot of time responding to generic questions from someone outside of their area.

I’ve provided space for each councillor’s response below and I will update this post with responses as they’re received. For clarity, this is to councillors of the County Council (not the Borough Council) and I’m only asking those councillors representing Nuneaton and Bedworth divisions.

The Email

Dear councillors,

Congratulations on your success at the County Council elections, both to those of you who were already councillors now re-elected, and those newly elected!

I am a Nuneaton resident and advocate for the improvement and enablement of walking and cycling within and through the borough and wider county. I attend the local cycling forum, am active in raising issues with my own representatives as well as with the Borough and County Council directly, and comment frequently on cycling matters in response to consultations as well as publicly on social media and through my website.

As we begin the new electoral term, I thought it would be interesting and useful for local people to understand your positions specifically with regard to improving walking and cycling for local transport, to reduce the dependency on the car, and ensure equity of access to transport. To that end, I’d be grateful if you could respond to the following questions. I will then compile these responses together for publication.

  1. Are you supportive of national Conservative government policy to enable a significant and urgent modal shift to cycling for local transport? If so, generally speaking, how do you seen this being implemented in Nuneaton and Bedworth and the wider county, and what would you want to see happen over the course of this term?
  2. Do you support re-balancing the road network to better accommodate safe cycling, separated and protected from motor traffic in a similar fashion to what is seen in The Netherlands and to up-to-date UK standards (LTN 1/20*)? This will involve prioritising active travel in transport decisions; in some cases it may require a reduction in space for motor vehicles and a narrowing of general traffic lanes to facilitate space for active travel and to encourage slower driving.
  3. Are you supportive of the schemes that are currently planned or in development (Long Shoot, Nuneaton to Coventry, Weddington Road) and would you support more schemes along these lines? If so, where would be your priority to install high quality cycling infrastructure?
  4. Would you support prioritising the creation of safe cycling, wheeling, and walking routes to schools, ensuring that all schools feel comfortable encouraging and enabling their children, parents, and local staff to travel by cycle, scooter, or foot?
  5. Do you support measures including blanket 20mph speed limits for residential areas (as recommended by the UN), low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs**) to remove or discourage through-traffic in residential areas, and/or School Streets*** schemes where appropriate roads outside school gates are temporarily closed to most motor traffic around the school run times? If you don’t support these measures, what (if any) alternatives do you suggest? If you do support these measures, where would you like to see them implemented?
  6. Specific proposals to change road networks to accommodate LTNs, school streets, new cycling infrastructure etc. can create some resistance even if there is a general consensus that some change is needed. In principle, would you be happy to run trial schemes over a given time period despite such initial resistance in order to fairly evaluate the effectiveness or otherwise of a scheme? This could include, for example, pop-up cycle infrastructure or the creation of LTNs through temporary restrictions.
  7. Do you have any other comments to make about walking and cycling, and general transport priorities?

* LTN 1/20 is a Local Transport Note issued by the Department for Transport. It is the up-to-date guidance to councils (borough and county) and highways authorities for cycle infrastructure design that “should be applied to all changes associated with highways improvements, new highway construction, and new or improved cycle facilities including those on other rights of way” (1.3.1). It details how routes should be constructed to provide for a coherent, direct, safe, comfortable, attractive and accessible cycle network. You can read the guidance here: https://www.fiets.uk/resources/ltn-120/

** LTNs (low traffic neighbourhoods) are generally created through the use of filters that prevent motor traffic from travelling through an area, whilst usually still permitting foot and cycle traffic to pass. Drivers can still access property frontages within an LTN, but by stopping through traffic, it creates a safer, cleaner, less congested environment for people. LTNs are not new and such filters already exist in the borough for this purpose such as between Bulkington Road and Tintern Way in Bedworth; Bedworth Close and Coventry Road in Bulkington; Bermuda Village and Cygnet Avenue in Nuneaton.

*** School Streets are schemes which restrict motor vehicle access to the street (or streets) outside the school gates during school run times. This creates space for people walking, scooting, and cycling; provides cleaner air (children are vulnerable to the effects of particulate pollution caused by motor vehicles); and encourages healthier transport choices either by shifting the school run from the car to active means, or by parking further away from school and walking a short distance. Scheme details can vary according to location but may exclude permit holders (i.e., immediate residents inside the zone) and blue badge holders. More details can be seen here: http://schoolstreets.org.uk/

Thank you for your time and I look forward to reading your responses.

Cllr Baxter-Payne | Cllr Beetham | Cllr Clarke | Cllr Gilbert | Cllr Golby | Cllr Hammersley | Cllr Kennaugh | Cllr Markham | Cllr Morgan | Cllr Pandher | Cllr Phillips | Cllr Tromans, Mandy | Cllr Tromans, Robert

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