Saturday, 4 August 2012

Plymouth fit for cycling

It's no secret that I'm a supporter of The Times' Cities Fit For Cycling (or CycleSafe for short) campaign - just look near the top right of my blog and you'll find the link. In light of this, I was very pleased when my home town of Plymouth finally formally expressed its support for the campaign. That support was in fact a campaign promise by the current Labour city council, and while they were a bit slow in announcing that support, it still happened.


The CycleSafe campaign has eight points:

1. Lorries entering a city centre should be required by law to fit sensors, audible turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars to stop cyclists being thrown under the wheels.
2. The 500 most dangerous road junctions must be identified, redesigned or fitted with priority traffic lights for cyclists and Trixi mirrors that allow lorry drivers to see cyclists on their near-side.
3. A national audit of cycling to find out how many people cycle in Britain and how cyclists are killed or injured should be held to underpin effective cycle safety.
4. Two per cent of the Highways Agency budget should be earmarked for next generation cycle routes, providing £100 million a year towards world-class cycling infrastructure. Each year cities should be graded on the quality of cycling provision.
5. The training of cyclists and drivers must improve and cycle safety should become a core part of the driving test.
6. 20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes.
7. Businesses should be invited to sponsor cycleways and cycling super-highways, mirroring the Barclays-backed bicycle hire scheme in London.
8. Every city, even those without an elected mayor, should appoint a cycling commissioner to push home reforms.
Cleverly, Plymouth City Council added this paragraph to their announcement of support: 
"Supporting the campaign doesn't necessarily mean the Council will implement every measure but it does underline the city’s ongoing commitment to improving travel choices – which includes promoting cycling and improving cycle facilities, infrastructure and safety."
That is so obviously a "get out of jail" ticket, and frankly is quite disappointing.
However, the city did appoint a Cycling Commisioner in the shape of Councillor Phillipa Davey, which I have to say is a promising start, even if it isn't immediately obvious exactly what the role entails, nor what clout it has.
To the best of my knowledge there are NO steps being taken towards achieving points number 1 or 2, while points 3 and 4 are national targets. Point number 5 is interesting, and spans local and national government.
Point number 6 is completely deliverable, and aside from some noise being made about a few selected roads, there appears to be no progress at all on this.
Point number 7 can be achieved, but again we'll need leadership from the council for this to work. A clear example would be Princess Yachts sponsoring the section of the Plym Valley path between Coypool and Plym Bridge.
In the absence of action from the council, I thought I'll make a start identifying the most dangerous junctions in Plymouth. My top candidate must be the T-junction where Finegan Road joins Laira Bridge Road. Especially for pedestrians, that junction is plain nasty, and everything there is to prioritise the flow of motorised traffic, regardless of the risk to lives it causes.
Another dangerous junction is Manadon roundabout, although I don't claim to have an answer there.
Which are YOUR most dangerous junctions?