We have pointed out in the past issues with new housing developments and their cycle (and pedestrian) connections to existing parts of towns or villages. We have seen cycle paths, that were on plans, disappear at Crab Hill, Wantage and now we have a shared use path appearing in the Southern section of Great Western Park in Didcot.
The path runs through the width of the south part of GWP connecting other paths along the way and is a useful piece of cycling infrastructure. Not at Dutch or Danish standards but OK for lower UK expectations. The path finishes at a junction with Wantage Road an this is where the problems are.
The junction with Wantage Road has no paths to connect to, it just stops at the highway boundary, it doesn’t even stop at the roadside. It looks like the developer has deliberately stopped the path at the highway boundary so that it is the County Council’s problem and not theirs. There is no crossing on the busy road and just a grass verge on the other side of the road. The path is hidden by trees and bushes either side, it cannot be seen by motorists.
The crazy thing is that HarBUG has been talking with the County Council about hybrid cycle lanes along Wantage Road, which the developers are paying for and designing. This path does not appear on the plans and the planned cycle lanes do not extend far enough along Wantage Road to connect to the new path. HarBUG tried to get the cycle lanes extended in consultations, if we knew that this new path was being built we would have a stronger argument to get the lanes extended.
HarBUG has written to the County Council, the local County and District councillors (although the district councillors have now changed) to try and get this issue resolved before there is an accident.
HarBUG has submitted a proposal for naming Science Vale cycle routes. We first put forward the idea of naming routes after famous Oxford scientists for the Oxfordshire Local Transport Plan in 2009. We have revised this with updated routes and new planned infrastructure e.g. the Science Bridge in Didcot and new A34 bridge at Milton Heights.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise the benefits of cycling to work – Join in
We have a Campus Cycle to Work Day which is a great way to try cycling to work with one of our easy paced escorted rides to the campus from Didcot, Wantage or Grove, suitable for all fitness levels. Just turn up before the departure time detailed below:
Didcot Parkway, Brompton hire lockers – Depart 07:50
Wantage, Nelson Pub – Depart 07:45
Grove, Millbrook Square – Depart 07:30
If you already cycle to work, it is great event to meet other cyclists who commute to the campus.
There will be a free breakfast for cyclists, sponsored by Ricardo, for any Campus staff who cycle to work on the Cycle to Work Day. Vegetarian option available. Breakfast will be served at the Harwell Pavilion, Thomson Entrance between 07:30 to 09:00.
From the 18th February (a bit of late news) the Harwell Campus has a maximum speed limit of 20mph. Some areas of the Campus, like RAL, have had a 20mph limit for sometime, now it is Campus wide.
This is good news for cyclists and a positive step forward, whether motorists respect the speed limit is another matter. We don’t know whether there are plans to monitor the speed of vehicles or to do anything other than put up signs and paint the road. As the Campus Bicycle Users Group we should monitor the affects of the 20mph limit and feedback to the Campus management. If you have any observations / comments good or bad, about the speed limit, please contact us at: email@example.com
The consultation closes on the 25th November and there is a public exhibition on Saturday 17th November in the Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot.
The proposals are all road schemes with cycle paths running alongside. Details are a still missing on the cycle paths so at the moment these are intentions. On the cycling side, it will bring a direct cycle path from Didcot to Culham, which is good.
Are building new roads the answer to traffic problems? Evidence suggests not and the proposals seem to fly in the face of the County Council’s own stated policy of reducing car use. If your stuck queuing to get across Clifton Hampden bridge every day these plans will seem like a godsend, but for how long and are the queues just going to be moved to the next pinch point?
As a cycling group, HarBUG will send a response to the proposals mainly concerned about the planned cycle paths. We most likely won’t comment on whether the road proposals are the best way forward.
Please feel free to comment directly to the consultation at the OCC website.
A motion to call for the County Council to take more action on cycling is being put forward on the 6th November. Please contact your County Councillor asking them to support the motion and get cycling taken seriously as a transport option or even to get OCC to follow it’s own published documents..
If you don’t live in Oxfordshire, please email the County Councillor for Harwell and Hendreds, which covers the Harwell Campus.
The motion reads as follows:
This Council recognises our ambition to achieve economic growth whilst improving the health and wellbeing of communities in Oxfordshire. Active travel provides an effective mechanism to achieve such goals, with potential to co-deliver multiple social, environmental and economic benefits. This council has recognised in LTP4 the importance of investment in sustainable transport and shares the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy ambition to double cycling by 2025. Cognizant of Andrew Gilligan’s recent recommendations to the National Infrastructure Commission, it now wishes to accelerate progress towards this goal. This Council therefore calls upon the Cabinet Member for Environment to:
i) Apply Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) to agree a prioritised and costed Strategic Active Travel Network (SATN), building on work of the Oxfordshire Cycle Network.
ii) Actively seek capital and revenue funding for SATN delivery through local and national sources.
iii) Assess what co-benefits could be gained by allocating a fraction of local transport funds to active travel infrastructure (e.g. 5 or 10%) following best practice examples.
iv)Use and enforce planning powers and influence more proactively and effectively to achieve beneficial active travel outcomes.
v) Establish a framework to oversee quality control of all active travel infrastructure projects in accordance with the Oxfordshire Cycling Design Standards, from inception through planning to implementation, ensuring all proposals are audited for safety and encouragement of active travel.
iv)Use innovative data sources and technologies to identify active travel patterns and latent demand, and to monitor and increase effectiveness of interventions.
A report was published last week concerning transport provision and planning for new housing developments. In the report the authors visited several new developments in the U.K. and Europe. One of the developments visited was Great Western Park.
HarBUG has sent the email below to Didcot and Harwell County and District Councillors, in addition it has been sent to Didcot Town Councillors.
HarBUG (Harwell Campus Bicycle Users Group) has highlighted the issues with Great Western Park before and the findings in the report are generally what we have witnessed. In addition, Great Western Park has had an adverse affect on cycle routes to both the Harwell Campus and Milton Park, despite cycle infrastructure investment at both the Winnaway and Backhill Tunnel. We don’t believe that the lessons of GWP have been learned. Valley Park plans have quality cycle paths planned within the development, thanks to the intervention of the County Council Travel Planners. However the junctions with the A4130 and Wantage Road are entirely car focussed and further erode the integrity of cycle routes to business parks from Didcot. Further planned smaller developments with access onto the A4130 will also make cycling less appealing. We have seen the same issues with the Crab Hill development in Wantage. HarBUG has a positive and productive dialogue with the County Council’s Travel Planning Team but other parts of the County Council and the District Councils planning committees / departments appear to be less aware of the needs and advantages of providing good cycle infrastructure. In addition, the lack of political will to challenge Southern Oxfordshire’s car dependency and developers who will not look beyond their boundaries mean that Didcot and the Science Vale are likely to be stuck with 20th century travel options for the foreseeable future.
We acknowledge that GWP has reasonable cycle provision within the development and that new hybrid cycle paths are going to be built along Wantage Road from Foxhall Road Roundabout to Didcot Hospital. This is a welcome positive step.
We would like to suggest some ideas going forward:
Produce a list of projects / improvements for Great Western Park connections for potential future funding possibilities.
Ensure that cycle routes from Didcot to business parks are developed to be high quality, convenient and fast routes. This was originally specified in the Science Vale Cycling Strategy in LTP4.
Ensure that Great Western Park does not impede the development of cycle routes through to Didcot from Valley Park and that the smaller developments, along the A4130 and Wantage Road are included in the development of cycle routes.
Make sure we learn the lessons from Great Western Park and ensure we don’t make the same mistakes at Didcot North East, Power Station site, Grove Airfield, Crab Hill (probably too late) and other developments in the Science Vale area.
Thank you for your time reading this email.
— Kevin Wilkinson, HarBUG Chairman. The Pavilion, Rutherford Avenue, Harwell Campus, Didcot, OX11 0DF.
There have been some updates to planned cycle routes to share.
New Route From Wantage via Hendreds and Ardington Oxfordshire County Council have not been able to secure the land needed to build this path along the preferred route. This is disappointing news and we have a meeting with OCC to discuss options for the route in a couple of weeks.
One issue is that the funding has to be spent by March 2020 and OCC would like us to put forward alternative schemes that could be built within this time frame. If you have any ideas for new cycle routes or upgrades please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Please note that any suggestions should be ‘shovel ready’ i.e. be existing rights of way or using local authority land and the funding is to improve cycling between towns and business parks.
The A34 Link Between Chilton and West Ilsley Interchanges
There has been a step forward for this route. Highways England have commissioned Kier group to undertake a feasibility study into the route. HarBUG has met with with Kier and Highways England to go through options and they are now looking at the preferred option (agreed by all) of a route that joins the Chilton underpass and runs along the west side of the A34 on the inside of the field i.e. away from the carriage way and connects to the existing bridleway at the West Ilsley interchange / Bury Lane.
This is just the first step but it is a step forward.
A planning application has been opened for new services on the A34 at the Chilton Interchange. The services will be built off the first roundabout, from the Campus direction, on the land in-between the northbound slips and the A34 northbound lanes.
The services will have a petrol station, shop, cash machine and a drive through food / coffee outlet of some sort.
You can view the planning application, plans and reports from the council planning website: P18/V1755/FUL.
In the planning statement they point out, with respect to the Harwell Campus; ‘the service area will provide a new retail shop and drive-through facility for the more than 6,000 people who work at the nearby Harwell Campus, which will be accessible by foot, cycle or car’.
The services would be within a ‘lunchtime walk’ distance from Fermi Avenue based organisations and cycling distance from all on the Campus. They have even included cycle parking at both the shop and drive through. However there are no plans to upgrade or provide any pedestrian / cycle access from the Campus direction (or Chilton residents on the west side of the A34). Unless you cycle on the roads and the roundabout you will need to drive to the services.
The plans do not appear to meet the walking and cycling provisions of; the Oxfordshire Local Travel Plan 3, Vale of White Horse Local Plan or the National or the National Planning Policy Framework.
Clearly the main customer base for the services will be vehicles on the A34 but there will be a reasonable regular custom from people based at the Campus. If access for pedestrians and cyclists are not included in the planning application it is a reasonable assumption that they will need to be built in the future at Council Tax payers expense.
HarBUG is minded to object to the application on these grounds as well as the services increasing the traffic on the roundabout making it less safe for cyclists crossing the junction.
Harwell Parish Council are holding a consultation about traffic management through the village now that the relief road has opened. S106 developer money from Great Western Park for traffic calming in the village is available or will be soon.
Please have a look at the presentation and either send your comments directly using the survey (please also send to email@example.com) or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send a response from HarBUG.
This is an opportunity to try and make Harwell village a more pleasant and safer place to cycle, so have your say.