£175m (or even £2b) sounds a lot for cycling & walking BUT it’s not much really

To start off this posting please have a read of the article linked below from The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport as it sums up where government thinking is seemingly heading quite well:-

ciltuk.org.uk/News/Latest-News/ArtMID/6887/ArticleID/32879/163175-million-more-for-cycling-and-walking-as-research-shows-public-support?gator_td=%2beI1zBnIYuYG7%2bOgusqjWGu5ZZ3%2bV4keUCmq3%2feVfXUBQ1EUrl6iRYVbt8AMDZa8BuPYg2Qec9tbYFzDd%2bowb%2fmeXmxqN51hO%2bWqAMtRbYK5EFnIW%2bJZy%2b9Bbs2rbZFBkIYukuNJZwTa74yXG%2fFBsa%2bjmt1QPIrPybd7EcLO7FMQgicqJmz9PJ9zZ1EWozrzCiROVULmgTH4DSsQ8w1KBg%3d%3d

News that government is to invest more in cycling and walking has to be welcome but let’s be honest an extra £175M spread across the country is not going to produce much at all; it will address the tip of a very big and long under-invested in iceberg at best.

But stop grumbling Robertson and come up with ways it could best be spent in Sefton and West Lancashire where you do most of your cycling. Well my first and most important advice to highway officers at Sefton Borough and Lancashire County Council’s is DON’T use what little money you get from this fund to try to do big projects. If you do a small area will get a big improvement but most cyclists won’t benefit at all. Please, please look at the myriad of small things you can do to make cycling safer and try to connect up obvious places which real cyclists want to get to and from. Presently the cycle network, other than in places like York, is a hotch- potch of bits and bobs all over the place which rarely connect with anywhere at all.

Safe cycling routes to schools is an obvious one to tackle but so are safe routes to railway stations, shopping centres, museums, leisure centres etc. Oh and don’t forget that secure cycle storage facilities are required too at each destination.

This is of course a subject I’ve banged on about before – see links below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/09/03/maghull-lydiates-berlin-wall-the-bible-of-cycling-infrastructure/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/05/03/maghull-lydiate-melling-simple-cycling-fixes-for-sefton-council-to-undertake/

And I noticed another easy fix for Sefton Council only today on Maghull’s Liverpool Road North (the section with a service road from the Westway to Green Lane junctions) where a dropped kerb outside Cornmill Lodge would enable northbound cyclists to access safer cycling on that service road. Obviously suitable bollards would be required to stop vehicles following suit!

Yes of course the rather grandiose safe cycling project to connect up Maghull with Kirkby is welcome but it’s one hell of a big investment for not a huge benefit for the majority of local cyclists. And that’s my point here; get the small easy fixes out of the way first because they will make a big difference to safe cycling. Oh and make sure that all projects that go through highways departments are scrutinised by cyclists before they are approved or you end up creating new highway infrastructure that all but excludes cyclists like the terrible new Alt Junction on the A59 in Maghull.

Walking and cycling destinations from Rimrose Valley County Park Country Park.

By the way the reference to Councils having to consult (see 1st linked article above) on how the money is spent is both welcome and interesting as my understanding is that with the money released by government during Lockdown 1 there was an instruction from government to benefiting councils not to consult!

With thanks to Mike Perkins for the lead to this posting

Vaccine saves the day or does it?

The hopes that are being pinned on a new vaccine getting us out of the big pandemic hole that we are in are very high, probably far too high.

The dangers are that some folks will let their guard down thinking that all is now OK and they don’t need to take precautions much, if at all. The second danger is that some will think they’ll get a vaccination by the turn of the year when many will be waiting much longer.

Of course there’s also the issue of conspiracy theorists who are still taking to social media trying to persuade the gullible that the virus does not exist or that even if it does it harms few if any folk. Why some of them were even shouting outside a Liverpool school recently trying to stop children being tested! Yes I know, it’s beyond belief……

I was taken by this sober assessment of the situation by Jim Hancock – see link below

jimhancock.co.uk/hancocks-half-page/

As is often the case Jim’s assessment is realistic and well thought through. So don’t get carried away by being too unrealistic and think things through. Oh and don’t fall for quack theories on social media………

We might be able to see a possible glimmer of light at the end of the very long Covid tunnel we are all in presently, but we won’t be getting to the end of the tunnel soon.

Mask wearing – Men in vans

As an observer of life in general one thing about our current pandemic has got my attention; men in vans generally don’t wear masks.

This is not intended to be a piece regarding the rights and wrongs of mask wearing but more about who does and who doesn’t comply with the rules.

I cycle a lot and in a similar way to walking you see far more than when we all speed about in vehicles. What’s become apparent to me is that you see men riding about in all kinds of vans, often 2 or 3 of them, and virtually none are wearing masks either in the vans or when they get out of said vans to go in shops. The odd ones may be in the same family bubble but that’s probably stretching it because my observations are that they are nearly always in the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s age group.

I wonder why so many of them choose not to wear masks? I’m guessing it’s a bit like teenage peer pressure and not wanting to be seen as uncool and not fitting into a perceived male invincibility culture.

Yes, I’m sure there are some reading this who’ll want to cheer them on as they oppose mask wearing whilst many others will be concerned about the risks they are bringing into their households.

It’s clearly a cultural thing as I’ve seen so much of it. I wonder how many of them are trying to look macho whilst wishing they had the courage not to put their elderly relatives at risk? What I’m saying is that if it was seen to be cool to be wearing a mask they would be doing it.

And to close this short posting about what motivates human behaviour I was in a shop today when 2 men stepped out of a van and entered the shop with no masks on. One got what he wanted quite quickly and shouted to the other he’d wait for his mate outside. I’m guessing that he got rather self-conscious whilst outside as there was a short queue to get in and all those in the queue were wearing masks. So what did he do whilst waiting for his mate? He pulled his jacket over his nose and mouth trying to fit in with a different group as he did not want to be the odd one out? I did not see his mate come out but what’s the betting he let his covering drop when he saw his mate…….

Lydiate – Sandy Lane Playing Field

My previous posting of a few days ago regarding this subject refers – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/10/28/lydiate-progress-on-sporting-fitness-facilities/

The photos in this posting illustrate, I hope, what is happening. The lead photo shows where the outdoor fitness equipment (presently at LPC’s Lambshear Lane site) will be going i.e. along the line of the fence/hedge. The 2nd one shows the internal works starting to create a toilet facility within the old changing rooms. The last shot shows the land where the additional changing rooms will be placed. This will facilitate women’s football being able to be played at Sandy Lane. A door into the present building will also be created on the gable end to provide access to the new toilet and refreshment facilities.

More news as things develop.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Lydiate – Progress on sporting/fitness facilities

We had a meeting of Lydiate Parish Council yesterday evening via Zoom* and after many frustrations it looks like some positive progress is being made with regard to changing facilities at our Sandy Lane Playing Field. I would add that the frustrations have not been within the parish council.

What started the project was our concern that we could not accommodate women’s football because the changing rooms were simply inadequate and needed both upgrading and expanding. Followers of this blog site will recall that I’ve posted about this project before although not for a while. Here’s my most relevant previous posting for reference:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/08/23/lydiate-progress-with-multi-sports-area-and-changing-rooms-at-sandy-lane-park/

So where are we up to? A modular changing facility will be insalled (subject to planning permission and Football Foundation funding being finalised) next to the present building (see photo below) and some changes will be made to the present building to provide refreshment facilities supported by a funding stream from Sefton Council.

Present Sandy Lane Changing Rooms building

The outdoor fitness equipment which is presently on the Parish Council’s Lambshear Lane/Village Centre site will be relocated to Sandy Lane to make it more accessible as the Lambshear Lane site is often locked. I’m a user of this equipment although not recently due to it being behind a fence. Interestingly, there’s been a lot of talk about whether indoor gyms are safe during our Covid 19 crisis but there’s less concerns with regard to outdoor gyms and they are free to use too.

The photo above is from when the equipment was originally being installed at Lambshear Lane a number of years back.

This progress, assuming all the parts of it fall into place, is very welcome and the efforts of the Parish Clerk should be noted here. It will still leave aspects of the sporting facilities at Sandy Lane to be resolved such as refurbishing the older changing rooms and resurfacing the tennis courts/turning them into a multi-sport area but those issues are for further debate and funding as the opportunity allows.

* Strangely the Parish Clerk told us that someone had thought the Parish Council had met face to face during the pandemic. We have not done so of course and our meetings have been via Zoom and will be so for the foreseeable future unfortunately.

Conspiracy Theories & Covid 19

The other day I came across a thread on a community Facebook Page where one of the admins was trying to address what conspiracy theorists had been putting on that page associated with their belief that Covid 19 does not exist or that if it does it’s associated with 5G etc. etc.

I blogged about the relationship between conspiracy theories and 5G back in April of this year and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/04/24/5g-why-are-some-folk-so-upset-about-it/

And then this fascinating insight into how outlandish conspiracy theories can even destroy a family. It’s a BBC audio recording that’s well worth taking a few minutes to listen to:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-54669239

When you’ve read the BBC website article click on the ‘Trending’ tag at the bottom and this will take you through to the audio only recording.

Sadly, Facebook and other forms of social media are used by conspiracy theorists to try to widen their influence on those who may be taken in by their very odd take on Covid 19 and indeed many other things. My advice? Don’t take things at face value, try to fact check them – that goes for anything any politician tells you too!