Why we need more Low traffic Neighbourhoods

As far as I can see we are still building new communities and housing estates so they’re car-dependent when clearly we should be doing just the opposite!

I’ve been trying to get my head around another green initiative called ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’ and here’s a good explanation of what they are from Sustrans:-

www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/get-active/2020/in-your-community/what-is-a-low-traffic-neighbourhood

Car drivers often get very angry when there are suggestions/plans to reduce car use. Their often irrational response is because they’re addicted to their car which they use for virtually every journey. Indeed, their whole life has been built around them being car-dependent and they want it to stay that way as they know and care little about alternatives. Pedestrians are strange, why walk when you can drive, aren’t these people weird? Cyclists are a damn nuisance who need running off our roads. Horse riders should be in fields. Drivers who follow speed limits are forcing me to take on dangerous overtaking manoeuvres to get past them.

Does pollution not matter to these drivers? Well no, not unless someone in their family has been made ill by airborne pollution. And what about vehicle accidents?, oh they happen to others, not to me. Green issues generally?, oh that’s for politicians to sort out, nothing to do with my car. In reality, the vast majority of vehicle drivers will never volunteer to reduce their car use. They may well buy an electric car (if they are comfortably well off that is) as it may make them feel ‘green’ when actually the production of their ‘green’ car is anything but green!

I suppose it comes down to this. We all want the road we live on and the one our child goes to school on to be car-free and safe but we want every other road to be a vehicle free for all where we can drive however we want and not suffer any consequences.

The approach of the government is to build car-dependent communities as developers like, where they like. It’s for another generation to sort out the mess that poorly planned housing developments are creating. Oh and let’s build more new roads even though we know they just generate more traffic. And the climate change/green agenda?……………………

Editor’s Note – I Drive, Cycle and walk.

Trans Pennine Trail V Tissington Trail

These two photographs tell a story and in the case of the Trans Pennine Trail, specifically the part of it through West Lancashire which is also known as the Cheshire Lines Path, it’s not a good one as far as maintenance is concerned

Trans Pennine Trail/Cheshire Lines path – Looking south from Cabin Lane Great Altcar – December 2020

Tissington Trail Derbyshire – March 2019

The difference in maintenance regimes is stark indeed yet (I thought*) both are National Trails and I’ve cycled them both.

I’ve commented on the terrible condition of the Cheshire Lines path, through West Lancashire, previously but it continues to deteriorate and seems to be fast becoming the forgotten Trail – so very sad. But before you shout ‘austerity’, which will of course clearly be a significant factor in recent years, this path has been suffering a lack of maintenance since it was fully opened some 30 years ago through West Lancashire. There was, in my view, hardly any maintenance to cut back on!

The part of the Trail/Path in Merseyside (Maghull) has seen some improvement work in recent years at the hands of the Merseyside North Volunteers. This is some of their excellent handiwork just north of the site of the former Sefton & Maghull Station and behind Sefton Drive, Maghull:-

* The Trans Pennine, it turns out, has not been made a National Trail (despite efforts to have it designated as such) and that probably indicates why its maintenance levels are not up to National Trail standards – With thanks to those correcting my view that it is a National Trail.

Maghull – Totems get art-worked on Cheshire Lines Path

I came across these rather lovely art-worked totems on the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail behind Sefton Drive on one of my bike rides the other day:-

The totems have been there for some time and I’m guessing that they have been painted up by the same volunteers who installed them. Very nice.

The 2nd photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/49053830736/in/dateposted/

30 years of the Trans Pennine Trail

This was the state of the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail through Great Altcar Civil Parish in the winter of 2017 – it’s not got any better.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=niTXh9NLJg0

The video accessible via the link above is worth watching.

I recall the original efforts to establish the Cheshire Lines Path (which forms all of the Trans Pennine Path through West Lancashire and part of it through Sefton) led by the Rev. Smout from Aughton. It’s so sad that the parts of the West Lancs section, particularly through Great Altcar, are in such poor condition.

Sustrans has big cycle route projects on the go but will the Trans Pennine Trail through West Lancs get an urgently needed upgrade?

This was the state of the Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail through Great Altcar Civil Parish in the winter of 2017 – it’s not got any better.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport has the article on its website, see link below :-

ciltuk.org.uk/News/Latest-News/ArtMID/6887/ArticleID/20306/New-projects-to-improve-access-and-safety-on-National-Cycle-Network-underway?gator_td=107QxtmDbxphgZPEl3MiUiwBbsbInstb%2bwwl6QjANKIN%2bkGPiAQn1eF%2boToMyy2jMURXokt1%2fFuRUftQqh%2f8WYuH0yKeXpWBUp3XSTR8rGwTqLJ6ORGTSNsCUnNgoqARgCXHl0wc974RlfQHmXxFDIq9werhM6BVGCiKVL4WU1%2fy656KO1e9jqVnprtBewe5

Quoite from the article linked above – ‘At least 55 new projects will be delivered over the next five years across the UK to kick-start the major overhaul of the National Cycle Network to transform it into paths for everyone. The projects are a result of the first ever review and an independent audit of the 16,575-mile Network, published in November 2018.

The “Paths for Everyone” report classified 54% of the Network as “good” or “very good” and unveiled a long-term plan to make it traffic-free and tackle physical problems. These include poor surfaces and barriers that prevent access for many people, particularly those with adaptive bikes, wheelchairs or prams.

Among the key measures to improve the Network are 55 “activation projects” which we aim to deliver in partnership with local authorities and other landowners across the UK. These range from improving signage, to removing unnecessary barriers and creating new traffic-free sections. The projects are to be finalised by 2023, at a cost of approximately £60 million.’

With thanks to Mike Perkins for the lead to this posting

Cycle Routes – They are generally poor

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46179270

As a cyclist, I find this article interesting and to the point. I’ve commented before along the similar lines by highlighting local cycle route inadequacies which I have encountered.

Often segregated cycle routes do not have logical ends and are in effect bits and pieces between destinations. The route from Switch Island to Ormskirk along the busy A59 is an example. From Switch Island to the Maghull boundary there’s a brand new cycle path but it stops well short of Liverpool Road South. Yes, I know that Sefton Council intends to address this but really it should have been done in tandem with Highways England doing the first stretch.

But then moving north through Maghull & Lydiate a safe cycle route has yet to be sorted out. It’s either the busy dual carriageway or pavement for cyclists.

A59 Cycle path becomes narrow pavement at Robins Island.

Then at Robins Island, a cycle path appears again, on both sides of the A59. Generally, it is in good condition but parts of it are not – patches of grass, poorly completed surface repairs & tree roots make the later stages of these cycle lanes poor. But then as you climb into Aughton the cycle route peters out altogether just like through Maghull & Lydiate. This makes the last mile or so into Ormskirk a cycling challenge.

This was the state of the Cheshire Lines Path through Great Altcar Civil Parish in the winter of 2017 – it’s not got any better.

I could illustrate other problem routes where cycling facilities in Sefton and West Lancashire are inadequate but will settle for just one. The Cheshire Lines Path/Trans Pennine Trail. This former railway track is in very poor condition through West Lancs because since it was created there has not been the regular maintenance that is clearly required. Some of the route is now really only suitable for mountain bikes and a once wide path where cyclists could pass each other is presently very narrow in places.

There is much to do to make our cycling routes safe, logical and well maintained.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting