Back after a year off this local mountain bike event has events for all the family as well as serious off-roaders and a party tent for afterwards. starting in Upton it is a good way to discover some of the off-road cycle routes in the North Wessex Downs.
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.
You are invited to Bike Oxford – the city’s biggest one-day cycling sportive, on Sunday 19 May. Previous editions have seen over a thousand riders take to Oxfordshire’s roads, and 2019 promises to be its biggest year yet. The hugely popular event offers a choice of three way-marked routes, with feed stops and support, of 25, 50 or 80 miles. This year we are showcasing the beautiful countryside South East of the city. Routes can be viewed at http://www.bikeoxford.co.uk/ with the 25 mile route designed be accessible for newcomers to the sport, while the 50 and 80 routes have been designed to be challenging for experienced riders. Entry is £36 per rider for the 80 and 50-mile rides or £26 for the 25-mile ride. Discounted entry is available for under 16s and charity riders.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.