You may have heard about the current consultation regarding the councils proposal to extend the cycling ban on Bridge Street, currently Mon-Sat, to include Sunday as well. On issues like this that relate to the sustainability of our city we aim to raise awareness and encourage participation. Below is the consultation document from the council and SUSTRAN’s statement (SUSTRANS are a national sustainable transport charity www.sustrans.org.uk).
We would like to encourage as many people as possible to participate in the consultation to say what you, as individuals want, so that the resulting decisions best reflect residents views. To participate is simple, comments need to be made in writing by 15 August. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to Peterborough Highway Services, Dodson House, Fengate, Peterborough, PE1 5FS. We would encourage positive and constructive comments, and we encourage you to comment whether it is a short personal view or a longer, more detailed statement – all are valid.
Please do participate and forward this onto others and encourage them to participate.
The council's notice of proposal from the consultation information from their website:
NOTICE OF PROPOSALS: THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PETERBOROUGH BRIDGE STREET – PROHIBITION OF CYCLING
TRAFFIC REGULATION ORDER 2014
The effect of the Order is to prohibit the riding of a pedal cycle in either direction along the entire length of Bridge Street between its junctions with Bourges Boulevard and Cathedral Square between the hours of 9.00am and 6.00pm.
The detailed plan indicating the length of road subject to the prohibition may be seen together with a statement of the Council’s reasons for proposing to make the Order, can be seen at the Town Hall Reception, Bridge Street, Central Library, Broadway and Bayard Place, Northminster Road, Peterborough, during normal office hours.
If you have any objections to the proposed Order they must be submitted in writing to the undersigned by the 15 August 2014, clearly stating your reasons for objecting to the proposals.
Peterborough is taking positive steps to encourage cycling through the Travelchoice project, but we are worried that this could be undermined by not making adequate allowance for cyclists in and around the City Centre. Bridge Street is at the centre of the cycle network developed for the city and is an important link for hundreds of people who are cycling to work and school each day, or even just popping to the shops.
When the Development Corporation designed the City Cycle Network and removed car traffic from Bridge Street they included Bridge Street as the main north-south cycle route in the city centre. They considered options for building a dedicated cycle route along Bridge Street, but felt that this was incompatible with the need to have a flexible public space. The Development Corporation did not make any alternative provision for cyclists to avoid Bridge Street and there is still no good alternative, because the Corporation allowed for cycling at all times and understood the evidence that this could work well as a shared space.
A cycle ban was introduced about 20 years ago, by Cambridgeshire County Council, when they were Highway Authority and since then this has been a source of controversy. The ban was introduced before Sunday shopping and now that Sunday shopping is well established it makes sense for Sunday to be treated in similar ways to other days. However, Sustrans does not believe that introducing a similar ban on Sundays to the other days is necessarily the best option.
Sustrans has generally welcomed the City Centre enhancements over recent years and does believe that pedestrians should have priority in Bridge Street and the whole City Centre and cyclists should treat pedestrians with the courtesy and respect they deserve. At times the best approach may be for cyclists to dismount and walk, but evidence shows that cyclists judge for themselves. The present situation gives an excellent opportunity to review cycling and vehicular issues across the City Centre. There are big variations and the fact that Sunday restrictions are currently different to other days gives a good case study. When Cambridge had a similar situation they did an analysis of Sunday compared to other days and found that there were no particular issues with there being no restrictions on a Sunday and decided to lift restrictions on all days, firstly on a trial basis. In Cambridge's case there was a strong involvement of the transport team who recognised the importance of cross-city centre cycling and were looking for good solutions. In Cambridge, as in Peterborough, the historic city centre does not lend itself to obvious alternatives, especially given that it is known that routes that involve significant diversions for cyclists will not work. Sustrans suggests that Peterborough does a similar trial and analysis. Cambridge found that lifting the restrictions was the best option and we expect that Peterborough will find that the evidence points the same way.
The justification for the proposal is that "It is not acceptable to cycle on a busy pedestrianised street. It is not safe for the pedestrian or the cyclist. Cyclists should therefore dismount and push their bikes along Bridge Street which only takes a couple of minutes.” This does seem to be entirely at odds with Council transport policies and guidance and has major issues for the whole city. The most successful part of the City Centre is surely Cathedral Square where cyclists and pedestrians generally mix well and there are no restrictions. The impressive Bourges Boulevard scheme is currently removing segregated cycling and walking facilities and replacing them with shared facilities, because this is considered good practice.
The timings of any restrictions are inconsistent and it is odd to introduce similar restrictions on a Sunday to other shopping days; when shopping hours are very different. Bridge Street has cycling restrictions currently from 9:00 am -6:00pm, much of the City Centre has loading restrictions from 10:30am – 4:30pm, but Westgate has restrictions from 11:00am – 2:30pm. Anyone who stands on Bridge Street early in the morning will see it busy with cycling commuters and with very few pedestrians – it is obviously an important route . At 9:00am Bridge Street is still generally quiet in terms of pedestrians. At 9:30am it is still generally very quiet (especially on Sundays) and it is understandable that cyclists do not want to walk when they could cycle and not come across anyone. By 9:00am at least many will already have completed their journeys to or from work or school, but for those cycling home from school or work the current 6:00pm restriction is far too late. This will be a particularly odd restriction on a Sunday with Sunday shopping finishing at 4:00pm, although this would be less relevant for school children. The restrictions on cycling have never been popular with cyclists and unpopular rules make for difficult policing. There has to be a serious question as to whether asking the Police to patrol Bridge Street is a good way to spend Police time, when all the evidence is that generally this sort of environment works well without restrictions and people find their own ways of sharing the space. Responsible cyclists will abide by rules that make sense, but even some of them may be tempted to cycle if they see Bridge Street empty. There are undoubtedly some anti-social cyclists who may enjoy flouting restrictions. They should be discouraged and can be prosecuted with or without restrictions. Changes on Sunday will make no difference to them. There is a strong argument that the best way to police irresponsible cycling is to have role models, but those who would cycle slowly and carefully in Bridge Street are currently banned and there are no good cycling role models in Bridge Street at present.
An important issue that seems not to have been considered in this debate is that cyclists can also be City Centre customers. Many cyclists will be using Bridge Street as a through route but others who want to enjoy the street can be valuable customers. Research has shown that shops significantly underestimate the value of business from cyclists and this also needs to be considered.
We are keen to emphasise that the research and the Council's own Cycling Design Guidelines has shown that cyclists can mix harmoniously with pedestrians. Certainly cyclists deserve a convenient and high quality route though the city centre as is stated in the Council's own Transport Plan and there is currently no alternative to Bridge Street and of course pedestrians deserve to be safe and treated with respect wherever they are. Any good alternative for cyclists will not be easy, but Sustrans and others would be happy to be involved in discussions. It is hard to see how an alternative could work well so this is a real challenge. If cycling is to be restricted we believe that this will continue to be a very difficult task for the police and will be unpopular with many, but the logic would be to change the restrictions to 10:30am to 3:30pm on all days to aid commuter and school cyclists.
We do not believe that any changes should be introduced without a review of the whole City Centre in line with the Council's transport policies and an analysis of what the issues are currently on Sundays. We are surprised that the Council should consider promoting an order that seems to be completely contrary to their own policies and wonder how this can have happened. We believe that the best option would be to review the proposal and undertake a thorough review and consultation. We note that the Peterborough Local Transport Plan refers to Priorities for the City Centre Core as reduction of cars and car parking in the core area with a strong emphasis on pedestrians and cycles, but also promoting and accommodating public transport. Some of the proposed measures to do this include:
• Expand pedestrian and shared cycle and walking areas;
• Improve cycle routes and increase the number of bike racks and other facilities to encourage people to cycle more;
• To seek to provide a north-south cycle route through the city.
The City Councils Cycle Design Guidance states:
"Studies have shown that there are no real reasons why cyclists should not be allowed to use vehicle restricted areas. In the presence of pedestrians, cyclists are observed to adapt their behaviour to take account of the level of pedestrian density. When there are proposals to introduce vehicle restricted areas, providing cyclists' access should be the default position".