Wolverhampton Cycle Forum

Notes of meeting

Thursday 18 October, 6pm

Committee Room 5, Civic Centre,

St Peter’s Square, Wolverhampton

 

Present: Cllr Martin Waite, Carol Sutton*, Ruth Taylor*, TP, NS, MJ, BA

(*for items 1-2 only)

 

  1. Apologies: Cllr Paul Sweet, Lissa Evans, David Wilson

  1. Westside Link Consultation

Westside Link is a public realm scheme to improve connection through the City Centre between the Transport Interchange and the Westside site. The Council is consulting on phases 1 and 2 as shown in the brochure. Phase 1 proposes for Victoria St to have the roadway completely removed, new paving and rationalisation of street furniture and for Skinner Street, Salop Street and School Street to be traffic calmed. Phase 2 proposes for Lichfield Street/Queen Square to have the roadway completely removed from Princess St to Victoria Street and for Darlington St to be reduced to one lane vehicle traffic outbound with contraflow cycle lane. The traffic-free areas would have street furniture clustered to one side of the street, so creating a clear passage with a contrasting surface for people with impaired vision. The arrangement would also create a wide area where pedestrians and cyclists would share space. Consideration would be given to extending this arrangement into Dudley Street, which currently does not permit cycling.

Differing views were expressed about the proposal for pedestrians and cyclists to share space. The situation was confused by an image in the brochure of a cyclist cycling in the “visually impaired” strip. It was questioned how users would know what the strip was for. CS advised that local training for visually impaired people would include this, and there would be signs at the start and finish alerting other users to its function and to respect it.

Concerns were raised about the absence of a designated route for cycling. On one hand it was seen that not demarcating cycle routes could result in unpredictable behaviour by cyclists and would fail to legitimise the presence of cyclists who might be considered unwelcome. On the other hand the view was expressed that most cyclists would react responsibly to an environment with heavy pedestrian flow and would cycle with due caution according to circumstances. It was also noted that where cycle routes pass through pedestrianised areas, pedestrians tend to be oblivious of cyclist movements. MJ advised that whether there is a designated surface for cyclists or not, common sense is to treat it as fully shared. NS suggested that similar arrangements in Coventry had resulted in cyclists behaving in an unpredictable fashion. All agreed that rogue cyclists could bring the arrangement into disrepute. BA suggested policing be used to deter bad behaviour by cyclists. CMW advised that policing didn’t make a difference in terms of number of casualties which is a key determinant of Police activity.

Carol and Ruth were thanked for their attendance and invited Forum members to put forward their comments either on the comment sheets they left or through the web page for the consultation. http://investwolverhampton.com/westsidelink/

  1. Minutes of the last meeting (17 July 2018)

The minutes were reviewed

  1. Matters Arising not covered elsewhere in agenda

    1. Royal Hospital – Outline planning approval has now been given based on the application submitted but the road layout has not been agreed and matters such as cycle parking remain to be resolved to our satisfaction.

    1. MJ observed mixed views about cycle parking at the new Market site. Some views had been taken on board and it was good that it was covered. However it had been installed on a raised block which required lifting bikes, and it was difficult to access some spaces.

    1. Air Quality Standard Compliance – The Black Country Authorities have carried out a feasibility study to identify and evaluate options to address poor air quality. This is part of a West Midlands regional response to DEFRA. The primary recommendations of this exercise relate to traffic signal optimisation and use of new technology to minimise bus emissions. BA commented that in his view the tunnels on the approach to New Street Station had the most polluted air in the region because of holding diesel powered trains in confined spaces. NS asked if taxi engines were included in the study. CMW advised there was a move towards an electric taxi fleet, with grants being secured for charging points in the city centre.

    1. A4123 Birmingham New Road – Indicative proposals for cycling facilities were shown at the July Forum Meeting. It is anticipated there will be a consultation exercise early in 2019 when plans of proposals will be publicly available.

    1. Velo 2019 - Route and date (Sunday 12 May) for this are now set. The route takes in mainly Birmingham, Solilhull and Warwickshire. Places are now sold out but the organisers invite people to volunteer. See the Velo website for further information

    1. Wheels for All – Lesley Easter has worked with Cycle Projects to prepare a bid for a 1-year trial of this inclusive cycling initiative, using Aldersley Stadium as a Black Country centre. Various potential partners are now being approached for funding.

    1. ESIF bid – The bid for funding to place solar-powered route markers on towpaths is currently being assessed. We are awaiting the outcome.

  1. A454 Eastern Gateway Consultation

A consultation is on-going regarding options to improve movement of people along the A454 Willenhall Road. TP has worked with consultants to ensure the needs of cyclists and pedestrians are taken into account. Four options have been presented for consideration, involving different levels of provision for cycling. Plans of the proposals were well received. Forum members wishing to comment should visit the webpage. https://wolverhampton.moderngov.co.uk/mgConsultationDisplay.aspx?id=129&RPID=501724235&cp=yes

  1. Smestow Valley path

This path which runs between Aldersley and North Dudley provides a valuable opportunity for walking and cycling both for leisure and utility journeys. However, the path surface varies enormously in quality and suffers from poor drainage in places making it unpleasant to use at certain times of the year. Funding has been secured to provide a hard surface and drainage measures from the access point at Alpine Way for a distance of about 600m up to and including the Meccano Bridge. Most of this section is in a cutting and therefore prone to waterlogging. The work will be carried out in the next 2-3 months. In addition, an informal path connecting it to Windmill Crescent in the vicinity of Smestow and Castlecroft Schools is being surfaced. It should be noted that this path is not designated for cycling. CMW asked if you could get to i54 off-road from this route, the answer was yes, by switching to the towpath and following the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal northwards.

There was a discussion about the structural condition of the Meccano Bridge. BA advised that the bridge may need specialist welding to be carried out. TP advised a structural survey had been carried out which indicated remedial work would be needed in the next 5 years. This would be a costly project but one which is needed to preserve the integrity of the path and keep the bridge as a local feature.

  1. Railway Drive/Station/Metro Works

Work is now proceeding to extend the metro line along Railway Drive to the station. It is still the intention to designate the southern footpath as for cyclists only for the length of the bridge, and to link it to shared use paths either side. The station demolition/rebuild is also now in progress.

  1. Bikeshare

Work has been undertaken to map docking stations for BikeShare in Wolverhampton and Coventry. Following a consultation exercise it is anticipated the scheme will go live some time in the Spring of 2019.

  1. Cycling and Walking Investment Plan (LCWIP)

Wolverhampton has been engaged with the rest of the Combined Authority in development of an investment plan for improvement of the regional walking and cycling infrastructure. This has been aided by a government grant. The plan, which is nearing completion, identifies the cycling priorities for Wolverhampton as being the A4123 Birmingham New Road, A454 City Centre to Walsall, and A4124 Wednesfield Road. Bilston centre is identified as a key walking zone for improvement. All the above have been audited and opportunities for improvement identified in each case. The primary purpose of the LCWIP is to show a strategic approach to investment, so to improve the likelihood of securing funding in future. NS asked if the plan connects to surrounding counties. TP replied yes as appropriate e.g. Stafford Road. CMW mentioned that the Public Health service will be putting people in schools to encourage active travel.

  1. Community Cycling Meeting

British Cycling convened a meeting of agencies engaged in cycling promotion in Wolverhampton. It is clear that there is substantial activity and could be potential for more through collaboration.

  1. Cyclist training - April 2018/ March 2019 Bikeability Figures

Funded places                                               Delivered

Bikeability L1           720                                   571

Bikeability L2          1307                                 828

Bikeability L3           300                                   198

Learn to Ride          220                                   49

Due to the successful implementation of the Learn to Ride Bikeability module for all ages of cyclist we have had additional funding granted to deliver 220 places from 120 places. In addition to this we now have an extra 73 places for level 3 training taking the total places to 300.

With the transfer of Bikeability control moving from Steer Davis Gleave to the Bikeability Trust we are seeing a move of more stringent controls and assessments to standardise and improve the quality of Bikeability delivery. From January to March, the Trust will support schemes like our own and instructors preparing to use the new National Standard and associated delivery guides from Easter, when they will replace the current National Standard and delivery guides.

  1. Wolves on Wheels

We continue to alert our supporters to matters of local and national relevance to cycling. Individuals have made responses to the government's consultation on new cycling offences and we have written to Sainsbury's concerning the desirability of cycle parking at the front of the Ring Rd St Marks store.

Although we continue to attract a large following of supporters as well as followers on facebook and twitter it is becoming apparent that enthusiasm for face-to-face meetings is waning so we may have some rethinking to do on our methods of operation in the future

  1. Any Other Business

    1. Decorative mileposts – TP advised that some mileposts put in by Sustrans along NCN5 in Walsall as part of a national millennium initiative have recently been renovated and look very attractive. TP suggested it would be good to build on this idea with others on different routes around the NCN e.g. on NCN81.

    1. Disabled access to cycle routes – TP is engaging with disabled riders of recumbents and trikes in Walsall over access arrangements to cycle paths. There is concern that measures put in to prevent anti-social behaviour also make these routes inaccessible to disabled riders.

    1. Bus station cycle parking – The cycle lockers at Wolverhampton’s main bus station are being replaced by Sheffield stands. The lockers have been difficult to manage and usage has been limited.

    1. MJ noted that in Princess St and Garrick St the green surfacing on the contraflow cycle lane had started to crack.

    1. MJ also reported that he believed there should be an “except cyclists” plate on the “no right turn” signage for road users approaching the signals at the junction of Lichfield St and Princess St along Lichfield St going east.

The next Forum meeting will be on January 15th 2019

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