Wolverhampton Cycle Forum
Thursday 16 January, 6pm
Committee Room 5, Civic Centre,
St Peter’s Square, Wolverhampton
Present - Mike Jenkins, Nicholas Squires, Dave Clare, Bob Amer, Aiden Byrne, Rob Marris, Tim Philpot, Steve Dodd
Apologies - Councillor Martin Waite, Isobel Gillis, Win Sutton, Lissa Evans, Julia Brant
Minutes of the last meeting (17 October 2019)
Accurate with the exception that Rob Marris was actually present, notes will be modified to reflect this
Matters Arising not covered elsewhere in agenda:-
RM has made an objection to the extension of the Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting cycling on Railway Drive, and questioned the underlying reason for it. TP advised that Railway Drive was key to two complex major projects, and that it was likely that unforeseen circumstances had led to the original time estimate being inadequate. He also advised that it was manifestly necessary for site safety for the TRO to continue. RM suggested the Forum request an explanation for the inadequacy of the original TRO and the need for the extension. MJ (acting chair) agreed with this.
TP noted the opening of the new station appeared to have experienced a delay, however he was still pursuing decisions and resources relating to a cycle hub. BA advised this needed to be in a prominent place.
It was noted that the cycle parking rack removed from the ceremonial car park six months ago had still not been replaced.
Queries were raised about electric vehicle charging points which TP advised he would deal with separately. It was asked whether the proposed electric bike element of the forthcoming cycle hire scheme would be compatible with the charging points now being installed. TP advised probably not.
No Limits to Health/Cycle Tours
Further discussion has taken place over the location of the base for this activity, no conclusion has yet been reached. The crowdfunding page has been set up. Some productive discussion was held with Canal & River Trust over collaboration.
Wheels for All
The Better Streets Fund has awarded funds to the national charity Cycling Projects to establish a Wheels for All disabled cycling project at Aldersley Leisure Village. Regular cycling sessions will be held using adapted bikes acquired for the purpose. This follows a successful pilot event which gauged interest in the idea, and is being replicated in other Black Country authorities.
MJ asked if the project was likely to need volunteers to assist the riders, TP said he thought they might. MJ said he could arrange for Wolves on Wheels to promote this to its members. RM asked if Mencap were involved in the project, TP advised that they are.
Park Village Education Centre
The Better Streets Fund has also awarded funds to Aladdin’s Education (CLG), currently providing community education services from the Park Village Education Centre, Heath Town. This is to provide cycling activities and facilitate cycling to the centre and in the community. The centre is working with Lesley Easter from Cycling UK to establish a community cycling club.
Bike Life Report
The Bike Life report is an assessment of the state of cycling in the region, produced by Sustrans working alongside Transport for West Midlands and the local authorities. The West Midlands is one of fourteen urban areas participating in Bike Life in 2019, others include Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Tyneside, Dublin Metropolitan Area, Bristol, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh. The report includes demographic data, levels of participation and opinions about cycling, inequalities and barriers to cycling, and opportunities for the future. The purpose of the report is to form part of the evidence base and business case to support future investment in cycling.
BA said this was demand led and infrastructure is needed. PB said from the university perspective people were encouraged to cycle but the facilities and infrastructure weren’t available. The ring road is considered a particular problem. TP to let the group know when the report is out, and ask for consultation to go wider when the report is reviewed in two years’ time.
The multi-modal study concluded in 2019 identified issues and opportunities for this corridor. Public consultation mainly favoured moves to improve vehicle capacity. There was reasonable support for development of the cycle route but also some opposition.
Renewed effort is being made to identify a clear case for work on this corridor, and it may be that the cycle route progresses separately from other potential improvements. However there will need to be collective agreement over cycling arrangements at junctions, particularly signal-controlled junctions, and along the stretch from Thompson Avenue to the ring road.
There was a discussion about the existing provision along the A4123 and in particular whether the permission to cycle on the shared use sections had changed. TP said he thought not. It was suggested that some of the signage may have disappeared. This will be checked.
Regarding signal junctions it was asked if tunnels for cyclists had been considered. TP said not, because they were likely to be impracticable for space, cost and functionality reasons.
Phases 1 & 2 (ring road to Old Heath Road) are designed and awaiting the outcome of a funding bid. Phase 3 (Neachells Lane Junction) designs have been the subject of consultation and are near to being finalized.
It was asked what the speed limit would be on the new gyratory system, TP did not know but said he would find out. It was also asked what air quality implications there were from the new arrangement.
The Better Streets Fund has allocated funding to improve cycling provision along the A4124 Wednesfield Road. Design work is about to begin on this with a delivery date by the end of August 2021. Several significant challenges are known to exist along this route and it remains to be seen how they can be overcome.
Signage Scheme City Centre to i54
CoWC has worked with TfWM to develop an enhanced route signage scheme linking the city centre with i54 via the towpath and the new Bee Lane Playing Fields route. This is close to being ready to implement. Most of the signs will be fingerpost-style but there will be some multiple-direction signs. The intention is that these will carry the NCN number where appropriate, or a number relating to a regional network, along with the Network West Midlands logo.
MJ commented that it would be sensible if the signs could be made tamper-proof to prevent them being turned around on the posts.
Council Climate Emergency Consultation
The council has opened a Climate Emergency consultation, which can be accessed via the council website. Details can be found at https://www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/news/city-council-launch-consultation-climate-commitment-benefit-future-generations
The council’s declared Climate Emergency focuses initially on making council activity carbon-neutral but also seeks views on wider reduction of carbon footprint. It was noted that Birmingham City Council has recently made a press release about its latest draft Transport Plan https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/transportplan which proposes segmentation of the city centre to deter journeys from one area to another within the centre. Wolverhampton’s city centre overall has not breached the air quality standard requiring it to take this kind of action, although work has been undertaken to address localized exceedances. The view was expressed that things won’t change substantially until the situation becomes unbearable.
It was suggested that the city centre needed to be made a more pleasant place to dwell in. TP advised that the Westside development was still in the pipeline which would transform a substantial area, as was the Westside Link project to create enhanced public realm between Westside and the Transport Interchange. It was noted that opinions within the forum differed as to whether shared-use space for pedestrians and cyclists was acceptable or whether a dedicated cycle route should have been included. At least one phase of Westside Link is due to commence later in the year, around the Civic Halls. Other phases including Queen Square are still under discussion.
Officers involved with the development of Westside Link will attend the April Forum meeting to give an update.
Wolves on Wheels
TP apologised for missing WOW off the agenda. MJ advised that there was little to report from Wolves on Wheels at this time.
Canals & Rivers Trust
Any Other Business
TP took away the following items to investigate:-
New chair – A new chair will be needed as of the July meeting. It is agreed that having a councillor as chair lends weight to the Forum.
Can we invite councillors to participate in ward rides along with officers and Forum members to gain understanding of the challenges for cyclists and identify possible improvements? This could be on a Saturday if desired.
Is Woverhampton likely to hold any traffic-free days in the city centre?
Can West Midlands Police be invited to the Forum? TP advised there was a police officer on the address list but there had been no attendance for a while.
23 April 2020 (Thursday) – booked
21 July 2020 (Tuesday) – booked
15 October 2020 (Thursday) – booked
19 January 2021 (Tuesday) – booked
22 April 2021 (Thursday) - booked