DaExeterCycleForumCorrespondenceOct2010

From http://lkjh.biz
Jump to navigation Jump to search
CTC Exeter Sunday Rides Coffee Pots Bike Bus Devon News

Correspondence between Exeter Cycle Forum and Devon County Council - October 2010

Background

At the last few meetings of the Exeter Cycle Forum there has been considerable discussion about the potential impact of Government funding cuts and the future of Cycle Exeter when its direct funding finishes in March 2011.

These concerns were recently expressed in a letter from the Forum's Charirman Peter Grainger to Stuart Hughes who is the Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation. Stuart Hughes' has since replied.

Copies of the correspondence are reproduced below.

Letter from Peter Grainger to Stuart Hughes - 6 October 2010

Peter Grainger is the Chair of the Exeter Cycle Forum and the Sustrans Area Manager for Devon & Torbay
Stuart Hughes is the Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation

Dear Councillor Hughes

Cycle Exeter

I am writing in my role as Chair of the Exeter Cycle Forum to urge that cycling in Exeter and the surrounding area remains a core part of Devon’s sustainable transport agenda for the future, despite the expected spending cuts overall. The very high cycling profile that Exeter is developing is thanks to its designation and the additional funding as a Cycling Demonstration Town and to the Cycle Exeter team’s commitment to deliver the project.

The Exeter Cycle Forum is a vibrant liaison group meeting bimonthly, where cyclists from workplace bicycle user groups, clubs, organisations and interested individuals discuss matters with Devon County and Exeter City officers. The Cycle Exeter team is always represented and reports on progress. Because of our concerns for the future of Cycle Exeter, at our latest meeting in September it was agreed that I would write to you on behalf of the cyclists on the Forum and I have sought views from our members (fifteen have responded) on which to base my comments that follow.

Firstly the benefits of the noticeably increased levels of cycling in Exeter are worth reiterating – reduced traffic congestion, reduced carbon emissions, better health and wellbeing (including weight control) of cyclists, greater confidence through cycle training, more enjoyment of the outdoors, an inexpensive means of travel, and attractive to visitors. All of these benefits have a positive economic side when compared with the alternatives.

Has the job been completed? Whilst there is almost universal praise from our members and support for what Cycle Exeter has achieved over the last five years much more remains to be done. Bikeability cycle training in schools (backed up by a Bike It officer) and for adults are vital to enable new cyclists onto their bikes and on the road, as not all trips will ever be possible only on cycle paths. This training needs skilled trainers and good management to be effective. Also rolling out support to even more employers to encourage cycling to work and at work will increase usage further.

In terms of the network of cycle routes across the city, those that have been built need to be maintained to a high standard and sometimes improved as demand grows. The coverage of the network is not yet complete, for example around the RD&E hospital, and as new development occurs more infrastructure is needed to match the building of residential and employment areas. The landmark cycle bridge across the M5 near Junction 29 will only be a positive symbol if well connected into the city with an east-west route. The network also needs to be more legible to visitors by good destination signing. Cycle parking needs to grow with the number of cyclists.

It is clear that many cyclists do not recognise the city boundary as a limit whether cycling to work or for leisure. Connecting Exeter to the neighbouring communities and countryside, as is happening with the Exe Estuary Trail, has even greater potential benefits for reducing car trips and for increasing green tourism. For greater distances this may sometimes require a public transport leg of the journey, for example connecting villages in the Otter Valley to Feniton station.

How best to achieve this continued growth in cycling in Exeter, and spread the effects out across the County? A dedicated, enthusiastic staff with an effective budget is essential at the core of the activity. In other places where no one staff member has responsibility for cycling the returns are often minimal. We therefore urge you to fight for the best possible level of funding for cycling in Exeter and Devon.

Lastly, cycling is a mode of travel and a leisure activity that engenders a stronger sense of identity and often involvement in issues than some other modes, such as walking and driving. Bringing professional cycle racing to the streets of Exeter and the lanes of Devon has been brilliant to inspire more people to cycle. The Exeter Cycle Forum has worked well with the Cycle Exeter team, to develop ideas for infrastructure and to encourage its usage. We want to continue that involvement but are concerned that if the external funding for the CDT ends and the government funding for transport for Devon is cut next year that cycling could suffer.

Best wishes

Peter Grainger

Chair of Exeter Cycle Forum

(Area Manager for Devon & Torbay, Sustrans)

Letter from Stuart Hughes to Peter Grainger - 11 October 2010

Peter Grainger is the Chair of the Exeter Cycle Forum and the Sustrans Area Manager for Devon & Torbay
Stuart Hughes is the Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation

11 October 2010

Dear Peter

Cycle Exeter

Thank you for your letter dated the 6 October and I do recognise many of the positive things you say about the Cycle Exeter team and cycling generally in the County of Devon.

I and other Members also acknowledge that there is much still to do in terms of cycling provision both in terms of infrastructure and support for cycling through the softer measures which would include things like Bikeability Training.

I can assure you that Members do recognise the value of the Cycling Team and are very supportive and have been impressed by the achievements in the county as a whole of which the Cycle Exeter team is a part. The improvements in the city and its environs in the last few years have indeed been welcomed and recognised through the National Transport Awards for instance.

We also agree that initiatives like the Tour Series and Tour of Britain has raised the profile in the County and has done much to improve the reputation of the County Council as a forward looking authority not afraid to embark on major events of this type which have had a positive economic impact in the county too.

Whilst recognising the success of cycling, with the Comprehensive Spending Review just a few days away, it is impossible for me to guarantee that the County Council will be able to continue to support cycling at the level it has in recent years. lf Cycling England are a casualty of the Coalition Government's reduction in the number of quangos then there will be a hiatus between now and the start of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund initiative in 2012.

I am trying to work very closely with the Government to raise the profile of these initiatives and have met with Norman Baker on 8 October during which a significant session on cycling was included.

The County Council has committed itself to using corporate resources to support cycling development around the county and that will continue. However, there will be cuts in both Revenue and Capital expenditure and these are widely predicted and are necessary to rebalance some of the national debt. How this will pan out for the county is yet to be fully understood and I do not expect to understand that properly until December at the earliest when we know the target budgets for 2011/12 and the likely prospects for budgets after that.

So I am sorry I cannot respond more positively to you at this time but please be assured we do recognise the achievements and benefits of cycling and will want to continue to deliver those as far as is reasonably practicable.

Councillor Stuart Hughes

Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation

Letter from Peter Grainger to Stuart Hughes - 29 November 2010

Dear Councillor Hughes

Cycle Exeter

Thank you for your response of 11 October to my letter on behalf of the Exeter Cycle Forum about the future of Cycle Exeter. We discussed your comments at our meeting on 16 November and it was agreed that l would send you a follow up letter in my role as Chair, as by then it was clear that Cycling England was to be axed.

We are in agreement with you on the benefits that increased cycling has brought to Exeter as a result of the Cycle Exeter project and the dedicated team of officers working on it. Even if the government funding for further infrastructure improvements is less than before, we would like to emphasise the potential for increased usage by cyclists of what has already been constructed and of the road network in general.

ln particular we would like to stress how the number of people cycling to work in Exeter has been greatly helped by advice to businesses and other organisations by Cycle Exeter and by support to the setting up of over 20 new bicycle user groups (BUGS). These groups are represented on this Forum and contribute valuable input to discussions with officers. This programme is incomplete for Exeter and hardly started in other Devon towns. Likewise the work with schools on Bikeability training and Bike lt support that has resulted in huge increases in percentages of children cycling to school needs to continue each year with each new intake. We trust that your bids to the Local Sustainable Transport Fund will seek to build on these initiatives in Exeter and elsewhere in the county.

Best wishes

Peter Grainger

Chair of Exeter Cycle Forum

(Area Manager for Devon & Torbay, Sustrans)

CTC Exeter Sunday Rides Coffee Pots Bike Bus Devon News