Allerdale and Copeland Green Party Transport Plan 2011.
After attending the “Focus on Transport” meeting organized by the Local Strategic Partnership in November 2010 and contributing to the draft Local Transport Plan for 2011-2026 we became concerned about the ability of the County to envisage or deliver low cost innovative travel solutions. An appraisal of the responses from other organisations to the LTP consultation confirmed that our concerns were shared by others.
The lack of progress in low carbon, healthy, sustainable modes of travel over the last decade has been detrimental to Cumbria’s development in every arena. In February 2008 we wrote an open letter to the County Council decrying the lack of spending on public transport compared with other comparable rural counties, and suggesting five measures to reduce car use and encourage public transport use. A copy of this letter is at Appendix 1. We also asked a question at full council meeting on February 14th 2008 to support our letter. This is also reproduced in Appendix 1. Since then we have seen little action to reduce carbon emissions from transport in Cumbria and the new draft Local Transport Plan gives little hope for the future.
At the “Focus on Transport” meeting Councillor Knowles spoke of aspirations versus financial realities. He outlined the need for a visionary audit of transport provision and asked for innovation and creativity. After spending many hours researching and discussing transport issues we decided to rise to that challenge and present practical, low cost suggestions to Cumbria County Council. It is only a partial response to the issues that face the whole County. We can only offer informed solutions about the areas we are familiar with. We would welcome others to join in our venture, add to this document and contribute travel solutions for all areas of Cumbria.
Jill Perry, Dianne Standen on behalf of Allerdale and Copeland Green Party.
National targets and environmental necessity
The UK was the first country to introduce a law requiring carbon dioxide reductions. The Climate Change Act (26th November 2008) introduced a legally binding target of at least an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a reduction in emissions of at least 34 percent by 2020. Both these targets are against a 1990 baseline.
The Green Party, and climate scientists, believe that, in order to avoid global warming exceeding 2°C, the UK needs to adopt an initial annual carbon dioxide emissions reduction target of around 10 per cent, with the aim of reducing emissions by 90 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030, and 65 per cent by 2020 – starting now. The Stern Report (which summarises the scientific consensus) says that at that level of greenhouse gases there is a 75–99% chance (that is, near certainty) of global warming exceeding 2°C. We think we should aim to stabilise the level of CO2 equivalent in the atmosphere at a level just slightly above the present level (i.e. around 450ppm). To achieve 450ppm, global emissions need to drop by as much as 60% as soon as 2030. And industrialised countries with high emissions, like the UK, can both afford to, and need to, reduce their emissions rather faster: a 90% reduction by 2030.
Cumbria’s Local Transport Plan: Cumbria Transport Vision 2011 - 2026
Cumbria has produced its core strategy for consultation and will next produce local policies and priorities for inclusion in the final document, which will be ready for the beginning of April 2011.
The draft goal is to produce “A safe and reliable transport system and highway network in Cumbria, which support the following local priorities:
- safe, strong and inclusive communities
- health and well-being throughout life
- a sustainable and prosperous economy
- effective connections between people and places
- world class environmental quality
and in doing so minimises carbon emissions.”
It does not recognize that we need to reduce carbon emissions from transport.
It recognizes that there will not be large amounts of money for road schemes in the near future but keeps a number of road schemes mentioned within the Plan as though, when money becomes available, they will be resurrected and brought forward.
From both of these facts, and the lack of progress made on reducing carbon emissions from the transport sector, and changing the way people travel over the life of the two previous transport plans, we have little hope that much progress will be made from the new Transport Plan.
Cumbria County Council does not perform well compared to other local authorities in the North West in terms of adoption of National Indicators (NIs) on climate change, air quality and sustainable transport. It is important that the LTP adopts and emphasises NI 185 (CO2 reductions from Local Authorities, including transport), NI 194 (air quality - % reductions in NO2 and PM10 emissions), NI 176 (working age people with access to employment by public transport and other specified modes), NI 177 (local bus passenger journeys originating in the Local Authority area), NI 178 (bus services running on time) and NI 198 (children travelling to school – mode of transport usually used). The extant LTP guidance encourages local authorities to adopt more NIs than they are obliged to do, and we would like to see Cumbria achieve best practice in this area.
An integrated view
Major employment areas have been allowed to grow up without thought of access on foot, by bicycle or by public transport. Dovenby Hall is the latest example of this. 116 people employed by M-Sport, others work for Wind Prospect, Jeffries Insurance Brokers, the Technology Store and at the on-site restaurant. Further development opportunities are being advertised – a hotel, a large commercial building and unrefurbished and refurbished office space, so expansion is clearly on the cards.
On photos on the website 93 cars are clearly visible on the carpark, and in addition the large vehicles presumably connected with transportation of M-Sport vehicles. There is carparking capacity for many more cars. Yet Dovenby is only 2.5 miles from Cockermouth, and 4.5 miles from Maryport. Dovenby is ill-served by buses, and the existing road has not been made safe for cyclists, despite this being an ideal distance from both towns for cyclists.
This happens when the officer teams involved in planning and transport do not work together from the outset. The separation of roles due to a two-tier local authority system, where planning is under the control of the Borough Council, and transport is a function of County Council. It is important to only allow the development of sites if proper sustainable transport plans are in place to avoid the carbon dioxide emission associated with travel to work. To that end we need much closer working of the two councils, or a single tier local authority.
The development of the Derwent Valley site (should it take place) will provide an excellent opportunity to get this right from the outset. Facilities for car drivers should be strictly limited to the minimum parking spaces, which should be paying spaces. There should provision of a car-free cycle path from both ends, and within the site cars should not be allowed. A shuttle service should run from Workington train station, and a regular bus service (mini-bus if that is more suited to the number of visitors and the country roads) which should also serve the surrounding villages.
There is a resistance to change within the County, on the part of both officers and members. There is a need for a serious programme of education to address changing circumstances and new realities, both financial and environmental as they relate to transport.
The lack of awareness and inability to accept change is manifested among officers by the reaction to the Allerdale and Copeland Green Party campaign to introduce a twenty mile an hour speed limit on an estate in Dearham. On 8th November Geoff Smith submitted a petition from residents and asked a question to support it. The officer replied that legislation made it difficult to introduce a speed limit without expensive traffic calming measures. “In England these (schemes without traffic calming) are unlikely to comply with the legal requirements of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.” This is a line that they have stuck to over the years and is vigorously rejected by the co-ordinator of the national Twenty’s Plenty campaign who pointed out that in Bristol, Warrington, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Wirral, Oxford and elsewhere they hold different opinions and have implemented wide scale 20mph limits, and says “All of the 20mph schemes in above mentioned authorities comply with the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.”
In Councillors the lack of awareness of the bigger picture is also worryingly great, when these are the people who are making major decisions which affect the travel possibilities of many people. In our area the shortsightedness is exemplified by the decision to refuse to close the road around the far side of the lake at Thirlmere to through traffic (by closing the road for 2.5 miles, between the two car parks, thus making it a safer route to walk, cycle and enjoy clean country air, whilst not restricting access for those who wish to venture further on to the fells.
With more decisions being devolved downwards, in the spirit of localism and community this lack of awareness among decision makers is something that must be addressed, otherwise we risk wasting money, effort and time on trying to progress expensive schemes that cannot come to fruition, while ignoring or refusing to consider smaller cheaper schemes which can deliver big benefits
Current Barriers to Healthy Low Carbon Ways of Travelling.
Speed and Safety Concerns
Concern about road safety has a huge impact on society. It is one of the major factors in the removal of children from our streets and has contributed substantially to the current congestion curse- the school run. Curtailing children’s freedom to travel by foot and bike has led to growing obesity, isolation in the home and the lack of independence. We are already beginning to count the cost of the physical and mental consequences of the growing dependence of the use of the car as a means of travel.
The perception of many people of a dangerous/unpleasant highway experience has undermined the desire and ability to use alternative ways of travel such as the bike or walking. The impact of that is being felt in ill health [mental and physical] and lack of opportunity/isolation for those without private transport means.
Lowering speed limits will demonstrate the County’s commitment to creating a shared highway to enable greater walking and cycling opportunities. Curbing speed can be addressed in a variety of ways:-
1] Set county wide speed limits, 30mph, on all roads which are under the county’s jurisdiction
2] Whenever vehicles pass a village sign they would automatically be within a 20mph area.
3] In all residential streets there would be 20 mph limit.
Establishing County or Borough wide limits will save the time and expense of creating individual ‘zoned’ speed areas. It will give greater clarity to motorists and clearly establish the priority CCC gives to low carbon, healthy travel options. Bristol, Warrington, the Wirral, Oxford and other areas have all implemented wide scale 20mph limits that comply with the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Cumbria can do likewise if it chooses.
Most of the major interconnecting roads are not within the County’s control and give the option of faster travel at 50 or 70 mph.
Speed restrictions may prove unpopular initially but it needs to be effectively communicated that currently the health and quality of life for the whole community is being undermined by the predominance of the car on the shared highway.
Those in the fortunate position of being able to use a car need to appreciate that they are privileged in having a private, comfortable, flexible, economical [in comparison with public transport] means of travel. Losing a few minutes upon each journey is a small price to pay for greater equality of opportunity of use of the highway. Journeys may become slightly longer for the motorist but there can be some comfort in the thought of the fuel economies that will arise from travel at a slower, steady speed.
It has to be communicated that these actions are intended to create travel opportunities for all rather than penalise the motorist.
Adjusting the use of the current highway network
One of the most effective ways of economically providing attractive routes which reflect a genuine commitment to increase provision for cyclists and walkers is to undertake an appraisal of the highway network and identify potential ‘green roads’ or “Greenways”
Green roads could either establish a priority of use for cyclists/walkers [vehicles restricted to 10-20mph] or, if there is no habitation compromised, become sole use.
Where there are viable alternative access routes it needs to be understood that the Council will prohibit vehicle traffic to enable greater equality of use. The loss of opportunity to travel a scenic road slowly by car is not a credible argument against such schemes [used in the recent rejection of the Thirlmere cycleway by Allerdale Area Committee.]
Creating vehicle-free cycle and walking tracks has huge potential to improve health and generate ‘green tourism’. It creates opportunities for all including those with disabilities who will be able to enjoy the environment using wheelchairs, adapted bikes or electric buggies in safety. Under Loughrigg, near Ambleside, is one of the few current examples in Cumbria where there is an access-only restriction for vehicles and a 20mph speed limit. It is an extremely popular, well used route for people on foot and cycles. Many choose to walk this route to explore the Rydal and Grasmere area. This prevents increased vehicle congestion is the area and supports the regular bus service.
An additional advantage for County highway expenditure is that maintenance costs for low impact use [cycling and walking] will be less than those where there is a constant volume of vehicle traffic.
Greenway Options within Allerdale
The Thirlmere cycleway, currently under consideration, would compromise no housing access so with temporary barriers a portion of the road could be closed to all motorised traffic.
Other identifiable roads in the Allerdale area could be :
1] Cockermouth-Setmurthy-Bassenthwaite. This is a major recreational road for Cockermouth people. There is access to all settlements via the A66 and routes off.
This could become a major cycling/walking route into the Lakes which could be extended into Keswick if the Bassenthwaite [Mirehouse] road, became 30mph. Any traffic from the north wanting a faster route into Keswick could turn at Castle Inn and join the A66.
2] Western road at Derwentwater. This could be closed to non-residential traffic beyond Portinscale, allowing bus access [see Lake District Proposals] alongside cyclists and walkers.
3] Maryport-Silloth . This road is a substantial oncost to the County with annual repairs necessary for sea damage to the road beyond Dubmill Point. It is a fast and dangerous road. We suggest part closure [Crosscannonby – Allerby turn off and Dubmill Point - Mawbray, but still maintaining bus access] would support the economy-generating Hadrians Wall Cycleway and prepare people for the inevitable closure of this coastal route to vehicles. This should be undertaken in conjunction with reduced speed limits of 30mph on the open section to enable shared use.
There are a multitude of minor roads and other opportunities which could be explored within the County. Local people, Parish and Town Councils should be actively encouraged to identify potential routes in their area.
As with speed, to make cost efficient and effective progress in this area, parking needs to be standardised throughout the County. Costs should reflect a clear strategy that encourages parking outside the commercial centres and dissuades vehicles from entering town centres.
Wherever possible existing car parking sites should be utilised. Potential parking sites should be within a 10 minute level and pleasant walk to the town centre. Other sites may be created as park and ride facilities but only when situated on an established, frequent bus route.
All free parking within towns should be removed with the exception of that for disabled drivers. All public parking charges within town centres should increase substantially to deter traffic. This includes supermarkets and major developments.
Residents should retain the current on street permit arrangement though costs may need revising.
Excess revenue [after costs] from town centre parking must be dedicated to financing free out of centre parking, free park and ride bus travel, free bus around the periphery of the town.
Likewise all out of town commercial centres [retail and other] should have parking charges. Again charges would offset the running of free buses from nearest towns to access these sites. Note such buses should be available for all to use not just shoppers. Regular passengers may be charged a realistic fare.
Examples in Allerdale Towns
Cockermouth- Memorial Gardens Car Park, Workington – Car Park alongside Allerdale House, Maryport- the harbour Car Parks [no entry through town]
All of the above should be designated free parking for 4 hours. [no return that day]
Comfortable and attractive public transport interchanges should be given priority development within town centres. Cumbria currently has lamentable provision for shelter and waiting facilities. Carlisle is a disgrace with no suitable seating or adequate shelter for what may be a 2 hour wait for evening buses.
Nottingham City Council will be the first council to impose this levy, with all employers offering more than 11 spaces for staff charged £250 for each one. It will be up to companies whether they pass the cost on. Many other cities are looking to raise revenue for public transport improvements. Cumbria should seriously consider introducing this throughout the County and invest any revenue in supporting bus/rail access to these sites.
This ties in with the necessity for strategic planning outlined in the introduction, and was one of the issues mentioned by us in February 2008 (see Appendix 1). Progress within industry and the County Council [biggest employer] has been unimpressive over the last ten years since their introduction.
There is insufficient use, knowledge or promotion of this inexpensive and effective means of cutting car journeys. One of the most visible and appropriate ways of advertising would be on the outside of the buses and on County Council vehicles. Advertising costs could be cut by running a design competition for A level and degree students with a cash reward. The internal space of buses contracted to the County could also be used to advertise and promote liftshare schemes.
Within rural areas Parish Councils should be encouraged and funded to undertake a transport needs review of the community. It should effectively communicate the isolation that is created for those without cars and the need for villagers to use public transport or support their neighbours by offering transport. Parish notice boards, websites or other means can be used to advertise offers and needs or simply get people to sign up to the national Liftshare site where people can make personal arrangements.
Cumbria’s Rural Wheels Scheme. Feedback from local Parishes indicates that this is an unpopular scheme. It has severe limitations:- it can only be used twice a week, it does not accept the senior citizen free travel card, it does not guarantee a lift, it needs to be booked 48 hours in advance.
It falls short of current provision in many other rural Counties in England. Prior to Rural Wheels being adopted as the County wide solution to rural transport issues there were some Dial –a –Ride services. There remains a County subsidised Dial-a-Ride service at present from Cockermouth to Buttermere. It is unlikely this will survive proposed cuts yet it is the model for rural transport that is being used successfully within rural communities in Europe. Dial-a-Ride operates a scheduled service using a minibus. It will not run unless it is booked in advance. The Buttermere bus requires booking by the previous evening; other schemes operate on 2 hours notice. This service is a solution that can be tailored to a group of parishes and could be versatile enough to be assessed and adjusted annually.
It can also provide an income boost for small travel firms or taxi operators. Doing this cuts the monopoly of the major bus companies and makes for more competitive pricing.
There are several areas where Parishes have grouped together to run their own Community Transport- Eden Fellrunner is a successful, long running scheme.
A combination of Dial-a-Ride, Community bus, Voluntary car service and Liftshare could address rural social isolation and transport difficulties but will need active support and promotion by the County. All could be relatively low cost solutions especially if Dial-a-Ride is operated using current Community Transport Minibuses.
This could be an opportunity for the Council to create or support employment [drivers] especially within the rural areas themselves. The County could encourage a not for profit transport company with bases in Kendal [drawing upon the workforce within the Barrow area] and Keswick [West Cumbria]. Support could be given by offering contracts in conjunction with commitments to quality, price and connectivity with other travel modes.
Public Transport – Bus Provision
This is an excellent opportunity to totally overhaul the bus routes and timetables in conjunction with the main commercial provider in this area –Stagecoach. Lincolnshire has a deeply rural population with more fragmented communities than Cumbria. They have devised a number of fast, direct routes between the major towns and have feeder buses [akin to Dial-a-Ride] intersecting them en route see www.lincsinterconnect.com A similar design could be applied to Cumbria.
A journey time close to that using a car- around 1 hour could be achieved by removing most of the diversions off the A66 [except Threlkeld] for the main East /West connection, Workington-Penrith X4 service. This could reduce the clamour for the unrealistic and unlikely dualling of the A66 through the Lake District.
The X4 should be timed to connect at Keswick with the major Carlisle-Kendal service 555 and again connect that at Kendal with the Barrow –Ulverston bus. Effective connections must be ensured as long scheduled waits deter many travellers attempting to move around the County.
Comfortable and attractive public transport interchanges should be given priority development within town centres. Cumbria currently has lamentable provision for shelter and waiting facilities. As mentioned above, Carlisle is a disgrace with no suitable seating or adequate shelter for what may be a 2 hour wait for evening buses.
A Route Suggestion within Allerdale
A new scheduled hourly service that runs Carlisle-Wigton-Maryport-Cockermouth-Wigton-Carlisle and time it to connect with the no. 30 [4 an hour] at Maryport [for onward travel to Workington, Lakes College, West Cumbria Hospital and Whitehaven. Connect it with the X4 at Cockermouth for onward travel to West Cumbria??
It would be of great benefit for bus passengers to have routes which interconnected effectively.
All rural communities have Dial-a-Ride or scheduled services to the main towns and are timed to connect with the fast routes.
Other Allerdale Bus services suggestions are within Lake District section below.
The Lake District National Park
Low Cost Travel Solutions
As outlined previously potential “Greenways” and “Green roads” should be identified that are already part of the existing highway network.
We have developed a proposal for an electric bike scheme for accommodation provider within the National Park. This is outlined in Appendix 2. As we lack the means to develop it we have passed it on to Nurture Lakeland.
Other innovative low cost solutions could be:-
- Low cost, or possibly free, bikes available to hire at all major intersections and towns. This proposal could be maintained by a supported employment scheme in West Cumbria where unclaimed bikes donated from the Cumbria Police pound could be refurbished and sold to provide income from the scheme. In return the scheme would refurbish and maintain a stock of bikes for public use.
- Accommodation providers, including campsites, could link up with ‘Bike buses’ from the major cities to offer discounted rates for groups of cyclists. Bike buses are coaches, minibuses that have a large bike trailer attached. See http://www.bikebus.uk.com/ A growth in popular and attractive on and off road routes as outlined in the Greenways suggestion could provide the incentive for regular scheduled week/end services.
- Accommodation providers could endorse an “in the lakes without a car” card that offers discounts at a variety of venues, services, activities, restaurants etc. Actually Wordsworth House in Cockermouth already offers discounted entry for visitors using public transport .
- In order to ensure wide circulation of information about the Stagecoach Goldrider, which currently provides 7 day bus travel throughout the area for £24.50p or around £4 a day, accommodation providers might consider offering one as an incentive for those who book 5+ days accommodation, or Stagecoach might enter into a joint initiative with accommodation providers.
The National Park needs the same parking policy as the remainder of the County. This should be in conjunction with the access proposals already outlined in the current LDNP transport strategy. The majority of visitors access the area by car. On arrival there must be adequate parking at designated sites close to the major routes. Entrance by car into the rural roads of most valleys must be deterred. If necessary road charges may need to be introduced in those areas. Parking sites must be fed by regular bus services and all day charges should be low. If there were an automatic public transport levy built into the parking charge, it could be ring fenced to fund the associated bus service and possibly could generate enough income to provide free buses throughout the area.
Within the Allerdale area one such proposal could be on fields alongside the Portinscale Bridge. This would allow for a 10 min walk to Keswick along an existing path. The X4 already passes and would offer bus access to the town. Other routes suggested below would also service the car park and hopefully between all services a 15 minute bus link to Keswick could be provided.
As outlined previously in the Parking section costs for parking within Keswick would escalate.
In some areas of the Lakes there needs to be serious consideration given to the restriction of all visitor traffic. Residents and those temporarily in residence [holiday cottages] could be allowed access through a permit scheme. The very popular Cat Bells walking route in Allerdale has perpetual parking problems, providing the following bus service from a car park at Portinscale could allow for the closure of the Western Derwentwater Road other than access traffic at 20mph.
Proposed Bus Routes within the Allerdale area of the National Park
If there were adequate and reasonably priced parking at Portinscale vehicle access beyond Portinscale village could be restricted to residents only and the road opened up to walkers, cyclists and buses. A circular, frequent, inexpensive bus service from Keswick via Portinscale, Grange, Honister, Buttermere, Whinlatter, Braithwaite, Portinscale, Keswick should meet the needs of most visitors and walkers. Financial assistance for this service should also be sought from major attractions en route that generate traffic, for example Honister Mines, Forestry Commission.
The open topped bus up Borrowdale should be retained but timed to run in between the above route to give a 30min service through Borrowdale.
To replace the removal of the X4 route from the north side of Bassenthwaite Lake and to increase visitor traffic to the West Cumbria there needs to be a circular service that runs Keswick, Portinscale, Braithwaite, Whinlatter, Lorton, Cockermouth, Embleton, Castle Inn, Bassenthwaite, Mirehouse, Keswick.
Again this service could be part funded from parking charges alongside contributions from major rural attractions that generate traffic-Whinlatter, Trotters, Mirehouse, Forestry Commission.
Dial-a-Ride bus services could be used in more remote communities during the winter months but scheduled services for popular visitor routes and all areas Spring to Autumn.
All of the above are practical suggestions that encompass the priorities established by the Lake District National Park Authority, agreed by the Lake District National Park Partnership and approved by Cumbria County Council Cabinet in 2009.
Transport research by Steer Davies Gleave research identified the issues and challenges for the Lake District in 2008. We must have action on the priorities that arose from that research. It is inconceivable that travel to and within the Lake District, a valuable environmental and economic asset for the Country and County, should suffer the neglect of another decade. In 1998 Cumbria County Council [Lake District Transport Strategy] stated that by 2008 the Lake District would “stand as a national demonstration of integrated transport". That aspiration was not achieved. To repeat that failure to deliver would be a huge indictment of all those responsible for delivering improvements, reducing carbon and protecting an internationally valued area.
Open letter to Cumbria County Council sent Feb 2008
We, the undersigned, are writing with regard to County subsidised public transport provision within Cumbria. Whilst we support effective use of taxpayers’ money on public services we are concerned about the low level of funding which in 2005/6 resulted in Cumbria County Council spending
the least of any authority in England per head of population on public transport .
We note the following:
Although £60.07 was spent per capita on Highways and Transport only £1.28 per head was spent on public transport . In all this was a mere 2.1% of the total Highways and Transport budget. This contrasts poorly with an average spend of £7.21 per head in other English Shire Counties. The nearest comparable authority North Yorkshire spent £9.60p per head which is £16.6% of their overall Transport budget. The North York Moors National Park has a Moors Bus scheme which enables affordable public transport access. Also operating in that area is the high performing and award winning Coastliner bus service.
15 million visit the Lake District on an annual basis. Tourism feeds about £1.5 billion into Cumbria’s economy each year. Yet bus fares are expensive (at least 100% more for comparable distances in the rest of Cumbria) interchanges and shelters are basic, there is little integrated ticketing between different providers and no real time bus travel information is available.
Traffic has grown by almost 16% in Cumbria in the last 10 years and that which is valued (scenery, quieter pace of life, safe roads ) is being undermined by the volume of traffic in many towns and on narrow rural roads.
The Council's recent budget draft focuses on six priority themes identified by the public. Amongst those are quality of roads and better public transport. Projected spending is that the new appointment of 25 Highway stewards would cost £1million, permanent repairs to Highways another £1.14 million and £200k will meet the costs of the Carlisle Northern Development route. In comparison £36,000 will be spent on community transport projects and £410k on the county's statutory obligation of home to school transport. There seems to be a general acceptance that as a large and rural county, travel is best served in many areas by car. All councils need to understand both the benefits and the potential of public transport and lead by example in their own practice and activity.
We suggest the following
The Council needs to reassess bus provision in rural areas.
a) The Lake District National Park must have a regular bus network supported by good information. Reasonably priced, comfortable buses with adequate luggage provision and integrated ticketing between all transport providers is a necessity. In short there needs to be action to deliver the assertion [Cumbria County Council. Lake District Transport Strategy... the next ten years.... published Nov.1998] that by 2008 the Lake District would “stand as a national demonstration of integrated transport".
b) Other isolated rural areas may be suitable for a demand-responsive system (Rural Wheels) but ideally there should be more funding and encouragement for community/parish-linked and led solutions (Fellrunner etc).
c) The bus network needs to viewed as an integrated whole for ticketing and timetable purposes and when tenders are sought it should be specified that high quality buses are required and expected.
d) There is not one quality interchange in the whole county and many towns and villages lack even a basic shelter. Interchanges need to be redeveloped following the good design briefs such as those laid down in the Bus Users Good Practice guide http://www.bususers.org/good.htm. They
should incorporate adequate shelter and where possible, park and ride schemes.
e) There should be much more effort to integrate bus/ rail ticketing and timetables and supply information through real-time systems
f) To encourage greater use of public transport, progress on workplace travel plans throughout the County, which has so far been slow, should be accelerated. The Council’s own travel plan targets have not been met, with only an unapproved 2 out of a target of 6 of the county sites having been added this year. Commitment and leadership should be shown by employing an experienced officer in a full-time capacity, rather than the current part-time (2 days a week) arrangement with Capita.
Greater use of public transport by Council staff and members would give them first-hand experience of the problems and potential as well as increasing their interaction with other passengers. Council travel expenses need to be separately itemised and published from April 2008.
The County should reflect its commitment to and raise the profile of public transport issues by more coverage and pointers to timetable information in Your Cumbria.
In conclusion we would like to see Cumbria County Council work harder to deliver the above. They should be prepared to raise their spending to the average level. If the Council feels unable to fund these changes, then they should consider using the powers given to them under the Local Transport Act 2000 to draw in funds from workplace parking etc. Cumbria needs the substantial economic, environmental and social benefits of an effective public transport system and the Council should be committed to funding and achieving this.
Excerpt from the minutes of Feb 14th 2008Feb 2008
- PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SCHEME
(1) Mrs Gill Perry commented that the County Council was reported as
spending only £1.28 per head of population on public transport (2005/06
figures). This was just 2.1% of the total highways and transport budget
and Mrs Perry felt this contrasted poorly with an average spend of £7.21
per head in other English shire counties. Moreover, the nearest
comparable authority, North Yorkshire, spent £9.60 per head. Mrs Perry
asked what plans were in place to increase this percentage and when the
County Council would increase their spending on public transport to at
least the average level, and preferably to a level to rival North Yorkshire.
The Cabinet Member responded that because of the ways in which local
councils supported public transport comparisons were difficult to make in a
meaningful way. For the next financial year the Council was proposing to
increase spending on public transport to £1.34m. The Council was also
undertaking a number of other initiatives including reassessing provision
of public transport in rural areas, extending Rural Wheels, providing high
quality buses and interchanges, providing real-time information and raising
the profile of public transport. He concluded that the Council would
continue to transform public transport and improve services.
Proposal for an Electric bike scheme in the Lake District National Park
Objective: To encourage the use of a sustainable, healthy, low carbon and enjoyable way of travelling.
Aimed at encouraging bike use whilst on vacation in the Lakes but with the broader objective of introducing reluctant or unfamiliar bike users to cycling and introduce them to a way of travelling that can be incorporated into their travel choices year round.
Cycling within the Lake District is often considered too challenging. In part this lies with the terrain. Current cycle routes tend to direct cyclists to the less busy and invariably hilly routes.
Safety can also be a concern given the speed of vehicles on rural roads which often have poor visibility.
These problems aside, many of the Lakeland roads follow the valley bottoms and lower sides and it is only the major passes which would prove a challenge too far for the inexperienced cyclist.
This proposal would be greatly assisted in its popularity and viability if it is accompanied by the creation of ‘green roads’ which prioritise cyclists, walkers and buses.
The development of electric bikes has moved on substantially within the last decade.
There are now models on the market which are quiet, give a reasonable mileage each battery charge and are reasonably priced. Renewable energy providers such as Good Energy offer a competitive tariff on the domestic market. Their attractiveness for the cyclist in the Lake District is the extra help given to power the bikes on inclines and against head winds. They literally do ‘iron’ out the hills and with them many people’s reluctance to consider cycling as an option in the Lakes.
Initial Funding costs: £150,000
Thereafter annual running cost of £50,000 for three years. The major part of that would be that salary of one full time, 1 part time worker.
Total cost £300,000.00p with £150,000 recouped from bike sales.
Proposal: To encourage accommodation providers in the Lake District to promote an alternative way of travelling within the Lake District by purchasing electric bikes for their customers’ use.
Although many Lakes based businesses are beginning to appreciate the value of protecting our valuable environment [an economic asset for tourism] there may be reluctance or financial constraints on purchasing bikes. By way of ‘carrots’ the funding would provide for 50 businesses per year to purchase two bikes each. The accommodation provider would receive a £1,000 interest free loan for a year and commit to weekly repayments of £20.00. That could be recouped by a small hire charge [£5-10.00] per day each which would repay the business outlay within 2 years and cover the daily recharge of battery.
The value in undertaking this as a funded proposal rather than relying on individual initiative lies with building up a volume of providers in the first years who can be enrolled and supported by a experienced cycling orientated support worker.
The role of the cycle support worker would involve:-
- Familiarisation and training for the accommodation provider
- Maintenance support and training
- Developing maps of suitable routes for the different areas.
- Enlisting other hospitality providers- cafes and pubs to sign up as battery recharging points.
- Developing a database of recharging points available to ALL electric bike users in the Lakes.
Each participant would also undertake to provide a recharging facility [set at cost] for electric bikes, whether in the scheme or not.
It is hoped the scheme would:-
- Encourage the setting up of private enterprise that would hire, retail and maintain electric bikes within the Central Lakes area. [Wheelbase in Staveley used to stock electric bikes but on enquiry last year had stopped.]
- Promote the use of electric bikes within the Lakes, personal or hired.
In support of the scheme it is hoped there would be free long term car parking facilities for those who leave their cars after travelling to the Lakes, and
increased carriage facilities for bikes on rail and bus services entering the Lakes in conjunction with private enterprise or cycling groups introducing “bike bus”-
buses with accompanying bike trailer from major population centres such as Manchester etc leaving Friday pm, returning Sunday pm.
Jill Perry and Dianne Standen