06 April 2015
Devon County’s draft document ‘Cycling and All Purpose Trail Network’ Strategy.
This strategy is being considered by the County Council’s Cabinet on 8 April 2015. For Exeter, it highlights the need to encourage as many employees as possible to cycle to work and positively gives details of proposed segregated cycle routes linking residential areas to work place regions.
This is an excellent concept perhaps overdue in detail, but worryingly it may be overtaken by the moving financial goalposts. The County no longer has resources within its own control for such a project and must rely on a successful bid to the Growth Fund managed by the Local Enterprise Partnership. Thus, much of what they propose may not be achievable.
The target figure for ‘cycling to work’ established in the 2011 Local Transport Plan 3 has been reduced from 20% by 2026 to 12% by 2021 (the 2011 Census figure found 6% of people cycled to work), but this has big implications for future car use and further congestion along Exeter’s arterial roads if all the proposals in Local Plans are achieved.
The growth of new houses in Exeter and the adjacent parishes will result in an increase of 30% in those working in the area by 2026.
Cycling to work is the mode of travel with the greatest potential to minimise the consequent car growth, and achieving the 20% target for new workers is the equivalent of removing 6000 cars from the rush-hour period.
The reduced target of 12% and the uncertainty in funding for the cycle network will not help in tackling the car growth associated with the building boom in and around Exeter.
Even if this is successfully achieved, car use will still increase by more than 20% as a result of house building in the area.
Whilst the Exeter Civic Society recognises the financial challenges that the County Council faces, these proposals are far from the step-change that is needed in encouraging more people to leave their car at home when travelling to work.
Following the publication of the Rush Hour analysis (http://www.exetercivicsociety.org.uk/exeter-now/highways-and-transport-in-exeter/ ) by the chairman of the Society’s Highways & Transport committee – Trevor Preist – we are campaigning for more to be done to stop the ever increasing number of cars on Exeter’s roads, the ensuing congestion this generates at the beginning and end of the working day, as well as increased pollution in the air. The County Council’s Local Transport Plan 3 has the aspirations needed to make a difference in Exeter, but these are only words and their Implementation Plan lacks commitment and does not have the inspirational vision that is needed for a quickly growing City and hinterland.
Trevor Preist, chairman, Highway & Transport sub-committee, Exeter Civic Society.
Contact details: email firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone 01392 259740.
Notes to Editors:
Exeter Civic Society was established in 1961 to preserve parts of the City threatened by development. We now face additional challenges that threaten the quality of life in Exeter, and the beauty that the City has become renowned for. We now campaign to ensure the built environment is of a good architectural standard, that buildings of historical interest are protected, and infrastructure is suitable for the growing City. We have a special interest group looking at the development and use of the river and canal area, and how these areas can be protected, but at the same time developed for public benefit.
We also promote the City’s historical and cultural past with talks and the erection of blue plaques to celebrate events and personalities associated with the City.