Exeter Cycling Campaign | Building a better city

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Building a better city

Executive Summary

Exeter is a great and successful city, but it also faces significant challenges of congestion, pollution, unhealthy lifestyles and the degradation of the public realm.

Other cities are finding solutions to these challenges by making cycling the safe, natural choice for people of all ages, for everyday journeys (i.e. not leisure routes but routes that support everyday journeys to the school, shops, work).

Exeter has limited space available on its road network and with an increasing population it is vital that this space is used as efficiently as possible, with the focus being on moving people.

27% of Exeter households do not have access to a private car, and yet our public roads continue to prioritise motorised transport, to the exclusion of people who cannot drive (children, older people, people with mobility challenges).

Cycling is a good investment: the benefit to cost ratio for investment in cycling far exceeds that for roads and rail.

Cycling is good for business: it increases employee health and well being and reduces absenteeism. People who cycle spend more per annum in retail businesses. The city’s increasing congestion stifles business and makes it a less attractive place to invest in. Businesses across the city recognise the important role cycling has to play and have pledged support through the Exeter Cycling Charter.

The city and county’s cycling strategies are good. However, there is a lack of real ambition to deliver the modal shift away from car-driving that our city needs.

There are realistic actions that our Councils can be taking now to enable cycling.

What is this report about

This paper lays out a vision for a better city.

It demonstrates how the city’s significant challenges of pollution, congestion and unhealthy lifestyles can be tackled by enabling safe cycling to become the normal means of transport for people of all ages and abilities.

This paper is not asking for favours for ‘cyclists’. It is about health, equality and building a better city for all of Exeter’s citizens and businesses.

This paper asks Exeter Board members to be the leaders who embrace this vision and work towards its delivery.

This report proposes realistic first steps towards achieving this vision.


1. Commit to this vision of a better, more effective, people-friendly city, with cycling at the heart of our response to the challenges we face.

2. Work to plan and then deliver a dense network of safe cycle routes across the city.

3. Insist that Council Officers adopt best practice in the design of these cycle routes and to have ambition in proposing solutions for delivering a significant modal shift to cycling.

4. Audit the delivery of existing Council cycling strategies and task Council Officers to prepare to respond to the of the imminent Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) guidance.

5. Commit to working together as both the County and City on a Transport Plan for the Greater Exeter Area which considers movement of people (not cars).

6. Formally support DCC in ensuring that all submissions from DCC to the HotSW LEP include urban cycle network proposals for Exeter.

The challenges the city faces and how to address them

Exeter is lovely city. It’s success and population growth mean however that we face significant challenges. Challenges

that mean that our current approach to health, the movement of people and use of our public realm need to change.

1. Pollution

We know that there are 42 deaths a year from pollution in the city of Exeter [01] and yet there appear no strategic shifts in policy to properly address this. Current measures laid out in the ‘2015 Air Quality Annual Status Report [02] ’will not make a material impact on the city’s air pollution. Enabling significant numbers of people to walk and cycle will.

Other cities are beginning to take seriously the pollution and degradation caused by motorised transport:

● Oslo is seeking to ban cars from the city centre by 2019 [03]

● Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens are planning to ban diesel cars from 2025 [04]

● Low emission zones are in place in Oxford, Nottingham, London, Norwich and Brighton

● English cities like Leicester, Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, Brighton [05], Nottingham [06], Portsmouth [07] and Newcastle [08] recognise the imperative to invest in safe cycling infrastructure to reduce pollution & congestion and get more citizens choosing to cycle for everyday journeys.

● Building a dense network of safe cycle routes has been shown to be the only way of enabling a significant ‘modal shift’ away from the car to the bicycle and reduce air pollution in the city. ‘Training’ and‘encouragement’ to people to cycle more does not materially increase the numbers who do so.

2. Congestion

Exeter is already a city that suffers from congestion. The daily commute involves 88,000 commuters every morning [09].

With the planned population growth over the next decade this daily commute volume is set to increase by 40%. There are currently no credible plans to avoid further gridlock as the Exeter travel to work volume increases?

Urban road space is limited and therefore needs careful management and prioritisation to enable modes of transport that maximise people-carrying capacity. Rather than dedicating most road space to the most inefficient way of transporting people – the private motor vehicle – some of that space must be used to prioritise the flow of modes of transport that are more efficient. This means clear corridors for public transport and the creation of dense cycle networks that allow anyone to cycle from A to B on safe, convenient and connected paths.

Each lane of a typical urban road can accommodate 2,000 cars per hour, or 14,000 cycles

Other cities are recognising this:


A significant shift of travel mode from single-occupancy cars to cycling will ease congestion [10]. Cycling is seven times more efficient at moving people within a city than cars [11].

3. Unhealthy lifestyles

One in six deaths in the UK are directly attributable to inactive lifestyles12. We have built our cities to be ‘obesogenic’, making it difficult for people, especially our children, to lead active lives. This places a growing and unsustainable cost on our NHS and social services. We need to be building our city in a way that encourages active living to be part of our daily routines. This needs to include the location of housing developments, how we link new housing to the rest of the city, how we encourage walking and cycling for journeys and how we discourage single-occupancy car use.


4. The degradation of the public realm

The city of Exeter is lovely, and attracts tourists to visit, business to relocate and Devonians to shop. However, we risk the city losing its attractiveness as it prioritises people driving over people walking and cycling and having quality public space. Other cities are recognising that building city centres that are people -focused and prioritise walking and cycling are more attractive for tourists, residents and businesses [13].

What should be done?

The capital funding challenges that the city and county face are acknowledged. However, there are many ways in whichwe can still move forward on building a better city.

This is not a zero sum game. Enabling people to cycle benefits all citizens and should not be framed as anti-motoring.

The Exeter Cycling Campaign asks members of the Exeter Board to:

1. Commit to being the leaders who share this vision of a better city, with cycling at the heart of our response to the pollution, congestion and unhealthy lifestyle challenges we face.

2. Commit to working for the delivery of a dense network of safe cycle routes across the city so that cycling becomes the natural choice for everyday journeys to work, school, shops etc.

3. Insist that Council Officers adopt best practice in the design of these routes, for example:

a. Segregated cycling infrastructure on busy roads

b. Separate people walking from people cycling

c. Reduce traffic volumes in residential areas

d. Prioritise people who walk and cycle in residential areas and when crossing side roads

(n.b. recent road implementations fall far short of best practice)

4. Audit the delivery against existing Council strategies (particularly the ‘Cycling and Multi-use Trail Network Strategy’, which commits to achieving 12% of commuter journeys by bicycle by 2021).

5. Encourage Council Officers to have ambition in proposing how the Council strategies and this vision can be delivered.

a. There are concerns that the June’16 DCC Cabinet decision to design the E4 and E3 cycle routes from “Redhayes Bridge to the University/city centre” are not being fully followed through within the Transport department.

6. Commit to working together as both the County and City on a Transport Plan for the Greater Exeter Area which focuses on moving people rather than moving cars.

7. Task Council Officers to prepare for the release of the Local Cycling & Walking Investment Plan (LCWIP)guidance soon to be released from central government.

8. Insist that all submissions from DCC to the HotSW LEP include urban cycle network proposals.

Who benefits from delivering a safe cycling network across the city?

The benefits from enabling cycling by building a dense network of connected, convenient and safe routes are felt by all citizens:

● Children – are more able to walk or cycle to school safely. They become physically active, need less parental taxiing to/from school and school parking is reduced.

● The city is made accessible to people who use mobility aids to travel.

● Businesses have healthier, more productive employees, with lower absenteeism [14].

● Retail business benefit from higher sales [15]

● People who drive cars benefit from having fewer cars on the roads

● Public health costs from inactive lifestyles and pollution are reduced

● All citizens – because the public realm is enhanced by having fewer cars and people interact at a human level when they walk or cycle [16].

Appendix: Why is this relevant to the Exeter Board?

There are five reasons why this is of relevance to the Exeter Board.

The Board’s stated priorities are inequality and health.

1. This is a health issue:

Physical inactivity directly contributes to one in six deaths in the UK  [17] and 10% of the NHS budget is spent on treating


2. This is an inequality issue:


3. This is an economic issue:

Exeter’s businesses are pledging their support for better provision of safe cycling in the city. Within a eight weeks of launching, the Exeter Cycling Charter received pledges of support from over 150 large and small businesses, including all the city’s major employers:

● South West Water

● The Met Office

● RD&E

● Devon and Cornwall Constabulary

● Environment Agency

● Devon Partnership NHS Trust

● Ashfords LLP

● Ladysmith Schools Federation

● Isca Academy

● Stoke Hill Junior School

● Devon County Council

● Exeter City Council

● Natural England

● Waitrose

● John Lewis

● Wilkinson Grant & Co

● HMP Exeter

These organisations recognise that positive enabling of active travel is good for the well being of staff, which makes them more productive and reduces absenteeism. The many retail businesses who have signed the Charter recognise that people who cycle are better for retail sales [18].

A city that is truly cycle-friendly for everyday journeys is attractive to businesses considering investing in or moving to it.

4. This is an issue the citizens of Exeter support:

This is something that residents of Exeter are concerned about. The results from Exeter City Futures’ polling of Exeter citizens demonstrates that traffic and congestion are overwhelmingly the most significant issue. In the recent Exeter City Futures ‘Community Challenge’ enabling more people to cycle was voted the most pressing challenge to resolve. In the eight months of the Exeter Cycling Campaign’s existence 1200+ supporters and followers have aligned themselves with the Campaign.

5. Exeter risks falling behind other cities:

Other cities are beginning to position themselves as ‘cycling cities’, potentially overtaking Exeter.

For example, Portsmouth is aiming to “become the pre-eminent cycling city of the UK. A city fit for the future: a healthy, safe, sustainable, prosperous city that people want to live in, to work in and to visit [19].”

01 Place Scrutiny Committee, 8Sep16 Report from Environmental Health and Licensing Manager

02 2015 Air Quality Annual Status Report

03 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/19/oslo-moves-to-ban-cars-from-city-centre-within-four-years

04 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38170794

05 ‘THE ROLE OF WALKING AND CYCLING IN REDUCING CONGESTION’ http://h2020 flow.eu/uploads/tx_news/FLOW_REPORT_-_Portfolio_of_Measures_v_06_web.pdf

06 http://transport.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/Projects/Cycle-city-ambition-project.aspx

07 Portsmouth’s cycling strategy: http://acitytoshare.org/pdf/a-city-to-share.pdf

08 http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/newcastle-builds-1-7m-protected-cycleway-in-city-centre/020410

09 Trevor Priest analysis Jul’16 from 2011 census data

10 ‘THE ROLE OF WALKING AND CYCLING IN REDUCING CONGESTION’ http://h2020-flow.eu/uploads/tx_news/FLOW_REPORT_-_Portfolio_of_Measures_v_06_web.pdf

11 Botma H & Papendrecht H. Traffic operation of bicycle traffic. TU-Delft, 1991. http://pubsindex.trb.org/view.aspx?id=365588

12 “Working Together to Promote Active Travel: A briefing for local authorities” Public Health England May’16

13 http://denmark.dk/en/green-living/bicycle-culture/the-cities-of-the-future-are-people-friendly-cities

14 “‘The Value of Cycling’”, DfT sponsored research from University of Birmingham & Phil Jones Associated. Mar’16

15 Cycling UK (formerly CTC) – business benefits of cycling briefing

16 http://denmark.dk/en/green-living/bicycle-culture/the-cities-of-the-future-are-people-friendly-cities

17 “Working Together to Promote Active Travel: A briefing for local authorities” Public Health England May’16

18 “‘The Value of Cycling’”, DfT sponsored research from University of Birmingham & Phil Jones Associated. Mar’16: “Cycle parking allows 5 times more retail spend than the same space for car parking. Furthermore, a compact town optimised for walking and cycling typically delivers a ‘retail density’ (spend per square metre) 2.5 times higher than typical urban centres

19 Portsmouth’s cycling strategy: http://acitytoshare.org/pdf/a-city-to-share.pdf