Message to LCCG Members, 28 July 2020
Although it’s only four months, it seems an age since we wrote advising that we would have to cancel our AGM because of the coronavirus pandemic. Although the lockdown took some adjusting to, the Council quickly moved its monthly Cycle City forums online to become weekly virtual ‘Bike Aid’ meetings. A schedule of daily ‘Bike Check’ sessions started and a bike loan scheme was set up which has made over 400 bikes available to key workers.
LCCG have attended the Bike Aid meetings from the get-go and the committee has met virtually to look at how to support and push forward what is being done for cyclists. We drew up a ‘Covid Manifesto’ which we shared with the City Cycle office and the Leicester Mercury, although sadly it did not get published in the end.
Round One: Then came a government announcement about funding to enable local authorities to ‘reallocate road space to people walking and cycling…’ due to the need to restrict public transport without pushing up car use. And so ‘pop-up’ cycle and walking lanes became a thing, with Leicester getting a name for itself across the world as one of the first cities to start putting them in. In fact, the Council spent over 125% of the money allocated in that first round, as certain routes in and around the city were transformed first by cones and fences and then (as if by magic) by the team we dubbed ‘the wand fairies’ and their orange plastic bollards. If you’ve not been into the city since March, check out our Facebook page for photos and www.choosehowyoumove.co.uk for maps and more. Or just Google it…
Round Two: And now there’s more government money in the pipeline – Leicester can bid for up to £1.25million and the City Council wants to be right up there at the front of the queue with a really ambitious bid. We want to help them come up with more long-term solutions to transform our city streets to make them better, safer, more pleasant for those cycling and walking.
The deadline for funding bids is August 7 th – less than two weeks away. So we need you to send your ideas to the Council now! We’ll be making submissions as a committee, but they want to hear from individuals as well, to see what level of support is there for different ideas in specific neighbourhoods. There are two ways to submit your ideas and we would encourage you to do both.
Firstly, check out the www.widenmypath.com website, which has been up for a few weeks now. You can add markers to their map with specific suggestions or ‘like’ ones that other people have put up. The Council will be looking at all of these and seeing which have most support. So if you see something you like, give it the thumbs up, rather than adding a new marker yourself. It’s really easy, no need to register or identify yourself on the site.
Secondly, submit your suggestions directly to the Council by email at firstname.lastname@example.org – you might want to start your message by saying ‘I’m a member of LCCG and I think…’. We have been assured that all suggestions submitted in this way will be considered.
The more ideas the Council get, the better. But they’ll need time to go through them, so please try and respond by this time next week (Tuesday 4 th August) if at all possible.
Some of the kinds of things we want to encourage are:
- turning certain pop-up lanes into permanent segregated cycle paths, especially on major routes into and out of the city centre. This might mean installing separate cycle/pedestrian bridges alongside narrow road bridges, such as the one on Hinckley Road over the railway line near Braunstone Leisure Centre.
- renewing road surfaces in the pop-up lanes so they are safe to cycle on – Beaumont Leys Lane is a case in point – and maintaining existing paths, such as the ones along the A607/Melton Road which have been there over 40 years (and it feels like it too!).
- encouraging the creation of neighbourhoods where people walking, cycling and playing in their streets take priority over motor vehicles, eliminating ‘rat runs’ by closing off the ends of certain streets using planters or bollards. Sustrans are looking at a couple of schemes already, but can you think of an area of residential streets about 1km2 which could do with this kind of treatment? Have a look at these proposals for Lambeth if you want some ideas: https://ovalltnproposals.commonplace.is/about
- increasing the amount of safe cycle parking available across the city, as well as in the city centre. Where in your neighbourhood do you need cycle racks outside shops, pubs, restaurants, in parks or other places you visit by bike?
- making it quicker to cycle than to take the car by removing obstacles (like unnecessary barriers) and reducing waiting times at toucan (cycle/pedestrian) crossings
The past couple of months have seen bigger changes for cycling in Leicester than we’ve seen since LCCG was formed eight years ago. Now we have an extraordinary opportunity to do something really significant and we want you to be part of that. We will continue to engage with the Council on all these issues, encouraging them in their ambition and representing what we hope are views and concerns you hold too. But it will be even better if you can tell them yourself.
The LCCG Committee – Clare, Dave, Eric, Neil, Peter and Tim