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Letters: Should cyclists expect to park at their destination?

The editor’s response last week to plea by Alanna Marsh (Letters last week) for the ICE to put in some cycle racks has prompted me to write.

Your Comment piece frequently makes the case for increased investment in infrastructure. We normally see that as large scale programmes, sometimes roads, sometimes railways, sometimes flood prevention etc. But not all infrastructure has to be on a grand scale to be effective.

If the ICE puts in cycle racks close to its building then regular visitors will be confident they can park their bike nearby, visitors to the ICE who search the website will see that they can ride their bikes in confidence, knowing that there is a parking spot for them.

The ICE can then be seen to be acting on its sustainability commitments in a highly visible and direct way on its own doorstep. It is often the little things in life that make the big changes in how we live.

  • Huw Davies (M), National Cycle Network director, Sustrans, 4th Floor George Nott House, 119 Holloway Head, Birmingham, B1 1QP

Your Comment piece frequently makes the case for increased investment in infrastructure. We normally see that as large scale programmes, sometimes roads, sometimes railways, sometimes flood prevention etc. But not all infrastructure has to be on a grand scale to be effective.

If the ICE puts in cycle racks close to its building then regular visitors will be confident they can park their bike nearby, visitors to the ICE who search the website will see that they can ride their bikes in confidence, knowing that there is a parking spot for them.

The ICE can then be seen to be acting on its sustainability commitments in a highly visible and direct way on its own doorstep. It is often the little things in life that make the big changes in how we live.

  • Huw Davies (M), National Cycle Network director, Sustrans, 4th Floor George Nott House, 119 Holloway Head, Birmingham, B1 1QP

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Cycle provision: Should more priority be given to parking for bikes?

I would expect a measured approach to the provision of bicycle facilities from the headquarters of an organisation that actively promotes sustainable travel, and for any apparent reported shortfall as noted in Alanna Marsh’s letter to be considered in a professionally enlightened way (NCE 24 January).

Your glib suggestion that cyclists should address the inconvenience by all rushing out and unnecessarily investing in a poor alternative duplicate machine was akin to Marie Antoinette’s solution to tackling the peasants’ problems regarding a bread shortage. And we all know what happened to her!

  • Phil Parker (M), Transport Planning

Associates, Bristol, phil.parker@tpa.uk.com So, one has to make the bike fit the city of London (NCE 24 January) and buy a folder. For a sustainable future, we should make space in the city to take bikes - of all sorts.

Rotten Row in Hyde Park was a meeting place for cyclists before the Second World War - each cycling club beneath a different street lamp (so said my parents).

Cycling through the parks en route to somewhere is a joy. It is cars that that have made cycling so difficult. So come on ICE, get real, get some cycle stands and get into the 21st sustainable century.

  • John Mosedale (F), johnmose8@hotmail.com

Editor’s note: My comment regarding bicycle parking was intended to be helpful rather than a glib attack on cyclists. As I say, from time to time I am also a cyclist and the debate is interesting. My point is that, in the same way that I cannot get a bus or tube train to drop me at the door of the ICE (nor could I park a car outside for that matter), as a cyclist I cannot realistically expect to be able to dismount my bike at this or any other any door in Westminster. Sometimes you can and that’s great, but I don’t expect it.

At the ICE there is bike parking available at the rear of the building - albeit, I accept, usually filled by staff machines (although there is a plan to upgrade this - see below) but a check of the Westminster Council website shows that there are 13 parking racks within 500m of One Great George Street and around 25 racks within 600m.

Parking has to be considered and planned when cycling, but so does choice of bus route or Tube stop when using public transport. Regarding folding bikes, I don’t own one and I don’t suggest that they are any particular panacea. I do hear people that own them speak happily about no longer having to worry - or even think - about parking, but getting one seems a bit fiddly for me compared to a short walk.

  • The ICE comments: “Cycle racks will shortly be installed into the basement at 8 Storeys Gate, but for security reasons, these will be for staff use only. We have, however, increased the number of racks located outside One Great George Street at the Princes Mews entrance for use by members, visitors to One Great George Street and ICE staff . Once staff are using the racks at 8 Storeys Gate, there will obviously be even more racks available for members and visitors.”

 

Looking forward to hard shoulder running

I am pleased to see the Highways Agency about to implement the new all lane running form of managed motorways (MM-ALR). Although I am not currently close enough to the detail to understand all the operational issues fully, I see this initiative as a natural step in the change progression, taking advantage of technological advances to get more safety and capacity from the network.

From what I can see, MM-ALR appears to have satisfied the rigorous project and programme processes, controls and governance requirementsthat has already involved key stakeholders, balanced their perhaps conflicting needs and evaluated several options against a range of objectives.

However, raising concerns is not unusual and can sometimes contribute to a more robust solution in trying to find a way to mitigate these.

My personal view is that the use of cantilevered electronic message signs with pictogram messaging to replace some of the portal gantries should mean that the Highways Agency can achieve its network performance outcomes not only more cost effectively but in a way that is less visually intrusive. As a driver I have found the pictogram messaging on the cantilever mounted electronic signs very clear and striking.

MM-ALR has the potential to be a best in world solution that will be good for the UK and the general public. I look forward to driving along it when it is built.

  • Robert Ridgway, rob_ ridgway@sky.com

Working to rule

Your article “Area 10 road maintenance contractor to do minimum” highlights a problem that we and our clients face on an almost daily basis (NCE 24 January).

It’s clear to us that the new contracting arrangements between the Highways Agency and their Agents is leading to a do-minimum approach resulting in contractual standoffs where the Agency is having to apply pressure to its Agents in order to ensure they fulfil the undertakings within their contracts.

Historically there’s been a set of prescribed routes for the movement of the largest and heaviest abnormal indivisible loads (the Heavy Load Grid). These routes were enshrined in Circular 61/72 (as yet unrescinded) identifying specific routes that should be protected to allow the movement of gross loadsof up to 400t.

This network was, among other things, needed to maintain the power generation and supply infrastructure.

Unfortunately these and the replacement road infrastructure are falling into disrepair seemingly as a result of budgetary cutbacks and poorly written contracts.

Should the status quo be allowed to continue there is a real danger that the transport infrastructure will compromise efforts to ensure that our energy needs are met.

  • MJ Cleary (M), director, planning and environment, Wynns Ltd, Shaftesbury House, High Street, Eccleshall, Staffordshire ST21 6BZ

Meaningful contribution

I read with interest, and concern, planning minister Nick Boles’s comments that communities could spend 25% of the community infrastructure levy (CIL) on “what the hell they want” - in other words, fill your boots, the developers are in town.

But where is this 25% going to come from? What will lose out? Or is it just free money?

CIL is simply a way of calculating all the infrastructure impacts of developments in an area, aggregating them and dividing the number of homes to be built to get a rate per property - Section 106 in old money but brought together to give a more consistent and effective approach.

The calculation of the CIL rate depends on demonstrating infrastructure need but does not include local community desires. In addition the rate is effectively capped in that it cannot be set so as to make the “development of the area economically unviable”.

So, we have the cost of the necessary infrastructure cut by the viability requirement and then by a further 25%.

I was a member of the ICE expert panel on the Localism Bill and the ICE made a number of representations, and a proposed amendment, about the impact of what was then termed a “meaningful proportion” of CIL being iverted from essential infrastructure. All to no avail. I don’t think any of us thought “meaningful” would be quite as meaningful as 25%.

Whether local people will feel quite so thrilled by their new swimming pool when they are stuck in traffic jams because road or public transport improvements could not be provided remains to be seen. I guess it is a question of priorities.

  • Kevin Whiteside (M), head of strategy and development, Northamptonshire Highways kwhiteside@mgwsp.co.uk

Ignoring Archimedes

It seems that fundamental engineering principles are easily ignored, at least in the cinema. Take Archimedes’ principle of buoyancy, for example. I was amused by the opening scenes in the film “Les Miserables”.

Lines of men, clearly standing on the dock floor and only mid-chest deep in water, are seen hauling-in a galleon sized vessel. Approximately 1.2m of water would not normally be considered to be sufficient to float such a vessel, particularly in the damaged condition in which she is portrayed, not to mention floating the vessel over the gate sill and the necessary keel blocks, all apparently at a very low tide!

  • David Byrom (F), dbyrom26@btinternet.com

Flood folly

Robert Brewerton seems to want a facility to test and certify flood protection solutions to protect the 8,000 properties that got flooded in 2012 to “be wholly government-funded” (NCE 24 January). This cannot be justified: properties judged to be at risk of flooding should be assessed at one or more higher council tax bands.

The additional income from this must then be ring-fenced to fund the costs of deciding and then installing appropriate flood protection works. Insurance companies will then be able to apply to the responsible local authority for reimbursement of the costs of meeting individual claims for damage should flooding of such properties occur through failure to fund the test facilities which Brewerton appears to suggest will solve the problem.

Furthermore the general tax payer will not yet again have to pay somebody else’s bills.

John Evans (M), jandcevans@tiscali.co.uk

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