WECA’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan found wanting

WECA announced £10m of funding to deliver upon the LCWIP. The LCWIP identifies £400m of infrastructure. A LCWIP that has been recognised as incomplete in the infrastructure it identifies. More importantly a LCWIP that has no strategic vision of what it is trying to achieve while completely ignoring the declared climate emergency.

You can read the consultation response here.

Where is the strategy?

The starting point for the LCWIP should have been doing Transport For London’s Strategic Cycling Analysis for the West of England and then using it to deliver Strategic Neighbourhoods Analysis.

Instead we have an LCWIP that focuses too much on existing routes because these are easy to deliver with no overarching vision of the end game. In terms of the declared Climate Emergency, that absolutely has to be driven road miles reduction and that requires massive behaviour change and modal shift, that has to be *enabled* not encouraged:

Local Authorities to the rescue

The “What you said” section of the Consultation Report pretty much rips apart the LCWIP as incomplete, unambitious, and unwilling to deliver the real change necessary. It’s very clear that none of the 1800 comments have been applied to the draft LCWIP.

This means that local authorities had to step in and insist on a number of key changes. Thank you whoever you are. The insistence on use of the upcoming LTN 1/20 in any scheme to be delivered is hugely welcome.

What now?

I’m really hoping that we can get a strategic vision of walking and cycling in the West of England, but I suspect the ambition will now fall upon the shoulders of individual Local Authorities.

West of England Combines Authority needs to implement TfL’s Strategic Cycling & Neighbourhoods Analysis to help inform each local authority as to the most effective way forward to spend the paltry £10m allocated. There may be some hope in the Statutory Guidance issued on the 9th of May and the subsequent letter (emergency-active-travel-funding-indicative-allocations) provide a way forward to get you the biggest return on your investment.

What we don’t need is to repaint existing routes.

BONUS: What you said vs What we think

This is *my* tongue in cheek reading between the lines of that “What you Said” section…unfortunately it’s not very funny.

  • Consider changes to the technical walking and cycling maps in response to consultation feedback.
    “We got 1800 comments but didn’t have time to fix any of the issues raised.”
  • A clear walking and cycling strategy for the region is needed.
    “WECA does not consider walking and cycling as strategically important despite 60% of all car journeys under 5 miles”.
  • A network map is required showing the regional walking and cycling network in its entirety.
    “OH FFS haven’t you built a house before without using an architect?”
  • Maps/routes need to make clear how they connect with transport interchanges more generally
    “We have told you that cycling is just a bit of fun to do on the weekends.”
  • The Plan needs to explain how routes have been prioritised.
    “Transport for London’s Strategic Cycling and Neighbourhoods Analysis has nothing on putting your finger in the air.”
  • The Plan needs commitment to standards for design.
    “What’s wrong with 1.2m wide painted cycle lanes?”
  • More information on transport behaviour change.
    “We like to encourage people to cycle, not enable.”
  • No reference to a strategy for broadening participation in cycling
    “We will build crap then blame everyone else for not using it.”
  • More clarity on how walking zones have been selected
    “I know other council LCWIPs mention Low Traffic Neighbourhoods but I’m blaming the government.”
  • Questioned use of language such as ‘consider’ or ‘explore’ when describing improvements
    “We like studies. They make us look like we are saying yes but really mean no.”
  • Level of ambition could be higher
    “We have provided you with £10m of funding to deliver £400m of infrastructure. What more do you want?”
  • My local route has not been included
    “Did we not tell you we did not do comprehensive strategic analysis?”
  • Include more Liveable Neighbourhood type of schemes
    “Way too hipster and effective for our liking.”
  • The Plan emphasises improvements to existing routes rather than proposing new ones (e.g. Victoria Park)
    “If it’s easy let’s do it. It ticks the boxes and makes us look good!”
  • Identify more cross boundary routes
    “We gave each council a brief. No of course we didn’t do any strategic cycling & neighbourhood analysis.”
  • Emphasise the need for walking and cycling as a response to the climate emergency.
    “You actually want behaviour change, modal shift, and long term road miles reduction? WTAF?!”
  • Reduce repetition of measures in technical maps (e.g. continuous footway)
    “Errr…well…it might make the maps look really sparse.”
  • Provide indication of how schemes will be prioritised.
    “Whichever politician shouts the loudest with the least opposition from NIMBYs. Let’s not make this a strategic issue.”
  • Clearly define the plan’s scope
    “If we don’t have key performance indicators, I can deliver whatever, tell you it’s a success, and GTFO to a new shiny job.”
  • Accessibility sections could use more examples of mobility aids
    “Hang on, you mean not everyone is fit, able, and rides a road bike dressed in lycra?”
  • Clearer crossovers between walking and cycling routes
    “A motorist, a pedestrian, and a cyclist walk into a bar. There are ten cookies on the bar. The motorist grabs nine of them and whispers to the pedestrian: ‘Watch out! The cyclist is trying to steal your cookie!’”
  • More information on the principles that define small improvement (e.g. cut back vegetation) and large improvement (e.g. build a bridge).
    “If we do all the small things and ignore all the big things, we can spend more money on buses.”
  • Walking routes in the city centres are not included.
    “Look you’re complaining we didn’t do enough cross border routes, but we left the centres of cities to you and your budgets to fix, despite these having the highest footfalls.”
  • The Plan focuses heavily on urban routes.
    “Have I told you we’re renaming WECA to BECA? The Bristol Everything Combined Authority”
  • Could interactive maps be made available alongside the LCWIP document?
    “If we keep it all in a document, it will be really hard for people to work out what is happening in their area!”

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