This phrase ‘Active transport’ has recently made its appearance in certain government publication. It boils down to reference to walking and cycling, avoiding lifts where possible and replacing ‘sit-down’ transport by using our bodies to get about. These should be the normal way of getting about for our everyday needs. How do we make that a reality for everybody?
Firstly, we need a change of attitude. We need to agree that in Bunbury we would prefer people to cycle and walk rather than take the motor vehicle.
This simply recognises that allowing an ever increasing number of motor vehicles to be used for personal transport is having and will increasingly have an impact on the health and well-being of residents.
In a recent government publication ‘Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (2017). What this document seeks is
1. Walkable communities
Walking is the bedrock of every trip we make. We walk to the car, bus, bike, etc. At the end of that stage we again get out of the car and bus and off the train and bike.
The statistics (2002-2016) on walking show a strong decline in the numbers, with a (-13%) distance walked, a (-10%) time spent walking and (-6%) in the number of walks. To put that in perspective, In 1974 70% of children walked to school, today under half (48%) usually do.
Studies show more people bike and walk in communities where improvements have been made, such as adding safer pavements, pedestrian crossings, and protected bike lanes. In addition, when people move to neighbourhoods that are designed to promote physical activity and active transportation, they tend to spend less time in their cars and more time walking. Making walking easier can also help communities by improving safety, increasing interaction between residents, improving local economies, and reducing air pollution.
- So what makes a community walkable?
- A calm centre with valued shops and services mostly within 5 minutes walk.
- A clustering of mix housing so people can get to centre easily and quickly
- Public spaces where people can gather, pass the time of day, and play.
- Pavements, footpaths that allow and encourage residents of all ages ad abilities to be out and about
- Key streets are speed controlled
- Zones where walkers, cyclists and drivers mix need to ‘highlighted’;. Evidence suggests that in such zones drivers are careful and courteous.
- A connected network of walking routes that encourage and support this activity.
How does Bunbury measure up?
Bunbury is a dispersed village that grew out of three ‘hamlets’ so a network of links is all the more important. No paved footway links Upper and lower Bunbury. There is the footpath the Square, Wyche Road across to the Wyche Lane opposite the Jubilee Field entrance. Part of the path is across the field cropped by the local farmer. It is muddy at time and dug up at others. A real path along one side of Vicarage Lane would be better.
No pavement links the centre of the village to any other. It is, intentionally or not, a shared use zone of cars, lorries, HGV (local building deliveries), cyclists and of course the pedestrian.
Walking to school from Bunbury Lane, Upper Bunbury, Lower Bunbury (via Wyche Lane) must be done on the road. Where pavements exist they are intermittent, requiring frequent road crossing as well as periods of road walking. The route to school can also suffer from occasional blockages. This was the state of School Lane in January this year. It is on the school side of the School Lane. Although there is no proper path it is the side many use as a (muddy) footpath runs along the this section of the road. After heavy rain this side is blocked.
Before getting to the puddle the children and other walkers will have had to negotiate the section past Bunbury Cottage. With cars parked along the hedge side next to Brantwood Cottage traffic is pushed over to the ‘walkers’ side’ of the road. A regulation pavement could fit down this route but it might mean the end of parking on the opposite side.
Action point: How can we make it safer to walk to the village shops? Why is it not possible to have pavement access right to the centre of the village and to the school from the three main directions. ?
2. Cycle friendly streets:
It is said that in the UK it is only the “fit, the brave and the desperate” who dare to cycle. While in the rest of Europe 20%+ journeys are made by bike is not uncommon. Despite the recent surge in cycling as a sport the UK has a very low level of cycling as a means of transport to work, the shops, or other utility uses. Why?
The Guardian asked people what stops them cycling. The top ten reasons were:
Bad driving – cars dominate the road. Drivers are seen as ‘passing too close, shouting abuse at cyclists when they move to the centre of the road, and generally driving too fast.
Dangerously designed roads – a road network that has for decades designed out cycling.
Perception of danger – fear of having an accident keeps many people out of the saddle. It’s safer than playing tennis but that’s not how people see it.
Lack of facilities – no showers at work or places to securely park bikes at work, the shops and at home.
They have had an accident – obvious reluctance to return.
State of the roads– potholes, potholes, rough repairs and dangerous road edges on country roads.
Not being in Germany or Netherlands – some have seen how they do it better abroad!
Rain and hills – well the weather is rarely extreme but the rain and the lack of flat lands can put some off riding! But is this very different from Germany or Northern France?
By 2025 the Government want to double the numbers cycling (Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (2017)). Bunbury already has lots of people cycling through the village. Tilley’s coffee shop is a very popular stop for many cyclists out from Crewe or Chester. The real question for Bunbury is how many of our residents use the bike for recreation or transport? Certainly, you will find a number of recreational cyclists around the village often in informal groups and if you are quick you may catch sight of a few visiting the shops of a morning. on their bikes. Of course this is all incidental to the fact that there are no facilities specific to the needs of cyclists. Car parking spaces are provided outside the Co-op but nothing for the cyclist to chain his or her bike to let alone a cycle park. We (yes, I admit I am one!) make do.