Does Derby know where it is going?

Transport planning in Derby seems, at least from my now rather more distant view, not as joined up as it should be.

While I was the Council’s Cabinet member with responsbility for transport, Derby was one of Cycling England’s ‘Cycle Demonstration Towns’.  It worked closely with schools on cycle training and the priority given to active travel (cycling and walking) meant that the new part of the city’s inner ring road is cycle friendly.  Although Cycling Demonstration Towns are no more, the City Council is about to put in a repeat bid for funding for more sustainable transport initiatives – from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. 

It’s good stuff, and to be applauded.   As oil supplies become tighter – and as I write the price of Brent oil is around $120 a barrel – driving is inevitably going to become more expensive over time.  Building a transport network that includes attractive off-road cycle and walking routes is going to help give people an alternative – and the bid also includes personal support to individuals and businesses to give them to confidence to try the alternatives themselves.

That’s the positive.  Now the negative.

A couple of weeks ago I learnt that not only is my local ring road central reservation gap being closed, but it is not even going to  retain a route for cyclists or dropped kerbs for pedestrians.  I am not impressed.  I asked whether, when the nearby traffic lights (which I knew were due to renewal) were upgraded whether cycle crossing facilities would be provided, and cycle provision made on the (lightly used) pavement.  I was told no – there wasn’t road width for the cyclists in the central crossing areas).  I felt resigned.

A few days later, road works started on Uttoxeter New Road just down the road from  the Royal Derby Hospital.  Since the hospital expanded from the old “Derby City General Hospital” traffic has become an issue.  And on the other side of the road is a large development site, with plans for more homes and businesses.

‘What are they doing?’ I wondered.  Using past contacts at the council I enquired…

They are widening the central reservation to give more queuing space towards the lights.  Fine I thought.

And stage two, I was told, this coming summer, is to redo the junction – the same junction as I was enquiring about earlier.  They intend widening the carriageway to three lanes, on both sides, to have at least two lanes of general traffic, and maybe (yes, only maybe) a bus lane too.

This is why there isn’t room for cycles to be included alongside pedestrians: they are giving more space to motor transport!

How does this square this with our bid for more sustainable transport?!  We’re widening the road to be crossed.  We’re making it easier for cars to get through here, just to clutter up streets elsewhere.  What are we doing to make it easier or safer for cyclists and pedestrians?

I called more past contacts within the transport section, and I raised the issue at monthly meeting of the local cycle campaign, Derby Cycling Group

I’m now hearing that the plans for the junction are not as complete as I had previously been led to understand.  Hopefully this means that a new set are being drawn up which will be better for walkers and cyclists…

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