Apologies! Maps have taken over, campaigns have been scaled back and website not updated.
North Devon: resilience of the tourist economy
Sent to Dave Whitton, Head of Highways, Devon County Council with copies to MP, councillors.
Paper based on my involvement with the tourist industry over the last few years. It covers not only aspects of tourism but also observations and suggestions related to the at times stressed local infrastructure.
Mike Harrison interviewed about cycling in
Barnstaple by Kirk England on 8.00am Radio Devon programme
Letter to North Area Highways: Cycling in Barnstaple
Dear Mr Deasy,
Joined up thinking for cycling in Barnstaple? The town is compact,
not too hilly and has many excellent possibilities for cycling. However
there are grey areas where legitimacy is unclear and some facilities
are poor and/or dangerous. Exeter is showing how modal share can
change in Devon – what will Barnstaple’s position be peak
oil? Exeter is benefiting from ’Demonstration’ status. The
Government, via Cycle England, is set to expand this programme. Will
Barnstaple be in the mix? The North Devon cycle forum played a
role whereby discussion drew attention to issues. Any progress?
Devon County Council aims for a sustainable future and as such should
seek to promote walking and cycling for the many who live in or near
Barnstaple. Personal Travel Plans have been shown the most cost
effective investment – yielding 30:1 in some cases (DfT 2007). Recent
improvements for pedestrians are welcome – people are prepared
to walk quite far where the routes are pleasant and interesting. The
question is: will cyclists see a coherent and convenient network? At
present, facilities vary in quality and pinch points occur. Substantial
investments in Sticklepath and the Square have left a mixed bag for
Before turning to specific suggestions, some comments on policy. Much
has been produced recently as guidelines for walking and cycling. Is
North Devon up to speed? To encourage people to cycle and to produce
a safe, quieter and more pleasant environment the best approach is reducing
the speeds of motor vehicles. Government policy indicates that
20mph should be the default speed in residential areas (and town centres). Circular
01/06 sets the objective of ‘local speed limits that better reflect
the needs of all road users’. Perhaps the key factor in the
high levels of cycling in Germany is their area wide 30kph limits. Barnstaple
has an excellent cycle network – it is called streets, though refinements
are possible with exemptions or at main roads and crossings. The
starting point is with existing roads, as explained in Manual for Streets
(03/07: ‘Guidance for new residential streets and modifications
to existing ones’ –effectively all streets as
change envisaged). Cycle Infrastructure Design has completed its draft
stage and may appear early next year. Is DCC in tune with these,
using for example LTN 01/04 and LTN 02/04? Taking inspiration
from the latest CROW guidelines would raise the bar (REC25). These
are the ideas that subsequently feed in to UK government thinking on
cycling – DCC could get there first!
Briefly, three suggestions (in addition to more 20mph zones)
Sticklepath. The path from the station towards Old Sticklepath
Hill is at variance with the guidelines. High flows of students
and people with shopping and pushchairs overflow the existing space
(MfS suggests a minimum of 2m for a footway). The cycle
section is too narrow for two way use on an incline – it is discontinuous
and unsafe (see, for example, MfS page 71 for comments on cycle paths). An
effective answer would be to widen the south side of the bus lane
by at least 1.5m so cyclists can share the space (as they do elsewhere
in the town and do here in any case).
Strand. Clarify the use of the street. People cycle along
it but this is in contradiction to the signs (TRO information not known). To
encourage cycling, many places allow exemptions to street closures
and one way streets. The suggestion would be to put ‘Except
Cyclists’ or replace the ‘No Entry’ with ‘No
Motor Vehicles’ sign and tidy up the TRO if necessary.
Square. A handsome looking area but miserly for cycles: three
racks to cover a major tourist information centre, a museum and a riverside
location – for visitors and employees (?). Add another
Cycling is on the increase. People realise the significant cost,
health and time advantages as well as reducing their carbon count. Surely
North Devon could be more proactive. It wouldn’t take much
investment (booming Barnstaple’s development gain?) to bring
(No answer received from DCC though the MP and the local county councillor
Opening of Barnstaple Western Bypass
Barnstaple Western By-pass radically changes traffic in the area and
many benefits, including new cycle routes. It seems a shame to carp
really it could deliver even more. Weaknesses of the scheme were pointed
out two years ago but although other changes were made to the design
pedestrian and cycle remained 1980 style.
Email sent to Highways hours after opening:
23rd May. Splendid occasion, splendid bridge, excellent workmanship.
about Sticklepath debacle for pedestrians and cyclists. A footway where
someone with shopping cannot easily pass a child buggy, a two way cycle
facility where bikes can’t pass without leaning out of the lane.
the busiest path in North Devon outside the town centre. People are
Pythagoreans yet these wind unnecessarily and are stop start. What
to the County’s duty of care? Pedestrians use the cycle section
cyclists the bus route and corners are cut. Meanwhile wide verges are
abundant. Site and gradient not taken account of and guidelines not
followed. A great opportunity squandered! Mitigation please. Mike
Harrison CTC North Devon
Town centre changes in the Square and the Strand are part of the scheme.
Earlier I had sought assurances that cyclists would not be missing
plans. When the new bridge opened, No Entry signs and all vehicle
restrictions appeared for the Strand. Clarification is awaited. What
cyclist would ignore a wide empty road?
Email sent For Joe Deasy:
On 2nd Feb you wrote: "We have made provision for cyclists to
with the pedestrianised order for the strand/square". (In response
question about cycling in the Strand). A No Entry sign is placed by
beginning of Cross Street. Clarification please. Mike
"Railways on a roll!" - letter to North Devon Journal
Good to see significant improvements in our rail services.
Friday 13th would not be everyone’s choice of travel date but
my journey round the
county nearly redefined probability. Meetings in Plymouth, Newton Abbot,
Exeter and south of Crediton required five trains but the total platform
waiting time was only three minutes, with two trains already at the
platform! A day return to Plymouth is £9.50, a fraction of the
cost of petrol let alone parking problems and expense. Simple links
to the destinations were by bike.
Concerns about climate change and increasing congestion should bring
More roads mean more traffic but the way forward with investment in
transport, walking and cycling causes less carbon and improved well-being.
How about a coastal electric railway from Barnstaple to Ilfracombe
carries surfboards, push chairs and cycles? Few people would have to
car and with such stunning views the visitors would be queuing up.
Barnstaple's Old Sticklepath Hill is the main route for pedestrians
cyclists to get to North Devon College from the main part of town.
it has just been made a one-way street, leaving cyclists confused and
with detour on main road. Letter to County Hall is a response and request
The Local Transport Plan is the county’s bid for Transport funding
for the next five years. The document is almost ready for its
final submission in March 2006. Mostly good, there are some
thinner areas – see
the following letter to County Environment Director October 2005.
Devon County Council for some obscure reason wants to change our
lanes, however steep or narrow, to Byways Open to All Traffic i.e.
allow access for 4x4s and Trail Bikes. This will bring noise and damage
deep into the countryside.