Sep 032014
Would you come to Leicester on a cycling holiday

I’ve just submitted my entry for the consultation on Leicester’s Cycling Action Plan. The deadline is the 7th September, so still a couple of days to fill in the form. It’s been good to see that Leicester has been making some improvements to its roads to encourage more cycling, and it’s certainly given me the confidence to get out and about in the city centre on my bike more than I used to.

The consultation action plan document is pretty poor, however, and seems to be the kind of thing that is produced for an executive committee. I found it difficult to get past some of the jargon and the ‘action-plan’ speak. The graphic design is pretty poor, and could have been better if it had been looked at by a designer who has a sense of the different types of people who might be reading the document.

Leicester’s ambitions for it’s cycling network are, it has to be said, pretty small and a lot later than other comparable cities have had in place for some time. It’s certainly an improvement to open-up many of the one-way roads in the city centre to cyclists, and the routes that bring people in are a useful improvement. But there might be some better objectives that would make life across the city as a whole more agreeable. Here’s my little fantasy list. Feel free to disagree with the points and to suggest some of your own:

  • Reduce the speed limit across all roads in Leicester to 20mph, not just the residential streets. Segregation in itself is not the answer, people need to feel confident that they can share the road, cars and bicycles.
  • Remove many of the traffic lights that govern every junction and replace them with traffic-calmed roundabouts. We are addicted to technical traffic control solutions in the UK rather than working with people and the environment to improve the flow of traffic, reduce road-rage and promote shared spaces.
  • Sort out the road surfaces. Leicester’s roads are in a shocking state, with many large potholes and ancient road workings that haven’t been upgraded for many years.
  • Clamp-down on the pavement riders and people cycling at night with no lights.
  • Find a comparable city as a model in Europe and get them over here to tell us how they’ve done it. Sharing good ideas and practices with people who are ahead of the game is a good way to catch-up.
  • There is a strong and growing culture of cycling in Leicester that needs to be heard and it’s voice developed, so supporting independent cycling associations and groups would be good.

Overall Leicester doesn’t have a sense of ambition for an integrated public transport network. Where is the plan for a tram system connecting the outskirts and the city? Where is the upgrade of the bus infrastructure and the interlinking of these into an essential networks with a plan to get people out of their cars?

I hope the city can raise it’s ambitions and bring forward many of the proposed improvements, and put longer-term aims in place that aren’t just a tidying-up exercise. This is welcome, but we need to be doing and demanding more.