Derby City’s plans for cycling

Derby City Council have been awarded 2 pots of money to implement cycling infrastructure:

  • Active Travel Fund – a pot to produce cycling and walking facilities to address the increased demand arising from the COVID pandemic. Tranche 1 (£227,923) was awarded in 2020 for quick, temporary projects and these have now all been implemented in the city (with some subsequently removed or downgraded). Tranche 2 is focused on longer term projects and Derby City has been awarded £776,150 – these projects are planned for implementation in 2022.
  • Transforming Cities Fund – aimed to improve productivity by investing in public and sustainable transport infrastructure in English cities. The aim of the fund is to achieve a step-change in local public and sustainable transport connectivity, improved access to jobs, reduced congestion and improved air quality. Derby and Nottingham were jointly awarded £161 million (Tranche 2) plus a previous tranche 1 award of £8.3 million.

Thus there are significant amounts of money to be spent by Derby City on cycle related infrastructure. It is unlikely that similar large funding awards for cycling will be made to the city in the foreseeable future and, therefore, this one-off opportunity needs to be spent as effectively as possible.

Derby City Council have identified a number of schemes that they intend to take forward and are asking the public for feedback.

This article provides some details of the planned schemes and includes my views on the good points and what needs to be improved. In a lot of cases the devil is in the detail and a lot of the detail hasn’t yet been published. Hence the ability to provide detailed, reasoned feedback is limited.

The process for providing feedback on most of the schemes isn’t the most easy to navigate. A single survey exists for 9 different schemes although you can choose to skip over any that you don’t have an opinion on. Most of the detail (maps, etc.) is held within the survey so you may need to step through the survey, consider the detail and then go back to actually submit your opinions.

I’ve extracted some of the most useful information at the links below as well as adding my comments and views.

General Comments

The cycling route network in Derby contains some excellent sections as well as some areas devoid of any useful infrastructure. The major failing is that, in a lot of cases, the excellent sections are not joined to other excellent sections. As it is the lowest quality link within a journey that defines its attractiveness, the disconnects are a major disincentive to transforming how people travel around the city.

The Government have specified that local authorities should create Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) which, put simply, define what a local cycling network should look like if funding and other issues were put to one side. The intention is that, as monies become available, any work done should fit into the overall strategic plan. Work on defining the LCWIP (jointly with Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Nottingham) was in progress in 2018 but still hasn’t been completed. A draft of the plan can be downloaded here but the Derby section (Appendix D) is very hard to understand as it seems incomplete and inconsistent!

Derby LCWIP plans – good luck in interpreting what it means!

The LCWIP process is that the draft should be made available for public comment and feedback before a final version is adopted by the local authorities. We’re still waiting for this consultation exercise over 3.5 years since the process started and, in the meantime, significant spend on cycle schemes is being proposed without an agreed LCWIP being in place. How can we be sure that the current plans fit into the strategic overall plan if the overall plan hasn’t yet been finalised and published?

A lot of the schemes detailed below will provide good quality routes but will often result in a route disconnected from the rest of the network. It is at least as important (probably more important) that the network is joined up. Previous analysis shows my views on a number of junctions, crossings, etc. that need to be fixed as a priority to allow good sections of routes to be connected. Failing to do so is likely to mean that the money spent on high quality, but disconnected, schemes will not achieve the benefits that the planned spend could provide.

There is a high level question as to “should the proposed schemes be the highest priority for Derby” and, in the absence of the agreed LCWIP, this cannot be answered. It is very likely that the spend proposed could be better spent on alternative schemes – for example, fixing the disconnects identified above. However, the current consultation only offers feedback on the proposed schemes and not whether they are the “right” schemes.

The DfT have published an excellent guide to cycle infrastructure design – LTN 1/20 – and it is important that any proposals for Derby meet these guidelines. I’d recommend you feedback to the Council on any schemes that do not meet the guidelines as, in DfT’s eyes, any such schemes are of inadequate quality.

Transforming Cities Fund schemes

Active Travel Fund schemes

School Safe Haven projects have been planned for various schools in the city and these have started to be rolled out with progress reports shown here.

A lot of the other proposals are for on-road cycle lanes. The Government has previously said that they believe on-road cycle lanes (just consisting of paint on the road) are useless and will not fund their implementation. Research shows that on road cycle lanes (with no segregation or other protection from the motor traffic) are actually more dangerous than having no lane at all.

LTN 1/20 guidelines specify desired and minimum widths for on-road lanes (segregated from the highway) dependent on the amount of cycle traffic expected. The lowest level of usage specifies a width of 2 metres for a one way route (with absolute minimum of 1.5m when avoiding occasional obstacles). In general, the Council seems to be designing to the absolute minimum rather than the desired reasonable width.

Segregated routes need to provide sufficient width for “non standard” cycles (e.g. with trailers, tricycles, disability vehicles) plus space for slower moving users to be overtaken when safe to do so.

Segregation from the highway is essential for any on road cycle lane – i.e. obstacles between the cycle and motor traffic that prevents motor traffic encroaching on the cycle lane. Whilst the various proposals mention “light segregation” there are no further details of exactly what is planned. It is therefore impossible to comment on whether the light segregation will be suitable without the details.

Example of using light segregation in Camden