Research from New Zealand has shown congestion and carbon emissions can be reduced by investing in safe walking and cycling paths.
This is news that appears to have escaped the policy makers at Chichester District Council and planners at Peter Brett Associates.
As co-ordinator of ChiCycle, Chichester’s Cycle Campaign, I am reading the Local Plan Review with caution as walking and cycling should be put at the top of the list according to NICE whereas the measures listed in the local plan are vague and promised in a multitude of future studies.
NICE statistics reveal that physical inactivity is responsible for one in six deaths and one in four adults are obese in the UK.
However whatever the Plan promises, WSCC has committed to only building 28km of cycle routes over the whole of the county for the next five years.
We need to prioritise other means of getting around not always the car.
The Peter Brett Associates document is particularly disappointing as it doesn’t include a single crossing for people to cross the road, dangerous inner city junctions aren’t on the list for any improvements, our walking and cycling links over the A27 seem to be impacted.
Cycle paths are mentioned in the Local Plan but it doesn’t spell out what we mean by this – painted lines on the road are not going to deliver the modal shift we need.
We need the plan to qualify the routes as direct, convenient, attractive, inclusive, segregated and safe.
A Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan is being developed by the councils but unless we know there are earmarked reserves to implement the plan, the fear is that these routes won’t be of good enough quality or joined up.
The previous Local Plan was counting on modal shift levels of seven per cent. This has now been reduced to five per cent.
This is disappointing considering the need to reduce our carbon footprint and increase physical activity.
There are no plans to increase safety at Eastgate, the roundabout at the junction of New Park and Spitalfields near the university or, the roundabout near Sainsbury’s at the end of Westhampnett Road.
The fact that we were supposed to have a crossing of Oaklands Way linked to the Graylingwell development and this isn’t included in this Local Plan as a junction needing upgrading doesn’t inspire confidence that 12,000 new houses will make it any easier to walk or cycle in the city.
The plan also includes no practical measures on how to improve our air quality.
Indeed the report states that there are no constraints on the plan due to air pollution, which is difficult to believe. Residents are already making decisions to avoid walking down certain streets as they know the air quality is bad.
Joe Irvin, chief executive of Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, said: “For decades our towns and cities have been built to prioritise motor vehicles resulting in unhealthy air, congested roads and a decline in people walking everyday journeys.”
It appears that these plans are pretty similar – a priority has been put on traffic flow on the A27 and scant attention has been paid to getting people fitter and enabling them to cycle or walk safely.
Sarah Sharp, Whyke Lane, Chichester