Imagine a Banbury, friendly to cyclists. A Banbury where you feel safe and welcomed cycling to your destination – or from it – wherever that may be; where cycling is the obvious choice if it’s a little too far to walk or would take just that bit too much time to go by foot wherever it is you are wanting to go.Like the idea? Want to think: ‘helmet and padlock’, instead of rummaging for the car keys? What’s not to like? Cycling is good for you, good for others, good for the planet.A bike-friendly Banbury would be good for everyone! More bikes, fewer cars, brings multiple benefits for a town: reduced congestion on the roads, improved air quality, less noise. Banbury CAG believes that the people of Banbury deserve to live in a town where it is safe and pleasant to cycle, and where the air is not polluted. We want to help bring about the changes needed to make this a reality.
We hope you will join us in this journey!We appreciate how important it is to all work together and realise there are many groups and individuals who share our ambition and are already underway with projects. We are keen to join up with everyone who supports the aim, to ensure that the necessary improvements are made. If that sounds like you, please do get in touch.As a start, we are sending this sending this document to all those on our mailing list. It looks at what’s currently being done for cycling in Banbury, and who is doing it. It’s a bit heavy, but gives a picture of the present state of play. Please do let us know what we have missed out – we apologise for any omissions at this early stage – and please forward it to anyone you think might be interested.Our next step will be to carry out a survey to discover more about existing levels of cycling in Banbury, what it’s like for cyclists in the town, and what the potential is for increasing the number of trips made by bike instead of car. We would love to have your views when that time comes, but for now, here’s some background:
Down there in Westminster and across the way in BicesterCentral Government has unveiled its Ten-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution: active transport – cycling and walking – is in there.Last month, Oxfordshire County Council secured £3m for active transport measures from the Department for Transport’s pot. Sadly, Banbury is not earmarked as one of the three areas to benefit from the funding: of the five schemes, three are in Oxford (of course), one in Witney and one in Bicester. Well, good that money is going to help encourage more journeys by bike and foot, wherever they might be made: but can we be sure to have Banbury next in line, please.Funding decisions spring from targets set in Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs). Banbury doesn’t yet have one, but Bicester does. The data that underpins the Bicester plan includes a household survey showing that half of local car trips could be easily replaced by ones made on a bike. The change will be achieved through the development of a comprehensive network of safe and healthy cycle routes across the town. Lucky Bicester.
Things underway at Oxfordshire County CouncilOCC throw out the offer to work closely with interested groups to encourage greater levels of cycling – so we’ll warmly look forward to that.According to Oxfordshire County Council, active transport – cycling or walking – and the climate crises, are at the heart of their forward planning. The County Local Transport Strategy includes a section devoted to Active and Healthy Travel (AHTS, adopted 2016), which looks to create the conditions for more of us to walk or cycle for more journeys, be these standalone to reach a destination, or combined with public transport (“door to door”).As the Highways Authority, OCC requires the layout and design of new developments to proactively encourage cycling, especially for local trips (policy 34, LTP4). The County provides design standards including the Cycling Design Standards. This sets a high standard for the design of streets and spaces to ensure that the needs of cyclists are considered first, particularly in new developments. Any comments as to whether these are being met?Their 2020 County Council measures to help Banbury cyclists include the new cycle racks that went up in August. If you fancy playing spot-the-new-cycle-rack, there are five of them: North Bar, Castle Quay, both sides of Bridge Street and in the High Street. Anything else? Some grass cutting and a refresh of the road markings on the A423 Southam Road.
What route should we take to improve the town for cyclists?It’s three years since Central Government published their ‘Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy’. This sets a goal of making these active transport options the natural choice for shorter journeys or as part of a longer journey. If you’re interested, take a look online. This is the place where Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) were born – plans at local level, mapping out ways to develop cycling and walking networks. They gained strength through an appearance in the National Planning Policy Framework (July 2018).It seems core that Banbury gets a LCWIP drawn up. After all, a LCWIP will:look at the current network and find opportunities for improvementsmake the case for future funding for walking and cycling infrastructureprovide a network plan for walking and cycling which identifies preferred routes and core routes for further developmentensure that consideration is given to cycling and walking within both local planning and transport policies and strategiesbecome a supporting document for the forthcoming Local Transport & Connectivity PlanFor sure: Banbury needs a LCWIP in order to mesh in with the planning and funding systems.Moving towards a Banbury LCWIPWhere to start? Well, data is needed before we can start to plan and promote. We need info about journeys currently undertaken by bike – journey origin and destination etc, in order to identify where the greatest potential for increasing cycle use exists. With this, we can build up a picture and show that any funds required can be spent in an effective, targeted approach and offer good value for money. We need to prove that if improvements for cycling are made, then they really will encourage more trips make on bikes.
Who else is keen?The District declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019 and set a goal of achieving net carbon zero by 2030. Cutting car use must be a big part of this: ensuring people can cycle safely across Banbury will help.Cherwell District Council champions cycling – it’s good for the health and wellbeing of its communities, allowing active and healthy lifestyles, reducing traffic congestion. The District is committed to promoting active transport and is planning ‘communication campaigns’ to promote it. Take a look at their page on walking & cycling for leisure. Cherwell is already involved in a cycling campaign in Bicester, but here is a quote from the District LAQM (Air Quality) Annual Status Report, October 2020, about having a similar campaign in Banbury:“The principal challenges and barriers to implementation that Cherwell District Council anticipates facing are that the topography in Banbury is not ideal for cycling or walking.”We at BCAG think that, with the right infrastructure, help, support, encouragement, it is perfectly ideal…. Hopefully the people of Banbury agree!WARMLY WELCOME: if those of you who cycle in and around the town – or who don’t cycle around the town but would like to – wish to have a say in advance of our survey, then please do feel free to send us your comments: we’d really like to hear from you!