Latest developments re Yelverton to Roborough Cycle path – April 17th 2022

You will probably know that we have been campaigning for a direct segregated 3 metre wide path more or less following the line of the A386 between Yelverton and Roborough. For more on our campaign you can visit this page.

Recently, and unexpectedly, Devon County Council has announced a proposal for two possible indirect routes, making no mention of our 2019 proposals which gained considerable support. The consultation is open to the public until May 6th, so if you haven’t responded and agree that their proposals are not what is needed please let them know.

We have now responded to their suggestions and below is a copy of our response. Feel free to use anything therein when you respond (assuming you agree with us). Let’s keep pushing for a fast straight route to encourage people to move safely and swiftly between Yelverton and the north of Plymouth.

Our response is quite lengthy, but hopefully worth your time.

Response by the Plymouth Cycling Campaign (PCyC), a recognised Plymouth CC non-statutory consultee

For 15 years or more various cycle routes linking Yelverton to Roborough have been proposed, some on road, others including sections along leats.

More recently traffic on the A386 has increased massively, making on-road cycling dangerous. Many vehicles are travelling at excessive speed for an undulating road with junctions to both sides and traffic-calming pinch-points. Large housing developments at Tavistock and in the North of Plymouth will generate even more traffic.

Recent years have seen a huge take up in cycling for both leisure and commuting in turn generating new government guidance and directives e.g. “Gear Change” and LTN1/20 which specifies separation distances between cyclists and traffic relative to traffic flows and speed. This effectively makes on-road cycle lanes along the A386 impossible.

A cycle route following the line of the A386 is mentioned as a possibility in the Plymouth and SW Devon Local Plan – Transport Infrastructure Statement 2017.

Plymouth Cycling Campaign involvement thus far
In 2019 four members of PCyC, two of whom live in Clearbrook, walked the route and prepared draft maps plus the rationale for a route on the East side of the A386. Our proposal places this route set back from the A386 on the East side, roughly following a well-defined track approximately 5 metres from the road for the most part with the crossings of the two side roads set back. A route on the East side would also link into the car park and shops at Yelverton and be on the right side to join the proposed residential development at Woolwell. The proposal also recognised the access problems south of the Dartmoor Diner (which would also need addressing for Option B). These proposals were widely disseminated. Documents, maps, and photos in support of our proposals were sent to MPs Sir Geoffrey Cox and Sir Gary Streeter, the leader of WDBC, a number of local councillors, James Cleeton at Sustrans, the Maristow Estate and local cyclists.

We recognised that a similar direct route was possible on the West side of the road, but this would involve 6 crossings of side roads as opposed to 2, and would require a controlled crossing of the A386.

Our proposal focussed on creating a direct off-road multi-use path linking Roborough to Yelverton which would encourage faster road cyclists away from the A386, as well as offering a new leisure route for walkers and cyclists. To achieve this the path would need to have a high quality 3m wide tarmac surface and be reasonably direct.

Achieving a route to LTN1/20 standards mostly parallel to and set back with segregation from the A386, and completing it as soon as possible, is vital. This would not only result in many cyclists using the path for their daily commute to and from North Plymouth, but would be part of a new leisure route linking in to the existing NCN27 at Yelverton. This would benefit traffic flow for cars and buses, often constrained by cyclists on the A386, and of course remove the dangers of cycling along this busy fast road.

PCyC met with the Maristow Estate Manager and corresponded with DNPA, local councillors and James Cleeton (Sustrans).  A public meeting in Clearbrook Village Hall was attended by approx. 90 people, many local cyclists and walkers. John Abraham also gave presentations at Buckland Monachorum and in Tavistock. Statements of support came from Sir Geoffrey Cox MP, Sir Gary Streeter MP, Neil Jory, Leader WDBC, local councillors, Marjon University and others.

We published our proposals and their rationale on our website:
A poll on the above page has so far received around 1800 responses in favour of our proposal and less than 20 against. We also posted our proposals on our Facebook page (over 1400 followers) and sent them to our email list.

Current 2022 Devon CC proposals and consultation
Neither of the two options A or B meet the criteria which seemed to be in general agreement for the past three years since our plans were made public. Given the interest in and support for our more direct route we were therefore surprised to receive details of your recent proposals. At the two webinars PCyC committee members were clear that the route(s) you now propose might work as fair-weather leisure routes during daylight but are certainly not the route required to effect a modal shift from motorised transport to sustainable transport along the A386 corridor, with the attendant benefits of reductions in pollution and congestion, as well as health benefits associated with an increase in cycling. Neither of these routes are likely to be used by the considerable number of cyclists who have expressed support for our route and would like to be able to cycle safely and quickly between Yelverton and Roborough.

Webinar 1 was attended by Devon CC officers, local cyclists, Mike Allen from scheme consultants WSP and John Abraham for PCyC. Towards the end of the presentation a participant suggested a route almost exactly the same as our proposals. The response was that this could be an Option C. This came as some surprise as our detailed maps and rationale had previously been sent to DCC at their request.
It was suggested that a route on the West side of the A386 between the Dartmoor Diner and Roborough might be possible by re-allocating road space. Officers seemed unaware that this would be unachievable because of the physical separation required by LTN1/20.

Webinar 2
At the second webinar attended by Stuart Mee for PCyC both he and Joseph Hess, Maristow Estate, expressed surprise and confusion as to why the direct route no longer seemed to be under consideration.

We enumerate below the reasons why we believe the DCC proposed route(s) are flawed, and would add that in our opinion your routes offer more difficulties in terms of engineering and land acquisition:

Both routes A and B would use the existing route between Yelverton and Clearbrook Leat car park. This route includes 3 pairs of double stock gates (effectively banning many cyclists using disability bicycles and tricycles) plus a section of granite tramway sleepers which have significant historical vale so could not be removed or resurfaced. So this section would not be used by faster or commuting cyclists.

Option A
The proposals for the route on the West side involve an uncontrolled crossing of the busy and fast A386. We believe this would not be feasible on a road with such traffic flows, especially as the route is suggested as a leisure route which assumes its use by families with young children. There is no feasible route South of the Dartmoor Diner as it would need to cross land occupied by the Roborough House lodge, the electricity transformer station and the Plessey factory.

Option B would use a route over the moors following the Plymouth Leat. It is broadly the proposal made by David Incoll many years ago when cycling levels and traffic flows were much lower.
We were informed that the DNPA would probably insist on a gravel surface. So this option would only be suitable for daylight leisure cycling in fine weather.

In all cases we recognise that land-ownership and environmental issues exist but believe our proposal, relatively close to the existing road and mostly using the existing grassy track, would result in less disruption to the environment than Options A or B. Further, we believe Options A and B are more complex to achieve in terms of land ownership issues and engineering.

We would not necessarily oppose Option B as a leisure route only.

We could not support Option A.