Plymouth Plan Response

Plymouth City Council (PCC) has asked the Plymouth Cycling Campaign (PCyC) to respond to the Plymouth Plan Part 2. Part 1 focussed on general aims and objectives for the growth of the city and improvements to its environment. Part 2 split the city into 8 areas and invited more specific responses as to how the objectives stated in Part 1 might be achieved. The Plymouth Cycling Campaign has responded to the Plans for 4 areas, Central, Plymstock, Plympton, and Northern. These responses are as follows:

GENERAL RESPONSE COMMON TO ALL AREAS

We welcome the plan and particularly the policy of delivering a safe, accessible, sustainable and health-enabling transport system. We agree that encouraging active travel such as walking and cycling can help to develop sustainable linked neighbourhoods, a green and healthy city. To do this it is vital to continue to improve cycling links as outlined.

We are sure that both PCC and PCyC share the objectives of reducing traffic, reducing pollution and improving health through highway planning and traffic management. But unless coordinated continuous cycle and walking routes are provided these objectives will not be met. Most people will only cycle when they feel safe. If the objective of achieving a modal shift away from the car to more sustainable forms of transport is to be realized, quality joined up routes must be provided. The Plymouth Cycling Campaign looks forward to working with the Council to change the way people move around our city.

NORTHERN AREA COMMENTS:

Backgound

The arterial nature of the A386 and planned improvements are highlighted in the plan, however current provision for cycling on this route is poor, reflected in the very low proportion of people commuting by bicycle, and the planned improvements will not remedy this.

The A386 has the benefit of width, with wide walkways alongside, yet cycling provision is fragmented and confused. A description is available here . Many commuters use the roadway, many are dissuaded by the design of the provision.  The currently planned improvements are useful but very limited. 

Proposal

We propose a cycling expressway along this route, as proposed to Sherford from Laira Bridge along the A379 (see our website) and as developed in London. Key to the effectiveness of this is that it should be safe, swift, direct and at least as continuous as the road it follows. At junctions, care should be taken to ensure safety and continuity. This would need to be 2m in each direction, segregated and continuous, easily accommodated along most of the route.

We believe that with this infrastructure, a large amount of suppressed demand for cycling along this route would be met, increasing cycle traffic with all the attendant benefits to traffic, economy and health this brings.

CENTRAL AREA COMMENTS:

The Campaign has previously identified schemes which would fit well with the Plymouth Plan and I focus on these. We agree with what needs to be done and support PCC in its effort to improve matters. We would suggest the following as priorities to achieve this objective:

  1. The Strategic Cycle Network (SCN) already provides for a west east route between Central Park and Marsh Mills via Peverell, Hartley, Higher Compton, Efford Road, Efford Pathway, Military Road or Pike Road, the path beside the Ponderosa Pony Sanctuary and Lower Crabtree. As recognised above, this is not really a continuous link as development and improvement as well as better traffic management is needed to realise the potential of this route. But it would fulfill the objective of offering a link to Central Park and the Plym Valley as stated in the Plan. It would enable the residents of Efford to easily access recreational facilities at both ends of the route with the attendant health benefits for this recognizably disadvantaged population. Because the route already exists it offers a relatively low cost solution to achieve the required objectives. The PCyC is happy to consult on the details of this scheme, and indeed would hope to be asked to do so.
  2. The suggested bridge from the Railway Station to Central Park is badly needed to bypass the current alternatives via Saltash Road (impossibly difficult for cycling) or the convoluted route around the east of the station and would provide a direct link from the City Centre to Central Park and could form part of a route designed to avoid Mutley Plain going north.
  3. The continuation of PCyC’s proposed Cycle Expressway from Sherford as an off road route from the crossing of Embankment Road following the old railway route through Tothill sidings and beneath Tothill Road and through the retail park to join Exeter Street. This is essential if serious cycle commuting from Plymstock, Sherford and beyond is ever to happen.
  4. Similarly serious north south cycle commuting will not happen until major improvements are made to the North Hill/Mutley Plain/Mannamead road route. We urge all concerned to consider what might be done to provide such a route (via a new bridge at the station feeding into a route towards Manadon?). The route onward to Woolwell is currently more of an obstacle course than a fast cycle commute route and needs upgrading.
  5. The off road cycle path along the Embankment, a major route, is too narrow and too bumpy to encourage commuting cyclists and needs urgent improvement. The route from the City via Lanhhydrock Road needs a crossing (either a bridge or pelican style crossing) to join the Embankment path.
  6. There is a need for cycling provision into the city centre and around the centre which allows people to travel quickly and safely while maintaining the safety of pedestrians. The City Centre is the social and economic hub of Plymouth, transport around the centre is essential to city life and to residents, shops and businesses. Cycling could help parking, traffic, air and life quality issues for the city. This is the one area where more cycling could have highest impact. Sadly the centre is ringed by roads and junctions which are difficult or dangerous for cyclists and with very little cycling permitted. There is only one point of access for cycling (North Cross). Using a bicycle in and around the centre of Plymouth is difficult and in many parts it has become more difficult over the past 10 years.

Provision to and within the main University campus could be improved. University staff and students commonly enjoy high bicycle usage but the infrastructure around the University of Plymouth does not encourage this. The proposed bridge would be a radical change, but links in other directions should be considered.

PLYMPTON AREA COMMENTS

We wish to see NCN2 upgraded for its full length between Deep Lane and the city centre to be an all purpose continuous route including commuting, connection to South Hams, north side of Sherford, Langage, Lee Mill, etc.  Much of it is in place but there are several short sections to make it continuous.  To meet the latest specification it should be 4 metres wide with ideally cyclists separated from pedestrians.

To make it a virtually continuous off-road route, the following requires to be carried out:

  • Create pelican crossing on Sandy Road at junction with Glen Road
  • Take down unnecessary barriers beside Glen Road
  • Add safety barrier at top of steps where Downfield Drive meets Glen Road (very dangerous)
  • Divert NCN2 by widening existing path alongside Glen Road between Station Road and Ridgeway (this takes out steep hill and on-road section of Ridgeway)
  • Pelican crossing over Ridgeway into Market Street
  • Create short length shared path beside Cot Hill
  • Upgrade sub standard path between Cot Hill and junction NCN27 beside sewage works
  • NCN2 to be properly signed alongside the Embankment (no signs exist)
  • Reset traffic lights at Marsh Mills so that cyclist is always green when motorists are red
  • Create safe crossings at Sainsbury superstore and Old Laira Road

This sounds a lot of work but it is not a major project.  There are short lengths on-road in existing housing estates with low volumes of traffic which we feel is acceptable.  Locations are as Plymouth Cycling Map.  Please note that PCyC are aware that Highways England propose to build a new cycle bridge across the A38 at Deep Lane to link Plympton with Sherford but so far as we are aware no drawings are yet available.

PLYMSTOCK AREA COMMENTS

We are concerned that cycle routes throughout Plymstock are currently not attractive for people to cycle because they do not feel safe.  There are no linked up cycle routes for travelling to school, work, shopping or leisure.  We ask that you include provision to rectify this and our Business Case is the justification.  We have studied PCC Strategic Cycle Network (SCN) and, in principle, we support it but the problem is that it lacks detail for future cycle routes in Plymstock.  These are our proposals:

  • The A379 is shown on SCN as a cycle route but currently few cyclists use it because they do not feel safe at junctions and too many cars are parked regularly in the cycle lanes, thus forcing cyclists into car lanes.  We believe it lends itself very well indeed for upgrading to a European Style Cycle Expressway without affecting existing and future motor traffic.  This can be achieved by creating segregation within the highway and changing junctions to Dutch style similar to elsewhere in Plymouth.  Please see our website for more details: https://plymouthcyclingcampaign.co.uk/current-campaigns/the-sherford-plymouth-cycle-expressway/
  • Safe joined up cycle lanes and multi use paths elsewhere
  • 20mph speed limits where these are likely to be justified between cyclists and motorists, including provision of speed limiters
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