Hi all – this is the first instalment of newsletters to let you know everything the DCF has been up to in the past month. The idea will be to keep everything as brief as possible, asking you to take occasional action (probably by writing to a councillor or objecting to a planning application), if you have the time.  So, let’s dive in!

Spaces for People

We met with Mark Flynn to discuss progress of the “Spaces for People” measures. The discussion was largely positive discussion, with Mark assuring us that everything is still going ahead:

  • The improvements to the Green Circular (£400k) will be happening first, likely (we believe) as these are the easiest to implement and do not involve inconveniencing motorists. However, a positive step. We were concerned that John Whyman was not being fully involved in this – despite being the person at DCC who knows the most about the Green Circular. Mark said he would look into this.
  • The District Centre physical distancing measures (£500k) are going well and are at the consultation stage led by Annie Marrs at UNESCO City of Design (same team as led on the Union St pedestrianisation), so we have high hopes!
  • Connecting Schools and Communities (£400k) is also at the design/planning stage. Mark also said he was bringing in a ‘safer streets’ policy, starting with Fintry Primary School.
  • The protected cycle lane interventions (£700k) are still in the design/planning stage as Mark has asked for infrastructure of a high enough quality that can made permanent if successful. We showed concern that only small route sections will be rolled out to start – incomplete routes/network will not work! We will see plans in the coming weeks and will be able to comment at that time.

We showed concern that the 20mph zones implemented in the first phase have no traffic calming elements installed (other than “20” roundels”) – because of this, anecdotally there are plenty of drivers going above 20mph. Tactran are currently monitoring the zones and will feed back to DCC – we will be campaigning for traffic calming elements if indeed there is too much speeding in these areas.

The pedestrianisation of Union St has been voted a success, with 84% of traders saying it has been positive for the street and 62% saying it has benefitted their business. There is now a group of businesses and residents that have formed who have successfully applied for DCC’s Festive Fund – great to see such ownership of the project! It’s very likely that this will become permanent – hopefully more streets to follow.. More info here.

Despite this positivity, we have unfortunately seen the removal of the modal filter at the Esplanade, with Mark Flynn being quoted as saying “… as the temperature drops and the hours of daylight reduce it is less and less likely that family groups and casual cyclists will be coaxed onto their bikes, so the best balance will be achieved by bringing that part of the scheme to an end in the last week of October”. This was awful messaging from DCC and a huge mistake – they should have kept it so that people could continue to be coaxed onto their bikes. As we know from other countries, the weather and the daylight is not the issue in getting folk on bikes – the roads are.

We have also seen the idea of a modal filter on Riverside Approach being dropped after a terrible engagement exercise via a single Facebook post. This kind of engagement is not what DCC should be doing – the continued lack of communication/engagement strategy, overarching plan and detailed timescales remain a concern. DCF have been asking for this for many months now but we’re seeing nothing. We suggested that some of the “Spaces for People” funding be used for this but apparently this is not possible – we question this, as certainly there was consultation and engagement on the Union St. work. John Berry (sustainable transport team leader at DCC) has also confirmed that the “Commonplace” tool will be used to consult on the district centre physical distancing measures and cycle lanes – this ought to be a positive step.

We need to keep up the pressure! Anything you can do, such as emailing your councillors, would be very much appreciated.  This includes emailing them to say how much you are in support of measures (even just proposed measures) – all too often a noisy minority gets their way.

Tay Road Bridge

We have written to Cycling UK to ask that they support our campaign for the Tay Road Bridge Board to submit an application to Sustrans to conduct a feasibility study into improving active travel provision on the bridge. They have responded that they indeed would support such an application, and we’re now working on getting the TRBB to submit the application – a bit of an uphill struggle but there are some members of the board who are keen to see this happen. Mark Flynn also said that he would support such an application.

Planning

We objected to a couple of planning applications this month – the second one is still available for comment, so if you can also lodge your personal objections that would be great. You can do this by going here and searching for the application using the reference code. Then go to the “comments” tab and submit your objection.

  • 20/00591/FULL – Erection of 18 flatted dwellings including associated access, parking and landscaping. This application does not include secure, indoor cycle storage, which is a requirement of a new development like this. They only included 4 Sheffield stands for 18 flats! A major barrier to cycling in Dundee is cycle storage (22% of people surveyed in Bike Life cite this as a reason for not cycling/cycling less often), and all new housing must include storage to combat this. Additionally, the development has 18 car parking spaces for 18 flats, despite 42% of households in Dundee having no access to a car/van, and this site being opposite a very well-served bus stop. It’s not far from the Green Circular either. This excess of parking will simply encourage car ownership at the detriment of green space (the development has almost zero garden space due to the parking) – we suggested that 40% of car parking spaces be removed to address this and create more green space on the site. There also appears to be zero consideration for EV charging.
  • 20/00598/FULL – Conversion of existing building to form 10 residential apartments. This is a welcome conversion of a derelict listed building in town, but cycle parking isn’t included at all. As including this may reduce the (already tightly-constrained) flat size, we suggested that the developer include secure on-street cycle parking with a cycle hangar or similar – especially as the Local Development Plan (the main document we work off when commenting on planning applications) suggests that conversions may require creative solutions.

Also, some bad news from planning – yet another car-centric development was allowed to go through at committee meeting. This time, it’s a retail park at West Gourdie Industrial Estate. Despite council officers recommending refusal based on the development being in direct contravention to the “Town Centres First” principal, it was voted through due to job creation. This is short-termism; jobs will be lost at shops in district centres as they close due to competition from car-centric retail parks, whilst people will be locked into further car-dependency and the city becomes less attractive for investment. The council needs to be stronger on this, forcing developers to create far higher-quality developments which are well-connected and provide higher-quality jobs. If you can, please write to your local councillors to express your concern at this being voted through.

The DCF will also be speaking at deputation to the planning committee on the 9th Nov to object to the proposed drive-through (20/00344/FULL) at Mid-Craigie industrial park. It may be tricky to object to this as it’s clear that the majority of the councillors believe in jobs above all else, but hopefully we’ll be able to convince them.

Meetings/events

Russell Pepper spoke on behalf of the DCF at an online Greenpeace event, “A Green Recovery: The Future of Transport in Dundee”. He talked mainly about the “Spaces for People” interventions and why DCC should be confident in implementing them – we know from Bike Life that 72% of people support protected cycle lanes, even when space for cars will be taken! The event was well attended with councillors from Dundee and Angus present – the more we can get the word out about the benefits of active travel, and the more our local decision-makers hear (and understand) it, the better.

Donald Baddon also attended the Angus Cycle Hub meeting to discuss the new active travel hub at the waterfront. The Angus Cycle Hub will be running the (soon-to-be-branded) hub, which will be opening summer 2021 – exciting stuff!

Consultations

Peter Clinch submitted the DCF response to the proposed changes to the Highway Code – thanks to all who gave your input. The consultation is now closed but you can view the proposed changes here.

Other (non-DCF) campaigns

You may have seen David Brennan’s campaign earlier this month. He was driven at dangerously and assaulted by a driver, only to be warned by the police for swearing. The driver received only a warning (despite the incident and assault being recorded) which David only found out after chasing up numerous times.  This kind of treatment – by both the driver and police – is completely unacceptable, and he is now working in conjunction with Cycling UK to ask for police reform. They’re asking for:

  1. A commitment from Police Scotland to prioritise road traffic enforcement where vulnerable road users are at greatest risk.
  2. Improved guidance to ensure that all force areas across Scotland deal with reports from vulnerable road users in a consistent and appropriate way.
  3. A single easy to use camera footage submission system which all road users can have confidence in.

More information is available here.

The DCF has written to support this campaign – if you would like to do the same, please write to your local MSP.

Coming up…

We have our AGM on 11th November at 7pm – we’re looking for nominations for chair and Treasurer. Check your emails or Slack channel for more info about this.

We also have a meeting coming up soon with Ewan MacNaughton – the new head of roads and sustainable transport at DCC. Get in touch if you’d like to attend or have anything you’d like raised.

The bike racks that were designed by kids in the West End are due to be installed on Perth Rd and Blackness Rd within the next few weeks.

You’ll have probably seen numerous blue charging stations popping up all over Dundee recently – these are for the soon-to-be launched e-bike sharing scheme by Ride-on. They’re launching next month and are planning an even bigger launch with more stations in March. If they can link these up with the temporary bike infrastructure from Spaces for People, it could be transformative for Dundee. More info here.


That’s all for now folks – thanks for reading! The Slack channel is the best place to stay up-to date on all things DCF – email  Steve (steve@biggreybox.net) if you haven’t got access yet.

Until next month’s instalment,

Russell P.