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Dundee Cycling Forum Newsletter – November 2020

Hi all – and welcome to the November 2020 DCF newsletter! In it you’ll see everything the DCF has been up to in the past month. I’ll keep everything as brief as possible, and ask 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 begin…

Spaces for People

We have now heard that the Green Circular upgrades have been designed and will be implemented very soon – look out for them! However, we do note that the DCF was not consulted in any way re: these upgrades and have made it clear that we ought to have been. The Convenor of City Development (Mark Flynn) shares these sentiments and has made it clear to council officers that we are to be involved with further decisions on Spaces for People measures. There is still a clear culture of lack of transparency/consultation within this department, and it will take some time to change it – we’re very glad to have a convenor like Mark who is willing to tackle this problem.

Also the West End Community Council has had meetings with John Berry and have proposed an alternative solution to the modal filter (which DCC have decided not to go for) on Riverside Approach. They propose segregated cycle route on what was the northbound carriageway of Riverside Approach to connect Magdalen Green with the Riverside path, with the southbound carriageway being one-way for motor vehicles (and of course cyclists, if they wish!). This proposal will be consulted on locally via the IYN West End Facebook page.

Gritting of the NCN1/77

There are ongoing discussions about the winter maintenance of the NCN1/77, with council officers repeatedly saying that despite maintenance having been council policy for the past four years, there is not enough money in the budget to undertake this maintenance and that any funds found to do this will mean a saving will have to be made elsewhere. We believe that the funds can be found and that you only truly see the ambition of an administration in their budget. Donald Baddon, in particular, has been like a dog with a bone, and we are still hopeful that we can achieve a result on this! Anything you can do to help such as writing to your local councillors would be great.   

Bike Racks

This month we saw the bike racks which were designed by local school children as part of a collaboration between the DCF and UNESCO City of Design. They look fantastic and have received a lot of positive press – well done to all involved! Pics of a few of the racks below:

Child, butterfly and flower in Foggylea Park
Ice cream cone beside Spar on Perth Rd
Carrot (and Russell’s bike) outside Sainsbury’s, Perth Rd
A very cute pear at the top of Rosefield Pl
A rack of books outside Blackness Library, Perth Rd

E-bikes

The Embark by Ride-on E-bikes have now started beta testing, and if you’re one of the lucky ones that has been selected, you’ll know how good they are! Once testing is complete, they will be rolled out for use by the general public – very exciting!

You’re able to sign up for updates here: https://rideondundee.com/, and if you’re lucky they might select you for beta testing…

Planning

Planning objections

We objected to a few planning applications this month – a number of these (20/00729/FULM, 20/00641/FULL, 20/00739/FULL, 20/00708/FULL) are 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.

  • 20/00679/FULM – Erection of purpose-built student accommodation, landscaping, access and associated works. This application was for 180 student studio flats, and includes a pathetic 22 secure parking spaces. The developer got this requirement from the very out of date (and ironically named) “Streets Ahead” document, which only requires one cycle parking space for every 8 students/staff in student residences – this highlights how out of date DCC’s planning documents are. We objected saying there must be a full 180 secure, indoor cycle parking spaces – one for every flat.
  • 20/00729/FULM – Proposed mixed use development for purpose-built student accommodation and ground floor commercial space. This one is for 361 student rooms plus 5 commercial spaces on the ground floor. It includes 24 cycle parking spaces for visitors, and 34 “wheel bender” racks (where only the wheel can be secured, frequently causing damage/theft) for residents. We objected to say there should be a secure/indoor cycle parking for each residence, plus enough for staff and visitors to the commercial spaces. In addition, due to increased footfall and desire lines across busy roads there need to be safe crossings provided across the Marketgait to Abertay, across Hawkhill to Dundee Uni, and across Lochee Rd to Dudhope Park.
  • 20/00641/FULL – Removal of Extensions, Change of Use of existing building to form 3No Dwelling Houses, Erection of 32No Flatted Dwellings and Single Storey extension to Lodge House. This one removes garden to create car parking and does not have secure/indoor cycle storage. We objected saying that there should be reduced car parking/increased garden space, and secure/indoor cycle parking.  
  • 20/00739/FULL – Erection of 8 Flatted Dwellings. A block of flats in Candle Lane – seems OK and great that there’s no car parking, but the cycle store is not indoors as it ought to be. Also there’s no indication as to the number of cycle parking spaces. We’re objecting saying that the cycle storage should be indoors, and if this isn’t possible, that the cycle store needs to be a secure building with at least one space per flat.
  • 20/00708/FULL – Amendments to the previously approved house types at plots 1, 2, 28, 29, 30 and 31. This is an amendment to a previously approved application (18/00522/FULL) for housing, which somehow slipped through the cracks and does not provide any secure cycle parking at all. We are objecting to say that this is a good chance to amend that mistake and ensure each house is provided with secure cycle parking. It’s also very close to the Green Circular which means that the lucky folk staying there would have a traffic-free route all the way to town!

Deputation to planning committee

Russell Pepper spoke at a deputation to the planning committee to ask that the councillors refuse planning permission for a Tim Horton’s drive through at East Kingsway retail park (ref: 20/00344/FULL). Despite the site already having planning permission in principle for a drive through, the councillors voted against it! It was very close, with 11 against and 10 for, so there is still a lot of work to do in convincing other councillors, but they are beginning to see sense on the matter of car-centric out of town developments. The next issue is if the applicant appeals to the Scottish Government.

Meetings

DCF AGM

We successfully held our first online AGM this month and now have a new Chair in Russell Pepper. Thanks very much to David Martin for temporarily filling this role until now – much appreciated.

Ewan MacNaughton and DCF

We met with Ewan MacNaughton – the new head of Sustainable Transport and Roads – to welcome him into his new role and make him aware of our agenda and priorities. It was a largely positive discussion, with Ewan agreeing with us on many points. Sustainable transport, including cycling, is very high on DCC’s agenda and it is Ewan’s job to ensure that this is implemented. See the appendix below for full minutes of the meeting.

Consultations

DCC have just opened up a consultation on their “City Centre Strategic Investment Plan 2030-2050” (https://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/consultations-and-surveys/our-future-city-centre-strategic-investment-plan-2020-2050). Lots of good-sounding stuff in there but it does feel like there could be more concrete goals and a bit more ambition. The DCF will be submitting a response, and it would be great if you could submit personal ones as well – you can also get involved with the DCF response via Slack, if you like

We are also soon to submit a response to “Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2030” (https://www.transport.gov.scot/consultation/scotlands-road-safety-framework-to-2030-draft-public-consultation/). Again, would be great if as many individuals responded to this as well – usefully Cycling UK have written a framework for responding to it – makes things easier! (https://www.cyclinguk.org/sites/default/files/document/2020/10/cycling_uk_guide_to_scotland_road_safety_framework.pdf)

That’s all for now – 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.

Appendix – Minutes of DCF meeting with Ewan MacNaughton

Introductions/Experience

EM said that he was a civil engineer with previous experience in active travel infrastructure including shared use path construction and toucan crossings.

EM’s vision is to increase the number of cycle journeys in Dundee by removing barriers and creating a safe and pleasant environment to cycle in.

Ebikes help address the geographical issues such as hills and physically segregated cycle lanes are required along with secure storage. He thinks that his vision can be achieved by filling in the missing route links from the green routes. EM wants the missing links routes to be off road.

EM stated that cycling infrastructure was high on the agenda and the expansion of JB’s ‘accessible transport’ team is the first departmental expansion in the council for many years. The reorganised team will include central design, support consultants and have access to £10m for the next 5 years.  EM also said that no funding was going into road infrastructure it was all going into active travel.  DCF said so there will be no Liff bypass?

Spaces for People time scales (£2m second bid)

Green circular upgrades are starting this month. Not all upgrades will be funded by SfP some will be stand alone (bridge over the Dighty).

Community/Schools 6 routes have been identified and will be delivered by the end of the year.

The protected cycle lane(s) consist of a route from Ninewells to the City Centre. options for the route are currently being considered and design should be complete by the end of January and the route, with possible spurs will be delivered by March 2020. EM confirmed DCF will be consulted on the possible route options for the Ninewells-City Centre cycle route.

The community centres/cycle storage are being community led and are going through the consultation stage.

DCF challenged the single route as being inadequate and that the whole purpose of SfP was to enable folk to have an active travel alternative to public transport and a quick response was required and the £700k was there to provide a network of approximately 15 miles of protected cycle lanes. Dundee has gone into tier 3 and there is still no alternative to public transport for many. EM said ‘you are right’ but Sustrans have changed their vision to proper consultation with communities having to be carried and sited cycle lanes be ripped out ‘all over the place’. DCF disagreed and said that there were many examples of successful cycle lanes going in and the ones being removed were down to councils not being strong enough rather than any evidenced failure of the cycle lanes. EM is questioning the £15 miles for £700k estimate and said that it would be a lot less but could not say how many miles Dundee will put in.

DCF also challenged the removal of the modal filters on the esplanade. EM said motorists had been complaining – DCF said that was a sign you were doing something right!  EM said if Dundee goes to level 4 they will put the filters back in.

DCF and EM agreed that there needed to be a long term strategy for reducing the number of car journeys in the city and that would need to include interventions that disadvantaged motorists.

EM confirmed the Northern Links project is dead and will not be pursued.

EM said that no winter maintenance will be carried out on the NCN1/77 as there was no funding and resources could not be reprioritised to these paths as reorganisation was not possible only savings could be made. DCF said that we understood that resources were tight but the gritting of the NCN1/77 was down to priorities and that was set through policy and we would continue to ask for it! DCF also cited Glasgow as an example of a council who was investing in gritting paths to make cycling an everyday transport option – EM said he would watch that with interest.

EM was not aware of where they were with the Dundee Segregated Cycle Network business case but would Get JB to give DCF an update.

Modal Filter River Side – EM said that after consultation with local elected members and groups they decided there was no/little support for them.

DCF stated that there needs to be a big picture message coming from DCC about the need for active travel and the reduction of car journeys. We are in a public health and climate emergency and the implementation of transformational SfE interventions were being diluted and delayed due to fear of a backlash from an angry minority. The bikelife survey confirmed that over 72% support in Dundee for cycling infrastructure interventions and DCC needs to be more bold and ambitious if the interventions are to have a transformational impact.

EM agreed with DCF that DCC had a bad habit of always going for the minimum spec shared path infrastructure and that he was working hard to change the culture of the design teams so that the emphasis was to be the infrastructure quality for the user (segregated paths…) and not on ‘value engineering’. DCF and EM agreed that losing Sustrans funding on the Arbroath because of the low spec shared path specification was not good value for anyone.

EM stated that Harefield Road would be ‘sorted’ after DCF again raised the issue.

There was a discussion on the Ebike scheme and the lack of DCF consultation and EM agreed that DCF should be sent a map/list of the charging station locations.

EM said that he regards DCF as the primary organisation for ‘cycling’ consultation. DCF said that we are keen to work with EM to get more folk cycling in the city! EM suggested another meeting in 6 months – DCF agreed.

Dundee Cycling Forum Newsletter – October 2020

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.