General Election 2010

The Campaign has sent each candidate questions on cycling issues. We have asked them to reply by April 28th.

1, Your experience of cycling
Do you, or have you ever, ridden a bicycle regularly as an adult? If so for what kinds of journey (for instance, leisure, commuting, shopping or other)? Do you view cycling primarily as a leisure activity, or as transport, or both?

Paul Holmes

No I do not ride a bicycle regularly as an adult. When I have, it has been for leisure purposes.

Toby Perkins

No reply yet

Carolyn Abbot

No reply yet

Duncan Kerr

Yes, all and both!
I’ve been a passionate about bikes since I realised the freedom they gave me as a teenager – whilst my mates were into Yamahas and Mobyelttes (remember them?) I was into derailleur gears and drop handlebars.
I inflicted my addiction on all my friends – and in 1982, went with Julie (then partner, now wife) on our first “proper” cycling tour of Brittany – I remember buying her Raleigh Royale touring bike one week before we caught the train and weaved through the London traffic.
My opportunity for cycle commuting has been constrained by my jobs in Local Government. In those less enlightened times many required me as a condition of employment to provide a car for work. However whilst working at York and indeed Newark things were different and I regularly commuted by bike. During the last five years on my Local Gov career I was Chief Executive of South Kesteven and immediately traded my car parking reserved space for a key to the, rather up-market cycle shed (complete with ensuite!). I commuted by cycle every day (although to be honest it was only 2 miles)
In the meantime I introduced our daughter to the joys of cycling and hostelling including what must count as the slowest journey from Lands End to John O’Groats completed in four stages over four summer holidays and starting when she was just 10 it remains one of the highlights of my life.
Realising that I wasn’t going to live forever (a startlingly revelation of middle age) a couple of years ago I asked for four months unpaid leave to fulfil a dream to cycle tour round Europe. I cycled and camped the continent from Sicily in the South to Norway in the North and Estonia in the East and can bore you for hours with my tales of daring and do coupled with the amazing fact that I had only one puncture (Schwalbe tyres).

David Phillips

Yes, for a very short time I cycled to work as an adult.  Previously as a teenager I regularly toured the hilly suburbs of Bristol. I did this for enjoyment and to keep fit/ active for other physical/ sporting pursuits.

Ian Jerram
To be honest I'm not a regular cyclist. Where I do you use a bike it tends to be on holiday . I work in construction management so have to use a car for my day to day business where I travel up and down the UK visiting sites.

John Daramy

No reply yet

2, About cycling in Chesterfield
What do you think are the primary reasons for low levels of cycling in Chesterfield? Where do you think is the best place to accommodate cyclists - for example, on the road with motorists, on the pavement with pedestrians or on dedicated cycle paths?

Paul Holmes

Low levels of cycling in Chesterfield and in much of the country are generally for the same reasons everywhere:weather (wind,rain,snow, cold), hills, perceived impractibility of moving familes (young children,older relatives etc) around, carrying large amounts of shopping (most people do one weekly shop, especially if they work full time), comfort, age, infirmity, lack of safe cycle routes. Part of the problem though is also the 'cultural perception'. When I lived for 3 years in York in the 1970's (while at University), cycling was much more common -partly because York is flat but partly because there was a 'cycling culture' there that perceived cycling as a much more everyday means of transport. I have noticed the same thing in places like Cambridge and Norwich. London ironically has a higher ratio of cyclists than many places because very severe traffic congestion makes car travel so slow there that cycling can be a much  faster option. 

No I do not think that the law should be repealed to allow cyclists to use ordinary pavements. Most of our pavements in Chesterfield are too narrow to permit safe usage by both cyclists and pedestrians at the same time.The danger of pavement cyclists hitting people, including the elderly and children, coming out of garden gates, usually from blind spots behind hedges and fences, is far too great. Especially given that many of our pavements are too narrow,especially all those streets that were built in the nineteenth century. Where there is space to mark out distinct cycle lanes that would be a different matter but most of our existing urban infrastructure does not allow for that.

Toby Perkins

No reply yet

Carolyn Abbot

No reply yet

Duncan Kerr

Having moved to Bolsover a year ago I don’t claim to have detailed knowledge of every path and cycleway. My impression is that, thanks mainly to the CCC facilities in comparison with most other towns facilities are good........but by German, Scandinavian and Dutch standards there’s a lot more than can be done. That’s probably because we are spending £1 per person on cycling facilities against their £10.
As I said at the meeting – I think the way forward has been shown by the cycling demonstration towns
which have secured sustained increase in cycling as a result of having a clear strategy, dedicated cycling officers and modest funding.
The road v path debate is difficult for me – I always avoid using cycle paths on pavements that stop at every road junction and fear the day when cyclist are banished from the roads. It seems to be a peculiarly British concern even in law-abiding Germany it is common practice for cyclists and pedestrians to share all footpaths – indeed I think UK stats have only very reported one fatality from an accident between a cyclist and a pedestrian.
However I recognise the whilst I’m happy to cycle on main roads most people are not and if they are to gain confidence properly planned and separated cycleways (i.e not on footpaths) are the best option.

 

David Phillips

Primarily as a leisure activity.  It seems unlikely that anybody would combine cycling with any other purpose unless they actually enjoy riding the bike.

Ian Jerram

The lack of  cycling paths in Chesterfield is down to a Lib Dem borough council and a Labour / Tory county council. For me its clear that for the safety of cyclists, motorists and pedestrians we need more dedicated cycle paths.

John Daramy

No reply yet

3, About switching transport modes
According to the Chesterfield Borough Local Plan (section 6.25), 70 per cent of Chesterfield residents travel less than 5km (3 miles) to work. This is often quoted as the ideal cycling distance. What do think prevents people making the switch to cycling?

Paul Holmes

All the points in Question 2 plus the lack of adequate secure cycle racks.

Toby Perkins

No reply yet

Carolyn Abbot

No reply yet

Duncan Kerr

The recent paper from the London Councils was, I thought, pretty good at identifying the barriers to cycling in the capital – and many of these apply equally to Chesterfield.
www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/media/current/pressdetail.htm?pk=634
For some people in Chesterfield rain and hills will be a problem but for most people I strongly suspect the business of the major roads and the lack of cycle friends facilities at junctions and particularly roundabouts are the main impediments.

David Phillips

Ideally, separate cycle-ways -but I think that is unrealistic. Most cycle lanes in the urban areas are underused to the extent that they are superfluous.

Ian Jerram

1) the topography of Chesterfield and Staveley is very hilly might put people off 2) the lack of dedicated cycle paths 3) heavy car traffic through Chesterfield discouraging people from riding bikes.

John Daramy

No reply yet


4, Solutions to local problems
Chesterfield, like many other parts of the UK, suffers from problems with obesity, traffic congestion and air pollution. How do you think cycling and walking could form part of the solution.

Paul Holmes

Clearly cycling and walking could play a major part in combating obesity, traffic congestion and air pollution. We 'just' have to change the attitudes and lifestyles that have developed in our very affluent society over the last half century. This can be done -look at the huge reduction in smoking that has taken place in the last 20 years or so -but it is not easy. There has for example been a massive expansion in car ownership with up to 70% of households owning a car -many of course owning two and even many cyclists owning one as well! Improving rail and bus services (most public transport 'passenger miles' are in fact by bus), and putting in a better cycling infrastructure will all help but cannot be done overnight after decades of neglect. Much of our urban road and pavement network was built over half a century ago -quite a lot of it in the nineteenth century - and is often not wide enough for both cars/cycle only lanes (on roads), or pedestrians/cycle lanes (on pavements). New Planning requirements can start, and to some extent have started, to deal with this but a 150 year old urban landscape cannot be retrofitted either overnight or cheaply

Toby Perkins

No reply yet

Carolyn Abbot

No reply yet

Duncan Kerr

Cycling not only goes a long way to resolving these problems it also addresses many others – I was struck particularly in Germany and Holland by the degree to which cycling builds “social capital” that is networks of contacts and “friendliness” that can straddle differences in ages, backgrounds and social class in a way that very few other activities can. It is a uniquely democratic form of transport which facilitates personal and intimate relationships. I’m sure that there is a direct correlation between the number of people cycling and the happiness of the population.
Doing things that make you happy can be a more powerful motivators to change habits than being told to do something becauseu it will make you healthy.

David Phillips

As a regular mode of commute transport ?  Contra indications include local terrain; age and health; inclement weather; changing facilities; need of a motor vehicle as an essential user; storage/ security at place of work; arriving too tired to work !

Ian Jerram

I believe the Government has to push initaitives which promotes healthy living, including exercise such as cycling and walking. The pollution issue is certainly more complex. Yes we should remove gas guzzling cars from the roads but there are environmental issues with the likes of electric powered cars e.g. with disposal of used batteries.

John Daramy

No reply yet


5, Ways to increase cycling
How would you support measures to increase cycling rates in Chesterfield and the rest of the UK?

Paul Holmes

n the same way that I have done for the last 9 years as the MP for Chesterfield. I have for example lobbied Councils, Government and Rail Companies alike on behalf of cyclists. Over cycle racks at Chesterfield Station, over the capacity for bicycles on trains, over cycle paths in Chesterfield , over provision for cyclists in new developments. Most recently I supported requests for information from the County Council about pedestrian and cycle policies near schools, on behalf of Transition Chesterfield who had not been able to obtain some of this information. The problem in all these areas is:

 a) Working with an old urban infrastructure that was developed when no one thought about either specific cycling provision or modern traffic volumes.
 b) Trying to persuade private companies and developments to incorporate cycle friendly measures. One simple illustration of the problems -in Los Angeles, California, I have seen a fleet of modern publicly subsidised buses that all had as a standard fitting, cycle racks on the front. But since the privatisation of our buses in the 1980's  this could not be done here. Instead commercial profit making bodies have to be lobbied to to take a course of action that cuts into their profits -until we can recreate a genuine 'public transport' network!

 A change in perceptions and in planning requirements has begun and organisations like Chesterfield Cycle Campaign and Transition Chesterfield are key to maintaining and intensifying this pressure. Much can be done through local pressure but changes in national law and approaches are very much needed.

Toby Perkins

No reply yet

Carolyn Abbot

No reply yet

Duncan Kerr

My sense is that cycling remains and after thought in the planning and highways process. If we learn from the demonstration towns we can see the importance of having a clear strategy – so that we can maximise funding opportunities in a planned way (and there is no reason why the CCC cannot be commissioned by the Councils to prepare such a document); dedicated staff and a clear programme of local promotion.

David Phillips

Other observations -cost of cycle-ways/ lanes. 3rd party insurance requirement; road-worthiness of cycle;

Ian Jerram

One of the best way to improve cycling rates is to make cyclists feel safer. If you make town centres traffic free zones then your likely to make more people want to cycle.

John Daramy

No reply yet

6, Any other opinions
Do you have anything else to say about cycling and actions you might take if elected?

 

Paul Holmes

Paul Holmes didn't give any specific answer to this question.

Toby Perkins

No reply yet

Carolyn Abbot

No reply yet

Duncan Kerr

Yes – By chance whilst cycling the Rhine Way on a Sunday in July I stumbled into one of their care free days. The dual carriageway (their equivalent of the A61) was closed to all vehicle traffic and filled with every imaginable kind of cyclist along with roller bladders and roller skiers (you’d have to be there). The garages sold coffee and cake and some 20,000 people participated. It gives you a taste of what a different world would be like – I’d campaign to do the same 1 day a year in Chesterfield – but not on the A61!

I’d also campaign nationally to seek to provide proper surfacing to many more of our bridleways so that they can effectively become cycle routes. Currently County Council maintain roads and pavements but no-one maintains bridleways and they get cut up by 4WD and overgrown by vegetation. They aren’t all suitable for cycle paths – but several of them could be and very little cost.

And on the other chestnut – the mandatory helmet debate I’m firmly opposed.

David Phillips

This is  probably not quite as supportive as you had hoped and possibly presents me as being a cycling-sceptic, -but I am not.

Ian Jerram

If elected to serve the people of Chesterfield I promise to make every effort to use my bicycle more often. If elected I will join Chesterfields Cylists on any charity challenge they care to mention to raise money for Ashgate Hospice.

John Daramy

No reply yet

BRIMINGTON BYPASS

The Campaign is opposed to this bypass as we believe it wil devastate the canal green corridor. You can see the route as published on the Chesterfield Local Plan here.

Paul Holmes (Lib Dem) Brimington Staveley By Pass. This was first proposed in the 1930's, often promised since and has had the route laid out and protected from any other development for approaching 30 years now. The Tapton and the Staveley ends have been built but 'hang in the air' without the middle bit.Indeed the Tapton end was built right next to where I first lived on Muirfield Close at Tapton.

Is this By Pass needed? Absolutely and the environmental benefits to the 10,000 or so households along its route would be enormous and immediate. Of 100's of letters and emails I ahve received on this topic only 6 opposed the completion of the By Pass and only one of those 6 came from someone who lived in Brimington/Staveley! The exisiting A619 is a narrow, essentially, nineteenth century road that is seriously congested and inflicts some of the worst air pollution in Chesterfield on the households along its route. It is now the main communications link for:
a) All the households along the Brimington -Staveley corridor.
b) The flourishing, Borough Council initiated, industrial estates in Staveley that have successfully brought many new jobs into the Staveley area to help replace some of those lost by the pit closures.
c) Some traffic to and from J30 on the M1
d) An increasing amount of traffic that will result from the Markham Vale development at J29a on the M1, as and when this potentially huge industrial estate begins to develop fully.The Staveley end of the By Pass has recently been built to channel this anticipated traffic away from residential areas, but currently effectively ends nowhere and traffic then has to head back through Staveley on existing old and inadequate roads.

Can the By Pass route be redesigned to minimise its impact on the now revived Chesterfield Canal? Yes it can and I am told that Borough Council and County Council Planners are looking at what can be done.The existing route was first put forward over 20 years ago when I was a newly elected Borough Cllr in Brimington. At that point the County Council proposed putting the then largely derelict Canal into an underground culvert in order to clear the route for the by pass. I and other Cllrs successfully fought to change that plan so that the Canal could be saved -as it has been.Work that I have always supported in every way possible. The Canal has moved on since then -and so has the availability of Brownfield development land along its route. Of course some changes can be made in the exact routing of the road to take account of this.

It should though be remembered that the Canal has always existed in an industrial and transport corridor -indeed was the very reason that that area was first opened up to potteries, steel works and all the rest, starting in the eighteenth century. The new Canal baisin has been put in as a result of the Waterside Development  -a £300Million Private Sector development which the Canal Society has been delighted to work with. The redevelopment of the derelict brownfield land at that end of the canal will provide much needed jobs and houses for Chesterfield without impinging on greenfield sites. So will the opening up, by a new road, of all the Brownfield land now available in the two century old industrial and transport corridor that runs behind Brimington and Staveley and now includes the very recently cleared site of Staveley Steelworks and the closing site of Rhone Poulenc (formerly Staveley Chemicals). An increase in cycling, bus use and of rail or light rail systems can reduce some of the associated traffic demands - but it cannot replace it either in its entirety or in the forseeable future.

If the Brimington Staveley By Pass is not completed then the existing 10,000 housholds are being condemned to endure continual traffic congestion and air pollution from often standstill traffic queues. If the huge areas of brownfield sites are not opened up to redevelopment then greenfield sites elsewhere will be needed -surely the opposite of what we should be seeking? Canals, industry, housing and transport have always co existed but with modern perspectives and planning requirements the linear green 'park' of a renovated canal can be protected in the way that industrial canals never were in the past.
 

Ian Jerram (English Democrats) has indicated support of the route and its alignment.

Duncan Kerr (Green) made this reply - The Green Party manifesto makes is explicit that we would redirect the £30bn we spend annually on road building to the development of a sustainable public transport.
 
Having failed to resolve traffic congestion through road building and with peak oil either here, or just around the corner, we need to have the vision to put long term interests over short term ones and start cutting carbon emissions now. The good news is that by appropriate prioritisation we have the capital to deliver a comprehensive and sustainable transport system. It would be the same sort of lasting legacy for future generations that the victorians left us with their railways.