Cycle Winchester calls for improvements to Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan

DfT summary of LCWIP

On December 6th, Hampshire County Council opened a consultation on the Winchester Movement Strategy and the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. The consultation closes just before midnight on Friday 11 February 2022. We’d encourage our supporters to respond to the various aspects of the consultation, and we’ll be publishing more information shortly to help you with your response.

The Movement Strategy itself is very broad, covering diverse aspects of travelling in the city by car, public transport, cycling or on foot. The latest presentation proposes ten “next steps”, one of which focuses on cycling, specifically safe routes on Stockbridge Road and from Kings Worthy to Hyde. We’ll revisit those proposals in a separate update.

The focus of this article is Winchester’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). It’s fair to say we are disappointed in the LCWIP, and we think it needs improving. We have submitted a written response, and we’ve had a constructive conversation about our concerns in an informal meeting with Hampshire transport planners. At this stage we don’t feel it’s helpful to make our full response public, but we explain below the purpose of an LCWIP.

What is an LCWIP?

The key outputs of the LCWIP as required by the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans for Local Authorities, DfT April 2017 (see also Appendix) are:

  • a network plan for walking and cycling which identifies preferred routes and core zones for further development,
  • a prioritised programme of infrastructure improvements for future investment,
  • a report which sets out the underlying analysis carried out and provides a narrative which supports the identified improvements and network.

What is an LCWIP for?

The LCWIP should be about opportunities.

It’s about saying, “What would a connected city look like?”, “What could we put in place, where, to encourage people to walk and cycle rather than drive?”, “What changes would make the most difference?”

It’s not about doing everything now. It’s not a single project: it’s guidance for future projects and funding opportunities, some of which may not at first glance have anything to do with cycling.

The LCWIP should incorporate cycling and walking infrastructure improvements into every decision the local authority makes about its roads and its built environment. It’s not just a document for a one-off project to improve some cycle routes, it’s a document that should inform every plan to change the traffic flow in the streets, every decision to build traffic calming or put in traffic lights or change the one-way system. Every such plan should have to answer the question, “How will this make it easier to walk or cycle?” (Not “will this make it easier?”, “how will it?”.)

It can sit behind local planning policy, providing concrete ideas for active travel improvement whenever planning matters are being considered.

When new developments are proposed, it can provide off-the-shelf ideas, e.g., for Section 106 contributions (the money that developers pay towards improving local services as part of planning permission being granted), or ways that the development itself can easily add to the active travel network in its surroundings. Developers can and should build it into their Transport Assessments and Travel Plans.

It can provide a guide for major development projects. To take an obvious current example, Southampton University wants to expand its campus area within Winchester. Yet the current campus is one of the major blocks on safe active travel between Winnall, River Park and the railway station. The LCWIP should provide an obvious cue for the university: here’s the problem, here are the potential routes, here’s what you could do to enable them and benefit the local community.

It’s not a plan for a single project. It doesn’t have to come up with detailed proposals for every metre of every suggested cycle route, nor does it have to identify the funding to build the whole network. It’s there so that whenever funding opportunities do arise, it can provide ready-made suggestions, complete with rough costings and potential benefits.

Building a city-wide cycle route network is not going to be the result of a single dedicated project, or even multiple projects, though those can help. It will be the result of lots of individual pieces of the jigsaw being slotted into place when the opportunities arise – sometimes as a dedicated initiative, sometimes as part of other activities or changes.

But that relies on there being a jigsaw to work to. Without that there’s no way of prioritising or justifying individual cycling facilities.

Cycle Winchester thinks that the published Winchester LCWIP documents don’t yet fulfil these important functions, and a lot more work is needed.

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