Friar Gate Cycle Lanes are Misrepresented by DEFRA


OBJECT again to the removal of the Friar Gate cycle lane as part of Derby’s Clean Air Strategy.

DEFRA have replied to some of the correspondence from objectors to the removal of the cycle lane on Friar Gate. Derby Cycling Group wonders where they have got their information from; they speak of “local knowledge being crucial in solving pollution problems”. Here are some examples of their replies:

  • The cycle lane on Friar Gate is “a very short section of bus lane which is also used by confident cyclists.”
    • There are several untruths about that statement:
      • The cycle lane is a cycle lane as well as a bus lane!
      • It is used by all sorts of cyclists
    • The cycle lane may be “very short” but it is a crucial safety element on this piece of  road for cyclists. Size isn’t everything!
    • Is it alright to have dead or injured cyclists so long as they are confident ones?
  • Regarding the off-road path alongside Friar Gate, DEFRA say that it is OK to remove the on-road cycle lane because the off-road path is a suitable alternative. Quote “The NCN routes 54 and 68 already use a diversion to take cyclists past this junction to link directly to the existing off road cycle route on Friar Gate”
    • They are correct it is a “diversion” but good cycle routes follow continuous and direct routes, not diversions.
    • DfT standards say that cycle routes should be direct and continuous.
    • The Friar Gate off road cycle path has many faults:
      • It is of very poor quality by any standards, and especially measured against the forthcoming revised DfT standards
      • It is only useable by people travelling in a specific direction (it does not cater for people travelling along Ashbourne Road into town)
      • It is fraught with hazards:
        • Very narrow in many places with tree roots making a surface which can be dangerous
        • Cyclists have no right of way at side roads, which poses its own risks
        • There are severe cobbled sections which are rough and are slippery in the wet
      • It is slow and indirect:
        • Cyclists have to cross moving traffic on Friar Gate to get onto the cycle path
        • It only runs for 1/3 of the length of Friar Gate.
        • Cyclists then have to negotiate three sets of traffic lights before they have to cross the street again to rejoin the road at the Stafford Street junction
    • By contrast the on-road cycle route:
      • Is direct and continuous over the full length of Friar Gate
      • Provides rights of way over traffic emerging from side roads and driveways
      • Is made safe by the provision of that short length of cycle lane, as well as the cycle/bus/taxi-only section of road from Bridge Street to The Warwick
  • DEFRA say there was overwhelming support for this traffic management approach during public consultation – but:
    • That was only for the traffic management option over the two clean air charging zone options (what a choice!)
    • In the Preferred Option consultation (Section 4, page 6)
      • The majority of respondents (42.9%) said that they strongly disagree/ disagree that the preferred option addresses roadside NO2 in the shortest possible time.”
      • The majority of respondents (44.4%) strongly disagree/ disagree that the preferred option maximises benefits and minimises costs for the Government.”
    • They say there has been considerable engagement with local cycling groups, but omit to say that Derby Cycling Group emphatically opposes the removal of the cycle lane.
    • The Derby City Council Full Business Case does not mention the removal of this cycle lane and does not mention the many cycling-supportive responses in the consultation documents (refer to the article “Friar Gate Cycle Lanes Misrepresented by Derby City Council”).

DEFRA have commented:

  • “This government is committed to increasing cycling and walking and making our roads safer for vulnerable users”.
    • In a contest to choose the best cycle route into town along Friar Gate run by a government committed to making roads safer for vulnerable users, the on-road cycle lane would win hands down.
    • Why? Because removing it makes the road more dangerous for the most vulnerable on-road users – cyclists.

Write NOW to DEFRA  defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk   and copy the minister for Air Quality: therese.coffey.mp@parliament.uk

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