Faversham Town Council needs to be careful not to be sending mixed messages about cycling. It’s clear from Faversham Future Forum comments that new development in the town needs to support cycling. If this is the case then, to be effective, cycling needs to be supported throughout the whole town. And this includes, in my opinion, the town centre itself.
So I think it’s counter-productive to promote a ban on town-centre cycling.
Cycling in pedestrianised areas
There’s no reason a pedestrian area has to ban cycling. This blogpost is worth a read:
It describes the range of measures to be found in pedestrianised areas throughout the UK and offers guidance on how to promote safe cycling in them.
Here are four short extracts:
“The standout message, therefore, is that cycling behaviour naturally adapts itself to pedestrian environments…The evidence shows that we can trust people to make the right decisions.”
“The rationale for these bans – or the refusal to lift them – is usually a single incident (or even just an anecdote) about a near miss, or a collision, involving a pedestrian and a someone cycling. This is a poor basis for making policy, and, if applied to the road network as a whole, would lead to the wholesale closure of roads to motor vehicles.”
“East Street, in Horsham, is now closed to motor vehicles between 10:30am and 4:30pm each day, but with cycling still permitted. For these six hours, it’s a pedestrianised area, with cycling in it. After two years, there hasn’t been a single incident involving cycling, or complaint (as far as I am aware). There have been only two (slight) pedestrian injuries, both involving motor vehicles, outside of the ‘pedestrianised’ hours. It works well.”
“However the background assumption in the UK seems to be that cycling is ‘a problem’, that needs to be clamped down on, and eradicated in pedestrian areas, even where there is scope for its introduction.”
Cycling in Faversham
I took a look again at the reporting of the Local Engagement Forum in 2015 when cycling in the town centre was discussed. There is a large number of comments beneath the article that are worth a browse because they speak about a wide range of relevant experiences. A warning, though, some are rude about councillors, sorry:
Of course anti-social cycling should be tackled. But that is no reason to put a blanket ban around all cyclists. In the same way the odd misbehaved person on a bench is no reason to ban sitting in the town centre.
A thought: by banning cyclists from riding or pushing their bikes across the town centre the Town Council, Swale Borough Council and Kent County Council are forcing cyclists to ride on the B2040 inner ring road, with its hostile traffic and substandard cycle infrastructure. It’s hardly surprising there are so few cyclists in Faversham when these are the conditions that cyclists face.
A vision for the future of Faversham town centre
If we follow what the research shows, rather than what anecdotes assume, then a vision for the town centre should promote both cycling and sitting – as well as a new, time-limited parking regime that encourages vehicle use whenever the town centre gates are open.
We have to stop saying no and start saying yes.
A new Traffic Order for the town centre
This vision can be achieved through a rewriting of the Traffic Order for the town centre. Since a new Traffic Order would need to be written to paint double yellow lines around the Guildhall (the previous one expired last year, two years after it came into force) the opportunity could be taken to follow a different and far-sighted approach.
Does Faversham’s Town Council have the vision to seize this opportunity? Or will it continue to say “No (parking), no (cycling), no (sitting)”?