Junction 23 (M1/A512) Improvements Scheme
Local cyclists have been expressing disappointment in the changes made as a result of this scheme. Whilst parts of the cycle route from Shepshed down to just past the new Garendon roundabout are being improved, the route in many areas will remain unsatisfactory. After a query as to why the entire route had not been improved, the County Council provided a response that is summarised below.
We have indeed improved the footway/cycleway width to 3m from the M1 J23 roundabout down to the Snells Nook junction. This is partly due to the fact that we have sufficient land ownership rights, to enable us to construct this.
Unfortunately, to the West of M1 J23, we are faced with a number of issues on the Northern shared use pathway.
- We are very limited in the availability of highway land in certain locations. We have no initial legal right to encroach onto third party land, to gain the extra space needed, to widen.
- The railings (north side of Ashby Road going into Shepshed), which in fact run the length of the brook, and a historic bridge, would make it extremely difficult in an engineering sense to widen the path. It would entail adding extra support structures, and this brings us back to the first issue of the lack of available highway land.
- The majority of the improvement scheme is being provided by Leicestershire County Council, on behalf of developers, as part of their planning obligations. Now, as part of these obligations, there is no stipulation to widen the path in question, therefore we are unable to conduct works outside of this scope at this moment in time. That is why along this section of path, the kerbline itself has not been altered.
Stephen Dee has responded to this as summarised below.
- There was more than adequate highway land available to make the improvement at minimal additional cost to the scheme. The simple solution would have been to not allow a right turn into the Newhurst Facility when heading east towards the M1 Jct 23. Newhurst traffic would then proceed to the roundabout at the M1 junction and go all the way around back towards Shepshed. The right turn exit from Newhurst would not be impacted. The dualling of the lanes eastbound happens after the Newhurst Exit traffic joins the A512. Hence by removing the turn right filter lane there would have been more than enough room to fix the problem properly. This would have a traffic flow benefit in that the west bound traffic on the A512 going pass the Newhurst facility would only need to stop for traffic exiting the site and not crossing the road to enter the site.
- At the old bridge it appears that the original parapet is further back from road. In addition the boundary fence is further back, although the trees grow up against the fence. Hence there is land there assuming the fence and old bridge parapet forms the true boundary. Construction of a simple vertical retaining wall would allow the shared use path to be widened to 3m.
John Catt and local cyclist Jim Thorpe had a site meeting with representatives from Leicestershire County Council and the contractors, Morgan Sindall, where they raised concerns about poor patching, tarmac joints not properly made and sealed, weed coming through some of the new surfaces and slightly undulating surfaces in some areas.
They were told that the project had a limited objective, which was to ease traffic congestion due to building on the Garendon estate. Consequently there was only budget for improving cycling facilities specifically linked to the project, so the existing provision not directly affected in the vicinity was ignored since it lay outside of the project.
The patching and sealing of areas excavated by the utilities could not be improved since these met the fairly low standards required of utilities, so the County Council could not make a case against them. Evidently utilities are not required to seal the edges of replacement tarmac, thus leaving it open to weathering.
Most of the replacement surfaces on the cycle tracks were very smooth, but a few areas had some small undulations that would be felt by cyclists. These were due to the tracks at these points being too narrow to use machines and the surfaces were deemed to meet the required standard. Assurance were given that areas where weeds were growing through would be picked up on inspection and rectified.
Whilst the cycle tracks associated with this development are mostly of a good standard, the delays caused by the changed layout mean that overall there is little to commend this scheme to cyclists. An opportunity for a radical improvement to the cycle route between Shepshed and Loughborough has been missed.
The Problem of Killer Motorists
How I think signing the #RyansLaw petition might help address it
by Ariadne Tampion
Imagine a much-loved member of your family has died after being hit by a dangerous driver. You think that's bad enough? Now imagine sitting in a court of law and learning that it was not the dangerous driving which killed your family member but the lying in the road injured afterwards, when the driver had scarpered. Now imagine watching that driver walk free from court, smirking and strutting, having been found guilty only of failing to stop after an accident, and thereby escaping an immediate custodial sentence.
I imagined it all, when I learned on Twitter that this was what had happened to the Saltern family of Cornwall, and immediately signed and shared their parliamentary petition. Young postman Ryan, the father of a small child, was out doing his job when the incident happened. The petition calls for the offence of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving to be widened to include failure to stop, call 999 and render aid at the scene until further help arrives. It is a commonly seen phenomenon that when a person suffers an unexpected and tragic death, this person's grieving family fixates onto something which they believe could have prevented the death, probably correctly, but without taking into account the bigger picture. I have seen calls for sweeping restrictions on activities which provide great benefits to many other people without incident, and calls for mass NHS screening programmes when the deceased paid multiple visits to their GP with obvious symptoms but got told, "You're too young to have that, dear."
By contrast, the Salterns' demands seemed very sensible, which is why I had no problems supporting them, and why I planned to write this piece to gather further support from fellow Loughborough and District Cycle Users' Campaign members. But when I revisited the petition to check the details, I discovered a new development: the Government had produced an initial response.
This response suggests that the driver in the Saltern case could have been charged with Causing Death by Dangerous Driving under the law as it stands. The Failing to Stop could have been considered as an aggravating factor, leading to a heavier punishment. The driver could even have been charged with Perverting the Course of Justice, which carries a life sentence as a maximum penalty.
So the issue now begins to look not like inadequate law, but inadequate enforcement of existing law. I readily admit that all I know of the Saltern case is from links on Twitter, so am unqualified to comment on its specifics. But we do, unfortunately, still live in a culture in which 'normal folk' are assumed to drive everywhere all the time, and anybody outside a car is seen as 'the other'; even if they do not exactly deserve whatever they get, they should not be surprised by it. In a case like this, magistrates, judges and jurors may be inclined to look at the driver rather than the bereaved family when they think, "There but for the grace of God go I."
So is there any point in signing the petition? I still think, yes! With more signatures, it could be debated in Parliament. And then, even if the law is not changed, the guidance to courts on how to implement the existing law may be, with positive effect. But ultimately, true justice for the victims of killer motorists will only be delivered when we change our culture to see killer motorists as no different from any other sort of killer. The work along these lines by campaigning organisations including ours will continue to be important in eventually effecting that change.
The petition can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/575620. It is open for signatures until 2nd September.
Some Good News
Road traffic trends during 2020 have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK. Motor vehicle traffic on Britain’s roads decreased by 21.3% between 2019 and 2020.
When comparing 2020 to 2019:
- car traffic decreased by 24.7%
- the figure of 209.6 billion vehicle miles was the lowest annual estimate in the last 29 years.
- traffic on the Strategic Road Network decreased by 25.1%
- A’ roads saw a 23.2% decrease in traffic
- minor road traffic decreased by 17.2%
Now the Bad News
Cars will continue to be the preferred mode of transport for around half of journeys post-Covid, a survey of travel plans has revealed, putting climate targets and a fair economic recovery at risk according to leading sustainable transport charity Campaign for Better Transport.
The survey, which was carried out in March, asked people what modes of transport they used before the pandemic for various activities and which they intend to use once all restrictions are lifted. It showed the UK adult population largely expecting to choose to travel as they did before the pandemic, with private cars remaining the dominant form of transport for around half of trips for shopping (50% vs. 49% before the pandemic), leisure (54% vs. 52%) and personal matters (53% vs. 52%). The proportion of people who intend to use public transport once restrictions are lifted is very similar to the proportion who used it before the pandemic, but this is likely to be affected by the kinds of journeys people need to make in the future.
Apologies re. Google Meet AGM
Our apologies to anyone who had difficulty connecting to the AGM. Our understanding of what was provided by Google Meet was incorrect and you did need a Google account.