North Road Challenge

I was up with the lark this morning to witness the start of a two-centre trial involving supporters of the Walk Ride Bath active travel campaign group.

It was the start of the inaugural University Challenge commuter race to prove that cycling IS a practical way around the city – even if there is a hill in the way.

They are pitting bike against e-bike, e-scooter and car from the New Oriel Hall in Larkhall – and also (on the flat) the Odd Down Sports Ground – and heading off for the Bath University campus at Claverton Down.

One route takes in the hill that is also partly North Road which B&NES have earmarked for an active travel scheme that would restrict through traffic and create a new safer cycle route. It’s one of three such schemes awaiting approval.

There to see them off was Theresa Waterhouse – who is secretary of Transition Larkhall – and ward councillor Joanna Wright.

However the Council has recently announced that its cabinet will be asked – next week – to approve changes to the North Road proposals.

In a press release yesterday it stated:

“The city centre to university scheme is being split into parts. As there was strong support for the Beckford Road proposals, they will go on to the next stage. The proposed North Road changes are not being progressed at the moment.

The council remains fully committed to providing safe, strategic cycle routes from the city centre to the university and the large educational and employment sites in Claverton Down.  Therefore an additional in-depth engagement, such as a citizens’ jury, will involve the community on improved ways of getting to the university.”

There to watch today’s campaigners leave from Larkhall was Lambridge Ward Cllr Joanna Wright – recently removed from her transport cabinet role where she led on the Lib-Dem manifesto promise to deliver low traffic neighbourhoods and active travel schemes.

I asked her whether the revisions made to the North Road scheme meant today’s demonstration was a waste of time? 

Meanwhile Andy Stewart – who has helped organise today’s demonstration ride – issued the following statement:

“The announcement yesterday that the new Lib-Dem administration is not planning to go ahead with the North Road trial scheme is one of the reasons we are running this event – to prove that North Road is a viable route and those who claim ‘no one will use it’ are wrong.

The North Road scheme was unpopular. That is a reason why it should have gone ahead as a trial.

It is fantastic that the Council is planning other schemes but it needs to be brave and bold if it’s going to tackle the Climate Change emergency. The previous administration was. This one is clearly too ready to cow-down to those who put what they see as their ‘right’ to drive everywhere and destroy the planet.

No, I’m not anti-car, I own one, and I use it most days, but I cycle more often than I drive. More people need to look at and change their supposedly ‘convenient’ car journeys for the good of us all.

Walk Ride Bath is planning to hold a demonstration outside of the Guildhall when the Council Cabinet meets next Wednesday to discuss the North Road scheme.. details to follow.”

Andy later sent me the results of this ‘University Challenge.’

1st Shan – EBike off-road route from Larkhall 14 minutes and 28 seconds. 

2nd Willem- Bike from Larkhall via the London Road 16m18s

3rd Ed – from Odd Down, Road route. 17m40s

4th. Mark – EScooter from Larkhall. 18m36s

5th Pete –  Bike from Larkhall. Off Road route. 18m46s

6th. Matt. Bike from Odd Down. Road and off road. 19m38s

7th. Liz. EBike from Odd Down. Road and off road. 20m23s

8th. Adam. EBike from Odd Down following the Scholars Way. 21m15s

9th. Dave.  Driving from Larkhall. 23m40s

10th Andy. Driving from Odd Down 25m16s

11th John. Walked from Larkhall 37m32s.

Thanks for that Andy.

While we are talking about encouraging cycling – here’s a date for your diary.

1 Comment

  1. I am a cyclist living on North Road who regularly cycles up and down North Road ( albeit on an ancient pedal assisted bike!) and I sympathise with many of Councillor Wright’s comments.

    However there are some simple solutions that would enhance cyclists safety on North Road.

    1. Enforce a 20 mile per hour speed limit on North Road.

    2. Remove the current free parking above King Edward’s school to enhance safety on that steepest section.

    3. Improve the road surface . There are still some scary potholes !

    Graham Walker

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