Let’s get serious about cycling.

Let’s get serious about cycling.

We might have a West of England Combined Authority but, according to cycle campaigner Adam Reynolds, it’s time it got serious about tackling congestion and improving the health of the population. One way to do that, he says,  is to appoint a Cycling Commissioner and invest some REAL money in invest in proper cycling routes.

cyclebath adam reynolds

Adam Reynolds who is Chair of CycleBath.

These are some of the points Mr Reynolds – who is Chair of an organisation called Cycle Bath – will be making when he speaks in front of a meeting of the Authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel being held at Bath’s Guildhall tomorrow – Thursday, March 21st.

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 17.53.40

He’s sent his whole presentation to Bath Newseum and here it is in full!

“I am speaking on behalf of Cycle Bath and Bristol Cycling Campaign both of which actively campaign for better cycling infrastructure. As a software engineer and data scientist, I have been able to leverage my skills to analyse the Census 2011 WU03EW “Location of usual residence and place of work by method of travel to work” data set.

I can tell you that of the 153,623(125,908+27,715) Bristol and Bath car commuters, 18.9% [28,989 (24,396+4,593)] live within a 20 minute walk of work, 42.1% [64,678(56,277+8,401)] live within a 20 minute cycle of work, and 61.7% [94,800(83072+11728)] live within a 20 minute electric bike ride of work.

I have already had a meeting last year with Mayor Tim Bowles to emphasise these statistics, highlighting the work Transport For London are doing around Strategic Cycling Analysis (http://content.tfl.gov.uk/strategic-cycling-analysis.pdf) as well as presenting the www.pct.bike and www.cyipt.bike tools, both of which have been funded by the DfT.IMG_7305

Transport For London recently stated that cycle lanes move 5 times as many people per square metre as car lanes. A single bi-directional protected cycle lane is the equivalent of installing a 5 lane motorway through a city. The investment in gold standard cycle infrastructure in the City of London has resulted in the majority of traffic on the roads now being people cycling.

On top of this, we have estimated that congestion is costing Bath and Bristol businesses £55 million per year and costing individuals residents upwards of £1,500 per year in time and costs. We’re talking congestion costs reaching almost £300 million per year across Bath and Bristol, and god knows what costs the NHS are incurring due to air pollution and obesity.

Yet WECA transport policy seems to be simply about junction 18A of the M4, buses, and trains. There is no recognition that walking and cycling play any role in tackling congestion. Unlike other regional mayors, there is no dedicated cycling commissioner. Funding for cycling has been bundled with walking, and combined, is only 5% of the budget, or a paltry £400m. The Greater Manchester Mayor has committed to invest £1.5 BILLION in cycling alone. If WECA did the same per head of population it would be £500M on cycling alone.

Cycling as a form of transport offers significant benefits to tackling congestion and improving public health. The Mayor can tackle congestion cheaply by simply identifying all Key Road Network routes where significant numbers are travelling to work by car that could travel to work by bicycle in under 20 minutes and prioritise the building of good separate protected space for walking, cycling, and driving along these routes over the provision of on-street parking.

When will WECA get serious about tackling congestion and improving the health of the population? Where is WECA’s cycling vision? Where is our Cycling Commissioner? Where is our Chris Boardman? Where is the commitment from WECA to deliver healthy streets?


Why does the mayor seem obsessed with cars, buses and trains, when 60% of workers live within an easy electric bike ride of work? And while we’re at it, where’s the identification of key cycle routes to schools with upwards of 30% of rush hour traffic being the school run?

Why are WECA’s transport policies not answerable to Public Health? Why is there nobody from the NHS invited to be involved in defining transport policy?

We are almost one year into Mayor Tim Bowles term in office and cycling simply does not seem to register on his radar as a solution for tackling congestion and improving the health of the population. I can only compare his progress to that of other Mayors and currently it feels glacial and very timid when looking at what other Mayors are achieving.”




Michael – the busker from New York – starting his musical day in Abbey Church Yard. Always stops at 10.30 on the dot to let us Mayor’s Guides call in our tour group and give them a safety briefing before starting off on our two-hour trip around the city.


It’s Hallelujah all round as students and busker Michael raise the Abbey Church Yard ‘roof’ with Leonard Cohen’s iconic song.

Today – while singing Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ -he had an appreciative group of young French students – outside the Roman Baths – to sing the chorus.

We all waited this time for him to finish the song and then applause all round.

Mayor’s Guides leave from outside the Pump Room every day at 10.30 and again at 2pm. No charge. More information via www.bathguides.org.uk

New flags for the Guildhall.

New flags for the Guildhall.

Having whinged about the Union flag on Bath’s  Guildhall looking as if it too had suffered cuts l am pleased to see someone has been up on the roof to take look.


It did look like it’s cut in half, doesn’t it?

Seems the flag had caught itself on the flagpole and had not been physically cut in half. It is flying free now.


That’s more like it!

A patriotic ‘insider’ tells me two new flags are on order. So prepare yourself for a brand new red, white and blue and also a replacement B&NES flag. Not before time as the Council’s emblem had all put faded away!


Rail closure over Easter.

Rail closure over Easter.

Easter problems ahead on our railway link with Bristol it seems.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is asking visitors and commuters to the city to be patient while works are carried out to improve the route over the holiday period.

Passengers are being asked to plan their journeys as services are suspended between Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa from Friday 30 March and Tuesday 3 April (inclusive).

bath spa station

The line is being closed to enable Network Rail to upgrade signalling

in preparation an increase in trains – including more services between the West and London from 2019, and will result in improved reliability.

GWR will be providing replacement bus services between Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa, as well as other stations affected on the route.

While Bath Spa station remains open, passengers travelling to and from London need to be aware that the frequency of services will be affected.

Cllr Mark Shelford (Conservative, Lyncombe) Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, said: “Bath remains very much open for business throughout this period. We are working closely with Network Rail and GWR to try to minimise disruption to travellers, but would ask passengers to remain patient. This work will eventually result in improved rail services to and from the city and more frequent trains”.

Passengers are advised to plan their journey carefully and allow extra time – particularly if commuting to work after the bank holiday weekend, on Tuesday 3 April.

For more information visit:  www.nationalrail.co.uk/easter, www.gwr.com/bristol2018 or www.networkrail.co.uk/bristol-upgrades.

Immerse yourself in history at Bath’s American Museum

Immerse yourself in history at Bath’s American Museum


Things are definitely stirring at the American Museum after its winter sleep – and one unfortunately that came to an end rather suddenly with a damaging water leak.

Staff and volunteers have been up against it getting things back on track for the most unusual spring opening l can remember.  After a slight delay, the museum is about to launch a commemorative exhibition marking the centenary of America’s involvement in World War I on 29 March.

The museum, which is based at Claverton Manor  – the place where Winston Churchill made his first political speech – will be hosting ‘Side by Side: America and World War I’; an exhibition that seeks to tell the stories of ordinary Americans and their extraordinary impact on the war effort.

It’s a subject that is surely going to encourage more males to visit the only American museum anywhere in the UK.

Watch recovered from the wreck of RMS Lusitania - American Museum Side By Side Exhibtition - Peter Hall

The watch recovered from the wreck of RMS Lusitania.

It’s also going to be the museum’s first interactive exhibition and one with some extremely rare artefacts on display. Included amongst them is a watch recovered from the wreck of RMS Lusitania. The ship was torpedoed by the Germans in 1915, and over a thousand people lost their lives, including 128 neutral American citizens.

This star item is joined by a Purple Heart medal, awarded to the father of one of the museum’s two founders, Captain Alexander Pratt (1883-1947). The exhibition also includes some items which have previously not been on public display, such as a family archive, which includes a pair of French baby booties sent home by a US soldier to his pregnant wife.

Purple Heart medal 4 - American Museum Side By Side Exhibtition - Peter Hall

A Purple Heart medal

Each visitor to the exhibition will be given a personnel file, which details the war experience of a real person. These files include the stories of those often left out of America’s World War I history; namely women, African Americans, and Native Americans.

Living history WW1 soldier 4 - American Museum Side By Side Exhibtition - Peter Hall

Living history with an WW1 solider to talk to!

Head of Visitor Experience, Jon Ducker said, “We really want visitors to feel the personal impact of the war, and also to hear the experiences of those that have been forgotten. There are some amazing accounts of immense bravery from the Native and African American communities which have never been heard.”

There will be interactive spaces, including a field hospital and a life size model of a French Renault FT17 tank, which was used by the Americans on the Western Front. Doughboys,Tommys and Red Cross Nurses will also be appearing during the launch weekend of March 17, and on select dates throughout the exhibition; giving visitors a fully immersive WW1 experience.

Replica WW1 Tank in workshop - this will be available to film and photography at the press launch on 27 March

The replica WW1 tank which will be on display.

The overwhelming focus will be on the personal experiences of war through a number of primary sources including newspaper articles and soldiers’ letters, as well as artistic responses such as popular songs, novels by the likes of Ernest Hemmingway and prints by Montgomery Flagg and Kerr Eby.

Chief Curator, Kate Hebert said, “Our exhibition will explore the subtleties of how America joining the conflict helped to end the stalemate and bring about the end of the war, challenging the preconceptions of both British and American audiences. While the military impact of America’s involvement in World War I may still be a matter for debate among historians, what is certain is that the war had an irreversible impact on America: Civil Rights, universal suffrage, and world politics.

“As the only museum outside of the US dedicated to celebrating American culture, we felt it was only right to pay tribute to those Americans, both at home and in Europe, who fought so bravely in World War I.”

America joined the war in April 1917, and troops engaged in their first major land battle in May 1918, helping the Allies bring the war to its close on 11 November 1918. Despite their relatively short participation over 53,400 Americans were killed in action, an average of 820 a day.

‘Side by Side: America and World War I’ runs from 29 March 2018 – 28 October 2018. For more information please see: https://americanmuseum.org


CPRE President in Bath

CPRE President in Bath

Emma Bridgewater – President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) – is coming to Bath next month.

Emma Bridgewater

Emma Bridgewater.

She’ll be taking part in an informal interview with Caroline Kay who is Chief Executive of Bath Preservation Trust. The event will be held at St Michael’s Without in Bath on Wednesday, April 18th at 7pm.

A successful businesswoman and champion of British Industry, Emma is most recognised for her trademark hand-decorated kitchen pottery business.

Now employing over 300 people, she has refused to outsource manufacturing to low wage economies abroad and her company makes all of its pottery in Stoke on Trent, reviving these traditional skills.

The evening will take the form of an informal interview, chaired by Caroline Kay, Chief Executive of BPT. Topics will include the green landscape setting of Bath’s World Heritage Site and threats from development plus CPRE’s own national campaigns ‘the wrong homes in the wrong places’ and ‘roads to nowhere’ which also challenge Green Belt development.

In this centenary year of women getting the vote, Emma will also look at women who campaign and share some of her own relevant experiences of countryside campaigning.

Tickets are £5 via Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-evening-with-emma-bridgewater-tickets-44223135589

Council puts a ‘hold’ on moving the London Road planters.

Council puts a ‘hold’ on moving the London Road planters.

It’s now my understanding that a ‘hold’ has been ordered on any removal of the special planters installed a few years as part of an expensive regeneration plan for the city end of Bath’s polluted London Road.

The metal troughs – artistically decorated and designed to had an oxidised (rusty) surface – were planted with trees and draped with hanging vines.

Last week many locals were shocked to see many trees had been uprooted and taken away. One had been one cut through with a saw – leaving just the roots.

Local councillor Richard Samuel – one of two people representing the Walcot Ward – told Bath Newseum that a plan to remove the majority of planters out of London Road was turning the clocks back and insulting those who walk or cycle to work.


Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 13.31.50

Artistically created they may have been – but ‘safety’ obstruction they turned out to be. That is the explanation Council officers gave Cllr Samuel for the removal of trees and their designer planters and he’s not happy about it either!

He says he wasn’t been kept ‘in the loop’ and was shocked to hear the expensive containers – the work of local artist Jane Veveris Callan – are going to be scrapped.

On her website, Jane includes that work in her CV:

“She was recently commissioned by Bath & North East Somerset Council to create designs that were laser cut onto CorTen steel tree planters and grilles as part of the London Rd Gateway Regeneration Project Bath”.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 05.38.43

A still from Jane’s website. © Jane Veveris Callan

Meanwhile, cycle campaigner Adam Reynolds has waded in on Twitter with Highway Department plans that – he says – show there has been ‘ no secrecy’ and that the issue ‘has been discussed with many of the stakeholders over the last couple of months.’

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 05.11.02

Adam Reynold’s tweet about the plans for removing some of the planters. You can also see Cllr Samuel’s response!

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 04.54.47

Part of the Highway Department’s plans for removing the planters. Supplied by Adam Reynolds.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 04.54.20

Another Highway’s Department image – supplied by Adam Reynolds.


The young tree has been sawn down.

Bath Newseum took these pictures on Saturday, March 18th. It shows many of the artist-produced metal planters were without their trees. In one planter the tree had been sawn off!


This one completely uprooted!

These ‘tubs’ had been added to the road as part of an expensive ‘greening’ of one of the busiest and most polluted highways in and out of Bath.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 13.31.37

Cllr Richard Samuel, Walcot Ward.

We spoke to Cllr Samuel – beside a busy and noisy London Road.

Cllr Samuel mentions an independent safety audit, on the regeneration work, carried out in 2015 – after the scheme had been completed. It draws attention to the positioning of planters either side of side road accesses restricting visibility and recommended ‘that the planters are relocated outside of visibility splays’. The section dealing with this is shown below.


Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 19.24.17

Many people may wonder why it has taken three years to deal with this recommendation and why the solution seems to be to take them away completely rather than relocate on the London Road.

Having read the audit l feel the safety review was far more critical of the combined cycle/footpath arrangement that has never worked properly. The audit recommended actual putting cycle symbols on the cycle portion of the path but that never happened either!


A row of treeless planters.

On – Monday, March 19th – artist Jane Ververis Callan – who designed the artwork on the planters – took to Twitter to have her say. Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 09.22.15

The Council’s officers have been tasked with coming up with a new role for the planters.

One suggestion is to use them to replace some of the ugly concrete security barriers that have been installed around the city – following last year’s Christmas Market.

No trees this time but mini flower beds. Whether they would be enough of a deterrent to hostile vehicular acts would remain to be seen.

Bearing in mind l was told the planters were etched with lines from a Japanese poem and placed sequentially so you could read as you walked along – l am not sure how this will work around the city centre!