Monday, 18 August 1997

Transport Campaigns: April 1997 - August 1997



Road Traffic Reduction Bill
The Road Traffic Reduction Bill has proceeded through its second reading to the committee stage which means it is being scrutinised by various House of Commons committees, who will propose amendments as they see fit. It is, due to the lack of time, very unlikely to actually become law before the election, but this does not detract from the vast leap forward the bill represents. The very idea of the Tories backing a bill such as this one, even with the caveats the DoT insisted on, five years ago would have been anathema. This sea change is due largely to the work we've all been doing in that time, from the full-on direct action campaigners to the slow drip feed of relentless and incontestable truth that letter writers and petitioners have directed at the pressure points of the opposition and the media. Without this concerted and synergistic effort, the tide would not have turned  so far or so fast. The cross movement and cross interest campaign on transport as a whole was mirrored and refined in the form of the bill’s progress, and has shown us what we can achieve when we focus our energy and tolerate our diversity. It is a model for the future.

But what have we actually got? The bill as stands has been amended by the DoT as a condition of Government support, so, for example, no longer contains any national traffic reduction targets. These will now function locally (and according to John Watts, the Minister who spoke to the motion in the house, these will allow for economic growth) but the philosophical thrust remains unchanged.

A team of Sheffield FoE members went down to Westminster for the mass lobby but failed to do a great deal of lobbying due to the antiquated system in the House and the non-availability of most Sheffield MPs, as well as our Home Office Minister, so we didn't get to harass anyone about the refusal, in the face of stated policy, of the DoT to fund Sheffield’s strategic cycle network. Still, it was worthwhile to add to the numbers, and remind all our MPs that the pressure still exists for change and that this is a process we will pursue until the end.

By SPENCER COOKE

Transport Campaigner


Bus Stop Information

Two members from Sheffield FoE’s transport group attended a meeting just before Christmas and a meeting in February with the SYPTE to discuss the latest developments with the public transport information campaign and a few other issues.

Some of the interesting bits form the meetings are as follows:

The Stop Specific Information product will see each carousel displaying either a time table for all buses using the stop (from the appropriate timing point) or, if the timetable is too big, a list of all buses using the stop. Unfortunately route maps are not provided at local bus stops.

From a total of 8000 stops, nearly 5000 already contain the information and the other 3000 (mainly in the Sheffield area) are now being completed. As this is a new project the PTE realise that some information is wrong and some time tables have been put on the wrong stops. If you have seen incorrect information please report it to the travel line so that it can be corrected (01709 515151).

The priorities for the PTE with regard to the SSI project are to ensure that the information can be kept up-to-date and that it can be produced electronically to minimise manual labour and production time. Once all the processes for electronic production are in place they want the project to keep evolving to make it better and better.

The PTE have also held discussions with various operators, including Mainline, and all think that more timing points are a good idea to increase the quality of the information.

At our first meeting the PTE acknowledged that there is a need for a map in the Interchange which tells people about the buses and trams in the City Centre rather than just the ones which stop in the interchange. At our second meeting it was noticed that this information now exists.

Electronic Information
The PTE are in discussion with companies regarding the instalment of electronic kiosks in the city centre. These will be of benefit when travel centres are closed and when there are no bus personnel waiting near stops.

The PTE have secured a grant from Europe to provide electronic timetables  over the internet and is now available to use. Over time it is expected to become better and should hopefully house other information such as concessionary fairs, how to obtain passes, and so forth.

Other issues
At our second meeting we mentioned the lack of Christmas buses but the PTE have no money to provide any special services and it is difficult and costly getting people to work on such days.

The temporary rail/tram link at the train station must be removed in a few years’ time and we were told that plans to replace it are underway.


Cycle Forum
As you may be aware, we attend the bi-monthly meetings of the Sheffield City Council sponsored cycle forum. This is  basically a conduit for cyclists and pro-cycle groups to input and alter city wide stuff, such as planning applications, road alterations and the like, as well as assist in the formulation of pro-active cycling enhancement measures like the strategic cycle network - which is on hold until next year as a victim of Ken Clarke’s election blinded tax cut frenzy that was last year’s spending cuts. But I digress. It gets quite a bit of stuff done, a great deal of which is involved, subtle and often a little ‘dry’ to say the least (we spend lots of time looking at maps produced by highway engineers).

It is also a responsive body, so if you, or anyone you know of, has an issue or a point to raise concerning any bike related stuff in the Sheffield area, let me know:

Spencer Cooke
26 Parsonage Street
Walkley
Sheffield
S6 5BL,


Slow Cars Fast Bikes

In the RAC centenary race through London the bicycle travelled at an average speed of 12.6 mph and came first in the 3 mile race. A 1901 Mors managed a speed of only 8.4 mph and came second. A powerful Aston Martin  came third with a poor speed of only 7.7 mph. Finally, the horse-drawn carriage came in last with a speed of 7.4 mph (0.3 mph slower than the £76,000 Aston Martin). Considering that 75% of all journeys are under 5 miles it is clear that more journeys need to be made by bicycle and more facilities need to be provided for cyclists.