Lack of an adequate cycle crossing at Chiverton - further information
1. Failure of Highways England’s survey methods to gauge suppressed demand
Highways England have failed to respond to public demand for a direct cycle crossing at Chiverton. In the pre-application consultation Walking, Cycling and Horseriding provision was the main theme raised in the Chiverton to Chybucca section with 219 of 590 respondents (37%) raising it. You can read the pre-application Consultation Report here. The overview of the responses starts on page 45 of the report with the figures themselves on pages 50-55.
The large response to the public consultation showed a failure of Highways England's survey methods to gauge the suppressed demand for a direct and segregated crossing at Chiverton. Highways England themselves referred to the roundabout there as 'named as the worse place for road incidents in the whole of Cornwall' in their Consultation Booklet. However, even in the Consultation Report they continue to cite the lack of Walkers, Cyclists and Horseriders (WCH) using it to justify not having a segregated crossing there. (8.4.1 on p 67 'In addition, surveys of usage of the existing crossing at Chiverton by WCH have also shown that there is very little demand for it in this location.')
The demand should not be surprising. St.Agnes is a growing parish of 7000 and on the A390 approach into Truro there are many prime commuter destinations including Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske, Truro College, Richard Lander School, Threemilestone Business Park as well as the park and ride facility at Langarth. The route via Chiverton is direct and for Cornwall relatively flat. The distance between St. Agnes and and this part of Truro is just over 6.5 miles and thus cycle commuting with its health and enviromental benefits is an option for many. These factors should have been considered, in conjunction with the 2011 Census data showing 1000 travel to work trips each day from the St Agnes area to Truro, to identify the latent demand for cycle trips.
The design team would also have had available to them the Propensity to Cycle Tool. This is an online resource initially funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and
designed to assist transport planners and policy makers to prioritise investments and interventions to promote cycling. It specifically forecasts for along this route that Dutch levels of cycle provision could lead to 11% of journeys to work being undertaken by cycle. Moreover, combined with the increasing ownership of E- bikes, so particularly suited to Cornwall, it predicts this could rise to 23%.
The crossing would also greatly increase leisure cycling opportunities for Truro residents to safely reach the North Coast area.
2. Failure of Highways England to apply their own strategies and policies
The strategic need for a direct and segregated cycle crossing should have been identified by Highways England when taking into account their following strategies and policies in their assessment process:
Cycling Strategy - our approach: this promotes ‘ cycling facilities which are safe, separate from traffic and that enable users of all abilities to cycle, encouraging cycling as a sustainable form of transport.
Interim Advice Note 195/16 - Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network: This states that ‘current levels of demand for cycle trips are not always a good indication of potential future levels of demand. Creation of a comprehensive network of good quality cycle routes has the potential to stimulate demand beyond the incremental change that demand models predict. Designers shall not rely solely on modelled incremental increases relative to current demand for cycle trips, therefore they shall ensure they consider the potential for additional stimulated demand.’
HD 42/05 Non-motorised user Audits: Even before the above IAN, this document from 2015 requires assessments to consider ‘potential routes and desire lines not currently used, e.g. due to personal safety or road safety fears and to take into account desire lines and trip generators. This document was
further updated in 2017 (HD 42/17) to reiterate the need to include ‘a review of significant local trip generators and amenities in the area surrounding the highway scheme to identify likely desire lines for pedestrians, cyclists and
Advice note 91/05 from as early as 2005 states that ‘it is important to consider the range of potential users, key destinations and latent demand in determining the appropriate form of NMU (Non Motorised User) provision’.
Furthermore in 2013 the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced a major Government policy commitment to ‘cycle-proof’ Britain’s roads.
As a result of Highways England’s inadequate surveying and non adherence to strategies and policy, a direct WCH crossing was not included in the planning and budgeting process from the very start as it should have been. This would have avoided difficulties which Highways England now cite as reasons for not including a direct crossing (bridge) in the main scheme.
3. Why has a cycle bridge not been included in the main scheme?
Highways England has cited the following reasons for not including a bridge on the B3277/A390 desire line:
3.1 The impacts on the project and construction programme
Due to a stipulation tied to European funding the new road has to be open to traffic by December 2022. We agree with the necessity for the A30 scheme and do not want to endanger its delivery. However, we believe that the inclusion of the bridge can be accommodated within the construction timetable. If the Chiverton part of the scheme is not built until late on in the works programme there should be time to develop a bridge to go in before this date. If it is earlier on it should still be possible to crane in a lightweight bridge afterwards, without major traffic disruption.
3.2 The landscape and visual impact a crossing would have on the World Heritage Site to the south of the A30
We are unconvinced by this argument. Highways England have not provided any evidence to support their view. Indeed this view has not prevented Highways England from considering the option of building a bridge through the Designated Funds programme.
We believe that an attractive and well designed cycle bridge would not have a detrimental impact on the World Heritage Site or its setting at this location and could complement it. In any event a lower bridge, as could be built in the main scheme, would of course be less obtrusive next to the World Heritage Site.
See the bottom of this page for two images of the cycle bridge over the A30 at Lanhydrock. We consider this a good example of a well designed bridge which fits in well to the surrounding landscape.
3.3. The cost of providing a new bridge at this location
The cost of a bridge is a fraction of the overall cost of the scheme and should have been included in the budget from the start. However we feel it could still be included. Ultimately, the cost of a bridge would be the same to Highways England whether it is built through Designated Funds or in the main scheme. Furthermore a lower bridge (see 5 below) is likely to cost less.
4. Highways England's inadequate Chiverton underpass
Despite a high level of demand for a direct cycle crossing at Chiverton Highways England have included in their planning application (Development Consent Order (DCO)) a highly inadequate underpass to the east and which will mean a detour of approximately 1 kilometer from the B3277/A390 alignment. It is, therefore, less direct. The more direct and quicker a route the more likely people are to be able to use it for cycle commuting to work. (The planned underpass removes cyclists from the new busy junction, and so meets the narrow Highways England definition of providing a safe junction. But it can only reached by busy approach roads so is of no use in enabling more people to cycle.)
The underpass is at a position where it not only has to go under the A30 but also under the two slip roads for traffic using the new junction travelling to or from the west. The Highways England plan shows the location of the proposed underpass. The current roundabout can be seen feint above the yellow compound area.
Significant details of the proposed underpass were not included in the DCO. Our own enquiries revealed that Highways England had revised upwards the original estimated length from 35 metres to 70 metres (230 feet). The width is only 4 metres (13.1 feet) and it's height as yet is not determined but will be a minimum 2.7 metres. We believe that the length of the underpass combined with its narrowness would present an intimidating environment that would put off large numbers of potential cyclists from using the route. This would be especially so in the winter months when riders could be commuting after dark.
See the bottom of this page for an image of the underpass below the A30 at Roseworthy near Connor Downs. It is about 4.2 metres (13.8 feet) wide and high, and about 57.5 metres (188.6 feet) long. This is roughly 12.5 metres (41 feet) shorter than the proposed underpass near Chiverton. Even assuming the proposed underpass will be lit we consider a similar but longer structure to the one below would not encourage cycling along this route.
Underpasses are generally less favoured by local authorities and cycling bodies as forms of segregated crossing. In 2012 a fresh design approach by Cornwall Council to its Carluddan A391 road improvement scheme removed the use of underpasses. Sustrans Design Manual February 2015 refers to underbridges as likely to generate 'issues of personal security'. In reference to tunnels the document identifies the length of time to travel through, personal security and anti-social behaviour as matters relevant to
public perception and concern. Highways England Advice note 91/05 also makes reference to personal safety being a significant issue in underpasses.
We were informed by Highways England at their Cycling Workshop for the scheme on 24 May 2018 that the underpass option could be included in the scheme without enlarging the overall budget. At the time they estimated the length would be just 35 metres. It would be through an embankment and thus, we presume, saving money on excavation. The cost of £200,000 would be saved by the fact they would no longer need to light the new Chiverton junction if it were not to be used by cyclists. We don't know how this costing has been affected by the doubling of the projected length.
The fact that Highways England are also proposing to build a bridge through Designated Funds indicates to us that they themselves do not really see this underpass as a best or even satisfactory option.
We believe, though we have yet to see any plans, that Highways England intend to link this underpass to Penstraze Lane. This route would not be as direct as that via a bridge on the B3277/A390 desire line.
5. Relevant representations show overwhelming rejection of the proposed underpass
Before Christmas 2018 Highways England published the ‘relevant representations’ made in response to their planning application (Development Consent Order). Out of the total 117 representations an overwhelming 86 (74%) related to the inadequacy of the proposed underpass and the desire for a cycle bridge at Chiverton. You can view the relevant representations here.
Thank you to everyone who made a relevant representation. The number of relevant representations will have played an important part in the fact that ‘cycling access’ has been listed as a principal issue to be considered in the examination.
6. Problems with delivering a bridge with Designated Funds
Although the Designated Funds cycling projects have now been confirmed the work on the Chiverton junction part of the main scheme will not happen until after the March 2021 spend deadline. A bridge built by this date would be 2 metres higher than it needs to be. This is because, in the main scheme, the A30 will, for a section, be built into a cutting. The location at which the bridge will cross the A30 will be 2 metres lower than present.
We assume that the bridge, like motorway bridges, would have to have a 5.1 metres clearance from the road below. Two metres is a large proportion of this. Making use of the lowering of the A30 to build a significantly lower bridge would povide a range of
* Chiverton is at high point in the landscape and the proposed site of the bridge is at the brow of a hill. A lower bridge would be less obtrusive. Also it would require less ramping up thus involving less snaking or switchbacks needed to
provide a lesser gradient for cyclists. These in themselves increase the obtrusiveness of a bridge. This would also have planning consequences given the close proximity of the bridge to the World Heritage Site and the commercial site currently occupied by Starbucks. The windows of the cafeteria face towards the site of the bridge and where the ramps would be. A lower bridge is therefore less likely to receive objections on planning or landscape impact grounds.
* Building the bridge taking into account the new road layout may also provide more flexibility in terms of the location of the bridge. It could be built a little further away from the Starbucks site whilst still benefitting from the lowering of the road.
* A lower bridge would mean less exertion and less exposure to wind at this fairly exposed spot. It would therefore encourage more cyclists of varying abilities to use the proposed provision between St. Agnes and Truro. Interim Advice Note
195/16 states ‘….the most efficient use of cyclist effort shall be a key consideration in the design of any cycling provision. Designers shall take positive steps in the design to reduce the effort required to cycle….’.
7. St. Agnes To Truro Cycle Highway
A good quality crossing is even more imperative in view of the proposal to develop cycle paths along the B3277 and A390 largely under the Designated Funds programme. This is being worked on by Highways England and Cornwall Council and the latter has written to us -
“….As you are aware the Council supports the provision of a high quality walking and cycling links at Chiverton roundabout as part of its wider aspiration for an exemplar ‘Cycle Highway’ scheme linking St Agnes with Truro…’.
This proposal is welcomed by our Campaign and we are ourselves promoting the concept of a St Agnes Truro Cycle Highway. To ensure that as many people as possible will use the proposed cycle highway and to warrant the investment in it, the route needs to be as direct as possible. This can only be achieved with a crossing along the desire line at the current Chiverton junction. Such a crossing would pay its worth for decades to come.
Cycle bridge over the A30 at Lanhydrock
Cycle bridge over the A30 at Lanhydrock
Cycle bridge over the A30 at Lanhydrock
Underpass at Roseworthy, near Connor Downs