John Cutler, our Right To Ride Officer, alerted me to the way in which it is proposed that cars be re-introduced to Abington Street.
The majority political party on Northampton Borough Council included this proposal in its manifesto for the 2013 Council elections.
St Giles Terrace is to become one-way (northerly); Abington Street will be re-opened to cars one-way (westerly); and then Wellington Street will be accessible one-way (northerly).
The main problem with the Road Traffic Order is that it is, unthinkingly, to apply to ALL vehicles – so that cyclists will be affected by it. It is as if the use of bicycles has been forgotten by the planners.
It would be perfectly possible to design the road markings and infrastructure to allow cycling in both directions. (Indeed, other East Midlands towns and cities – Leicester, Derby, Nottingham – allow cycling in their pedestrianised areas. This was forgotten in Northampton when Abington Street was originally pedestrianised in the late 1980s.)
Could I urge you, therefore, if you live in Northampton and the surrounding area to e-mail your objections and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and to copy your e-mail to your borough councillor and to your county councillor?
At the end of CTC Northampton’s morning ride last Saturday, Iain Dawson and I continued back to The Windhover along the Brampton Valley Way (BVW) to see the improvements where the BVW goes under the Northampton-to-Rugby railway line.
This crossing has been notorious for many years – a complete mud-bath – and, let’s face it, a local disgrace since the BVW is part of the National Cycle Network Route 6. It’s been pretty much impassible in all but the driest weather and, even then, you’d want an off-road bike!
We were pleasantly surprised. Here’s the start of the underpass approached from the south:
And work looks well underway to complete a nice tarmac surface between here and the A5099 crossing, further north near The Windhover.
The Brampton Valley Way (BVW) is being upgraded in at least two places in Northampton: where it crosses the A5099 near “The Windhover” pub and where it goes under the Northampton-to-Rugby railway line to the north of King’s Heath. The BVW is a “linear park” that follows the disused railway line connecting Northampton and Market Harborough. It forms part of National Cycle Route 6 (NVR6).
Here’s what was happening today at the A5099 crossing:
At least three CTC Northampton members – Bill Simpson, John Weller and Ian Macsporran – took part in this event. Apologies if I missed spotting anyone else.
Organised by Richard Daniells on behalf of CTC Northamptonshire & Milton Keynes, it was billed as a 110-kilometre event, starting and finishing at Oundle. The route card suggested just over 117k and, in old money, I clocked up 71 miles.
The Joan Strong Centre has been the event’s HQ for some years. There’s plenty of parking in the adjacent public car park for those wimps like me who drove over to Oundle. The riders all assembled for a 9.30 a.m. start on a day of glorious weather. More than one applied sun screen.
The route is glorious, circuiting Rutland and reaching west to Knossington in Leicestershire and north to Castle Bytham in Lincolnshire. I saw Bill and John at the start but by the outskirts of Oundle they’d gone! When I got to the manned control point at Ashwell, I saw them departing as I was arriving (they must have dawdled over their coffee and cake!).
For me, as on the one or two other Audaxes I’ve taken part in, this was essentially a solo ride after the first few miles. Each rider chooses a pace he or she is comfortable with – and Richard’s route card made navigation pretty straightforward. There were unmanned control points at Cold Overton and South Witham.
If Richard had organised the glorious sunshine, he also organised and warm but stiff southerly/south-westerly headwind for the final third of the course. The refreshments at the finish were very welcome!
So many thanks to Richard – and to Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and Lincolnshire County Councils who were kind enough to leave their roads in such a state of poor repair that my memories of the cobbled cycle lanes of eastern Germany came flooding back!
John and Bill, of course, were not the sort of wimps to travel to Oundle by car but cycled to the start and home again afterwards. I reckon that must have made a day of 130 miles. Chapeau!
My route is here.
Road.cc reports that 68 projects in England will be sharing Department for Transport funding. From what I can see in the full list, locally we should see:
- £140,700 to London Midland to revamp or remove old cycle parking spaces and install new high quality spaces to increase, sometimes doubling, cycle capacity at 13 rail stations including Northampton and Long Buckby
- £350,000 to Northamptonshire County Council to improve the Brampton Valley Way by resurfacing and dealing with flooding and access problems so that it becomes an all-weather all-year resource.
Let’s hope the latter improvements deal with the quagmire under the railway line just north of King’s Heath!
Phillip Gray, Chairman of CTC Northampton, writes
Northamptonshire County Council’s Highways Department is currently carrying out a consultation on changes to Northampton’s town centre traffic routes. These include closing Bridge Street permanently to northbound traffic “except buses” and making “all traffic” on Gold Street one-way.
Phillip can find no evidence that cyclists and the impact on cycle routes (in particular National Cycle Route No 6) have been taken into account. No information appears to be available on the County Council website.
Closing date for the consultation is 24 February. You can submit views or questions to email@example.com or telephone 01604 883400.
It would be helpful if you could inform our Right-to-Ride representative, John Cutler (firstname.lastname@example.org), and our Chair, Phillip Gray (email@example.com) if you submit any comments.