How to vastly increase and improve cycle access at minimum public cost

The model in use today seems to be to try and ‘bend’ the existing busy road network to accommodate the cyclist. Unfortunately, this is not always possible because of the size of the roads and somewhat half-hearted commitment from some local councils. I would like to suggest a new model based not on the road system but rather on the existing Rail network. My suggestion is to encourage or legislate the Rail networks to provide cycle paths alongside existing train lines. To be clear I don’t mean old disused rail lines I mean those actually in use at the moment. Clearly there would need to be work to make sure that cyclist or walkers were protected from the train lines themselves but there is surplus land alongside rail lines and there are so many advantages compared to trying to align cycle friendly routes with existing rail networks. For example • Many ‘cycle friendly’ road routes in reality are old poorly maintained rural roads in the country or on busy roads shared with cars in towns and cities. • Commuters in towns and cities are often paying many thousands of pounds per year for rail season tickets, often to travel no more than 5-10 miles to work or school. Many more would surely consider alternatives if there was a safe route • Having safe and easy to station to station routes would mean that many more people would use cycling rather than trains for work or school journeys. • Train lines are not very steep and there are very few crossing points compared to road based cycle paths. It is much safer. • By their very nature, train lines provide dedicated routes into the heart of all major UK towns and cities. They are transport hubs that can deliver the cyclist to connecting conventional cycle routes on road, alongside canals and other rail/cycle routes. • They are much easier to build because there is only one property owner for the length of the track • In the event of rail distruptions (wrong type of leaves on the track) commuters would have another option to get into work • Cyclists would have the opportunity to enter the cycle network in Cornwall and to be able to cycle on safe, secure, well maintained set of cycle ways to Northern Scotland without once having to use a busy road. Funding In terms of funding, I would see the building and maintenance of the rail/cycleways as being part of the train operating companies’ responsibility when they tender to take over a rail line however it is not necessarily a loss leader for these companies as the business model can pay for itself •Having a lot less people on the train at peak times is not necessarily detrimental to the train operators. One of the most unprofitable parts of train franchises is having to lay on additional services and rail coaches to cover the morning and evening rush hours. By reducing the volume at peak times this would allow the train operators to reduce the rolling stock that they are forced to maintain to cover these peak periods. •The train operators could charge a fee to use the rail/cycle network and use this to maintain the cycleway. Possibly by adapting their existing ticking options (web, phone, purchase at station) •There would be commercial opportunities alongside such a route for business such as cycle cafes, shops, secure cycle storage. •If the Government considers part funding or pilot schemes then the benefits to commuters health would result in large savings for the NHS as well as reducing sickness and absenteeism for business.

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  • published this page in Suggestions 2017-10-03 16:58:31 +0100
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