Widcombe Hill Survey – Possible Active Travel Route to the University
This email is being sent to you as a resident of Widcombe Hill or one of the roads off it. We would like your to hear your views and have created a short questionnaire which we would be grateful if you could complete https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HH6CP9F . Please share this with your neighbours and contacts who live on Widcombe Hill and its adjoining roads. We had planned to deliver a letter to every household but the current lockdown makes this impossible and we have opted for an all electronic survey.
Update 17 January 2021 – Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Following comments made to us we have added FAQ’s to answer some of the questions being raised:
Q: Security: the link comes up as insecure – is it safe?
A: Unfortunately this is because the link has been relayed by our admin system. If you type in or follow this link directly it will take you straight to the secure survey site https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HH6CP9F
Q: Why are you doing this survey now?
A: BathNES has been given funding by the West of England Authority to support cycling and walking in Bath. Three schemes have been identified including one for an active travel route for the University and its is likely that North Road will be put forward. A formal consultation is planned to start in January 2021. We have raised the question why other routes including Widcombe Hill were not being considered and we did not receive a convincing answer. There are a number of known problems on Widcombe Hill and whilst they are acknowledged by BathNES they are not funded and funding as we know will be difficult. The survey is being done now to understand residents views so that as residents, residents associations and councillors can frame any response to the North Road consultation and whether or not we would push Widcombe Hill as an alternative option to be considered.
Q: Question 9 on the eSurvey: asks us to rank two options neither of which I agree with – why do I have to answer this?
A: The reason for listing these two options was that these are the most likely options that would be put forward in any council promoted scheme. We wanted to understand the likely residents response. It was intended that questions 10 and 11 would give the opportunity to add alternative ideas and other comments. However, with hindsight I would have added a third ranking option – “neither”. Please do make comments and we will make sure we consider all of them.
Q: Who is doing this survey and why?
A: The survey is being promoted by Jeremy Boss and Guy Simpson in their personal capacities. The survey is being facilitated by the Widcombe Association who have provided some funding for incidental costs and expertise. We will share the analysis (not the individual responses) with residents, Macauley & Prospect Residents Association, the Widcombe Association and local ward councillors for Widcombe & Lyncombe and Bathwick. The aim to inform any responses made to future formal BathNES consultations on related proposals. It is intended to be a neutral survey without any proposals in mind.
Q: Can you provide more details on the proposals?
A: There are no formal proposals being put forward for Widcombe Hill at this point in time. We understand proposals are being developed for North Road by BathNES and they will be formally consulted upon and at that point we might be able to understand what a dedicated travel route might look like.
Q: What evidence is there that Widcombe Hill should be considered?
A: We have both anecdotal and data (collected over several years by a local resident) that suggest that Widcombe Hill is a more desired route for cyclists and pedestrians to the University. This data shows more cyclists use Widcombe Hill than North Road and Bathwick combined (pre pandemic). There We also know that there are long standing issues with travel speed, increased vehicle use, cyclist, pedestrian (e.g. exit from the skyline walk) and vehicle safety at the Macauley bend, lower Widcombe Hill, pedestrians safety on narrow pavements, a dangerous Oakley Road junction and congestion at the White Hart. These might be addressed in the future when funding allows, but could they be addressed sooner with the funding available now for the active travel route to the university. The danger at Macaulay Buildings, especially to cyclists, where there have been serious injuries and deaths despite the action taken by the Council to warn cyclists (and motorists) in advance. Action on this is required irrespective of the cycling/walking Active Travel Route.
Q: What about buses, parking and impact of displaced traffic?
A: These are all important questions which would need further investigation. We don’t have the analysis now. There is no reason to suggest that any scheme would alter the existing bus routes with Bathwick Hill remaining the primary bus route. The bus gate option in Q9 would allow for buses to pass Widcombe Hill as now, a full closure would not. Residents parking would need to be considered as part of any scheme to avoid Widcombe Hill becoming a car park for the University. Impact on surrounding roads will need to be carefully considered. There are 450 or so households on Widcombe Hill, connecting roads and near the top of the Hill in Claverton Down. Anecdotally, the majority of traffic is through traffic not immediate local residents.
B&NES council has bid for Active Travel Funding from central government to support safe active travel (cycling and walking) to and from Bath University. One of the schemes is for a walking and cycling route from Beckford Road, along North Road to the Quarry Road entrance, and continuing on to a new link to The Avenue and to a second entrance to the campus via Beech Avenue. The Council is due to start a formal consultation on the proposed scheme with residents on North Road and Bathwick Hill in January 2021. However, residents on both North Road and Bathwick Hill have already expressed reservations.
Given the concerns over the proposal along North Road, it is possible that the consultation will not be supported by local residents. This has raised the question of whether or not Widcombe Hill should be considered as an alternative location for the cycling and walking route. Surveys of cycle use on North Road, Bathwick Hill and Widcombe Hill in 2018 and 2019 showed that more cyclists were using Widcombe Hill than the other two combined and that North Road had the lowest number of cyclists.
If Widcombe Hill were to become an active travel route to Bath University, the amount of through traffic would have to be reduced. Two possible options have been identified:
1. A bus gate – if a bus gate were to be installed, either above or below Macaulay Buildings, it would allow buses and some other vehicles to travel the length of the road but all other traffic would be restricted to access from one direction only.
2. A Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) – the road would be blocked off, either above or below Macaulay Buildings, effectively creating two cul-de-sacs for local access and preventing any through traffic other than cycles and pedestrians.
Either measure could include traffic calming measures on the steeper sections of the hill, which would address the long – standing safety problems, particularly by Macaulay Buildings. Both approaches would be a radical intervention that would cause some inconvenience.
This survey is being promoted by Jeremy Boss (a resident at the bottom of Widcombe Hill) and Guy Simpson (a resident of Macaulay Buildings). At this early stage we want to test the initial response of residents on and adjacent to Widcombe Hill. It will be used to inform the Widcombe Association and the Macaulay Buildings and Prospect Road Residents’ Association and others in their responses to any future consultations on proposals for North Road, Bathwick Hill and Widcombe Hill. The survey results will be shared with our ward councillors, Alison Born and Winston Duguid. The results will be made publicly available in a form that prevents individual households from being identified.
This is not a formal consultation which will be undertaken by BathNES should any formal proposals for Widcombe Hill be bought forward.
The questionnaire has been prepared by the Widcombe Association which is also meeting any incidental costs. The intention had been to distribute the questionnaire by hand to all households, but this has been abandoned due to the current lock-down. Instead, it is being sent to members of the residents associations on Widcombe Hill and associated side roads, plus other residents whose email addresses are known The Widcombe Association has no view on either of the options at this stage.