Monday, February 26, 2007

Plan is unveiled for UK's largest eco complex

A PLAN to create the UK's biggest eco village on the site of a disused wool factory have been unveiled.

The former Paton and Baldwins factory, on the outskirts of Darlington, will be transformed into a flagship ecological community.

The vision would result in the 110-acre Lingfield Point business park, as the site is known, being transformed with more low energy offices, eco homes and leisure facilities powered by renewable energy.

There would also be sustainable transport links, such as bus services, all designed to protect the environment.

Central to the vision is the new Darlington Eastern Transport Corridor, now under construction, which will link the A66 to central Darlington.

- Northern Echo: Plan is unveiled for UK's largest eco complex

Friday, February 23, 2007

New Darlington Journey Planner

I just recieved the following email:

Dear Local Motion Supporter,

We are pleased to announce that the new Journey Planner is now online!

You can access this site by clicking here or alternatively click on this link

We hope you find this new facility extermely useful in helping you continue making sustainable travel choices.



Apparently, the only sustainable transport choices are walking and buses. I'm about to leave to meet with another campaign member at his house and the planner suggested various bus/walk combinations, but not once suggested I ride my bike there. There is a button to toggle bike routes on/off while using the map, and the blue lines are fairly helpful, but they suggest that there is no bike route by my house or my destination, yet looking outside I see the road is still.

Please, planner-creators, how about a link from the results page to a map of cyle routes and secure parking places, with the start and end points of the journeys indicated?


Here's my suggestion of what the planner could look like.


As you can see, the fastest option for this journey which I make every week day is by bike. Even walking the whole way is faster than the times given for the walk/bus/walk options, and walkers don't get stuck in unplanned traffic.

Update 2:

From the council:

We have worked with consultants engaged by Cycling England on the development of an online cycle planner - but are not yet in a position to launch this facility.

So, there is going to be a cycle planner, but it will be separate from the Journey Planner.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

Darlington Cycling Symposium

In the run up to our Symposium on Saturday 17th March, we'll be updating a second website, Darlington Cycling Symposium 2007, with details of the agend and aims.

Cyclists and Disabled Unite (NE Edit)

An slightly edited version of the letter Richard sent to the Northern Echo was printed in today's paper.

You can read Richard's original letter: Cyclists and Disabled Unite and the leter as printed in the Northern Echo.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cyclists and Disabled Unite

Today's Northern Echo has a letter in its Hear All Sides section from Gordon Pybus, chair of Darlington Association on Disability. Here is the Cycling Campaign's reply:

Dear HAS,

What a pity that Gordon Pybus, of all people, encourages prejudice. His letter (HAS 15th Feb) damns all cyclists as “a real danger to pedestrians”, before demanding that we use a cycle route of his imagination (“there is a cycle path around the ring road”) instead of the Pedestrian Heart.

I leave the question of Tim Stahl’s evidence that cyclists usually come off worse in collisions with pedestrians to him – he did work for many years in the Memorial Hospital’s A&E after all. But public evidence does show where cyclists get hospitalized – the ring road, where 45 cyclists have been seriously injured since 1988, and one killed. “I believe that motorists provide a real danger to cyclists” is a phrase that has all the backing of cold statistics, but not all motorists are dangerous, nor should they be banned from the ring road.

Gordon calls for cyclists to “be in the correct setting”. Well, we wholeheartedly agree. Please let’s look more closely at the bicycle as a unique form of transport, and not as some kind of “motor vehicle without a motor”. “Correct settings” are finally appearing here and there in the town, designed with cycling in mind, and not by the bizarre visions of car driving traffic engineers.

But even these “correct settings” are not going to segregate us from disabled pedestrians. Cycle paths are actually very pleasant surfaces for wheelchairs, and I see no reason why they should not be used as such. As Darlington Cycling Campaign continually stresses, we want to encourage responsible, considerate cycling in the Pedestrian Heart. It really is time to wake up to the fact that there are many ordinary citizens in Darlington who also cycle, and do not wish any harm on others.

But there is another reason for encouraging cycling in the town – to make our environment and our people healthier. Because Darlington is a Cycling Demonstration Town, we now have a unique chance to make a collective difference by making cycling safe, attractive and convenient to people who currently drive their car on short journeys (how many town centre pedestrians arrive by car, I wonder?) . That is why cycling needs to become less of a war of attrition with the motorist, and more a pleasant way to get from A to B.

So come on Gordon, stop building walls between us and chasing us back on to the roads. Sign up for the Cycling Symposium ( on March 17th and join other good-willed people in trying to make that vision a reality.

Richard Grassick
Chair, Darlington Cycling Campaign

Paving by the McMullen Road cycle path

In an earlier post's comments, a reader asked about some paving which had been installed on the new cycle path on the inner ring road, commenting that it looked dangerous. Having not seen the paving, I at first assumed that the commenter meant the tactile paving which is used at the start and end of cycle paths to indicate the nature of the path to visually impaired pedestrians. My wife then mentioned some new paving on the edge of the McMullen Road cycle path which sounded similar and which wasn't tactile paving, so I went to have a look.

McMullen/Haughton Roads - Paving

The paving is block paving, with some blocks protruding almost an inch in a staggered pattern.

McMullen/Haughton Roads - Paving

The paving fills the gap between the cycle path and the road, where it moves away from the edge of the road to avoid a telegraph pole.

McMullen/Haughton Roads - Paving

To me, it looks like it is intended to prevent cyclists from attempting to merge with traffic pulling out of McMullen Road and instead to direct them towards using the pavement to either join Haughton Road heading into town, to cross Haughton Road and then proceed along either the road or the Riverside Path, or to cross McMullen Road and use the riverside path towards Mill Lane. However, there are no markings to indicate that this is the case.

My advice for anone heading down McMullen Road on the bike path who wishes to join the road traffic on Haughton Road would be to make use of the box junction just visible in the first photo, or the one slightly further up McMullen Road, to access McMullen Road while the traffic is stationary and then to proceed as normal. If you wish to access either of the off-road paths, use the pedesitrian crossings to do so, taking care to avoid other users.

It is possible to ride over the paving (I tried) but only at very slow speeds. Not recommended!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Year of Living Car-lessly

After the demise of their family Volvo, Sightline director Alan Durning and his family decided to try living car-free for one year.

In this series on Sightline's Daily Score blog, Alan explores the benefits and dilemmas that arise from being a car-less family with three kids. And readers from across the region (and other Sightline staffers) are chiming in with their experiences, questions, and tips on living car-lessly.

- The Year of Living Car-lessly Experiment - series

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Saddled with traffic - or dodging the pedestrians

THE bike slowly wobbles along St Cuthbert's Way, past the magistrates' court and police station.

It clings nervously to the kerb as huge buses, lorries, and vans zoom past it.

The bike reaches Victoria Road roundabout, near Feethams, and comes to an uncertain stop.

As the cyclist waits to turn right, the truck in front spits fumes over him. The cars behind rev menacingly.

This is cycling on Darlington's ring road - intimidating and unpleasant.

A feature article, Saddled with traffic - or dodging the pedestrians by Owen Amos appeared in today's Northern Echo on page 11, and is available online.

Beauty and The Bike

'Beauty and the Bike' sessions will offer participants free health and beauty advice and practical solutions related to looking and feeling good when arriving by bike. In addition, they will incorporate messages on the health and fitness benefits of cycling. The project will also provide facilities and equipment to create dedicated changing and storage areas for use by girls that cycle to school.

- 'Beauty and the Bike' Wins Shimano Cycling Concept Award 2007

Brilliant idea.

20mph speed limit for Darlington, article in Advertiser

For the second time in three weeks we made the front page of the Darlingon Advertiser; the free newspaper which is delivered to every home in the town each week: Call for 20mph town speed limit.

For me the key fact to consider is: 90% of people hit by a vehicle at 40mph die, 20% at 30mph and only 2.5% at 20mph. I don't think any other argument is really needed.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Darlington Cycling Symposium March 17 2007

In the run up to the 2007 council elections, Darlington Cycling Campaign is hosting a symposium on the future of cycling in our town. This will give cyclists the opportunity to explain what will make cycling more attractive to the Darlington public, the political parties the opportunity to state their cycling policy for the election, and local community groups the chance to voice their wishes directly to cycling representatives.

We are also pleased to announce that Werner Brög, Socialdata, author of the original 2004 study that underpins much of the current transformation of Darlington’s cycle network, has accepted an invitation to address the symposium.

Darlington is currently one of six Cycling Demonstration Towns, having won £1.5m from central government to spend on improving the town’s cycle network. But this extra funding ends in 2008/9. Has enough been done for cycling, or can we do more? Can Darlington cyclists act responsibly on their new cycle routes? Or is cycling just a minority sport that attracts and encourages anti-social behaviour?

We would like to extend an invitation to you to attend the symposium, which will take place at Bondgate Methodist Church, Bondgate, on Saturday March 17th 2007, from 1pm to 5.30pm. Light refreshments will be available throughout the afternoon.

If you wish to attend, please reply by post, email or telephone using the contact details below, no later than February 28th 2007 to register a place. Please indicate how many places you wish to reserve, and whether you would like to contribute to the open floor debate at 3.30-4pm. If we receive sufficient interest, we shall extend that section of the afternoon. Registration is free. One week before the event, you will be sent an information pack with more details.

Draft Timetable
1.00 – 1.15pm Welcome; tea & coffee
1.15 – 2.15pm Better Cycling in Darlington 1: Cycling Campaign - Cycling Demonstration Town achievements and limitations. Followed by responses and debate
2.15 – 3.15pm Better Cycling in Darlington 2: Werner Brög, Socialdata, response / assessment of progress to date on 2004 survey. Sustrans - best practice and changing behaviours. Followed by responses and debate
3.15 – 3.30pm BREAK
3.30 - 4.00pm Better Cycling in Darlington 3: Open Floor - New Cyclists, Other Road users - Schools, Workplaces, Driving Instructors. Followed by responses and debate
4.00 – 5.00pm Better Cycling in Darlington 4: The Political Mainfestos for 2007 Local Elections. Followed by responses and debate
5.00 – 5.30pm Summing Up

Darlington Cycling Campaign, 51 West Crescent, Darlington. DL3 7PS Tel: 01325 468351 email:

Hats Off to Alderman Leach School - But What a Journey!

Bicycles in Alderman Leach School today - a freezing cold day!

Just home from a run from town to Alderman Leach via Branksome (on road) and back again (largely off road) to drop off leaflets for the coming Cycling Symposium. The contrast between off road and on road couldn't have been starker.

First, I have to salute the efforts of staff, parents and kids at Alderman Leach School, where cycling has risen from 0% to 11% in 2 years. And of course to Louise Neale, the School Travel (and now cycling) Officer. The school travel plan can be downloaded here.

The journey began with a near accident going out on Woodland Road. Could the owner of vehicle registration number P909 CH9 please start looking more carefully for cyclists when joining a main road. I was no more than 5 yards away when she pulled out in front of me, causing me to break violently. Yet she continued on as if nothing had happened. I resolved to come back ON THE PAVEMENT when I reached this junction.

Further on, some strange markings along the westbound pavement/road of West Auckland Road suggest that there could be some provision in the future for all those kids cycling to school on the south side of the road (the cycle path is on the other side). Explanations welcome!

Returning on the cycle path, as I crossed the entrance to Faverdale along the marked cycle crossing, some kind lady driver stopped well back from these lines to let me through. It seemed quite natural to both of us that I should have right of way.

By the time I reached Cockerton, I felt much safer staying off the roads. But what it shows is that there are car drivers and car drivers, just as there are cyclists and cyclists. So how about a traffic framework to encourage better behaviour instead of assuming bad behaviour? You know it makes sense!

Northern Echo Feature on Cycling in Darlo Saturday

The Northern Echo are due to run a feature about cycling in Darlington this coming Saturday, 10th February. Journo Owen Amos came out with members of the Cycling Campaign to get an idea of what it is like cycling around the town from the cyclist's point of view. We took him on and off road to try to explain the difference between the macho, assertive cycling required on main roads, and the relatively leisurely cycling possible on quiet roads and cycle paths.

The pic shows DCC member Tim Stahl (right) briefing Owen Amos after our cycle ride. The Pedestrian Heart issue is likely to loom large.

Update: The feature article, Saddled with traffic - or dodging the pedestrians appeared in today's Northern Echo on page 11, and is available online.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cycle Campaign Calls For 20MPH Limit

As we reported earlier, Darlington Cycling Campaign is calling for a blanket 20 miles an hour speed limit across Darlington.

A story detailing the call for a 20MPH speed limit appears in today's Northern Echo (The Northern Echo: 20mph limit call 'not practical'), in which the Council respond by saying that legally such zones need traffic calming measures, and are therefore impractical. This is not the understanding of the Cycle Campaign. We understand that it is current Police policy to only support 20MPH zones which are 'self enforcing', but that there is nothing in law to say that is the case. 'Self enforcing' does not necessarily mean speed bumps.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign have an excellent article on 20MPH zones, which touches on this issue.

Stay tuned for more.


DfT publication: Speed - Know your limits (pdf). A useful document, with lots of facts and figures.
British Medical Journal: Reducing the speed limit to 20 mph in urban areas - Child deaths and injuries would be decreased.

(Link to Northern Echo story added.)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

York Critical Mass

Slightly old news, but i thought it might be of interest.

Around 30 people took part in this month's Critical Mass bike ride on Friday, the second since regular rides restarted. For the first time, a group met on campus before the ride, to cycle in together. There was no Police presence and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Indymedia York - December's Critical Mass a success

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Keep the Joy of Cycling Going

You get your first bike at the age of three. You learn to cycle on Xmas Day with your parents in tow. You cycle to school (illegally) on the pavement.

By 2007 you are at secondary school and some smart powers-that-be have built you a fantastic covered bike shed, so you can still cycle to school (illegally) using the pavements and muddy tracks.

Cycling is such a joy at this age. On Sundays you take your bike out to the nearest park and play cycle jumps all afternoon.

But don't think too far ahead. One day, if these powers-that-be have their way, they will chase you off the pavement and on to their deadly roads. Cycling in this world is all about defence, helmets and reflective clothing. But it doesn't HAVE to be that way. There are some cyclists out there who want to carry on with the joy well into their old age. "I hope some day you'll join us" (JL).

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Resolution Passed at 2007 AGM

The following resolution was passed at the Cycling Campaign's 2007 AGM today:

Darlington Cycling Campaign calls for a blanket 20 miles an hour speed limit across Darlington.

Traffic research has shown that 94% of Darlington people are against an increase in the number of cars on the town’s roads, but fear there will be more by 2010. 82% of residents surveyed consider that the risk is too high for them to cycle in the town. Even 53% see walking as a danger.

Clearly the big obstacle to improving the safety of cyclists, and thus making cycling more attractive to non-cyclists, is to deter car drivers. The increase in the region’s road traffic over the past 10 years is 17.4%, higher than the national average. Darlington this week was dubbed the 4th noisiest town in the country. The softly softly approach doesn’t seem to be working. Tougher measures are needed, and a 20mph limit could encourage car drivers to take more notice of the safety of cyclists, pedestrians, and the disabled.

AGM Reminder

AGM in 2 hours and ten minutes.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Darlington fourth noisiest place in country

[Darlington] has been given the dubious honour of being named one of the loudest places in the country for traffic. With a reading of 78.3 decibels (DB), it ranks joint fourth with Doncaster in the noise table.

- Northern Echo: Being driven to distraction on the noisiest road in town

The noisiest place in the town is the junction of Alexander Street and Haughton Road. I've found that, to have a conversation with someone while walking down Haughton Road, I need to raise my voice. Hearing what my daughter is saying is almost impossible.

Professor Deepak Prasher, of the Ear Institute at the University College London, said: "Noise not only annoys, but also can raise our stress levels and associated hormone levels. It can disturb sleep and increase the risk of heart disease, and if the noise is loud enough, it can lead to permanent hearing impairment and tinnitus."

More proof that car use 'taxes' others.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The right-hand lane for going straight on

This diagram is intended to represent the path a cyclist would need to take when going straight on at a junction where the left-hand lane is designated left-turn only and the right-hand lane is designated straight on.

Examples of these include the North Road-Thompson Street junction and the North Road-John Street junction, when travelling towards the town centre. There are lots of other examples around the town also, plus several roundabout approaches.

In order to go straight ahead at these junctions, a cyclist must cross the left-hand lane and take up position in the right-hand lane. This is scary, even for a confident experienced cyclist, when there are several tonnes of car travelling 15 to 20 mph faster than you are right behind you. In theory, a cyclist could take a central position in the left-hand lane, but in practise cars going left will attempt to overtake and then turn left.

These features seem to be designed with the sole intention of increasing a car's average speed within the town, with no consideration given to cyclists when designing the junction.

What do readers think of these junctions? What other junctions in the town are arranged like this?