Tracy Brabin’s office looking both ways

It is useful to look both ways before crossing a road. But if you see traffic coming from two directions you may feel stuck. That seems to be the case in the reported words from West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, whose office rejected pleas for a review of road-widening, saying “not all the road schemes would increase carbon emissions, adding that some included new cycle and walking facilities”.

Below we reproduce the letter that BSTA sent to Tracy Brabin yesterday. Her Office promises a reply within 15 working days.

8th September 2021

Dear Mayor Tracy Brabin

Congratulations on your election as Mayor, and on your and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s commitment to reduce traffic pollution to meet its net-zero carbon target. The Combined Authority ‘Carbon Emissions Reduction Pathways’ report in June 2020 highlights the need to treat greenhouse gas emissions as a budget that must reduce each year, and its carbon audits of road schemes will help to decide how to do this.

Time is not elastic in this matter. To put in no starker terms than the world’s scientists, immediate measures are needed for deep reductions in carbon emissions.

I was surprised to read then, that “Ms Brabin’s office told the Local Democracy Reporting Service … that not all the road schemes would increase carbon emissions, adding that some included new cycle and walking facilities.” Bradford T&A 5/9/2021

The Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance brings together those concerned on health and climate grounds about WYCA’s proposed increase in traffic capacity of the route between Bradford and Shipley. The Alliance’s members now include over 200 individuals, and the local organisations of your own Labour Party as well as the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party. It includes Shipley Town Council, local environmental and community associations and many businesses.

The road scheme is part of the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund and devised in its current form in 2012. It envisages new cycle and walking facilities. But its main expenditure and aim of widening roads and increasing traffic capacity speaks to an age when increased traffic capacity was the main measure of success in economic prosperity. That perspective is no longer valid.

WYCA’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Pathways report investigates three scenarios to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2038. These differ according to how much is left to hoped-for but unknown solutions. Even the most optimistic of the three scenarios requires not only a large shift towards electric vehicles but a 21% reduction in car traffic. A major reduction in traffic capacity.

The final public consultation on the Bradford-Shipley Route Improvement Scheme is due early in 2022. All our members and member organisations have agreed to ask you not to proceed without evidence that shows how the intended benefits of the scheme will be guaranteed, and that these benefits must include reduced traffic and a switch from car to other forms of collective and healthy travel. The health of our children and adults is affected not only by the catastrophe if global warming is not stemmed quickly, but by the particulate and other emissions of traffic.

If the reporting is accurate, your office’s suggestion that new cycle and walking facilities are enough to meet the Combined Authority’s carbon emissions commitments should be withdrawn. Instead an auditing and review of all travel, as part of the carbon emissions reduction research, must be undertaken before this road scheme is developed further.

The Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance is developing alternative uses of the £48m committed to the Bradford-Shipley scheme, uses which would reduce traffic flows and emissions and therefore improve the travel of all types, including by car.

We would appreciate meeting you in order to explore these options with you.

Best wishes,

Ludi Simpson, Secretary Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance, www.bsta.org.uk

What would you spend £48m on, if not more car traffic? Open meeting on 7th September

Are you concerned about children’s health and traffic pollution? Take global warming seriously? Want fewer cars on the roads, not more? What would you spend £48m on?

West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Bradford Council want to spend £48m on widening Valley Road, pumping more traffic into Shipley and beyond, and surely attracting more through-traffic and more rat-running.

Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance is going public on Tuesday 7th September, meeting in the Shipley Kirkgate Centre BD18 3EH at 7.30pm. We’ll review the merits of alternative proposals for what the money could be spent on, and what actions to take to make healthier travel happen between Bradford and Shipley.

You will be very welcome. There will be an online link for those who can’t make it in person: email admin@bsta.org.uk for an invitation (we can’t guarantee the quality of the link though we will do our best).

Five minutes in a cyclist’s day: Birklands Road Shipley to cycle route 66

Its early morning, bump the bike down the back steps. On goes the high viz jacket, ditto helmet. Check for speeding rat runners (still happening despite 20mph and school street signs)

Take a deep breath and set off down the back street, very slowly. Congestion at the junction with Manor Lane, always cars jockeying in both directions to get through; danger of parked cars.

Make the run down Sunny Bank. Traffic lights stay red. “Been there long” says a taxi driver, pulling up alongside. “lights don’t register bikes you know”. REALLY, who knew?

He’s there…. lights go green. Adrenalin kicks in, Set off.  

Cars and huge lorries. Air filthy. Eyes peeled for potholes and tarmac ‘molehills’. No room to move out on this stretch. Teeth and bike both rattle riding through dips and bumps

Finally… the safety of the pavement at the bottom of Briggate and onto Route 66. The RELIEF!

Certainly got some kicks (apologies to the Stones, Nat King Cole and whoever else covered the song) Ironic that it was all about a road trip.

  • Hear it now for walkers, cyclists and public transport!

Kath Jackson

Champions

Will you be a Champion of less traffic, better health and taking seriously the climate emergency?

Following a successful strategy meeting in early July, Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance is growing its activities with Champions in the following nine areas:

  • Social media and publicity
  • Engagement with politicians
  • Health matters including Born in Bradford and GPs
  • Traffic flows, speeds, composition
  • Air qualityActive Travel
  • Schools and education
  • Engagement with businesses
  • Finance and fundraising
  • We are drawing up plans for the next 6 months, to influence the detailed plans for the Bradford-Shipley road scheme, and to engage with them when published for consultation in 2022. Thanks go to those who are already preparing campaign plans, we do need more help.

    Appeal: As we write we need especially a Champion to develop our social media reach and another to lead a concerted effort to reach politicians. If you can help with these or any of the other areas listed above, please get in touch with Ludi at admin@bsta.org.uk, and we’ll welcome you on board with all the support you may want. Please get in touch now, and certainly by 2nd August, as we will be discussing ideas and plans on 18th August.

    From our affiliates: Extinction Rebellion

    I am writing this in response to Bradford Councils proposal to expand Canal Road into a four lane road.

    Despite declaring a climate emergency in 2019, the Council seems incapable of acting in a way commensurate with the climate facts. 2020 was the hottest year since records began. Nineteen of the warmest years have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. The year 2020 tied with 2016 for the warmest year on record since record-keeping began in 1880 (source: NASA/GISS).

    We already have illegal levels of dirty air on the route of the A657 as it passes through Saltaire and air pollution at many other locations in the district. Every day tens of thousands of vehicles spew noxious fumes affecting the health of citizens and in particular schoolchildren whose schools are sited along our roads. 191 people every year die in the Bradford District because of toxic air.

    Research since the 70’s has highlighted the fact that more roads bring more traffic. If you make it easier to drive, more people will drive.

    How ironic when back in the 1850’s Titus Salt built Saltaire to escape Bradford’s pollution!

    We need a fundamental shift in transport policies away from endless road building to a huge increase in the provision of affordable, and clean air friendly, public transport. Active travel needs to be encouraged and funded to tackle fumes, congestion, public health crises like obesity, asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Encouraging the positive benefits of quieter streets, clean air, more birdsong and nature; streets for people not cars.

    A recent Dutch study (Cycling Embassy of Denmark) found that, in terms of socio-economic costs, cars cost 79 cents (with fuel, parking, road building, ill health) and cycling gains 72 cents (with health and climate benefits).

    In terms of building infrastructure for the future for every 1Km of highway built you could provide 100Km of cycle ways. (Manuel Calvo, Seville bicycle way architect)

    Cars are the least space-efficient way of moving people and goods around – a three-metre wide lane can move 700 to 1,100 people per hour in cars, whereas for bicycles and walking this increases from 2,000 to 6,500.  There are also multiple city case studies, such as the construction of Cycle Superhighways in London, which show that changing car space to bicycle space does not adversely affect car travel times.

    The truth is giving more road space to bicycles and pedestrians does not make traffic worse and quieter, safer streets can increase the footfall in the city centre, as most other cities have discovered.

    During lockdown Gov figures show cycling increased by 380% and other means of traffic dropped 90%. Cycling turns out to be a cheap and fast solution to our city problems of toxic air and congestion.

    It followed unprecedented levels of walking and cycling seen across the UK during the pandemic and an attempt to encourage people to make healthier travel choices and to choose alternatives to public transport as they started to return to work.

    The £250m emergency active travel fund was the first stage of a £2bn investment promised to boost greener, active travel.

    What did the transport secretary say? Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “With public transport’s capacity severely restricted at this time, our trains and buses could become overcrowded and our roads gridlocked – holding up emergency services, critical workers and vital supplies.

    “We know cars will continue to remain vital for many, but as we look to the future we must build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities.”

    I recognise that politicians only have a four year ‘lifespan’, they need to get re elected and don’t want to be perceived as unfairly demonising car owners. But if we make changes now we will save so much more than money in the long run. We will save lives and create a city that people want to live in.

    If Bradford Council are serious about their Climate Emergency and their commitment to Clean Air and a decarbonised transport system in our district they must instigate a Citizens Assembly on Climate Change. Let the people learn about the issues, debate the solutions and give them a mandate to instigate the radical solutions necessary to benefit us all.

    Paul McHugh, Extinction Rebellion Bradford

    Is car ownership another pandemic?

    Will Sanderson contributes this blog from Shipley and Saltaire Living Streets

    Reports of another pandemic are starting to buzz on the news wires. It is more insidious than the one we’ve just lived through, and we’re already losing the race to find a solution. As it travels invisibly through the air causing respiratory disease and excess deaths, people get scared. Tragically, this one also kills kids. Social interactions are curtailed, communities feel the strain, mental health suffers. The poorest are hit hardest, but we all start to feel powerless and disenfranchised. The next pandemic is car-owner virus.

    Car dominance, and the entitlement it engenders in drivers, has a lot to answer for: contributing to climate change, polluting the air we breathe, making conversation in the street difficult and unpleasant, isolating the elderly and disabled, disturbing our sleep, contributing to roadside litter, and resulting directly in avoidable injury and deaths.

    According to the Council’s own reports, cars are the biggest contributor to air pollution in Bradford, causing 1 in 20 early deaths in the region, and costing local NHS Trusts around £3million per year. Around 200 people are killed or seriously injured on Bradford’s roads every year. And still, millions of pounds are being spent adding capacity to the road network, while too little is done to provide the infrastructure and incentives for alternative modes of transport. This is why 40% of journeys under 2 miles are currently made by car. Now is the time to enable and encourage active travel: a simple lifestyle change that has such enormous health and social benefits.

    Shipley & Saltaire Living Streets, in support of the excellent campaigning done by the Bradford Shipley Travel Alliance, Clean Air Bradford, and Friends of the Earth, are calling for an end to car-centric thinking in planning and transport (avoid), more joined-up cycling and walking routes (shift), and measures to prevent antisocial driving, parking and rat-running (improve). We need your help! Commit to leaving the car at home whenever possible, or get in touch to join our team. We especially need some help from parents of primary-aged children (to start a walking/cycling bus and play streets), young adults with a flair for social media (to run our accounts), and artistic folk (to do some tactical urbanism).

    We have a choice, now, between a cleaner future for people, places and our planet, or continuing with activities which damage our health and environment. Walk with us.

    Affiliate spotlight: Veg on the Edge

    In the first of our blogs from affilliates, Margot Rowan describes Veg on the Edge

    We are a group of volunteers who work together in Saltaire transforming plots of under-used land into community food growing spaces. We meet regularly through the seasons planning, digging, composting, planting, watering, weeding. Once the vegetables, fruit and herbs are ready to eat, everyone is welcome to help themselves and enjoy the produce.

    Our plots are well used by people living and working nearby who appreciate access to package-free, fresh, healthy ingredients grown locally in pleasant green surroundings. Just now we have herbs and salad ingredients ready to be picked, lots more in the days to come ….

    Members of Veg on the Edge are concerned about the impact of traffic pollution on food production and soil quality near to busy roads. They also know that an appropriate green infrastructure can reduce public exposure to air pollution in the urban environment. They would like these issues to be part of the council’s agenda when planning.

    Currently we have 5 growing spaces – The Sunday School Garden in Caroline Street, The Japanese Edible Garden on Exhibition Road, Platform One at Saltaire Railway Station, The Wash House Garden on Caroline Street and The Baker Beds at the far end of Caroline Street.

    As well as cultivating our edible crops we are involved in many local events.

    You may see us at Saltaire Festival in September.

    New members of all ages are very welcome. Gardening expertise is not necessary. 

    To find out more about us or join in our activities visit our website: www.vegontheedge.org