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Bromham Road Rail Bridge Planning Aplication

Bedford Borough’s determination of Network Rail’s planning application (19/00370/FUL) was made at the 22 July 2019 Planning Committee meeting. The Case Officer recommended approval. Chair of CCNB gave a five minute speech the beginning of the item under the Borough's 'Right to Speak' policy. Disappointingly very little discussion took place and the application was approved as is by 6 votes to 2.

We must now wait for the decision by the Secretary of State for Transport of the February 2019 public inquiry to see if he recommends modification of the road bed to incorporate a cycle/pedestrian path across the bridge but with less than 13 weeks to go before the start of the bridge's demolition we are not hopeful.

Highest Cycle Count Recorded

Commuter cycling continues to increase. On Tuesday 16 July 2019 cycle counts at Bedford railway station saw the highest number ever at 483, beating the previous 471 recorded on 17 July 2018.

No need to worry, there are still 129 official spaces left plus a number of metal railings for those who have still not taken the step to beat Bedford's current road works.

Bromham Road Rail Bridge Closure

With all the worries of motorists about Bedford's roads being in chaos until well into 2021 and only a few days to go before the closure of the Bromham Road railway bridge on Monday 24 June for ten months, there is one solution that can be taken which has not been spelt out sufficiently and that is, to consider cycling instead of driving to work, the railway station, school/college, shopping and leisure activities.

Bedford has always been a 'Town of Cyclists' and at one time had a similar level of cycling to that of the Netherlands.

Today the town has an extensive network of cycle routes made up of cycle tracks, dual use paths, quiet roads, many with a 20mph speed limit, and cycle lanes on the more busier roads which can get you from one part of the town to another including some neighbouring villages in 15-20 minutes. The network includes more than 100 safe crossings of the busier roads.

No more waiting up to 30 minutes to get out of the Interchange Retail Park or through the lights at the Manton Lane/Brickhill Drive junction in the rush hour as quoted by many frustrated drivers.

It is realised that not everybody is able to change their mode of transport for many reasons but just a 10% change would make a huge difference to the town's congestion problems. At the same time it would give plus plus benefits in reducing air pollution which affects both climate change and people's health and at the same time making them more fitter.

Take that bike out of the garage, check the brakes, oil the chain, pump up the tyres and cycle that short distance.

Once tried you will wonder what stopped you doing it before.

Cycle Safety Videos/Guides

Cycling UK has created five instructional videos and written guides

The videos feature information on road safety - road positioning, how to approach junctions, signalling and awareness of other road users as well as top tips on how to maintain a bike.

The written guides aim to educate cyclists with little or no mechanical experience on how to prepare their bikes to ride safely, how to fix basic problems they may encounter when cycling and essential tools needed to fix common issues.

The guides form part of Cycling UK’s commitment to encourage millions more people to cycle, and its mission to champion cyclists’ rights and to improve cycling safety.

All of them can be downloaded from their website here.

The Handlebards are Back

The world's first cycling theatre company, The Handlebards, pedal from venue to venue with all the set, props and costume necessary to perform environmentally sustainable Shakepeare across the globe.

This year both the male and female troupes are back in Bedford at The Quarry Theatre. On Monday 1 July 2019 the male troupe is performing 'Much ado about nothing' and on Friday 19 July 2019 the female troupe is performing The Tempest.

Join either or both troupes for a bicycle powered production like none other. In usual Handlebard style, expect riotous amounts of energy, a fair old whack of chaos, and a great deal of laughter.

More information on this fasinating group can be seen on their website here.

Bedford Cycling Quotes/Facts

CCNB has recently updated its 'Bedford Cycling Quotes/Facts' leaflet.

A pdf copy may be seen here.

PSPO Cycling Ban

Bedford Borough Council's Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) banning cyclists from the town's pedestrianised area which was put in place on 16 May 2016 for a period of three years expires in May 2019. A consultation has been published by the Borough to assess whether it should be extended by a further three years The consultation opened on 22 March and closed on 26 April 2019.

Full details of the order can be seen under here.

CCNB believes the minority of cyclists who behave in an aggressive and reckless/irresponsible manner and give cycling a bad image should still be fined but not the majority including the disabled who ride responsibly. A copy of the full response may be seen here.

Cyclists Manifesto

CCNB's Cyclists Manifesto has been updated and given to many of the candidates for the Bedford Borough elections on Thursday 2 May 2019.

A pdf copy may be seen here.

Bromham Road Bridge Update

Network Rail began work on Bromham Road railway bridge on Monday 4 March 2019 to remove and relocate onto a temporary bridge the underground services running under the current bridge. This required a partial closure of the A4280 over the bridge with traffic prohibited travelling westwards 24 hours a day between Monday 4 March to Thursday 18 April and then for 65 nights from Thursday 18 April to Saturday 22 June 2019. It is programmed to demolish the top of the bridge during July/August and construct a higher bridge to provide clearance for the new overhead line equipment to pass under the bridge in preparation for the electrification of the line to Corby.

A public informatiion event took place on Friday 22 February 2019 at the Park Inn Hotel, 2 St Mary's Street, Bedford to find out more about the work.

In the meantime Network Rail submitted a planning application (19/00370/FUL) to Bedford Borough Council for the reconstruction. The approval this and the results of the public inquiry were still outstanding as of the end of April 2019.

Bromham Road Bridge Public Inquiry

A public inquiry on the Network Rail (London to Corby) (Land Acquisition, Level Crossing and Bridge Works) Order took place in Bedford at the Park Inn starting on Tuesday 5 February 2019. Initially there were only two objectors, CCNB and Bovis Homes re land issues at a bridge in Wellingborough. In the event Bovis Homes after numerous outside meetings finally withdraw their objections on the Wednesday evening. While waiting for the outcome of their discussions they took very little part in the public inquiry except for a number of update statements. The public inquiry was therefore entirely devoted to CCNB and took two and a half days to complete.

CCNB awaits with interest the Inspector's report and the Secretary of State for Transport's final decision.

CCNB believes it is already too late to get a positive answer as Network Rail intends to demolish the existing bridge in July/August to meet the target December 2020 start date of the new electric services between London and Corby. It was noted that Bedford Borough Council had withdrawn their representation in August 2018 when they accepted Network Rail’s plan and decided, with a contribution from Network Rail, to pursue a separate bridge. Objections, although finally withdrawn, to Network Rail's proposed temporary bridge leads CCNB to the conclusion that planning approval for a permanent bridge in the same position will not be easy and the only way to get the required dual use pedestrian/cycleway across the bridge, as presented in their evidence, is to amend the road bed, either on the bridge proposed or on a slightly wider bridge.

All the information presented by CCNB and Network Rail can be seen under here.

Cycle Tech Beds closes at Bedford Station

The mobile cycle repair service provided by Cycle Tech Bedfordshire at Bedford railway station since May 2015, initially every Tuesday and Thursday but latterly only on Tuesdays, closed at the end of 2018. Mike the owner gave an excellent service to many of the hundreds of cycling commuters. He will be sorely missed.

Bike Thefts

2018 ended with 593 bike thefts in Bedford Borough, the highest number for more than 5 years. Please ensure you secure your bike frame and wheels when leaving it anywhere.

New Year Message

Cycling Campaign for North Bedfordshire (CCNB) would like to wish all Bedford Borough current and potential cyclists a Happy New Year.

2018, CCNB’s 26th year of campaigning, has seen a further increase in residents cycling to the railway station where counts were again 4% higher than the previous year, making it a rise of 85% since 2006. Cycling to the town centre was flat, possibly due to the outsourced enforcement of the ban on cycling through the pedestrianised area of the town centre, with more than 1100 fixed penalty notices given out between January and September.

Government cycling statistics for 2016/17 released in August 2018 showed that Bedford was still one of the top cycling towns in the UK (19th out of 295 local authorities) with only Cambridge, Oxford, South Cambs and Exeter being significantly higher for adults cycling at least once per week.

A number of sections of cycle infrastructure continued to be installed during the year but disappointingly there has been still no decision on a signal controlled cycle route around the A6/A421 junction between Progress Business Park and the Wixams and no improvement in access at Kempston Mill bridge.

To help cyclists securely lock their bicycles at their destination a number of new cycle parking stands have been installed at various facilities throughout the year including many as part of new developments. Cycle thefts, however, have still been at a high level so ensure that adequate precautions are taken when leaving a bike.

2019 should see new cycle infrastructure introduced in the Manton Lane/Clapham Road area as part of the Borough’s Transporting Bedford 2020 project. An answer is expected by mid-year from a public inquiry to be held in February 2019 as to whether or not a cycle/pedestrian path will be installed across the Midland Main Line as part of the Bromham Road bridge rebuild. Work on the bridge itself is expected to start in mid 2019 and take up to 13 months.

Cycle to reduce Pollution and Climate Change

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published on 8 October 2018 has given dire warnings that the world has just 12 years left to limit global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels to avoid a climate change catastrophe.

Governments obviously must do more as well as local authorities, although Bedford Borough has already cut its carbon footprint by over 40% in the last few years. However at least one quarter of total emissions are from road transport. The emissions are also pollutants and almost every month new research is published on how they affect the health of everybody including the unborn child.

Most residents can help reduce pollution (as well as traffic congestion) and climate change straight away by using sustainable transport - walking and cycling for short distances and a mix of these and the bus or train for longer journeys.

Please try and use one or more of these modes of transport before it is too late.

In the case of cycling, everywhere in the urban area of Bedford including adjacent villages are within a 15-20 minute ride of the town centre and can be reached safely using a mixture of off-road tracks and dual use paths, on-road quiet roads and cycle lanes on more busier roads without resorting to riding illegally on pavements.

Welcome to Cycling Video

Cambridge Cycling Campaign has recently produced a video on 'Welcome to Cycling in Cambridge'. The information given is applicable to any town including Bedford.

New Cycle Cafe/Repairs - Roxton

A new small family based cycle coffee shop and cycle workshop called Spoke n’ Wheel opened in Roxton in September 2018. The business is located at 33 High Street, Roxton, Bedford, MK44 3EA.

The cycle workshop is offering repairs and services and a collection and delivery service for customers.

New Cycle Cafe - Riseley

A new cycle friendly coffee shop has opened in Riseley - Giddy Goat - offering coffee, cake, light lunches, ice cream, drinks and snack bars as well as bike racks, repair, pump area and a large outside space. The exact location is at The Garage, The High Street, Riseley, MK44 1DR opposite the school.

Puncture Prevention Tips - British Cycling

Punctures always seem to happen at the worst possible times; when you're running late on a commute, on a freezing wet training ride at the top of an exposed hill or in an important event. Lock at British Cycling's top tips and take the steps to avoid getting as many in the current puncture prone climate.