The NHS has put in an application for detailed planning consent for the new hospital. We’ve raised concerns about access to the hospital by bike – seeing it as a potential missed opportunity for active travel to the new site. At the time, we were told that the time to make representations was when the planning application went in, so we have responded as follows:
Although we do not object in principle to the planning application we are concerned that the lack of proper provision for cycling to the hospital will result in increased traffic congestion around the hospital site and spreading out into Cargenbridge and Troqueer.
The new site is close to the end of the Maxwelltown Cycleway and National Cycle Route 7. It is also within 5 miles of significant population concentrations so it ought to be eminently practical for staff and visitors to cycle to the hospital. However, the Travel plan (currently only available in draft) does not tackle a number of significant barriers to cycling which will limit the number of people who will actually choose to cycle to the hospital. These are:
1. The need to cross the Garroch Loaning – a busy, 60mph road – in order to get from the end of the Maxwelltown Cycle path onto the shared use path that leads to the hospital. At the moment there is no signalised crossing so cyclists and pedestrians need to find a gap in the traffic – which is complicated by the roundabout on one side, and very poor sight lines in the other direction due to the viaduct.
2. The lack of detailed plans for a complete, safe and convenient route from Troqueer to the new hospital. Although the travel plan mentions a toucan crossing on Pleasance Avenue, this does not tackle the need to cross the New Abbey Road (with no crossing), nor the fact that the shared use path along Park Road ends half way along, nor the need to cross the Dalbeattie road (with no signalised crossing). In our experience, this route is not suitable for inexperienced cyclists and will not encourage those living in Georgetown or Troqueer to cycle instead of driving
3. The need for improved winter maintenance and lighting along the Maxwelltown path. At the moment this path is not gritted in the winter, making it treacherous for both pedestrians and cyclists, and although it is lit, it is not bright enough for social safety, particularly for female staff members (some of whom have raised this as a concern that would put them off cycling in the winter months). This is especially important as the hospital operates on a 24 hour basis, and will also include residential accommodation, so people would need to be able to cycle safely at night as well as during the day
We also note the lack of any detailed plans for secure bike parking at the hospital. We understand that that ambition is for around 10% of staff to cycle to work, which we applaud, however it means that parking will need to be provided for a minimum of 100 bikes (accessible to staff) as well as some parking available to visitors. Parking should be of the sheffield stand type and be covered from the elements, with lighting so that staff can feel secure accessing their bikes at night.
We understand that the travel plan is in the course of being updated and we hope that it will tackle some of these omissions. We would urge that planning consent only be given on the condition that these issues are tackled.
Since we first raised the alarm, we have had discussions with the NHS, Sustrans and the council and we’re hopeful that a solution can be found to all of the issues we’ve raised. However, we still feel that the more councillors hear from their constituents that this is an issue, the more pressure there will be to take cycling to the hospital seriously, and not as an afterthought. The planning committee next meets on October 22nd so now is an excellent time to get in touch with your councillors and let them know what you think. This is especially important if one of your councillors is on the planning committee – you can find out who your councillors are and how to contact them directly here and who is on the planning committee here