Safe cycle routes to schools

Did you know Hayling schools make Hampshire’s top 10 most congested? That’s awful for such a flat, compact community.

All of the 5 Hayling Island schools lie on the busy main road (Havant Road, Church Road & Elm Grove) which serves the Mengham shopping area, and the entire large residential area at the south of the island. At rush hour it’s even busier, with lots of queueing.

The proportion of pupils and staff who cycle to school is very low, according to Hampshire County Council Travel Team .

79% of pupils are driven to the two Mill Rythe schools. The national average is 34%.

Most schools’ walking rates hover around 50%. The last figures we have for Mill Rythe Infant school showed only 4.5% of pupils walk and barely 18% to the Junior school. A questionnaire conducted at Hayling College showed that 10% cycled against 50% using a car. Those that do cycle are often seen using the pavements around Hayling College.

Since the Travel Team survey, the Cinder Track has been upgraded for cycling by Hampshire County Council. although the surface is stony, and not very easy for pushchairs or scooters. Mill Rythe Junior School conducted a new survey of travel behaviour which found that car use has fallen to 68%, 16% walk, 12% cycle or use a scooter, and 4% use the bus. That suggests a significant improvement that we hope to continue over time.

More safe cycling routes to the schools would allow more students to cycle to school and college, and help keep them off the pavements. They would also encourage school and college staff to cycle to work.

The links below explore the benefits and issues of school cycle routes and describe the main routes we are working on.

If you would like to know more, please contact Dave Mowatt at dave@cyclehayling.org.uk

Benefits:

Cycling gives children exercise in the open air, increasing fitness and encouraging an active lifestyle. It also gives them independence from the “Mum and Dad taxi company”. Training schemes – notably Bikeability – help children learn how to cycle safely, manage risk and to take responsibility for their actions.

They say “You never forget how to ride a bike”. It’s true, many adults getting back into cycling first started as children. Equally, people that never learned to ride a bike as children can see learning in later years as difficult.

We’ve all seen children:

  • Cycling without proper care and attention
  • Cycling without lights
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Reacting unpredictably to traffic conditions

It is a major concern for parents – and for other road users. In many cases that results in:

  • Children not being allowed to cycle to school
  • Children riding on the pavement and intimidating pedestrians

Safe cycle routes to school which avoids roads would reduce risk not only for the children but also for pedestrians and other road users.

It’s immediately noticeable when schools are on holiday. Our roads are much quieter immediately before and after school times. Safe cycle routes to school means fewer children being driven to and from school by car – for most parents cutting out four car trips a day! The congestion of parked cars around school gates is reduced and the short, fuel inefficient, jouney to school is avoided.

The main routes we’re working on:

New surface on Footpath 88
After

Before

Mill Rythe to Tournebury Lane via Eastwood Close, Footpath 88, was upgraded for cycling in 2013. The old cinder surface (hence the name Cinder Track) was given a wider and somewhat smoother surface and made officially available to cyclists. People have always cycled it unofficially, but now it can be signed, and we can put it on our cycle map.

However. people tell us the surface is stony, and not easy for pushchairs, buggies or scooters. It is more all-weather than before, and less subject to puddling, but not ideal.

The footpath borders the Hayling College playing fields with a spur footpath running along the southern border with entrances onto the college grounds.

We had hoped for a new path extending the upgraded Cinder Track directly into the Mill Rythe Junior and Infant schools so that children no longer have to navigate through parked cars and cars dropping other children off to school.

£10K funding was potentially available from Living Streets, with another potential £10k matched council funding. We had the support of the landowner and all the stakeholders.

However, we ran into big complications with ecology and cost, which we could not find a way around at the time. The landowner even offered to perform the work for the available funding, but as they were not ‘an approved HCC contractor’, we were refused permission, to great frustration of all those involved.

It remains a long term ambition.

This is the first leg of the new East-West cycle path, and is included in HBC’s 2017 Feasibility Report, and now in the project list for 2019/2020. It involves converting the existing public footpath 89 to dual use.

Since it runs through the church graveyard, it has involved sensitive negotiations with the church, but these appear to have been overcome, although cyclists will be asked to walk through the graveyard itself.

However, although Parkdean, who own some of the land, have given verbal approval, we understand they still haven’t given HBC legal approval to start work. There is also an issue with an anti-motorcycle barrier, which does not actually stop most anti-social motorcyclists, but does stop many legitimate users.

Also, the councils are insisting on a rough unsealed surface, which puts off many users, especially in wet weather. We think our ‘Smooth the Path‘ campaign applies just as much to this path as any other. Kids cannot get to school covered in mud!

Since the Halyards Estate was built, we have a good-ish sealed route from Beech Grove to Mengham Junior School and the Legion Field. And there will be a sealed path from Hawthorne Grove across the Legion Field. Mengham Infant School is directly across the road (Elm Grove) to the west.

However cycling further south to Mengham Lane remains a stubborn problem. Bellway could easily have left a path through to Goldring Close, but they refused point blank, and because the planning was initially refused and then won at appeal, the council lost all rights to insist. That is a massive failure of the planning system to protect the community from commercial pressures.

Although many people do cycle on public footpath 102, it is not officially permitted, so we and the council can’t add it to our cycle maps, and the council won’t signpost it. There are two paths to it from the Halyard’s estate , but the last 110 metres are very narrow, and in wet weather, it’s completely impassable for anyone. The 2019 council plans include levelling and improving the surface, and improving the drainage, but it will not be all-weather. And they will not open it up to cycling, because it is too narrow. The photo shows the last 110 metre section running parallel to My Lord’s Lane.

There is a perfect alternative path alongside it, which the landowner did initially consider allowing for cycling, but this offer was subsequently withdrawn. We remain hopeful they might be persuaded in future.

The most northerly part of footpath 102 (approximately 310 metres) is wide and often cycled, but since you can now cycle through Halyards, it will not be permitted as an official cycle route.

There is a short spur public footpath (101) along the back of Mengham Junior school grounds, linking Legion Field to Heron’s Way. This is muddy and flooded in wet weather, and badly needs a sealed surface. However, although it runs along the side of the housing estate, it is still classed as a ‘rural’ footpath, and HCC will not allow it to be sealed. It’s too narrow to be officially a cycle route, although people do cycle it, but parents with children should be able to use it without needing wellingtons.

The southern section of footpath 102 is a wide, cycleable path of approximately 300 metres. It just needs an all weather finish, and removal of the exposed barbed wire, and this has been approved in principle. However the tree roots make a decent all-weather surface problematical and expensive. The horse field next to it is now being considered for building over the next few years, and if this happens, we have been promised that it would include a proper cycle path, and therefore the council is reluctant to spend money on a short term solution.

This is all very well, but we were let down on the Goldring Close development, and in the meantime, the detour through Mengham is long and dangerous.

What do you think the council should do?

We are running this as a separate project in its own right because it would provide a major route for all types of cyclist including those looking for a traffic-free route onto and off the island.

This map shows all the above routes and how they link the schools together. Click the image to see more detail.

Map showing proposed safe cycle routes

Issues:

There’s good reason to believe so:

  • Pressure/encouragement from parents and teachers
  • Peer pressure once use is established
  • Benefits to parents and children

The upgraded Cinder Track Is already popular, despite the poor surface, and there is evidence it has reduced car use somewhat.

We don’t believe so. We’ve spent time looking at the routes with Havant Borough Council, Hampshire County Council and the land-owners, and most of the cost will be upgrading the current surface. Compared to road improvements, the cost is miniscule.

Our ‘Smooth the Path‘ campaign shows that a proper sealed surface only costs 15% more than the inferior rough surfaces we’re currently using, and need no maintenance for decades instead of a few years.

Throughout the progressing of this scheme Cycle Hayling has discussed the proposal with representatives from all the Hayling schools and kept them informed of progress. They have been very supportive and keen to see these routes implemented.

Mengham Junior School is leading the charge, and has already the ‘Silver’ award for sustainable travel with Modeshift Stars.

Yes. Safe cycle routes to school are a high priority – for obvious reasons. There is funding set aside specifically for creating safe routes to schools. Cycle Hayling first proposed this scheme in 2010 and Hampshire County Council and Havant Borough Council have been supportive ever since.

Hampshire County Council has already upgraded the Cinder Track and are keen to do more as funding becomes available. But they are resisting the use of sealed surfaces, which is preventing all-weather use and getting into the habit of everyday walking and cycling.

If you want to support our efforts, please register your support.

Future Schemes

Cycle Hayling is investigating other possible additions to the Safe Routes to School scheme. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.


Progress to date

Where we are – February 2019

Posted on: February 8, 2019 by: Andy Henderson

We have to admit we haven’t done a great job at keeping the web site updated with progress.

There are, of course, some reasons for that:

  • We are often given information ‘in confidence’ but we are rarely told when the information is no longer confidential. That leaves us in limbo.
  • We have presented updates through Hayling Islander articles and social rides, but the web site has taken a back seat.
  • With limited time and effort available, we tend to spend what time we have available pursuing progress – it’s not until we look back that we realise how long it’s been since we updated the site.

This article is an attempt to put that right. Going forward we plan to send more regular updates to our supporters (click here to find out how you can support us for free).

So, in no particular order, here’s an update on what has been happening. Click any heading to see more information…

???I’m a little confused. Looking at Google Maps I can’t see a path from Saltmarsh Lane. I know there is one from Denhill Close and we used to describe it as the Denhill Close development. What’s changed?

Last year we were successful in a bid for £16,000 of CIL money to build a cycle link to the Billy Trail from Saltmash Lane – currently a muddy and very uneven path.

We discussed the situation with the landowner??? who would like to see the path improved and meeting the needs of a wider group of people.

The initial plan – agreed with Havant Borough Council – was that we would bid for the money to improve the path and that HBC would do the improvement work. The budget was agreed with HBC and that is what we applied for.

Having obtained the money we found that:

  • The budget was no longer sufficient
  • The surface intended by HBC was similar to previously failed attempts to improve the Billy Trail

We are looking into the best way to create a suitable surface for the path – in particular a good and lasting all weather surface. We continue to consult with Hampshire County Council and Havant Borough Council. We have also made good progress to secure further funding. We are also exploring whether we need planning permission.

The aim of the Smooth the Path campaign is to make all cycle routes suitable for all, in all weather.

Some parts of Hampshire County Council insist that new path surfaces in our area should use ‘self-binding’ gravel. This is inappropriate for cycle paths (and for any wheeled users including prams, pushchairs and wheel chairs) as it quickly breaks up under use and deteriorates into loose stones: an unpleasant surface for all users and a skid risk for cyclists. We have seen this happen with resurfacing attempts on the Billy Trail, footpath 88 (AKA the cinder track) and the original surface for the seafront accessibility path. It is also contrary to Hampshire County Council’s own recommendations for cycle paths!

Another possibility is the sacrificial surface used at the north end of the Billy Trail. It’s a reasonable surface but it will need to be replaced at regular intervals to maintain it. The section on the Billy Trail is weathering fairly well, but a similar section across Hilsea Lines demonstrates much faster deterioration – it is therefore suitable only in specific situations.

Our research is that a proper sealed surface (as used already by many cycling and walking paths in Hampshire – including the Langstone section of the Billy Trail) is only about 15% more expensive than ‘self-binding’ gravel and should last far longer.

We applied for CIL money to fund a feasibility study to look at all possible options for a North-South cycle route and make recommendations. However Havant Borough Council asked if we would consider withdrawing it, as it was unlikely to be successful, and because they would incorporate the principle into the new LCWIP. So we have withdrawn our bid to focus on the LCWIP, but we are still committed to Haylink.

Wilf Forrow has done an excellent job of relationship building with councillors and officers of our local authorities.

We are finding a more positive attitude to cycling. To some extent that was always there, but we benefit from changes in personnel, and recent legislation in the areas of health, cycling and walking.

We face two major obstacles, however:

  • A shortage – or absence – of funds to support cycling initiatives
  • Disjoins between different parts of the local authorities which generate conflicting and, sometimes, mutually exclusive objectives

We continue to attend fairs and fêtes in the area. Our stall is jointly funded by Cycle Hayling and Portsmouth CTC. We use it to gain new supporters and to encourage people to get on our turbo trainers for fun.

We’ve organised a couple of social rides around the Island to discuss problems and opportunities with supporters that were able to join us.

We’ve found the rides to be more effective, better supported and more fun than formal meetings. We expect to continue them when the weather improves.

We were asked by Mengham Junior School??? if we could arrange clearing the shared foot and cycle path behind the school. Since we successfully campaigned to get the path upgraded, the undergrowth each side had been encroaching onto the path to the extent that it was getting difficult to use it.

We approached the owner??? with a view to arranging a working party to clear the path. The next thing we knew he’d done the clearing himself.

Work to repair the section of the Billy Trail that fell into the sea resulted in a lot of damage to the trail itself. The contractor made an attempt to repair the damage by laying scalpings.

Unfortunately – as we know all too well – scalpings can provide a reasonable surface but they quickly deteriorate into a collection of loose stones. Unpleasant for all users and a skid risk for bikes.

We have made representations several times to Havant Borough Council and Hampshire County Council. We were told the issue had been recognised and that action was being considered against the contractor. Unfortunately nothing has happened since.

This is a clear example of why inappropriate surfaces are a waste of money and can make paths worse for all users, We are therefore seeking a properly constructed sealed surface for all cycle paths with our ‘smooth the path‘ campaign.

Strictly speaking, this is not ‘on our patch’ but it would provide part of a cycle route for Hayling residents all the way to Havant, Portsmouth and Emsworth. We were therefore consulted about the plan and asked to get feedback from our supporters. Which we provided.

Unfortunately, although the original plan was fully funded, Havant Borough Council reacted to delays on the A3023 by insisting that non-essential work be carried-out at night. This doubled the cost, so the work has had to be done piecemeal.

So far the path is complete from the entrance to Langstone Technology Park to the tree that stands in the middle of the pavement, south of Langbrook Close. Some railings have also been erected south of the tree to make crossing an exit safer.

The original plan was to take the path out around the tree reducing the hatched central reservation to maintain the road width. We understand, however, that the tree is dying and will become dangerous at which point it will be removed.

Until then, however, the path is not officially a shared one but, of course, many cyclists continue to use it in preference to the main road.

We would like to erect signage at each end of the Billy Trail to encourage all users to be considerate of each other. We raised a formal proposal to Hampshire County Council and Havant Borough Council (the owners of the north and south ends of the trail respectively, we:

  • Suggested where the signs could be placed
  • Presented possible wording (the same as used on other shared paths in Hampshire and West Sussex)
  • Offered to pay for the signage and to erect it ourselves

That was nearly two years ago. Our proposal was put on hold because Hampshire was about to undergo a rebranding exercise that would have seen existing Billy Trail signs replaced. That hasn’t happened.

Havant Borough Council has improved the section of the path as it joins the pavement immediately before reaching the entrance to Beachlands. It’s not great to feed the path onto a road in order to get access to the western section of the path, but it is better than feeding onto a non-shared footway and the main road.

Havant Borough Council plans to use CIL money to:

  • Upgrade the existing footpath between St Mary’s church and Manor Road via the Parkdean holiday park to a shared cycle path
  • Create a formal, signed cycle route through Hayling Park (although our understanding is that cycling is currently allowed in all Havant parks)

These two projects are unrelated, but put together to minimise contracting costs. We are, however, concerned that delays to one will delay the other. A legal issue has already pushed the delivery date from 2019 back to end-2020.

Hampshire County Council??? has erected cycle route signs along most of our ‘green route‘ that links Copse Lane, St Peter’s Road and Northney Road.

There was some opposition from Northney residents but the signage used is the small blue sign (intended as a guide for cyclists) rather than the large ‘warning cyclists’ triangle (the signs fulfill – to some extent – both functions) so the visual impact is minimised.

Natural England is working with local authorities to plan and construct (where necessary) a coast path around the entire country.

The path will be a footpath and – unless already a shared path – won’t be available for cyclists. We are monitoring progress because:

  • The section planned for east Hayling will – unsurprisingly – make use of the Billy Trail and might support our campaign to restore it.
  • It might create opportunities for establishing new, shared cycle paths.

The section planned for west Hayling seems to have stalled for the time being – possibly because of legal action which claims that the west of Hayling is not on the coast but an inland waterway!

Continue reading →

Havant’s new Cycling and Walking Plan!

Posted on: January 23, 2019 by: Wilf

Havant Borough Council has announced that it will be starting work on a formal Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan shortly.

This is REALLY important because :

  • A formal plan unlocks much more future government funding
  • Implementing it becomes a formal policy of the whole council, not just the cycling team
  • It forces developers to show how their housing plans fit into OUR bigger plan
  • It forces all of us to plan for the best long term solution, rather than just for quick wins
Continue reading →

One school’s bike revolution

Posted on: September 17, 2017 by: Wilf

Do watch this inspiring little video from Sustrans, showing one Primary School’s bike revolution. Turns out kids can have fun and get free and healthy exercise at the same time. And reduce congestion and parking problems at school.

Hayling’s schools support cycling, and our cycle routes to school are (slowly) getting better. Cycle Hayling wants to see kids on Hayling having fun and cycling to school. Wouldn’t it be great if by 2018 we could say that this video could have been made on Hayling!

Continue reading →

Proposal to reduce the speed limit on the Northney route

Posted on: February 21, 2016 by: Sue Underwood

Consultation is now open on the council proposal to reduce the speed limit from 40 mph to 30 mph on the section of road between the Stoke end of Copse Lane and Northney village. Details of the proposal, ref. number AS/TRO/298, can be found at www.havant.gov.uk/tro

This is a route used by many cyclists to get on and off the island, so Cycle Hayling supporters may like to submit their views to the consultation, which is open until Friday 11th March 2016. Formal comments can be made via one of the following methods:

  • Using the online response form at the above web address
  • By email to tro@havant.gov.uk
  • In writing to the acting solicitor to the council :
    Sara Bryan
    Acting Solicitor to the Council
    Public Service Plaza
    Civic Centre Road
    Havant PO9 2AX
Continue reading →

New section of cycle path on Hayling

Posted on: June 19, 2015 by: Andy Henderson

We are pleased to announce a new section of cycle path alongside the main road out of Hayling.

It goes from the Mill Rythe roundabout to a little over half-way to the boat yard…

Continue reading →

Footpath 101 closed for up to a year

Posted on: February 23, 2015 by: Andy Henderson

Footpath 101 runs behind Mengham Junior School. The closure starts 28th February 2015.

You can see more detail including a map and suggested alternative route at:

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/pnadetail?noticeUID=4080

Continue reading →

Update from Cycle Hayling

Posted on: March 23, 2014 by: Andy Henderson

In this update…

  • Footpath 88 extension project cancelled
  • Billy Trail Phase 4 development
  • Billy Trail south end development
  • Issues with new cycle paths
  • Bike security session
Continue reading →

Update from Cycle Hayling

Posted on: December 5, 2013 by: Andy Henderson

This is the text of an email we sent to all Cycle Hayling supporters with email addresses on 5th December 2013…

Welcome to all our new supporters. You are helping us promote better cycling facilities on the Island.

In this update:

  • Good news for the ‘Safe routes to school’ project
  • More good news…
  • …and even more
  • New ‘Park and Stride’ scheme
  • An appeal about cycle lights
  • Watch out, there’s a thief about!
  • North East Hayling Residents Association
  • Hayling to Paris ride – update
Continue reading →

Safe cycle routes to schools update – August 2013

Posted on: August 2, 2013 by: Andy Henderson

We recently updated the safe cycle routes to schools project page.

This note provides an update on each of the routes we are working on:

Shown as route 1 on the map below.

Route now open. Hampshire County Council completed it in spring 2013. All feedback has been positive, which is very encouraging, especially as Hayling residents are renowned for voicing concerns!

Shown as route 2 on the map below.

The landowner has given approval for a permissive route, but a “pinch point” is the main factor preventing go-ahead from Hampshire County Council. Cycle Hayling is discussing alternative options with HCC (e.g. short “dismount” section).

Shown as route 3 on the map below.

The land is owned by Parkdean Holiday Park. The site manager has given agreement to the path, but we are awaiting final go-ahead from the chief executive. Havant Borough Council is hoping to implement this route in 2014 if funds allow.

Shown as route 4 on the map below.

The landowner of southern section has given agreement.

The northern section still requires approval from Registered Riders Scheme (RRS) and relevant landowners. The RRS are unwilling to share this limited section of their existing routes. Having tried for some time, we have finally managed to open discussions with the RRS, but it is clear there is considerable opposition from RRS leaders to sharing the footpath. We are trying to address their concerns, because this appears to be the only feasible option for providing a safe north-south link. Havant Borough Council shares this view.

Shown as route 5 on the map below.

The main landowner (Hayling Island Builders Ltd) has given formal agreement to the link, provided they don’t incur any cost. The land is currently leased to A.D. Walter Ltd (a farm), which has been contacted by Cycle Hayling.

Active involvement by both Mill Rythe Headteachers and the Hampshire County Council Travel Team, which has adopted the project.

Site visit already carried out by Hants Principal Engineer. Feasibility study by Hampshire County Council will begin once legal clearance has been obtained.

£10k is potentially available for this project from Living Streets to spend straight away. Total cost may be more than £10k however, so we may need additional funding from Havant Borough Council.

This map shows all the above routes and how they link the schools together. Click the image to see more detail.

Map showing proposed safe cycle routes

Continue reading →

Cycle Hayling supports motorists!

Posted on: August 1, 2013 by: Andy Henderson

As part of work to establish safe cycle routes to schools Dave Mowatt is helping the Hayling Island schools and the Hampshire Travel Team explore options to set up a ‘Park and Stride’ scheme. This would allow parents to park in some of the Island’s car parks with easy walking to school.

If established, the scheme would reduce congestion at school times and increase safety for children walking or cycling to school.

We hope to see a trial scheme started early in the new school year.

Continue reading →