No Left Turn Unstoned*

On May 21st I attended a meeting in Unstone, NE Derbyshire, about the proposed cycle route along the B6057 and linking up the Peak Resort bridleways with Dronfield (although the planned route doesn’t quite reach Dronfield)   This would be a major plank in the completion of a Sheffield to Chesterfield Cycle Route – the current route is described here.

There and back again

The views expressed in this blog post are entirely my own.

 

Currently the cycling experience along here is pretty bad.  When the A61 bypass was built nothing was done to rebalance this road in favour of walkers, cyclists, disabled people or horse riders.  As a result most riders you see are youngish, male, wearing lycra helmets etc – the confident cyclist”. There is a steep gradient to the north of the route which attracts fast riding. There has been some criticism of the scheme from cyclists and this has mostly come from this type of cyclist. There would be nothing to stop this type of cyclist from continuing to use the road except that the carriageway would be narrower. As a fairly confident cyclist myself I think I would tend to stay on the road in the down hill direction and use the shared use path when climbing.

 

The village is blighted by what is in effect a major road running through it. The Post Office is the only local business left along the road. Although the Post Office is being provided with 3 parking spaces as part of the scheme (currently people park illegally outside or park on side roads and have to cross the road without a crossing the postmaster complained bitterly about it. Local people commented that if he sold anything that was worth having other than stamps they would use it more.

There were a lot of deaf people in the room. Some were genuinely hard of hearing, others just didn’t want to hear what council officers and others had to say.  One gentleman had to be taken out by his daughter after he constantly interrupted other speakers.
The council officers knew their stuff and did their best but didn’t come over particularly well.
The plan is for a shared use route,  1.4 miles long. mostly 3 metres wide, but will be 2.6 metres wide in places because there isn’t enough road space for the full width.  The cost is £900k. from ring-fenced govt. funding. 
The Railway Bridge is a problem, it has a narrow separate footbridge the current proposal is for Cyclists Dismount signs. This bridge would have to be rebuilt for electrification (the HS2 spur will run along here) so this would be the solutrion to that in the long term. Actually if you dismount on a narrow path you double the width you are taking up making it impossible for others to pass you – “Cyclists Dead Slow” would be better IMO.
Narrowing the road would bring down traffic speeds, a major cause of concern for everyone. However, the officers didn’t really provide the evidence for that.
The Business Case shows £5.95 return for every £1 spent.
The scheme would involve the Closure of Church St & Old Whittington lane, removing some rat-running.
There is some doubt as to whether the peak resort is going ahead? – as far as DCC knows it is, but if it doesn’t, the bridleway asset as well as the access road network is in place for whatever replaces it.
At the south end a link to Chesterfield is in the planning stages.
There was some talk about using the disused railway between Dronfield and Unstone instead (who know there was one?) I have my doubts about this as it doesn’t really connect the two communities but could make a good leisure route. You need to get across the railway to access it which would make it expensive. I plan to go and take a look
The meeting concluded with an informal vote which went against the scheme. However, I don’t feel that this in any way demonstrated local democracy – people didn’t seem to understand what they were voting about, and had no inkling that they were turning down a £900k investment in their community.  I think it has been poorly marketed  – it should be marketed as a traffic calming scheme with a shared us path included, not just a cycle route.
The attitude amongst attendees then was that they had a major problem with the road running through their village but weren’t prepared to allow anyone to do anything about it.  I hope the scheme goes ahead.

 

*This refers to a catchphrase invented by Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters in the ’60’s. The were fervent advocates of the use of marijuana and LSD, and when discussing politics were adamant that the alleged heightened consciousness effects of these drugs should be brought into play. Tom Wolfe reported this in his seminal work, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” which inspired young people all over the world to adopt the alternative lifestyle advocated by the Pranksters. When they got bored with smoking dope they tended to do things like set up yoghurt farms and wholefood shops and of course started riding bikes.

Marijuana production and use is now legal in many US states. Tom Wolfe died on May 14 2018, aged 88. R.I.P.

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey is on at the Crucible, 8 Jun – 23 Jun.

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