Friday, October 18, 2013

New R Soar bridge at Space Centre, Leicester - 2

New bridge in place 17 October 2013
updated 10 Jan 2014
updated 23 Jan 2014
New R Soar bridge near Space Centre   17.10.2013
Work is in hand to complete the supports for this bridge, which was lifted into place recently.  The approach paths will then be completed.  Work is now complete (Jan 2014), but the bridge remains closed:  available only for graffiti artists.  Bridge is now OPEN, 20 Jan 2014 - but still leads nowhere.  Let's await development on the 'Island'.
Still closed 10 Jan 2014

It looks a very standard construction - the artist's impression (see below) available at the time the idea became public was a bit less mundane.

Artist's impression from 2012
As it stands now, this is a bridge to nowhere.   The massive development site between Ross Way and Abbey Meadows on Wolsey Island (or whatever it is called this week) has been tidied a bit, but awaits any actual development.  The bridge will shortly be ready to serve as a cycle route serving this area, nonetheless.

The road called Abbey Meadows leading north from Abbey Park Road still peters out into wasteland at the eastern end of the new bridge, though it is passable on bikes/foot over Swans Nest bridge over the canal, and along the bizarre new elevated walkway leading through dereliction to an unpleasant cul-de-sac doubling as a tip, and then to Ross Way.  This stretch is frequented by drinkers and doubtful gatherings, so best avoided until the hoped-for developments clean up the place.

New bridge from Abbey Meadows 17.10.2013
I can't work out whether that walkway is unfinished, or even a permanent fixture.  It's not on the 'Abbey Meadows MasterPlan' - the new canal bridges are both to the south of it.  It looks temporary, being all wood and rather fragile, unfenced, so riding off the side could be easy, black surfaced and unlit.  Today (17 Oct) one section was broken at one point E of the canal bridge.  It's now broken at 2 points.  Just cyclable, with care.

Alternative, non-flooding route for NCN 6
This is a pity, because at least that route doesn't flood, as the present path of NCN 6 N of the Space Centre* has 3 times earlier this year, leaving a foul residue of mud and, worse, plastic waste in the grassed areas and hedges, which has only just cleared.  Perhaps, when the development starts, a diversion of NCN 6 over the new bridge could be contemplated.  It would pass N along Abbey Meadows to Swans Nest bridge, and along a re-salubriated version of the elevated walkway to Ross Way, via Mill Hill and Vicarage Lane to Belgrave House, and thence past the former church to rejoin the current route of NCN 6 at Thurcaston Road.

Well, one can dream . . .  

*10 Jan 2014:  NCN 6 under water there again.  However, the Environment Agency have started on the investigative work needed for the design basis of the flood prevention works between Abbey Park and Watermead Way.  They were working there today.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Milepost Reincarnation - 5 . . . . AND LAST!

A tale in several instalments, at last complete - 5

 'Tracks' in situ near King Lear Lake
courtesy Leicester County Council
Well, here is the Milepost on site and bolted down today - after a 2 1/2 year gestation.  Leicestershire County Council have installed it in Watermead Park North, where it can form another item of artwork along NCN 48.  (There is a Portrait Bench commemorating the Watermead Connect2 scheme half a mile nearer Leicester.)

Maybe that 'Green Route 1' sign can be removed now

Rear of base with security nuts

No surprises to report.  The Milepost is held down by 12mm Rawlbolts, with security nuts.  Presumably these will obviate then need for a further layer of concrete to conceal the holding-down fixtures.

Whew - level!

The arm has been properly fitted, using the witness marks described in part 2.  So the text in the centre of the arms is level, as intended.  The destination and distance text in the arms slopes of course, this being determined by the artistic design of the Milepost.

To quote David Dudgeon '. . a track for me to follow . .'
Thanks are due to James Lowe (Sustrans Area Manager), Richard Himan (Sustrans Volunteer), Renée van Baar (Sustrans Project Support Officer), and Samantha Ireson (Leicestershire County Council, Senior Access and Development Officer, Travel Choice & Access Team)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Milepost Reincarnation - 4

A tale to be told in several instalments, not yet complete - 4

Site and Foundation
Been a long Summer . . .  seems ages since the Milepost, fully painted up and wrapped, left my place for installation in Watermead Park North.  The planned site, marked by a red star below
 is on NCN 48 where it passes King Lear Lake Car Park:  OS ref 6071 1059.  Leicestershire County Council agreed to provide the foundation block, transport the Milepost to site, and install it.

Last week the concrete foundation block (for which there is a Sustrans standard available from Head Office) was constructed.

and now awaits delivery and bolting down of the milepost.

The Sustrans online mapping STILL hasn't caught up with the actual route of NCN 48 in Watermead Park North.  The on-the-ground signage provided under Connect2, and linked to 'Green Route 1' marks a more easterly route, passing the Portrait Bench at Thurmaston Lock, and traversing the eastern, not western, side of King Lear Lake.  As a result, both the Leicester Cycle Map and the newly printed Sustrans Midlands cycle map are in error.  The reason for mentioning this here is that the mapping shows NCN 48 as NOT passing the milepost site, though there is a fixed 'Green Route 1 sign' right next to the new foundation - see upper photo!

Milepost for National Forest
Leicestershire County Council hinted last week that they may be taking on the installation of the second Milepost held in store by Leicester Sustrans Volunteer Group.  Details of its siting, information to carry, new arm(s) to be cast, etc. are awaited.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Leicester Cycle City Workshop - Wed 18 Sept 2013

Andy Salkeld kindly included discussion of my note " Re-use of the Glenfield Tunnel:  Launch of Scheme" on the agenda, so I attended the meeting.  Apart from Anna Scull, there was no other Sustrans representative, so mainly LCCG and CTC representatives and County Council present.

1     Re-use of the Glenfield Tunnel

The 'Launch of the Scheme' note summarised the aims and purposes of re-using Glenfield Tunnel.  It outlined the scope of work required, and the phases which this work would probably fall into.  I then listed the organisations who would be likely to participate in the first 'launch' phase of the re-use scheme, and drafted a list of what I see as the immediate first steps.  'Immediate', that is, if there is a will to progress the scheme from right now.

Why right now?
The urgency implied by the above seemed to me to stem from:-

In Leicester:

  • the current publicity and enthusiasm concerning the Tunnel itself, aroused by a series of local visits to the Tunnel organised by Leicestershire Industrial History Society and British Cycling.  Over 150 people took part in the former visits, with 50 more on the waiting list.  The visits will be repeated in early November.
  • Sir Peter Soulsby's mention in a TV interview outside the Tunnel, repeated in an interview published in the Leicester Mercury last week that it might be possible to re-open the Tunnel as a cycleway.  
  • The promotion by Leicester City Local Access Forum of the re-use of the Tunnel.

In Bath:

  • The completion of the Two Tunnels Greenway in April 2013, (see blog of 10 Apr 2014), bringing the prospect that the action group Two Tunnels Team who promoted the entire work of creation of the Greenway, including reopening of their two tunnels from initial concept through to first months of operation, and from whom any Leicester scheme organisers could learn so much, might close down, making their experiences much harder to learn.

The note is entirely from my viewpoint, and was therefore put out as a draft for others to comment/edit.  The aim of the note is to encourage formation of some action group in Leicester to take up the cause of re-use of the Tunnel.

Of those at the meeting, only Andy Salkeld and Mat and Anna Scull of LCCG had seen the note before the meeting, so I presented it verbally, without passing out more copies.

Views of the meeting
The consensus of the meeting was that re-use of the Tunnel may be a desirable aim, but should not be taken up with any emphasis at present.  There were fears that taking up this single and large scheme might detract from both funds and effort available for cycling schemes, to the detriment of smaller, more vital jobs.  Point was made also that cycling/pedestrian approach to two of the main employers of people west of the City - Glenfield Hospital and County Hall - would not be helped by the Tunnel, so the likely usage by commuters was doubted.

The idea was mooted, that rather than a Feasibility and Initial Costing Study aimed solely at re-use of the Tunnel, a review of all access to the City from the West be undertaken, of which Tunnel re-use would be only one strand.

Presumably this wider study will continue as an agenda item for the Workshop.  No plan for action on study discussed.

2     Cycling map of Leicester to be re-issued

Comments/requests for any changes to Andy Salkeld, preferably in form of marked up map scan.

3     Re-construction of Lancaster Road/University Road junction and entry to Peace Way

Concern about plans for this work as part of construction of new University Medical building on sports field.  Current plans for cycling routes untenable, according to University of Leicester BUG.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Glenfield Tunnel re-opening scheme

Could Leicester emulate Bath's success in converting an unused relic, costing the City ratepayers enormous sums, into a tourist attraction - plus cycle and pedestrian artery into the City from the West?

See Leicester Mercury.  Far from tunnel vision, the next-to-last paragraph indicates that a reopening is on Sir Peter Soulsby's agenda.

The video is available here VIDEO
Fast forward to 16 minutes in.    [Sorry; BBC iPlayer will no longer show this video]

I would suggest the next move should be to ask Sir Peter to visit Bath, and ride the Two Tunnels Greenway, if he hasn't already done so.  It's stupendous!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Canal towpath/cyclepath issues

1     The repair on NCN 6 at Birstall Quay, between Whiles Lane and White Horse Bridge is STILL unfinished, lacking the tarmac to restore the path fully.  The unfinished stretch is unpleasant, being loose gravel/sand.  Canal & River Trust haven't replied to request for a completion date.

Spoke to crew on the canal vessels now repairing collapse N of 3-Way Bridge today (04 Sept 2013).  They say Birstall Quay tarmacing is responsibility of Leics County Council.  Well, what a surprise!  Tarmac repairs have been going on in White Horse Lane, 50m away, this week, but nothing done yet on the Quay.

County Council confirmed late September that responsibility for the still awaited tarmacing rests contractually with CaRT.  Since CaRT never deigned to reply to my (or recent County Council) enquiry re completion date, not much point in pursuing this further!  :-(

2     The towpath damage on the Cossington Link at the S end of 3-Way Bridge has been repaired, and the last paviors went in today, thought there are wooden sheets over them while they settle.  Looks as if the 'cyclists dismount' signs can be removed next week.

Removed 04 Sept 2013.

3     There are numerous other sites - 2 now fenced off - between the Hope & Anchor and Junction Lock where the cyclepath tarmac at the water side has cracked and slumped towards the water.  No doubt there will be other stretches to repair fairly soon.

CaRT are now repairing the collapse 100m N of 3-Way Bridge.  They say this was caused by County Council work at the  site during Connect2 work.  They say the same about the damage S of the Bridge, which they've just repaired, mind you!

So 'take care' along these towpath stretches is the maxim.

First published 02 Sept 2013
Updated 04 Sept 2013
Updated 30 Sept 2013

All these repair works recently completed, and all NCNs 6 & 48 diversion signs removed.

AKD   10 Dec 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

NCN 6 Diversion at Birstall - 3

Cracking on . . .
Canal & River Trust here in force at Birstall today - 4 vans & 3 barges at foot of White Horse Lane.

Quay edge has been built up as a good-looking stone wall, inside the sheet piling, which is cut off almost at average water-level.

Hope is, AIUI, that quay will be opened temporarily, with temporary surface, for the Watermead C2 festivities on Tuesday July 2nd,  Tarmac will be laid later.

Quay path duly re-opened temporarily 29 June.  Surface at work point is not good - just hoggin with sudden ramps down from the old tarmac.  CARE NEEDED!    (updated 30 June)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Milepost Reincarnation - 3

A tale to be told in several instalments, not yet complete - 3

Trial Assembly
Trial assembly
Well, that went OK in the end!  (Camera fails to tell full story, as usual:  took 5 trial lifts to work out a rigging arrangement, which allowed lifting the column to vertical with the arms fitted.  But we got there, and it all looks OK.)

Preparation: changing the body language
Only two things needed now till painting could start.  the phone number sculpted on Dudgeon mileposts,
'Hello, Martech here . . . '
under the Sustrans logo, is out of date.

And the Time Trail competition, which was never well-subscribed anyway, ended in 2001, so the words cast into the body around the central disc socket have to go, before we re-use it for the NCN number disc.

After this angle-grinder work, though, very little to do.  Heavy de-rusting was done over a year ago, but Richard Himan has stored the Milepost body in such nice clean, dry conditions in the interim, that there was almost nothing more to work on before painting could start.

Kit is shown here:  the sponges (Wilkinson's best . . . usual disclaimer!) are for applying highlighting paint to text, etc., the paint being poured into the plastic lids on the left, to give a thin layer.  

There seems to be much less light xylene component in Hammerite than in earlier years.  Not only is the paint not so pungent, but it dries more slowly.  So a coat of highlighting paint must partly leach into the still-soft paint underneath, if applied within a few hours.  This should help longevity of the overall paint job. 

At this point came a snag, or to be accurate two at once, which slowed things down a bit.  Firstly, the primer applied by the foundry to the arms doesn't like Hammerite.  It takes 2 or more coats of Hammerite to make the last trace of light grey primer invisible, especially where the rough, sand-cast finish is prominent.  
'Copper'???  Metallurgists' nightmare . . . 
The other problem was with the Hammerite colour 'Copper'.  As you can see from the photo, it was very much nearer 'Brass' or even 'Old Gold' in reality.  This forced a change to a - luckily - minor aspect of the paint scheme, as the intended Gold highlighting of text in the finial and centre block of the arms had to be abandoned in favour of white.
Moral:  don't believe colour charts or names.

Base coat to the body base . . .
Anyway, finished now with base coating, and well into the highlighting at the time of writing.  More details in next article, and, with a fair wind, something about preparations for the concrete base.
. . . and to the upper body.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Milepost Reincarnation - 2

A tale to be told in several instalments, not yet complete - 2

(and to be distilled into a Hints & Tips note for VolCo-ord) when we're finished)
Few more materials needed.  First, the required shades of smooth Hammerite.  Thanks to British Cycling:  my membership allowed a discount on the paints at Halfords  :-)   Then the route number digits 4 and 8:  B&Q for those, with Diamond Club discount on a Wednesday.  (Yes, and used bus pass to get there!  Skinflint city this . . . )  Now got all the bits for the job.

Central route number disc
The hole in the middle of the Milepost body where the disc is bolted is extremely useful for attaching the crane hook.  Saves messing with slings, and any worry about lifting the body safely.

Route number disc components
So the route number disc was fabricated separately from any other job, and it can only be fitted to the body at the very last minute, when the installer comes to collect the body, as I need the crane to move it to the door, and the hole is needed for the lifting fitment.

First step was to clear off the Time Trail hieroglyphics.  Very satisfying job that, as I never did understand them anyway!  Now the route number digits.  There are lots of fonts available, but B&Q's range was best I found, and the digits are thick brass, so can be screwed on (as well as using the self-adhesive backing).  I'm never very good at jobs like mounting such text horizontally or regularly by eye, so I did a template in Photoshop, and fiddled around with the numbers on the screen till someone else I can blame later said they were straight, then printed it out!
Time Trail disc courtesy of Sustrans,
Birmingham Office, ready for destruction . . . 
. . . nearly done . . .
. . . and fitted with route number, using template.
The disc already had an M12 tapped boss at the rear, but needed a bush/ spacer/washer to hold it securely in the central socket of the body.  5-minute job to turn this up, after finding a chunk of brass in the scrap box.  Brass bush and aluminium disc face needed priming with etching primer, so the Hammerite can take properly.
Turning the bush . . .
. . .  and a trial fit.

As delivered from the foundry, the arms were a bit rough.  The front faces weren't bad, but the tops had irregular lumps, where the sprues and risers had been sawn off, plus a few chunks of slag and sand to flatten off.
Sawn-off sprue at end of one arm . . .

. . . fairing up.
In addition, the arms casting had to be drilled for bolting onto the body, which is tapped for 2 M12 Allen bolts.  But where to drill the holes?  The Dudgeon, being an artistic creation, has only one horizontal surface in its
Laying out the parallel to the base . . .
entire length, and that is the base.  All the rest is curves.  The arms at the mating point in the centre have a concave curve which sits on the similarly convex top of the body.  So the arms can be mounted in a range of positions and I've seen photos of some Dudgeons where one arm points by anything up to 10 degrees skywards, bit like Usain Bolt, and the other to the ground - looks a bit bizarre to my orthogonal nature!

Well, the only rationale I could devise was to deem the text cast onto the finial and central linking block of the arms as a horizontal surface, whatever that did for the attitude of the curved arms at either side.  So that central text has to be parallel to the base, 2m below.

Laying body and arms (the Milepost's I mean!) on the floor, I at last found a use for my impulse buy at Lidl 6 months ago, namely a small laser level for £8-99 - 'It'll be useful some day', I'd assuaged my conscience.  It sure was:  the level projects red 'crosshairs', and it was all of 2 minutes' work to project a
. . . and transferring it to the central
text on the arms
line parallel to the base, and mark in tape its perpendicular onto the floor, then move the level up so the horizontal 'crosshair' line was near the top of the body.  With a straight-edge placed across the text on the arms, they could be eased round till the 'crosshair' and straight-edge were parallel.  Then witness-mark the body and the arms so they can always be matched up again in that position.  

I've worked with many castings in the past and found several so hardened by over-rapid cooling that they were
Arms set in position and witness-marked.
impossible to machine at the surface, and others with viciously hard slag inclusions, which also defeated machine tools.  But this one was, thank goodness, fairly benign.  No hard skin and only 1 inclusion in the way of a drill, and that fairly small.  So holes drilled with no problem.  That all represented reasonable progress: at this rate, will be able to get on with the painting soon.  The longer you can leave Hammerite to cure, before manhandling or using the painted surfaces, the better.  The Milepost is due on site by mid-July, as things stand.

Preparation - a very short article probably, since Hammerite needs delightfully little preparation.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Milepost Reincarnation - 1

A tale to be told in several instalments, not yet complete - 1

The story goes, that a sharp-eyed Lincolnshire Sustrans supporter visited a scrapyard in Lincs 3 or 4 years ago, and was surprised to see amongst its contents two Millennium Milepost bodies.  He reported this to the Sustrans Lincoln Office, who managed to recover the items, and achieve - or restore - ownership of them via the Police!  It wasn't clear from the third-hand accounts we heard where they had been stolen from, and sold to the scrapyard.  But the Mileposts looked unused, fairly rusty, one marked NCN 64, the other anonymous, both without arms, and with no signs of onsite use.

Milepost types:  top L Mills; top R McColl
bottom L Dudgeon;  bottom R Rowe
Our previous Area Manager, Patrick Davies, somehow got hold of the story, and managed to scrounge these Milepost bodies from Lincoln Office. I got a call:  could I receive these items into my home-workshop, and would I agree to restore them for use in Leicestershire - particularly in a Connect2 site?  (Patrick knew I had repainted in 2007 the McColl Milepost in Watermead Park South, near Watermead Way.)   Well, I still had plenty of Hammerite left over from the 2007 job, so, OK . . .

If you don't know the 4 types of Millennium Milepost, here's the key from a Sustrans Information Note - you'll need to zoom in with your browser to read the text.

First steps
Dudgeon on
That turned out to be the start of a long process!  The two Milepost bodies, a Dudgeon and a Rowe, arrived with me in May 2011.  Not too rusty, and definitely re-usable.  First step was to remove the worst of the rust to a standard which Hammerite  can handle;  this took 8 wire brush wheels for my angle grinder and 6 sets of dust-mask filters!

Second step was to interest potential hosts in accommodating the Mileposts.  The obvious candidates, meeting Patrick's wishes, were Leicester's Watermead Park North, owned by Leicestershire County Council as additional artwork for the Watermead Connect2, and Conkers, Swadlincote for its Connect2 paths.

Rowe on
At that point, having provided the inspiration, Patrick retired from Sustrans.  Shortly after this, Leicestershire County Council agreed in principle to the siting of the Dudgeon Milepost within Watermead Park North.  This has subsequently been firmed up as a location near the King Lear Lake Car Park, along the line of NCN 48.  

By the way, 'we' in this article refers to the Leicester Sustrans Volunteer Group.  Thanks are due in this whole process particularly to Richard Himan, who has undertaken storage of the Milepost bodies, reception of the new arms from the manufacturer, and transported these weighty items around Leicester, as required.

A decision is due shortly on whether the National Forest Charitable Trust wishes to take the Rowe Milepost for Conkers.  There may be also another potential Leicestershire site in the frame.  Anyway the rest of this article and following ones will relate only to the Dudgeon for Watermead Park.

Having fixed the location for the Dudgeon, we could propose the wording (destinations and distances) to go on the new arms, and finalise the information to be given on the rest of the Milepost.  We proposed a replacement of the central, long-redundant 'Time Trail' disc with a disc showing the NCN route number '48', and this too has been approved, and a redundant 'Time Trail' disc acquired as raw material.  (So if Malcolm Shepherd is perchance missing his favourite paperweight . . .  it's being put to good use, guv!)

Painting scheme mockup
The location also had an influence on the paint job to be applied to the Milepost - leafy green parkland which would be unsuitable for garish colours.  First step, as ever, is to check which colours of smooth, 'Direct to Rust' Hammerite are available (the range does change).  Then we did a Paintshop job on the photo of another Dudgeon milepost to provide a mockup of the proposed painting scheme, and this has also been approved by the County Council.

New arms
Came the minor question of how to get the new arms cast.  Fortunately, the original manufacturer of the Millennium Mileposts, Taylor's Foundry Ltd., of Haverhill, Suffolk, is still in business, and can provide new arms.  Between our Area Manager, James Lowe, and Renée van Baar in Sustrans, Birmingham Office, the arms we'd designed were commissioned from Taylor's early this year.  They arrived with us a week ago.  So from concept to delivery of raw materials took just over 2 years!
New arms on arrival

(Actually 'arms' isn't strictly correct:  the left and right arms, central linking block and finial are a single casting, fortunately just about a 1-man lift.)

And now . .
That's us up to date to early June.  The next articles will cover handling and assembly of the Dudgeon Milepost.

Friday, June 7, 2013

NCN 6 Diversion at Birstall - 2

Diversion still in force.  Work on the towpath does not seem to have progressed very far, so I guess the diversion will apply for at least a month more.  Sheet piling is in place, but no infill.

NCN 6 and NCN 48 diversion signs are in place [including some of the natty yellow ones that you don't see very often  ;-)  ].

Monday, May 6, 2013

NCN 6 Diversion at Birstall

Repair work at Birstall 'Promenade'     K Drury
The Canal & River Trust are rebuilding the GU Canal towpath at Birstall between the E ends of White Horse Lane and Whiles Lane.  NCN 6 runs along this stretch, which is now fenced off, with a footpath diversion in operation.

Repairs will take until July.

Temporary diversion sign in Front Street      K Drury
NCN 6:  In the meantime, NCN 6 is diverted:-

SOUTHBOUND:  from Wanlip Lane, Birstall, left at the Co-op as signed into Front Street, then:

  • first RIGHT at the NO ENTRY signs to continue along Front Street.  YOU MUST WALK THE 100m TO WHITE HORSE LANE.  There have been several near accidents already this weekend, with cyclists blithely ignoring the 1-way street signs.
  • first LEFT into White Horse Lane, leading down to White Horse Bridge, where you rejoin the towpath and NCN 6.

NORTHBOUND:  from Birstall Lock, along the towpath towards White Horse Bridge, then:

  • LEFT into White Horse Lane, and ride up to the top, then
  • RIGHT along Front Street to the T-junction, then
  • LEFT along Front Street to the Co-op, and right along Wanlip Lane, as signed.
NCN 48:  Access from NCN 48 southbound to NCN 6 and the continuation of Green Route 1 southbound from Watermead Park North is:
  • RIGHT from main sign by river/canal bank at foot of Whiles Lane up the cyclepath to Whiles Lane carriageway
  • continue up Whiles Lane to 2nd on left at the NO ENTRY signs into Front Street.  YOU MUST WALK THE 100m TO WHITE HORSE LANE.  
  • first LEFT into White Horse Lane, leading down to White Horse Bridge, where you rejoin Green Route 1 and NCN 6.
Northbound from Birstall Lock is
  • LEFT into White Horse Lane, and ride up to the top, then
  • RIGHT along Front Street to the T-junction, then
  • RIGHT at T-junction of Front Street and Whiles Lane, 
  • down Whiles Lane to join riverside cycle path heading N towards Watermead Park North entrance.
I've ordered signs to cover the diversions, and put up one temporary sign to divert southbound NCN 6 riders into Front Street.

Friday, May 3, 2013

NCN 6 Work Party - Watermead South clear-up

A sign at Birstall Lock - old, incorrect
but still needed
K Drury
Well, the City Parks Officer for Watermead Park South is a neighbour of mine, and rightly proud of his patch, and very happy to have signage clutter removed!  And those ancient, flood-damaged NCN stickies (and nail-ons) have been annoying me for years.  And most of them were redundant anyway, excellent, but rather sparse new fixed signage having been installed by the Councils recently, often right next to our aged temporary Sustrans signs.  And none of our temporaries showed multi-user paths, just the cycle pictogram, whereas the mile-long stretch of NCN 6 concerned is all shared pedestrian + cyclist, and 1/4 mile of it even pedestrian + equestrian + cycle.

So those old signs at 12 sites along that stretch had to go.  In 3 places where they had NOT been made redundant by the new fixed signage, and still had a vital function in
Its replacement - fully up to date
K Drury
guiding NCN 6 users, they had to be renewed by more appropriate nail-ons.  
(This demonstrates incidentally the difference in philosophy for signage between the fixed-signage providers (the local Councils in this case) and Sustrans.  No way could you follow NCN 6 along that stretch just by using the new fixed signage -  too many possibilities of going astray.  So our Sustrans 'temporary signage' is going to be PERMANENT!)

So we had a Work Party on 2nd May, in the evening.  Risk Assessment completed, and vetted by Ian Keetley in Nottingham VolCon:  replacement signs procured from Jane Chapman (to whom thanks, especially for the rather attractive, specially made (48) patches), kit for removing stickies/nail-ons assembled, PPE sorted, volunteers from our Leicester Group recruited for the job, perfect weather pre-booked, and pub identified for the last rites!  That'll do as a checklist . . . 

Redundant temporary signs at Birstall Lock ramp - new
signpost at top left

K Drury
Richard, Steve and I met at 18:30 by the Showmen's Guild yard at Bath Street, Belgrave.  After initial briefing, it was steady progress along the NCN 6 stretch along Belgrave Riverside, under Watermead Way, and into Watermead Park South.  The bin bag gradually filled with old plastic prised, chiselled or scraped off the wooden posts, and the 7 new pre-prepared signs replaced the necessary few.  The path was busy - it always is - and yellow vests, I find,  always attract broken bikes to be fixed - of other users, NOT ours!  But we had the right Allen key . . .   A group of lady riders on their first
Nicely cleared off, leaving the new sign
K Drury
outing after starting cycling passed us en route to Abbey Park, and again on their way back, under the guidance of County Council tutors - one of the many excellent initiatives proceeding in Watermead Country Park.  

The last nails to fix the last sign onto Belgrave Lock bridge were welcome, as it was near sunset, and the White Horse across the mill stream beckoned.  A good evening's work, all in all.  Notified the 2 Councils concerned that work completed today, so can close another 'to-do file'.  
Redundant signage clutter . . . 
K Drury
. . .  cleared
K Drury 
Old, but necessary sign near Bath Street  . . . 
K Drury
. . .  updated and renewed
K Drury

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Co-ordinator's Update

Hopefully, most readers of this blog should be aware that I am the new co-ordinator for the Leicester Group. I am hoping to be in touch with all of the rangers soon to try and decide on meeting venues and arrange work-parties etc.

In the meantime, here are a couple of recent events that I would like to feed back about:
Stall at the Greenlight Festival

On Saturday 16th March we ran a successful stall at the Greenlight Festival. This festival is now annual and celebrates sustainable living in Leicester.

Despite generally poor weather, the organisers estimate that there were about 900 people through the doors and many of them stopped at the Sustrans stall. We chatted about the National Cycle Network, Sustrans aims and cycling in general. We gave away heaps of leaflets, badges and maps and several people expressed interest in volunteering with us.

I feel that there is real value in having stalls at events such as this where we can obtain feedback from the public and can promote the aims of Sustrans. I certainly enjoy sharing my passion for cycling and the work of Sustrans with a wider audience. It is surprising how many people still do not know about who we are and what we do. More publicity will, I hope, help to remedy this. I'm hoping to organise more such stalls over the coming year (in addition to our important presence at Leicester Skyride). Anyone interested in helping organise or run a stall, or who has ideas for a suitable venue, please get in touch.

Lastly, huge thanks to Richard, Keith, Judith and Peter (and a guest appearance from Rory!) for giving up their time to help on the stall.

Looking forward to more successful events in future.

Group Coordinators Conference

This took place last weekend in the fair city of York (I was careful not to mention Richard III!) and was a great success. In addition to a led ride, we had a talk from Peter Litman (Head of Strategy and Innovation). I was very pleased that he emphasised the environmental impact of our work and discussed how a serious long term aim of Sustrans should be to reduce (and eliminate?) car use. He told us that, according to Ministry of Health research, children raised in London will 
NEVER have full lung capacity, due to air pollution.

According to Peter and Tony Ambrose (National volunteer coordinator), Sustrans is now taking the recruitment and support of volunteers more seriously than perhaps it did in the past. The website, and volnet in particular, have been greatly improved recently and are well worth checking out. We are able to share our photos directly with the country by using Flickr, which is connected to volnet. I am hoping to use the new volnet to recruit more volunteers for the group.

On a practical note, Sustrans is putting on more training for ride leaders. Now only certified ride leaders will be able to lead any ride that is part of Sustrans. In addition to Sustrans own training, British Cycling/Skyride and CTC certificates are also permitted but no others. Anyone interested in undertaking free, full-day ride leader training, please contact me and I'll pass your name on. The next Sustrans training day is in Derby on 16th May.

For me, the most useful aspect of the conference was meeting with other Midlands group coordinators as well as with Ian Keetley, the new east Midlands volunteer coordinator. Ian is trying to visit local volunteer groups and would like to come to Leicester soon. I found him very approachable and I'm sure that he will do his best to support and network with the group and I look forward to further work together.

That is all for now but please do get in touch with any ideas for how the Leicester Rangers can be further supported.

Steve Massey