My take on this matter:
Underneath and intertwined at the M3/A34 Winall “Tesco’s” roundabout is a footpath and nominal bike path linking Easton with Winchester. In this Google map its labelled as Easton Lane. It’s sort of part of National Route 23 and sort of isn’t. Zoom in to see the warning triangle. Why? Because it’s not legally a cycle path. However it has been used by cyclists for more than a decade without objection, could be reclassified and an application has been made. Reclassifying it would mess up the redevelopment plans for the junction because additional space, signage barriers etc would be required.
Why does this matter? This route: Alresford, Avington, Ovington, Easton, Winnal, Winchester is the safest route for cyclists between Winchester and Alresford. Only nutters go along the A31. The Itchen Abbas – Kings Worthy route is longer, flatter but the nutters are now driving their cars. Most do more than 30mph in Itchen Abbas, enjoy overtaking you when other cars are approaching or alongside you and test the maximum speed of their vehicles in the short unlimited sections. This route, the B3047, is my cycle commuting route. I would not recommend it to inexperienced cyclists and certainly not parents with young children. Route 23 takes longer to reach the Railway Station and has sweaty hills.
I do use Route 23 to go shopping in the Winnall estate. It’s great cycle touring training to go to Tesco’s and load 25kg plus of stuff for the return journey. Halfords is just the closest bike shop to Alresford. I often use it to return from Winchester when I don’t fancy the sensation seeking route along the B3047. Its only 7.3 miles to Tescos. I, a 56 year old, can do it 40 minutes unloaded and 50 minutes loaded up. See my Trip to Tesco’s on Monday .
This route through Junction 9 should be secured for the safe use by cyclist and pedestrians. The benefit of which will better health for those cycling and less cars traveling to and from Winchester to Alresford. If the Government, Steve Brine, Hampshire County Council (no mention of cycling on their main transport index page) and Winchester City Council (has a Cycling Strategy which states “The cycle network should provide direct access to key destinations and should interconnect”) fail to do this and they will have missed a big opportunity to encourage cycling between Alresford and Winchester.
I am reproducing with permission an update from Sue Coles, Winchester CTC
Cycle Route Junction 9 M3/A34 Winchester and Easton Update September 2013
Well, it is September 2013 and we are still working on this issue!
Just to recap: Highways Agency (HA) eventually agreed to a meeting in April 2013 and indicated that as part of the Pinch Point Scheme for J9 A34/M3, it was removing the entire separator strip between the carriageway and the overbridge footway in order to accommodate the 3 lanes. This, despite the fact that the outside third lane would be hard up against the path used by pedestrians and cyclists and this represented an increased risk to non-motorised users (e.g. from overhanging wing mirrors). Highways Agency also indicated that there was no need to do a non-motorised audit for this scheme because the Pinch Point Scheme contained no cycling element and so was unnecessary!!. Winchester CTC and other CTC members then wrote to Norman Baker, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Regional and Local Transport. As a result, Highways Agency was asked to do a non-motorised user audit. The results of that audit have not yet been made public.
Winchester CTC also tried to get a scheme for cyclists/pedestrians at Junction 9 included in the schemes put forward to national government by the South Downs National Park Authority for funding from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund to National Parks (J9 is the gateway to the South Downs National Park at its western extremity). The scheme was not included because no feasibility work had been done on any scheme for cyclists/pedestrians at this junction and as the monies would have to be spent fairly quickly, there would be insufficient time to work up an appropriate scheme.
As many of you will know the implementation of the scheme at Easton Lane has already been delayed twice. The HA website currently says work will commence mid to late September. See http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/A34-Easton-Lane-Signalisation
It seems to me that our best chance now is to lobby for a new scheme that provides for a temporary or permanent solution to our problems. I way “temporary” because in the longer term, a reconfiguration of the entire junction is planned but this is likely to be some years off. You may be interested to know Cala Homes will not now be required to make any payment for work at this junction (as was agreed as part of the planning consent for Barton Farm) because the Highways Agency’s current Pinch Point Scheme does what that money would have achieved and so it releases Cala Homes from its obligation. That money cannot be used for other purposes at Junction 9.
Finally, we have received considerable support from our local MP, Steve Brine and very recently Steve intervened in the recent debate on cycling in Parliament on 2nd September.
Steve Brine: …..“Finally, the Highways Agency should draw up a programme to remove the barriers to cycling. Junction 9 of the M3, which the Minister knows, has received significant Government funding for pinch-point improvements that will be done later this year. We are increasing two lanes to three and bringing traffic closer to cyclists, which seems a missed opportunity. Therefore, my other challenge to the Minister and the Highways Agency is to see whether we can look again at junction 9 of the M3 on the edge of my constituency and come up with something that is a compromise for cyclists and for drivers.
Later in the same debate Steve said:
The response of
Norman Baker (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Regional and Transport), Transport; Lewes, Liberal Democrat) was
“I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on getting that point into the debate twice. I do not have a specific answer, but I will write to him subsequently”
You can read the full debate at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2013-09-02b.66.0#g133.0
I am sure that we should all like to thank Steve for his support and I will be urging him to continue his efforts to ensure that cyclists and pedestrians have a safe and convenient route through this junction.
Last but not least, I personally remain committed to this campaign. The connection from Winchester to Easton and the Upper Itchen Valley is so important to cyclists.
As usual, any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Winchester@southhampshirectc.org.uk