Modes of transport
Approach - how the strategy responds to drivers for change
People move around Cheltenham using different modes of transport and as a result of growth there will be an increase in travel demand. As noted in previous sections this needs to be accommodated whilst also addressing a range of other issues including those relating to the environment, health, wellbeing and townscape which are all impacted on by the ways people travel.
This section firstly summarises below how the strategy addresses the drivers for change that have been identified and then on the following pages looks at each mode in turn setting out the proposed approach or strategy for that mode.
The increase in travel demand as a result of growth will be accommodated by:
- Focussing on moving people around not cars
- Ensuring new development is designed around enabling and prioritising the use of sustainable, shared and efficient transport modes (slow modes, walking, cycling and public transport).
- An increase in the use of sustainable, shared and efficient transport modes in wider Cheltenham
- Investment in new highway infrastructure to address vehicular capacity issues only at critical network pinch points, to help redistribute traffic away from the urban area and increase highway network resilience
The negative impacts of vehicular traffic on liveability, health and wellbeing will be improved by:
- An increase in the use of active modes of transport by people of all ages and abilities. Whatever age or abilities people have they should be able to move slowly, walk or cycle in Cheltenham
- An holistic approach to street design and management which considers both movement and place issues and opportunities
- Developing streets in new and existing parts of the town that can function as social spaces for people of all ages and abilities
- Addressing air quality issues through an increase in the use of electric vehicles and a shift to active modes of transport and working with public transport operators to increase the proportion of the bus fleet that complies with EURO 6 standards
Equitable and inclusive access to transport will be strenghtened by:
- Enabling walking and cycling for all and in particular addressing some of the barriers to the use of these modes by the most vulnerable
- Improving public transport
- Improving interchange between modes
The local environmental impacts of transport will be reduced by:
- An increase in the use of active modes of transport
- An holistic approach to street design which supports ecological diversity through more ‘greening’ and habitat creation
- An increase in the proportion of electric vehicles
- Working with bus operators to increase the proportion of the bus fleet that complies with EURO 6 standards
- Exploring opportunities for freight consolidation and the use of electric or other vehicles for deliveries
The impact of transport on Cheltenham's townscape will be reduced by:
- An holistic approach to street design and management which considers both movement and place issues and opportunities
- Introducing design review for both new development and major transport projects
The wider environmental impacts of transport, such as on climate change, will be reduced by:
- A shift towards active modes of transport (walking and cycling)
- A shift towards more efficient modes of transport which move more people for the same carbon footprint (bus primarily but also rail)
- A shift towards less polluting fuels such as electric powered vehicles
Walking and slow modes
Cheltenham is potentially a very walkable town for people of all ages and abilities. It is relatively level, compact and with a well connected street network. The distribution of land uses broadly supports walking with the town centre being centrally located and local centres for day to day needs spread throughout the town.
There is a high walk to work mode share and where monitored a healthy walk to school mode share.
Notwithstanding these positive attributes there are a range of challenges that face pedestrians particularly those that are more vulnerable and less able.
The radial routes into Cheltenham can be a particular challenge for pedestrians. These routes have limited formal and informal crossing points. Key junctions do not always provide direct routes for pedestrians or signalised facilities. Side roads can be difficult to cross due to vehicle entry speeds and in some cases large crossing widths. Tactile crossings are also not provided on all side road crossings.
These factors and the vehicle speeds in some locations means that these radial routes can sever walking networks over significant portions of their length for all but the most confident and able pedestrians.
Another example of severance is the town centre ‘ring road’. Again crossing facilities can be infrequent and this coupled with the volume and speed of traffic and road widths results in
severance. This is particularly important because all pedestrians and cyclists accessing the town centre have to cross the ‘ring road’.
Across the wider town even on quieter streets the most common speed limit is 30 mph. There are only limited areas of 20 mph.
This approach to speed limits does not support walking and cycling for all including those who are vulnerable or less mobile.
Streetscape quality is also variable. In some parts of Cheltenham it is delightful but in other places the townscape and street design make the streetscape poor. Streetscape quality is important for pedestrians. Walking is a slow business and if streetscape isn’t interesting, attractive and stimulating walking will feel slow and tedious.
Streetscape quality can’t however be high everywhere. It is therefore important to have a framework where the priorities for different street types are clear. This requires a strategic approach to streets which addressees not only issues such as streetscape but also speed limits and other design criteria.
Seating is also relatively infrequent in many areas. To support walking for all regular rest points are important. Seating also encourages social interaction and is particularly important in destinations such as local centres and at bus stops and interchanges.
So even though many people clearly walk for day to day trips there is still a lot that can be done to support and encourage walking for all, including the most vulnerable and least mobile.
The new housing and employment developments focussed on the west of Cheltenham will play an important role in retaining the percentage of people that walk to work and also supporting and encouraging walking more generally. To achieve this these new developments need to be genuinely walkable through ensuring that the developments have well connected street networks, a land use pattern that supports walking and attractive well landscaped streets with regular seating.
To address these challenges and continue to improve Cheltenham’s walkability the approach below is proposed.
Walking should be attractive for people of all ages and abilities for all trip types that are walkable in terns of trip length. There is currently a very healthy walk to work mode share as noted previously. It is therefore not proposed that there should be target to increase this. The target should be to retain this and more broadly encourage walking. To deliver this the following approach is proposed.
The overarching approach is that all streets should support walking, moving slowly and cycling for people of all ages and abilities. Streets are complicated and have a wide range of different roles and demands so this is challenging. To deliver this effectively a clear framework of street types and their characteristics is needed. The key strands of this approach are set out below.
The Town Centre and Local Centres in particular should have good quality public realm and should be places that are enjoyable to spend time in. They are ‘ destinations’ and need to be treated as such in terms of their design. They need to hold and attract people.
There should be a consistent approach to speed limits which drivers can understand but which reflects the need to support, walking and cycling within the urban area. This means that in general within the built up area speed limits should not exceed 30 mph and for residential streets and streets where there are significant volumes of pedestrians and cyclists, for example in local centres and the town centre speed limits should be no more than 20 mph.
Key radial routes would be expected to have speed limits of 30 mph except through some local centres where a local 20 mph limit will be more appropriate. These routes have an important function for vehicle access but should not form barriers to people walking and cycling of all ages and abilities. Regular crossing points and side road treatments to prioritise pedestrians crossing and slow entry speeds will be necessary to deliver this. Regular seating to provide rest points will also be necessary. These streets should also be carefully landscaped both because they are gateways to the town but also to make walking and cycling pleasant.
Local residential streets should prioritise pedestrians and cyclists and be places where social activity is enabled and encouraged. This can be done by encouraging activity in and transformation of neighbourhood streets including through community led street transformation, play streets programmes and regular seating.
The streets in new employment, housing and mixed use areas must also be exemplary in their design. Using best practice principles from both a transport and urban design perspective.
Another key strand of the proposed approach to supporting and encouraging walking is enabling interchange between modes. Enabling trips to be easily carried out using more than one mode supports the use of sustainable modes and also inclusion and access for all by introducing flexibility and choice.
Interchanges must enable interchange between all modes so a change between walking and cycling should be as easy as a change between car and the bus for example. It is important that interchange is facilitated throughout the town and therefore different types of interchange need to be recognised, such as:
- Park and Interchange (walk/cycle/bus/taxi/private car (parking, pick up and drop off)
- Town centre (walk/cycle/bus/taxi)
- Railway station (walk/cycle/bus/train/taxi/private car (limited parking, pick up and drop off)
- Local centres/micro park and interchange (walk/cycle/bus/limited private car parking in some locations/pick up and drop off)
A key strand of the proposed approach to walking is the promotion of behaviour change. These programmes can include a range of approaches to encourage and support people to change their travel behaviour. They can include:
- Awareness raising including of the benefits of active travel
- Walking and cycling events and activities. These can include community led events such as play streets also mentioned above
- Incentivisation programmes such as the gamification ofwalking and cycling through the use of apps
- Travel planning typically by businesses, other organisations and schools
Making the most of 'Big Data'
The advent of detailed real time data about travel behaviour and the function of networks is one of the key opportunities in improving transport planning and network management.
One of the key challenges facing effective transport planning is the lack of fine grained and detailed information about travel behaviour. Understanding more about the detailed journeys
people are doing and when they are doing them will improve the planning of transport infrastructure and services.
Being able to see the real time function of highway networks in particular will enable better real time network management.
In relation to pedestrians one of the key benefits should be that pedestrians become more visible. For example in the town centre the volume of pedestrians is significant and yet prioritising the needs of pedestrians over the car can still be a challenge.
Data powers many modern digital services, the majority of which are available to people through the devices that they carry with them almost everywhere. Many examples of such services relate to transport – including journey planners, ticket booking services and ‘ride-hailing’ services. Access to high quality data is key to many of these innovation around digital services (including apps).
Transport for London (TfL) made much of its transport data open and consequently benefited from apps and services developed by third parties, some of which they might previously have paid to have developed themselves.
This model of the public sector as an enabler of innovation through the provision of useful data, allows for more innovation and is financially more sustainable than the public sector being the developer of apps itself.
It is therefore important both from a transport planning and network management perspective, as well as to enable innovation that the opportunities that arise out of ‘big data’ are harnessed.
Cycling for all
Cheltenham is a potentially a very cycleable town. It is relatively level, compact and with a well-connected street network. The distribution of land uses broadly supports cycling, with the town centre being centrally located and local centres for day-to-day needs spread throughout the town. Employment uses are concentrated in three main locations: the town centre, GCHQ and Kingsditch. All are within cycling distance of the rest of the town, in particular using an e-bike. There is a reasonably healthy cycle to work mode share but, where monitored, a very low cycle to school mode share.
In spite of Cheltenham’s positive attributes, cycling isn’t something that people of all ages and abilities habitually do and, although there is no quantitative data to support it, stakeholders when asked felt that there were generally lower levels of women and children cycling.
Cheltenham does have a range of cycle facilities but they are disconnected and are of variable quality and type. They also do not consistently connect together key assets in a legible way.
There is a wide variety of cycle vehicle types including three wheelers and cargo bikes which also need to be taken into account. Cycle vehicles are also likely to develop further with e-bikes being available now and small autonomous ‘pods’ arguably a development of cycling in the future. The cycle network as it currently stands does not provide a fit for purpose network for this wide range of vehicles or one that is attractive to all.
The main radial routes also act as barriers for cyclists, in particular those that are less confident and more vulnerable.
Speed limits are relatively high and most residential streets have limits of 30 mph, with radial routes having speed limits of up to 40 mph extending well into the urban area.
Although there is a reasonably healthy cycle to work mode share there is a low cycle to school mode share in the data available. This and the anecdotal evidence from the stakeholder workshop indicates that cycling isn’t attracting a broad cross-section of the community in terms of age, ability or sex. If cycling is going to fulfil its potential as a key mode of transport in Cheltenham, then cycling has to be attractive for everyone and accessible to a range of cycles.
New development also needs to be focussed around making cycling easy and attractive for all.
The proposed approach to cycling is that it should be attractive and accessible to all whatever their age or ability. The cycle network also needs to be thought about as being from door to door across the whole of Cheltenham and must be able to accommodate a wide range of vehicles. So all streets which provide access to homes, employment, shops, health, education and other facilities need to be cycleable. Enabling interchange between cycling and other modes is also important. The following sections set out the key strands of the strategy to enable and encourage cycling for all.
Cycle Cheltways will be the core network of very high quality , direct, mainly segregated branded and signed cycleways that connect key assets and interchanges and cross the town. This network should be suitable and attractive for all to use. It should follow best practice guidance about the design of cycle facilities.
The overarching approach to Liveable Streets is described in the previous section on walking and slow modes. In addition to this, ‘Liveable Streets’ will also include localised cycle facilities/infrastructure as required, for example to access schools and address local barriers for cyclists in addition to ensuring that all streets are ‘cycleable’.
Enabling interchange between cycling and all other modes is also an important component of the strategy to drive up levels of cycling. The broad approach to interchanges is set out in the previous section on walking. To support interchange between cycling and other modes cycle access must be easy and direct to conveniently located and secure cycle parking.
Behaviour change programmes and events are also important to encourage cycling. The broad approach to behaviour change is set out in the previous section on walking.
In relation to cycling, cycle events have a particular part to play in promoting cycling as they raise both the profile and credibility of cycling as an activity.
Programmes promoting cycling will also need to target those groups who are not currently cycling for any purpose but particularly for journeys to work and school..
Making the most of 'Big Data'
As set out in the previous section on walking the advent of detailed and real time information about travel behaviour and the function of transport networks has the power to transform how we plan and manage transport networks. In relation to cycling understanding the networks cyclists are already using will be useful both from a network planning perspective but also potentially to get a clearer picture of the scale of cycling. These data can also play an important role in measuring outcomes.
Cheltenham has a healthy commercial bus network with good bus coverage of the urban area but it has a relatively low bus mode share for journeys to work. The mode share for bus trips to work to and from Cheltenham is similar to the bus mode share for trips to work within Cheltenham. Notwithstanding the high walk to work mode share and healthy cycle to work mode share bus mode share for internal travel to work is relatively low. This means that notwithstanding the strong commercial bus network bus travel is not competing effectively with car travel in particular for trips within Cheltenham.
It is clear that there is an opportunity to increase the levels of bus use. There are some key challenges to doing this.
The time it takes to travel by bus in Cheltenham is not competitive with the car for many journeys. Further bus priority and simplified and more direct town centre bus routing would help this.
The cost of using a bus relative to a car for both families and individuals is also not competitive in particular where free parking is available at work locations.
Cross town bus services are also limited and this in addition to the current town centre interchange and routing arrangements which are disconnected, make cross town journeys by bus difficult and unattractive.
The quality of bus service facilities in Cheltenham is variable.
A minority of the bus fleet for example have WiFi and charging infrastructure. In terms of the implementation of EURO 6 engines again only a minority of buses have these although this is not unexpected given the 10-12 year fleet replacement cycle. The aim should be to make available wifi etc. and EURO 6 within a specified time-frame.
Whilst Stagecoach have contactless payment up and running and both main operators offer network wide tickets, you can’t use the tickets on multiple operators. A key issue therefore in developing a ‘smart’ bus network is the inter-operability of tickets.
The proposed approach to driving up bus use in Cheltenham is set out below.
The proposed approach to bus travel is to ensure that it competes with the car for a high proportion of trips including in terms of time, convenience and cost.
Town centre bus routing and interchange
There is an opportunity to transform town centre interchange and simplify town centre bus routes and make them more efficient by providing a two-way core bus route in each direction - north-south and east-west.
Enabling interchange between buses and other modes is a key part of the strategy to increase bus use. The approach to interchange is set out in the section on walking and slow modes.
Liveable streets - main streets
Buses experience delay on the radial routes which come into Cheltenham.
Bus priority on core routes in particular on approach to town centre and wider pinch points – e.g. through selective vehicle detection and/ or physical measures needs to be provided.
It is also important that pedestrians in particular can easily and conveniently access bus stops including being able to cross main roads near to bus stops.
It is important that new developments are designed to allow efficient routing of buses and short walk distances to bus stops.Attractive streets which support walking and cycling and bus gates which give buses a time benefit are also key.
Partnership working with bus operators
Work with bus operators to develop an ‘advanced’ partnership to:
- Deliver town centre improvements
- Improve relative cost competitiveness of bus to car (in terms of time and costs including parking)
- Improve bus access to Kingsditch area
- Provide high frequency high quality bus services to the new developments in the west of Cheltenham
- To improve access to real time information and simplify ticketing and payment (e.g. contactless) and investigate multi- operator ticketing across Central Severn Vale
- Support the development of cross-town bus services
- Explore opportunity to provide a bus gate/priority between Cyber park and West Cheltenham
Behaviour change programmes are also important to encourage the use of public transport. The key opportunities in Cheltenham are:
- Travel planning in new developments
- Travel planning in key areas of employment
- The promotion of new facilities and routes e.g..Park and Interchange or Town Centre Interchange
- Working with bus operators and promoting high quality and high frequency routes
Cheltenham is located on the main railway line between Birmingham and Bristol. It has good links to these major centres, a frequent local service to Gloucester and a direct service to Worcester approximately every two hours. The two most significant destinations from Cheltenham by rail are Bristol and Birmingham. The two most significant departure points for arrival at Cheltenham are Bristol and Birmingham. The link to London and the Thames Valley is also economically important. Although the rail station and access by rail is important it is also important to remember that the proportion of people who travel by work to and from Cheltenham by rail is relatively small.
Although there are good links to major centres local rail services are limited in terms of frequency and capacity. The service which stops at Ashchurch for example only runs every two hours approximately. The destinations served from Ashchurch are also inconsistent. Sometimes the stops are on Cardiff – Nottingham trains, others are on the Worcester to Bristol route and the gaps in services for specific locations can be significant.
The location of the station and the street network between the station and the town centre make achieving legible and integrated access to the town centre from the station difficult although the current station access and wayfinding could be significantly improved. The Honeybourne line provides a link but again the access to the Honeybourne Line from the station is indirect.
The sense of arrival at the station and quality and legibility of interchange is poor. The station facilities and quality also needs enhancement. There is also some tension between the need to provide car parking versus providing a high quality sense of arrival and multi-modal interchange
The current platform capacity/arrangement places some limitations on service patterns. For example if Metro West were to be extended to and terminated at Cheltenham further platform capacity would be required.
The proposed approach to rail is to look comprehensively at the station and its context to improve sense of arrival, access, and facilities. In advance of this the economic benefits of, and opportunities for, improvements to service patterns should be also be explored.
The current station has a set of issues which range from the poor sense of arrival through to possible constraints on service provision as a result of the platform arrangement. There are also a set of design tensions for example between the provision of car parking and improved sense of arrival and access to the Honeybourne Line. The way to resolve these tensions is through the development of a comprehensive masterplan which looks at both the detailed station arrangement and the stations context including the wider movement context and wayfinding to the town centre.
The masterplan also needs to include clear delivery plan which identifies funding and delivery mechanisms.
The sketch below illustrates one idea for the transformation of the station forecourt. This would transform the sense of arrival and interchange by providing a high quality public space in the area immediately in front of the station entrance.
Rail services and economic impact
Prior to developing a comprehensive station masterplan, the opportunities for and economic impact of improving rail service levels should be explored. Network Rail will need to be consulted along with the train operating companies and the Department for Transport with the goal of setting the specification for whatever replaces the GWR franchise in the post Williams review period.
The Metro West is currently proposed to run to Yate and possibly Gloucester. Extending to Cheltenham should be looked into.
Servicing and freight
Ensuring deliveries can work efficiently and effectively is critical for the businesses and people of Cheltenham. However the number of delivery vehicles has increased significantly over the last few years and delivery vehicles also contribute to poor air quality.
Reducing the impact of deliveries on traffic volumes and air quality will require joint working with delivery companies and local businesses to enable efficient effective deliveries and servicing whilst limiting their impact
It is also clear that HGVs need to travel through the urban area to access areas such as Kingsditch. This could be significantly reduced by an all movements junction 10 on the M5.
The number of deliveries in urban areas has increased significantly as on line shopping has increased. Deliveries also continue to be required to businesses and shops.
Advisory freight routes are also identified which run through the town centre and urban area including the A40. Although access to the town by freight is required there are parallel routes such as the M5 for north south freight which would be more suitable.
The approach to servicing needs to ensure business needs are accommodated whilst also limiting the impact of servicing on the urban area.
- Traffic management - limiting delivery times in sensitive areas. This already happens to some extent. Limitations on delivery times are useful in a number of contexts. Firstly, in bigger centres such as the Town Centre where avoiding deliveries at the busiest times ensures that conflicts between service vehicles and pedestrians/ cyclists and in a more general context street space is limited. Secondly, where there are residential areas close to where deliveries are taking place (usually smaller parades of shops) it may be important to ensure deliveries don’t happen at times that are antisocial
- Traffic management - advisory freight routes. Advisory freight routes run through Cheltenham, including through the town centre. Although access to the town is clearly required consideration should be given as to whether it is necessary for longer distance advisory freight routes to pass through the town itself
- Freight consolidation and delivery pick up points. The opportunities for freight consolidation should be explored. This may work at different scales and in particular opportunities for enabling last mile deliveries to the town centre by sustainable modes should be explored. The provision of local pick up points for deliveries at the proposed Interchange locations could also form part of this mix. One of the key drivers for the significant increase in deliveries has been internet shopping and supporting the provision of delivery ‘pick up points’ at convenient ‘en route’ locations may help reduce this impact
- Working with freight companies.The delivery of freight consolidation and any changes to advisory freight routes will require working with representatives of both national freight companies and those that have a strong local presence
- Key routes - investing in key infrastructure to limit the need for through HDV traffic. Strategic highway investment can also influence the routes freight can take. Providing an all movements junction 10 on the M5 will for example provide direct access to the Kingsditch area of Cheltenham from the south limiting the need for freight traffic to travel along Princess Elizabeth Way and through residential areas
Although Cheltenham has a healthy non car mode share for internal trips for journeys to work there are still a significant number of people who drive for trips within Cheltenham, some for very short trips. There are also a significant number of people who drive to or from Cheltenham for work and to the town centre and retail parks for shopping. Significant growth is planned which is focussed on the western edge of Cheltenham and these developments will increase the demand for travel.
The key radial routes already suffer significant congestion during peak periods and air quality is poor in some locations. There are also areas where noise levels are a concern. More widely the levels of use of private vehicles impacts on the quality and safety of neighbourhoods and the town centre. Increasing the capacity of the highway network is not possible in many urban locations without harm to communities and urban fabric.
There will always be a need for private vehicles and for individual transport. Cars currently play an important role in getting people around but they also cause wider negative impacts and are not an efficient use of highway space where one person only occupies the car. Car drivers (and passengers) are also affected by congestion and delay which can only be solved by responding to the wider concerns identified in this strategy.
Despite the congestion during (mainly) peak periods Cheltenham is currently relatively easy and attractive to drive around and parking is readily available in the town centre, at the retail parks and at many employment sites. The car is therefore a more attractive option for many than non car modes.
Notwithstanding the broad approach of encouraging sustainable modes and focussing investment on these, there is an opportunity to improve the efficiency of car use by promoting and encouraging car sharing.
It is also important to remember that although the car/individual motorised transport is likely to always play a role in Cheltenham not everyone has access to a car or is likely to in the future. Looking at the census data from 2011 the population of Cheltenham at that time was 115,732 of which around 93,000 people were old enough to drive and around 22,000 young people and children were not. This population had access to 60,467 cars . This illustrates that approximately one third of the driving age population either did not have a car or did not have a car for their sole use.
There were also around 11,000 out of around 51,000 households who had no car at all. So in 2011 around 21 per cent of households in Cheltenham had no access to a car. This is unlikely to have changed significantly.
In considering the approach to be taken to addressing the issues facing car drivers it is therefore important to remember that a significant proportion of the population have no access to a car.
Powered two wheelers are also private but are more efficient in terms of their use of road space than car.
Addressing the negative impacts of car use needs to be balanced against the genuine need for some people to use a car. From the data it is clear however that there is a significant opportunity to mode shift towards more efficient, sustainable and active modes of transport. There are also a set of critical ‘drivers for change’ which require a change in transport behaviour to accommodate growth and address health issues, environmental impacts and townscape quality. The key challenge is therefore to drive this shift towards efficient, sustainable and active modes whilst also retaining appropriate access by car.
The proposed approach to private vehicles is to acknowledge they have a role to play but to ensure that cycling and bus use in particular are encouraged and can compete effectively for most users. However notwithstanding the focus on sustainable modes there is an opportunity to improve the efficiency of car use through promoting car share and supporting the use of powered two wheelers. Network management improvements will help all modes but particularly the car and bus and a shift towards electric vehicles will help reduce the environmental impact.
Key routes in teh urban area
Limited investment should be made to increase vehicle capacity other than to access and service new development and address key pinch points. This means that increasing the capacity of the existing highway network to accommodate increases in traffic is only appropriate in very limited locations. Opportunities to provide road space for more efficient modes of transport such as cycling, buses and potentially car share should be taken.
Town centre access and routing
Cycling and using the bus need to be at least as convenient as the car. In the town centre this will mean that buses need to be able to take more direct routes and segregated cycle access will need to be provided to the heart of the town centre. This will mean that car drivers may have to take less direct routes.
The availability and price of car parking needs to support the strategy. Driving (as a single driver) and parking needs to more expensive and less convenient than using the bus or car share.
The proposed Park and Interchange sites will encourage car drivers to transfer to sustainable modes as they come into Cheltenham. Micro Park and Interchange, where appropriate, will also support this.
Shift to electric vehicles
Supporting the shift to electric vehicles will also help reduce the environmental impacts of car use including.
Behaviour change programmes are proposed to encourage car drivers to use other more sustainable and efficient modes of transport for some or all trips.