Sunday, 14 November 2010

Chicanes on Bike Paths

These are often a cause of complaint for cyclists.

Take the path between Yew Close and Ashdown Close in Lower Stoke, marked in blue on the map:

Originally it was pretty good path, wide with a kerb separating pedestrians from cyclists.

But then two sets of chicanes were put in (marked with hazard signs on the map)

It's impossible to get past without dismounting, as this young lady demonstrates:

According to the Department of Transport:

If staggered (chicane) barriers are used, the arrangement should be designed to slow cyclists rather than force them to dismount. Chicane layouts should provide gaps of at least 1.5 metres between barriers and walls, and at least the same distance between barriers. Tandems, tricycles and child trailers require at least 2 metres between consecutive barriers. (Local Transport Note 2/08 - October 2008, section 8.15.5)

There's only about 1.0 metres between the barriers on this path! (It's a double barrier).

Monday, 20 September 2010


The Campaign for Better Transport report ranks Coventry 18th out of 19 for cycling and walking.

See Car Dependency Scorecard

Coventry Telegraph article

The least car dependent cities were Nottingham, London and Brighton and Hove. These cities have put a lot of effort into developing alternatives to the car while Luton, Peterborough & Milton Keynes come at the bottom of the list.

The position of Peterborough & Milton Keynes is no surprise. They have been designed around the car with fast roads connecting pockets of habitation. They have plenty of token cycle paths, but with distances between And B so large and the paths often being indirect and of poor quality, people don't use them. They are cycle paths designed by people who don't cycle for other people to use.

The cores of most British cities were built before the age of mass car ownership and sooner or later they get to the stage where they can't cope with the traffic. Coventry reached that stage in the 1960's and the response was to build the ring road. With the hard times Coventry has had since the 1970's traffic growth has been subdued and so Coventry's roads have managed to cope. There has been little incentive for individuals or the council to develop alternatives to the car.

Problems loom on the horizon. Jobs are always being lost, in a dynamic economy new ones are created. If they are created on the outskirts, we lose the greenbelt and create jobs which most people cannot reach except by car. The latter increases the traffic on the roads. One way forward is create jobs in the city centre, where more people can reach them on foot, by bicycle or public transport. The new Severn Trent building provides an example. Unfortunately things are not always so easy. The new Friargate development promises more jobs in the centre, but the council seems unable to come up with a plan which won't lead to a lot of traffic spilling out onto residential roads. Stoney Road, Humphrey Burton Road and Michaelmas Road at least. If not Quinton Road and Daventry Road as well.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Threat to Kenilworth Connect2 scheme (temporarily) averted

At the Warwickshire County Council (WCC) Cabinet meeting on 9th September it  was decided to defer the decision on whether to cut funding for the project.
Kenilworth councillor John Whitehouse put the case for continued funding. In the words of an email he sent:

My thanks to everyone who responded to my email on Tuesday by emailing Cllrs Farnell and Cockburn to express your support for the Connect2 Kenilworth scheme. The response was tremendous - beyond my expectations given the short timescale - and demonstrated the strength and depth of support for this project across many different sections of our local community.

I believe that your efforts bore fruit, and the immediate danger - that our project would be axed without proper debate - has been averted. At today's WCC Cabinet meeting I was able to make the case for continuing the project as planned (with the bridge) to completion, and was listened to. The upshot was that decision on whether or not to stop the project was deferred,and in the meantime we can continue to do work on the scheme.

Clearly I would have like an outright victory today, i.e. an irrevocable commitment to complete the project, but in the circumstances I think we achieved the best result we could have done. We now have a breathing space, probably of a couple of months.

There is a concern in the Cabinet that going ahead with a £400,000 bridge in these straitened times would look like an extravagance to the general public. After all, it's only for cyclists isn't it? (No it isn't - it's for pedestrians and disabled users as well, and for horse riders on other parts of the route). There seems to be a desire to complete the rest of the scheme, but why can't we settle for a toucan crossing over the Coventry Road instead?

The irony is that because Sustrans remain acutely keen for WCC to complete the scheme with the bridge as planned, they have offered extra help, but made it clear that a scheme without the bridge would no longer attract anything like the same amount of Lottery funding. In reality, if WCC wants to complete the scheme rather than leave the route part built, it will cost no more to WCC to build it with the bridge than without it!

Supporters of the scheme might think such a choice was a no-brainer, but these are difficult times and going to get worse, so public opinion cannot be ignored. Hence my belief that we need to spend the next couple of months demonstrating unambiguously the continued strength of public support for the scheme that they voted for locally in their thousands at the end of 2007. All ideas on how we can best do that would be welcomed.

Kind Regards,

John Whitehouse

Chair - Connect2 Kenilworth Steering Group

Saturday, 28 August 2010

City Centre Car Parking

To provide convenient access to city centre car parking, motorists get this:

While pedestrians and cyclists battle for space in holes in the ground:

The main article in the August 2010 edition of the Coventry Society's newsletter applauded the Council's decision to maintain the Barracks car park for at least another five years.

I wrote the following email to the society's chairman:


One point about this car park which is often overlooked is that access traffic conflicts with people using more environmentally sustainable modes of transport on the Inner Circulatory Road.

As you are aware, the Inner Circulatory Road forms a ring around the core of the city consisting of (among others) Fairfax street, Corporation Street, Grayfriars Road, New Union Street, Little Park Street and Cox Street. It serves as a sort of ring road for buses and pedal cycles. However unlike the ring road built for private motor vehicles, it does not provide uninterrupted passage. There are numerous traffic signals and intersections which delay cyclists and bus users. Thus to encourage people to switch from car to public or non-motorised transport, with obvious environmental benefits, it would be beneficial to remove car park access traffic from the Inner Circulatory Road. Less traffic would also increase the road's attractiveness to pedestrians. Access traffic for the Barracks car park causes a problem in New Union Street and Warwick Road, while the West Orchards car park access traffic causes congestion at the Corporation Street / Upper Well Street junction.

In the case of Hertford Street the conflict between car park access traffic and pedestrian traffic has been resolved by channeling the former into an underpass. I suspect, however, that a similar solution for the Inner Circulatory Road would be too expensive. I therefore support the suggestion that the Barracks car park and others within the Inner Circulatory Road be moved outside the Circulatory Road. This would have little effect on journey times as the average speed of cars between the car parks and the roads directly accessing the Ring Road is not much higher than walking speed.

If car park access traffic were removed from the Inner Circulatory Road, opening the road to general traffic may become a more practical option, as the threat of it being overwhelmed by cars travelling to and from the multi-storey car parks would disappear.

19 August 2010.