Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Holyhead Road

Coventry Council has published a "Street News" stating that they plan to change Holyhead Road, but don't give much detail. Link to what they do say.

I've commented saying that the junction should be improved to make it legal, safe and convenient to cycle from one section of Barras Lane to the other.

That would encourage people to switch from car to cycle when wishing to travel between the area served by Coundon Road and that bounded by Holyhead Road, Butts Road and the Coventry-Nuneaton railway. It would also make cycling between Albany Road (Earlsdon) and Barkers Butts Lane a more convenient option. The alternatives of the B4107 (Four Pounds Avenue with its 40 mph traffic) or going into and out of the city centre are rather inconvenient and cycle unfriendly.

I'm told that part of the Holyhead Road scheme involves the removal of some cycle lane, but I don't know how much. The council says they will advise me of any proposals relating to the cycle lanes.

Cycle lanes can sometimes do more harm than good, a lot depends on how wide they are. These Binley Road lanes are on the offside of parked cars with no buffer zone for opening car doors.

The Street News promises the introduction of Advanced Stop Lines for cyclists at the Grayswood Avenue, Barras Lane and Four Pounds Avenue junctions. Advanced Stop Lines seem to be "flavour of the year" at the moment. They are popular with cyclists in congested cities as they give a space for us to wait where we can be seen by motorists while the lights are on red. However there are problems. How to reach the Line? If you undertake traffic on the left you face the risk of car passengers opening car doors or motorists lurching to the left into a side road. Overtaking on the right (like a motorcyclist) gets around those problems, but there is oncoming traffic and the possibility that the motors on the left might start moving before you can reach the Advanced Stop Line.

Sometimes approach cycle lanes are provided, leading to hours of argument over where they should go! Some motorists regard cyclists undertaking/overtaking as queue jumpers.

I think it's not worth passing traffic waiting at a traffic light unless there's a long queue. Best to join the queue at the end, in the middle (not the side!) of whichever lane is appropriate. Advanced Stop Lines are only of use where a cyclist joining the end of the queue during a red phase will often miss the next green phase.

Here's a barrister's view of Advanced Stop Lines. I'd suggest the best improvement to Advanced Stop Lines would be to add a new phase to the signals to allow cyclists to leave the junction 10 to 15 seconds before the motors.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Fairfax Street - Are we being squeezed?

Last Thursday (28 July) council officiers and some local cyclists visited Fairfax Street to see whether the road layout could be improved for cyclists.

There used to be two traffic lanes in both directions, but recently the carriageway has been narrowed. Westbound there's sufficient room for a motorist to over-take a cyclist:

Eastbound, the road has been narrowed to about three metres, leaving insufficient room for a motorist to overtake a cyclist:

To pass through this narrow section, cyclists should first check that there is no problem in moving out to the centre of the lane, move out and remain there until they have passed both pinch points. Unfortunately some cyclists won't want to "take the lane" like that and will have problems with the new road arrangement.

Moving the kerb or central lamp posts is probably out of the question on cost grounds. One possibility would be to provide a "cyclists' by-pass" like the one on Coat of Arms Bridge Road:

For this to work, parking would have to be banned between the two pinch points. That would mean moving the short term coach parking (ie tourist pick up and drop down) elsewhere. The car park on the north side of Fairfax street is an obvious alternative.

There are differences to the environment at the Coat of Arms Bridge Road. The route there is for children going to Stivichall Primary School; few cyclists on Fairfax Street will be children. Furthermore the pinch point on Coat of Arms Bridge Road doesn't also serve as a pedestrian crossing. On Fairfax Street a cyclists' by-pass might increase the possibility of crashes between people walking across Fairfax Street and people cycling along Fairfax Street, as the pedestrians would have to look out for traffic at three places instead of two.

There would also be a problem of cyclists who wish to turn right into Cox Street using the by-pass:  they would be at risk from traffic turing left into Cox Street:

Another alternative would be to widen the central reservation and remove the build-out, widening the eastbound lane to the same width as the westbound (4.5m).