Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Bishop Street Bridge

Proposals have been made to build a food superstore, a multi-storey car park and a health & fitness club on the site of the old Royal Mail sorting office in Bishop's Street. The pedestrian and cyclist access between the site and the area north of the ring road needs to be improved to encourage a switch from car travel to walking/cycling for reasons of health, the environment and (personal) finance.

At the moment pedestrians use the footbridge 3000 times a day. The bridge is rather ugly and its access ramps are too steep for many wheelchair users. It's also too narrow for safe shared pedestrian/cyclist use:

About half the width recommended by the Department of Transport for shared cyclist/pedestrian use.

The developers propose to replace the bridge with a ground level light controlled crossing (Toucan crossing).

Rather mixed views on this proposal have emerged, mostly concerning safety but also raising other matters. I've listed some below, I don't think they are all of equal weight:

Points for a Toucan crossing
  • The need for a 2m high barrier between the ring road carriageways shows that many pedestrians prefer a ground level crossing to climbing up stairs.
  • The developers probably favour a ground level crossing instead of a bridge on cost grounds and the Council would not want to place obstacles in the way of the redevelopment of the site.
Points for a Bridge
  • It's not unknown for motorists to jump red lights and it is not unusual for pedestrians to cross without due care and attention. Children, people with mobility impairments or partial sight might be put at significant risk with a Toucan crossing. As the city centre has a number of late night venues, a higher proportion of users are drunk than is the case at other places in the city.
  • Incidents occurring after the introduction of a ground level crossing might lead to the council paying large amounts in compensation to injured parties. These payments might be large enough to lead the council to cuts jobs or services in order to balance their budget.
  • Traffic stopped at the lights might tailback to ring road junctions 1 (Foleshill Road) and 9 (Radford Road), obstructing traffic turning into or out of  Foleshill Road or travelling to Wickes.
  • Pedestrians who have crossed one carriageway will have to wait in a central "sheep pen" to reach the other side of the road. This "sheep pen" might get congested at peak times.
  • At peak times, to cope with large flows of motor traffic, there may be considerable delays for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the road.
Other points
  • Traffic speed and volume might be too much for a Toucan crossing. Yet something similar on Birmingham's inner ring road (James Watt Queensway) seems to work:
  • The ring road was designed to carry motor traffic around the periphery of the City Centre, creating obstacles on it will lead to traffic rat-running through the centre. This and the stopping of traffic on the ring road will create additional air pollution, noise pollution and wear and tear on vehicles. However London has much higher congestion than Coventry and that seems to lead to a much higher levels of public transport use, walking and cycling.
The Motorcycle Riders' Association are against a ground level crossing, contact

Further details about the developer's proposals: