Monday, 2 December 2013

20's plenty for Coventry?

A committee of Coventry City councillors has been established to develop recommendations on how requests for 20 mph. zones and limits should be assessed and prioritised. In mid November, the committee sought views from representatives of the 20’s Plenty Campaign, the West Midlands Police and Coventry Cycling Campaign.

After introducing Coventry Cycling Campaign, I reminded councillors of the advantages of improving conditions for cycling. It helps to tackle obesity and traffic congestion using a means of transport open to a large section of society. Including, for example, people on low incomes and the under 17's.

Last year in the UK, more bicycles were bought than cars, yet their owners rarely use them. The main reason being fear of motor traffic. The Department of Transport's National Travel Survey found that 47% of adults questioned strongly agreed with the statement that "“the idea of cycling on busy roads frightens me”" and a further 27% tended to agree with the statement. While Britain's has a good record for injuries to car occupants, we are far lower down the international league table regarding injuries to cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists or pedestrians account for 22% of UK traffic deaths, while in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium & Luxembourg the proportion is less than 10%. There's a particular problem in deprived areas.

Impatient motorists scare would-be cyclists; even in relatively quiet roads some adults cycle on the footway, putting pedestrians at risk. If motorists didn't feel they had the right to travel at 30 mph, they would be more willing to slow down when cyclists were around. If the whole of the city were covered by a 20 mph zone, people would be able to cycle many trips entirely on quiet roads. If these roads were full of cyclists, motorists wouldn't be able to travel so fast anyway!

There are strong arguments for slowing traffic as a mean of improving the quality of city streets (note the city centre) and making them more child friendly, but I let the other speakers take up those issues. See the 20's Plenty website.

Overall the councillors were rather positive about increasing the extent of 20 mph zones within Coventry. Mention was made of this proposal, out for public consultation in Birmingham:
  • All unclassified roads within the administrative boundary of Birmingham would have a 20 mph speed limit;
  • “A” and “B” roads would retain their current limits, except where they pass near the entrances of schools, through shopping parades or near the entrances to parks and leisure centres where the speed limit would be reduced to 20 mph.
If the proposal were adopted, 90% of Birmingham's road network would have a 20 mph speed limit, although the majority of the arterial roads would retain their current limits.

Perhaps 2014 will see a similar proposal for Coventry?

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Ring Road - Love it or Hate it?

Last month the Coventry Society hosted a discussion entitled "The Ring Road - Love it or Hate it". An architect gave his view and Colin Knight gave Coventry Council's. There were video clips showing the road's construction and interviews with engineers and workmen.

I'd like to make a few points from the cyclist's perspective.

The original plan was for a dual carriageway with parallel cycle paths, broad swathes of park land on each side and nine roundabout junctions. Viewed from behind the car windscreen, cyclists should have been pleased with the paths segregated from motor traffic. But every cyclist should ponder the question "what about the junctions?".

Given the traffic volume on the ring road, it would have been out of the question to give priority to cyclists when they crossed the entries and exits to the roundabouts. Instead the cyclists would have been expected to wait patiently at the side of the road while those using more privileged forms of transport sped past. A big incentive to leave the bicycle at home and use a car!

Anyway as the predictions for the future level of motor traffic grew, the idea of grade separation, that is having one major flow of traffic pass under the other major flow, grew more attractive. The design was modified to make the dual carriageway go over/under each roundabout. Space for slip roads was found by sacrificing the cycle paths.

Ordnance Survey's Landranger view of the ring road - nine junctions in less than 2 miles.

In its early years, cyclists were expected to share the dual carriageway with motorists. My daily cycle-commute in 1980 included the stretch between junctions 4 and 7, but I don't remember seeing many other cyclists on the road! Since that time many of the pedestrian routes under/over the ring road have been converted to shared use. However the very tight bends on these routes make them unsuitable for speeds faster than walking pace. Pedestrians and cyclists feel insecure using the subways in darkness.

Cox Street and Gosford Street are probably the best ring road crossings:
Cox Street
Gosford Street
Coventry council seems to accept the idea that the ring road crossings need further improvement, but they don't seem to be very clear about the inconvenience of the current city centre layout. Driving from one suburb to another, you won't be held up at traffic lights on the ring road. Cycling you will be delayed by stops as you cross the city centre. This has lead to the idea of a "cyclist's ring road" using what's called the Inner Circulatory Road:

Inner Circulatory Road shown in red

Cyclists would be able to make reasonable progress along the Inner Circulatory Road through the city centre. It wouldn't be a case of speeding through at a constant 20 mph, more that cyclists wouldn't be stopped for long.

Progress is being made, the whole area within the ring road has a 20 mph speed limit and traffic lights are being replaced by zebra crossings on most parts of the inner circulatory road. Congestion around the Corporation Street / Upper Well Street junction remains a problem and making Hales Street one-way was a step backwards. Moving the West Orchards car park to the other side of Corporation Street, with entry/exits on Upper Well Street would improve end to end journey times for people travelling by cycle, bus and even car!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Coventry Society & Cycle Coventry

I've just sent the following article to the Coventry Society - Coventry's civic society:

"Too many people in the UK feel they have no choice but to travel in ways that are dangerous, unhealthy, polluting and costly, not just to their own wallets but also to the public purse. Urgent action is required to address Britain’s chronic levels of obesity, heart disease, air pollution and congestion." (Parliamentary Report 2013 "Get Britain Cycling").

Removing the barriers to cycling is one of the ways of tacking these problems. Unfortunately Coventry has been going backwards in this respect, with cycling's share of journeys to work falling from 2.8% to 1.6% in the ten years to 2011. During the same period other British towns and cities have made progress. In Bristol the share of cycling in commuter journeys grew from 4.6% to 7.5% and in Oxford from 14.9% to 17% over the same period. Yet change is coming. Cycle Coventry has begun!

Cycle Coventry is a three year £7M project to improve Coventry's cycle routes and change its population's attitude towards cycling. Public consultation is already being held on plans to improve the road across Hearsall Common by widening the pavements to support shared cyclist/pedestrian use. Tarmac is being laid to provide a virtually motor traffic free route between the University Hospital and Longford Park via Henley College. Further infrastructure improvements are in the design stage.

Changing attitudes is as critical as building infrastructure in these early days of transforming Coventry into a cycle friendly city. Cycle Roadshows are being held at business parks and the universities promoting the message that cycling is for everyday journeys as well as for sport and recreation. There's also training courses; on cycling in traffic and on basic cycle maintenance.

Although not a central part of Cycle Coventry, I believe that reducing traffic speeds in residential streets to below 20 mph and removing through motor traffic would greatly encourage the take-up of more walking and cycling at the same time as improving the street environment.

I hope that Cycle Coventry is just the beginning of a "virtuous circle" of substantial increases in the number of cycle journeys leading to increased spending which in turn stimulates more cycling. The parliamentary report mentioned above suggested that cities the size of Coventry would need an annual spend of £3-6 million to meet its target of increasing cycle use fivefold to 10% of all journeys by 2025, and 25% by 2050.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Objections to new "No Entry" restrictions

I've just sent off objections to three proposed Traffic Regulation orders:

1) Park Road

"I object to the proposed order in so far as pedal cycles are excluded from lawful passage from Park Road to Quinton Road.

I have no objection to pedal cycles being excluded from lawful passage from Quinton Road to Park Road. Whilst legalising such a manoeuvre would be a useful improvement to the cycle route from Parkside to Park Road, the council would probably consider the turn too hazardous without alterations to the road layout. 

The ground for this objection is that Park Road provides a direct route for cyclists from the railway station to the Gulson Road area of the city. Experience from London and other cities shows that even where a cycle route does not have a high level of perceived safety (e.g. the ring road) it will generate cycle traffic if it is convenient. Using the ring road to cycle from ring road junction 5 to Gulson Road is far more convenient than a route past the Council House. Coventry Council does has a policy of encouraging cycle use to both relieve traffic congestion and improve public health.

Allowing lawful passage for cyclists from Park Road to Quinton Road would need no civil engineering measures, merely the addition of a word to the sign indicating that taxis are exempt from the entry prohibition. Without the exemption some cyclists may be tempted to cross the footway, creating a hazard for pedestrians."

2)  Lammas Road

"I object to the proposed order in so far as pedal cycles would be excluded from lawful passage from Holyhead Road to Lammas Road. 

I have no objection to motorists being prevented from using Lammas Road as a "rat run" to avoid the traffic lights at the Moseley Ave. / Holyhead Road junction. Cars are noisy, polluting and are usually driven at an inappropriately fast speed on "rat runs", posing a hazard to other road users. Pedal cycles, in contrast, make no noise and move relatively slowly. Use of the road legally by cyclists would be a way of promoting cycling as a means of transport to drivers waiting in the Holyhead Road traffic queue. Coventry Council has a policy of encouraging cycle use to both relieve traffic congestion and improve public health.

Allowing lawful passage for cyclists from Holyhead Road into Lammas Road would need no civil engineering measures, merely the addition of a sign below that showing "No Entry" indicating that pedal cycles are exempt from the entry prohibition. Without the exemption some cyclists may be tempted to ignore the prohibition which would reduce the standing of cycling in the public mind which would in turn create difficulties for the council when it wishes to improve conditions for cycling by means of measures which mildly inconvenience other road users.

3) Little Park Street and various Roads

"I object to the proposed order in so far as it applies to pedal cycles. 

The proposal will lead to increased cycling on the footways of those roads included in the order. This will be a hazard to pedestrians. We already see much cycling on the Hales Street footway as a result of it becoming one-way.

Little Park Street, Much Park Street, Earl Street and St. Johns Street form a shape which is approximately a square. There will be little incentive to cycle against the main flow of vehicular traffic for those people wishing to travel between diagonally opposite corners of the square . But the following movements will be much shorter if the cyclist travels contrary to the main flow of traffic, on carriageway or footway:
  1. Gosford Street (and thus the whole Coventry University area) to Broadgate.
  2. Broadgate to New Union Street (and thus to the Friargate area and the railway station)
  3. New Union Street to the Much Park Street / Short Street subway (and thus to Coventry University's Technocentre)
  4. Much Park Street / Short Street subway to the Herbert Art Galley (and further to the Cathedral and Priory Street)"

Friday, 2 August 2013

Exempting cyclists from "No-Entry" restrictions

If we are to achieve more cycling, to cut congestion and to improve public health, cycling needs to be more convenient as well as less frightening. The high cycling levels in central London show that even with a cyclist hostile road system, plenty of people will cycle if it is significantly more convenient than the other forms of transport. The low level of cycling in places like Stevenage and Milton Keynes show that even when people can cycle free from cars, they won't if it's inconvenient. In the Netherlands, where 27% of journeys are made by bike, cycling is both comfortable and convenient.

Some people seem to think that there's no need to bother with the "except cycles" sign as cyclists will ignore the No Entry sign anyway. Well, despite the propaganda in some sections of the media, not all cyclists disobey traffic signs and the more that cyclists feel that they are accepted as legitimate road users (rather than nuisances getting in the way of the real traffic) the more respect they will give to signage. In the meantime the idea that cyclists are habitual lawbreakers justifies, in some people's minds, the harassment of cyclists by motorists. It also makes it more difficult for the council to get public acceptance of road changes which benefit cyclists but inconvenience other road users.

Recently proposals to erect no entry signs on Lammas Road and Park Road have been published. I'll object to both on the grounds that cyclists should be exempted from the traffic ban. In other words the new signs should have "except cyclists" on them.

Lammas Road proposal

Lammas Road is currently a rat-run for motorists on Holyhead Road wishing to turn left into Moseley Ave. Using Lammas Road avoids the traffic lights. Hence the proposal to put a "No entry" sign at the Holyhead Road end. This is reasonable, rat running is anti-social behaviour. But why include cyclists? No noise and pretty slow, residents wouldn't notice them. What a good advertisement for cycling - cyclists using a shortcut while motorists have to wait in a queue.

Park Road proposal

Currently there's a wall along the side of Quinton Road to stop motor vehicles crossing between Quinton Road and Park Road. The idea is to knock down the wall and move a lamp post to allow taxis from the station (at the other end of Park Road) to access the ring road, via Quinton Road. Clearly if all types of traffic were allowed to exit Park Road, there would be an unacceptable increase in Park Road's traffic. But, as with Lammas Road, what's the problem with cyclists using the exit?

As I live just off the Binley Road, I always use Park Road when cycling home from the station. I often see other cyclists cutting across the pavement between Park Road and Quinton Road. Joining the ring road at junction 5 to reach Gulson Road might be too scary an experience for many would-be cyclists, but it is a lot more convenient than using a route past the police station and council house. Some cyclists use Park Road, cross Quinton Road and Mile Lane and then cycle along Parkside using the subway system to reach Gulson Road.

Money is being spent on improving taxi access between Friargate station and the east of the city, why can't some be spent on improving cycle access?

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Cycle Coventry Advisory Group - June meeting

Hearsall Common

An eight page Street News facilitating consultation with residents should be published by August. I suspect it will propose:
  • Widening of the footway from a point opposite Kingston Road, along the south side of the B4101 to Canley Road to make a 3m wide shared pedestrian/cyclist path.
  • A single stage Toucan crossing of the B4101 near to the end of the existing cycleway on the north side of the B4101. People wanting to cycle between the current northern side cycleway and Queensland Ave. might still be tempted to use the pavement between the new crossing and Queensland Ave. Although people cycling between Canley station and Queensland Ave. might find the new path on the south side of the B4101 a better idea.
  • Two stage Toucan crossings on all four arms of the B4101 / Queensland Ave. / Earlsdon Ave. North junction.
  • Bothway cycling on the Canley Road carriageway between the B4101 and Beechwood Ave.

Kenilworth Road / A45 junction

The council seems reluctant to improve this junction for cyclists and pedestrians. Despite its importance as a cycle route and the fact that some tens of thousands of pounds was made available by Railtrack for such improvements when the Canley station crossing was closed.

It's most unlikely that an increase in the motor vehicle carrying capacity of junction will go ahead. Why can't the council investigate the possibility of skimming some of the time allocated to some of the motor vehicle phases to provide a phase for pedestrians and cyclists crossing Fletchampstead Highway?

Other points

  • Footway conversion on the west side of Lockhurst Lane between Kingfield Road and the pedestrian crossing near Station Street West to a shared pedestrian/cyclist path still seems feasible, given parking bays for residents' cars. Conversion of the crossing to a Toucan and allowing bothway cycling along the Station Street West carriageway to Northey Road remains likely.
  • Some time was taken at the meeting discussing the delays that cyclists and pedestrians encounter waiting at Toucan crossings.
  • Widening of the footway on the south side of Charter Ave. between Sir Henry Parkes Road and Curriers Close still appears feasible.  Tree experts think this would not harm the trees.
  • Concern was expressed that some of the Cycle Coventry funds were being diverted into schemes which would do little to encourage more cycling and thus reduce funds available for those which would do more. E.g. the Toucan crossings on the B4101 / Queensland Ave / Earlsdon Ave North junction and the re-surfacing of Spon Street.
Minutes will be available in due course.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Comments on Sowe Valley Path upgrade

The following letter from M.T Hancock was published in the Coventry Telegraph of 31 May:
So Miss E Hubbard is one of the few cyclists who rides along the Sowe Valley footpath properly.

Good for her. However, that does not negate those who are utterly self-centred and who expect pedestrians to get out of their way.

I have experienced the situation where I had stopped to watch some small birds in a bush when a cyclist came to stop just behind me screaming at me to “blank blank” get out of his way.

As for her complaints about other things, I actually agree with her but that was not the subject of my original complaint which was the loss of our country stroll along the Sowe Valley footpath.

There is no doubt in my mind that this amenity will be lost to many of us that the council has stolen it from us to give to the cyclists.

Miss Hubbard states that the council gave us the chance to complain about the proposal to execute this change.

Where was this opportunity offered? In some cycling club? I certainly did not see any offer anywhere where I could raise an objection and I doubt that many other walkers did either. She claims that I raise my objections only through the Telegraph.

True, but has she tried going through the council? Brick wall comes to mind because I have often tried in the past, until I realised that that was a total waste of time.

I disagree with her that this amenity should be enjoyed by all in the manner she suggests. It was created for walkers and should remain as such and not be disrupted by those who want it for other purposes, including riding at speed past the wildlife, which I and others enjoy watching, which then flies or runs away.

A reply from F Jennings was published on 6 June: 
 Mr Hancock tells us he is disgusted at the action of the council in constructing a cycle track.
He says the council should consider everybody when making decisions like this.
This is exactly what they have done!
Not everyone can run a car, some use public transport, the other option is to
To cycle in Coventry is taking risks. Too many roads and pavements are disaster
I think the council should be congratulated, not condemned.
The way the economy is going many more people will consider cycling. The
minimum bus fare is now £1.80. This cycle track will not solve all our problems,
but it will help.
I used to work with Councillor Arthur Waugh senior,and I could see the way our
streets were changing. I asked him for his opinion,he said would you buy a horse
if you did not have a stable?
Mr Hancock lives in Sewall Highway. In April 2008 this street was full page
headline news, highlighting an illegal parking marton the pavement. I do not
remember him complaining.
I might add that I find it difficult to understand how widening the footpath to 3 metres would increase the problem of cyclists and pedestrians getting in each other's way.  Still long term readers of the Coventry Telegraph are familiar with Mr. Hancock's strange logic.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Letter to Coventry Observer

This letter was published in the 30 May edition of the Coventry Observer (page 10):

Dear Editor,

Some people think the proposed improvements to Coventry's cycle routes (Cycle Coventry) will achieve little increase in cycling. The fact that the various cycle path fragments scattered about the city don't attract much use is offered as evidence. Yet who would judge the potential of motorways based on a half mile stretch built in the middle of nowhere?

Take, for example, the path on Broad Lane between Banner Lane and Hawthorn Lane. While it helps provide an alternative to car travel for the students and staff of Woodlands Academy, it's of no consequence to people travelling from Eastern Green to the city centre. Few cyclists are willing to cross two lanes of traffic for a few yards of car-free cycling only to find themselves crossing back over those two streams to resume the bulk of their journeys.

In cities like Bristol and Brighton, where significant sums have been spent on improving cycle routes, the number of people cycling to work has doubled over the past ten years. Places like Coventry, where little has been spent, show a decrease in cycle commuting.

The Cycle Coventry programme aims to make a real difference to a limited number of routes; experience shows that a cycle route is only as good as its most inconvenient, unattractive or dangerous parts. There's a Cycle Coventry Advisory Group; if you have ideas on how to improve the programme, get in touch.


George Riches

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Hearsall Common - joining up the lines

The east-west route across Hearsall Common has long been a issue for people wishing to cycle between the city centre and western Coventry.

While it's by no means the only problem area between the city centre and the areas served by Tile Hill Lane, Broad Lane and Canley Road, it has a high level of motor traffic and is used by a lot of cyclists (by Coventry standards). Furthermore it seems likely that cycling conditions could be greatly improved by the sacrifice of only a small amount of grassed area.

Location of Hearsall Common and the Cycle Coventry routes (green: 4, red: 5, purple: 6).

The google satellite view shows details of Hearsall Common: 

The blue lines show reasonable cycle routes. The cycle path is a shared use pedestrian/cyclist path but is reasonably wide and isn't used by many pedestrians. Kingston Road is a quiet back street which provides a route to the city centre via the Sovereign Road railway bridge, Upper Spon Street and the Spon Street subway under the ring road. Canley Road provides a quiet start to a route towards the University of Warwick.

How can the blue lines be joined together?

From Kingston Road, cyclists could cross Earlsdon Avenue North at the signalised junction of Earlsdon Avenue North / Hearsall Lane / Queensland Avenue / Hearsall Lane. There would have to be some sort of shared pedestrian/cyclist use between Kingston Road and the junction.

Space would have to be taken from the carriageway and the bus stop would have to be moved elsewhere:

Crossing Earlsdon Avenue North at Kingston Road is a more practical option. At busy times there will be considerable traffic so a place to wait half way across would be useful.

Having crossed the road, it's proposed to continue on the southern side of the Hearsall Lane carriageway by widening the pavement into a shared cyclist/pedestrian path. Some people think that widening the pavement on Earlsdon Avenue North is a good idea (shown in blue below):

The desire line is elsewhere and is visible in the satellite image. It's much used by both pedestrians and cyclists. Following the desire line also means that cyclists on the path will stay clear of pedestrians at the bus stops on Hearsall Lane:

Past the bus stops, the pavement along the south side of the Hearsall Common carriageway needs widening and the poles need to be avoided.

The footway is less than 1.8m wide. The minimum width of a shared use pedestrian/cyclist path is 3m. As it's unsafe for pedestrians or cyclists to get within 50cm of the kerb, a path width of at least 3.5m is needed.

On the north side of Hearsall Lane there's a grass verge about 1m wide between the cycle/foot way and carriageway; which is both safer and more attractive to walkers and cyclists than a path immediately next to the carriageway.

At some point along the Hearsall Common carriageway, it's proposed to install a Toucan crossing  to link the south side cycle path with the north side. Coming from Kingston Road I'm not sure that I would bother crossing the carriageway, only to re-cross a little later on:
 I'd be inclined to continue on the carriageway - a short track between the to join the Broad Lane roundabout to the cycle path link to Tile Hill Lane  would be useful (marked in red above).

Canley Road is one-way (north-east to south-west) between the junctions with Hearsall Common and Beechwood Avenue. To reach the bidirectional part of Canley Road, two ideas have been suggested:
  1. A bothway cyclist/pedestrian shared use path along the south-east side, as shown in red below.
  2. A cycle lane on the Canley Road carriageway for north-east bound cyclists (shown in blue below). South-west bound cyclists would use the same lane as motorists.
Motor traffic levels on this part of Canley Road are not high. On a Sunday soon after midday, I counted 100 motor vehicles westbound on Hearsall Common in 9 minutes. In the same time seven cars turned into Canley Road, about the same number of pedestrians did the same.

It's worth noting that shared pedestrian/cyclist paths are almost unknown in the Netherlands, where they are much more practiced in cycle matter than here. Where motor traffic levels and speeds are low, cyclists share with motorists, where they are high cyclists have their own paths separated from both pedestrians and motorists.

Hearsall Common was discussed at the Cycle Coventry Advisory group on 7 May.

More on Cycle Coventry route 4.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Work starts on Cycle Coventry Route 3

View at Wyken Croft, looking eastwards towards University Hospital.

When finished, the route will link the Hospital to the Ricoh Arena, via Henley College.

Wyken Croft to Ansty Road section due to be finished by August.

Link to Cycle Coventry Advisory Group

Novel Bike Store

Barry King sent this photo of a bike store in a car park in the University of Warwick:

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Attack on the Kenilworth Greenway

On 27 April  The Spectator magazine featured an article attacking the provision of a hard surface on the Kenilworth Greenway.

I assume that the author was complaining about the route between the A429 (Coventry/Kenilworth Road) and Berkswell station. The other new cyclist/pedestrian path, between Kenilworth's Abbey Fields and the University of Warwick, relieves traffic congestion between Kenilworth and Warwick University; some years ago Kenilworth residents firmly rejected an alternative idea of building a bus road along the route.

The author objects to the hard surface because it encourages fast cycling. She claims that time-trials are conducted on it. While it's true that many novice cyclists seem to believe that roads are only for cars, experienced cyclists know that routes shared with pedestrians are not suitable for fast cycling. The videos on the Cycling Time Trials website show where real time-trialists go.

Conveniently overlooked by the author is the access which a hard surface allows to people with walking difficulties or who feel intimidated from cycling on busy roads. There are precious few places in the Warwickshire countryside which both have a firm surface and are free from cars; so such people are excluded from enjoying the countryside. She also overlooks the fact that when the path is finished there will be an opportunity for commuters between Birmingham and Kenilworth to switch from driving to cycle+train.

Given that there are plenty of other un-surfaced paths in the area, I don't suppose most walkers would begrudge loosing a bit of mud for the benefit of the elderly, mobility scooter users and leisure cyclists. Perhaps horse riders and mountain bikers have more reason to bear a grudge, given that there is so little in the way of bridleways in Warwickshire. No doubt the author of the Spectator article feels that it would be "politically incorrect" to attack the disabled, so instead she rounds on a convenient scapegoat by exaggerating the problems caused by speeding cyclists.

Update 1 May:
Warwickshire County Council is to apply a top dressing to the path between  Crackley Bridge (over A429 - Coventry/Kenilworth Road)  and Burton Green.  This will not be enough for those who want the path to revert to mud, but it will make it unattractive to anyone attempting a time-trial.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

More cycling on the A444?

There's a planning application for a pub and car showroom on what was the Bell Green Goods Yard. Link

I've marked the approximate location and size in brown on the map above.  I've also marked the existing  pedestrian/cyclist paths (in blue) and the proposed new stretch of shared pedestrian/cyclist path (yellow).

There's an opportunity to extend the pedestrian/cyclist path to link up with the section on the side of the A444 further to the north-west.  I've marked that in red.

I sent the following comment to the council regarding the application:

I'd like to see the 3m shared pedestrian/cyclist path along Phoenix Way extended beyond the site access in a north-westward direction to join the existing pedestrian/cyclist path starting just east of the bridge over the canal. This would allow pedestrian & cyclist access from the area west of the site.

This would be useful not only for people accessing the site but also for the wider community - e.g. those wishing to access the retail park south west of the development and the Blue Ribbon business park.

Cycle Coventry route 2 uses the canal towpath, but this has inadequate width for commuter cyclists and has issues of personal security. 

After sending the comment it was pointed out to me that the opportunity to use the canal as a water feature for the pub had been overlooked in the application. There's no direct access from the towpath to the pub.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Motorcycles in Bus Lanes

I've just sent off this to the council:

Dear Cllr Havard,

According to a report in the Coventry Telegraph of 7 February the council has received a petition requesting that motorcycles should be allowed to legally use bus lanes. On behalf of CTC, the National Cycling Charity, I wish to register opposition. I assume that you will be dealing with the matter, if not please forward these objections to whoever is.

The main reasons for opposing motorcycling in bus lanes are its impacts on road safety and public health.
Transport for London recently conducted two trials to assess the safety of allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes. (link) The conclusion from the first trial was that "motorcyclists appear to be less safe since the scheme has been introduced" (see Overall Conclusions, p126). While the second trial indicated no change in the overall motorcyclist collision rate, it showed an increase in the rate of collisions between motorcyclists and pedal-cyclists (see Executive Summary, point 3).

So when, in the trials, motorcycles used bus lanes either motorcyclist safety fell or pedal-cyclist safety fell. Both trials show no evidence of an increase in anyone's safety.

In the 1950's many Coventarians cycled to work and obesity was not a problem. Today it is, leading to one of the main justifications for increasing cycling levels: public health. Any measure which reduces the level of cycling hinders the campaign against the chronic health problems associated with physical inactivity. The perception that cyclists are at risk from motor traffic is the main factor which puts people off cycling. It is not the collision rate, as measured in the Transport for London trials, but the perceived hazard which dissuades people. Having a large motorcycle speed past, between you and the next lane of moving traffic is perceived as a significant hazard!

Cycling to the city centre, I habitually use the bus lane on the westbound carriageway of Sky Blue Way, returning (eastbound) on (one way) Far Gosford Street. I often see westbound cyclists on the Far Gosford Street pavement, the Sky Blue Way pavement and even the Far Gosford Street carriageway! Clearly these people are intimidated by the buses and taxis in the Sky Blue Way bus lane; motorcycles would be an additional hazard. Having been intimidated from using the carriageway, more people may cycle on the footway, worsening the environment for pedestrians.

The council is able to put pressure on bus and taxi drivers to behave in a considerate manner, via the bus operators and the taxi drivers' associations, Something similar with motorcyclists is not possible as there's no organisation of motorcyclists able to exert pressure on motorcyclists in general to behave well.

The only benefits of allowing motorcycling in bus lanes listed on the Transport for London website are that it reduces journey times for motorcyclists and it reduces carbon dioxide emissions. Delays caused by traffic congestion are far less of a problem in Coventry than in London. Motorcyclists are not an influential section of Coventry's population, there's no reason to promote their noisy mode of transport at the expense of public health or road safety. Large motorcycles produce much the same carbon dioxide per mile as small cars.

While Coventry can benefit from examining what has happened in London, Birmingham and elsewhere, that doesn't mean that it need follow the conclusions of their traffic managers.

George Riches
CTC Right to Ride representative for Coventry

Transport Research Laboratory reports:
  1. FINAL PROJECT REPORT PPR495 "Assessment of TfL’s experimental scheme to allow motorcycles onto with-flow bus lanes on the TLRN" I.York, S.Ball, O.Anjum, D.Webster. June 2010
  2. CLIENT PROJECT REPORT CPR1224 "Motorcycles in Bus Lanes - Monitoring of the Second TfL Trial" I York, S Ball and J Hopkin. December 2011

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

End of a Bus Gate

Coventry Cycling Campaign first complained about the Binley Road (near Hipswell Highway) bus gate in our Winter 2008/9 edition of the Coventry Cyclist.

Bus gates are supposed to assist bus drivers in their attempts to merge into the general traffic stream at the end of bus lanes:

Normally the traffic signals for the bus lane are on red while those on the other lanes show green.
When a bus approaches the gate, the traffic signals for the bus lane turn to green and those on the other lanes turn red. The bus driver can then easily join the general traffic lane.

The problem for cyclists is that the signals for the bus lane are usually on red. A cyclist could get past by darting out of the bus lane, cycling past the lights and then darting back to the left, but that's awkward and hazardous. Alternatively he/she could wait for a bus to come to turn the light green, but that would involve a long wait. What almost always happens is that the cyclist stays in the bus lane and "jumps the lights".

Thankfully the bus gate signals have now been removed:

It's a pity that the council didn't see fit to extend the cycle lane eastwards, past the bus stop, to the bus lane at the River Sowe bridge. Once past the junction motorists in the left hand lane are often too busy trying to filter into the right hand lane to give much attention to cyclists, passing us too closely.