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.