Wednesday, 17 December 2014

TollBar End

Here's a diagram of what Tollbar End should look like once the current works are finished (Autumn 2016):

Shared pedestrian/cyclist paths are provided, shown as brown dashed lines.

It's certainly not the best possible solution. Cyclists in a hurry might prefer the carriageway as it has fewer traffic lights than the paths. Subways would be a better solution, but would cost a lot. Such sums might be better spent on other ways of getting cyclists past the A45/A46.

Two potential cycle routes crossing the A45/A46:
  1. Between Willenhall, the site of the old Peugoet factory and Ryton village. This would encourage people working at the industrial site and living in Coventry or Ryton to cycle to work. There's already a subway under the A46 between Willenhall Wood and Orchard Retail Park.
  2. Between Whitley and Baginton. A new bridge over the A45/A46 is proposed as part of a development south of the A45.

With the first idea in mind I sent an email to Rugby Borough Council on 28 November suggesting that the former Peugoet factory development should include a cycle route segregated from motor traffic, running between Tollbar End and Ryton. The reply was swift and full. The opportunity for making the route a condition for granting planning approval should have been made in 2008 or 2011. But neither the Highways Agency nor Warwickshire County Council Highways Department raised the matter.

Neither Warwickshire County Council or the Highways Agency seem bothered that people will only access the site by car. They seem not to understand that if a better cycle route were provided it would take local car traffic off this congested part of the 'Strategic Road Network', as well as giving local people more opportunity to increase their cardiovascular fitness levels.

* *

Also in November, I received details about the signing for Non Motorised Users of TollBar End. The direction signs seemed reasonable, what annoyed me were the proposed "Cyclists Dismount" and "End of Cycle Route" signs.

Back in March 2012, the Department of Transport conceded that "Cyclists Rejoin Carriageway" normally made more sense than "Cyclists Dismount"(see link - look for 'diagram 966')

"[This] sign should be provided only where cyclists are required to use a pedestrian crossing facility that they cannot legally cycle on, at the entrance to a pedestrian area, at a location with a low headroom or width restriction [...] or at places where visibility is restricted to such an extent that cycling would be unsafe" (link)

I wonder how long it will take for the Department of Transport's insight to reach the Highway Agency's contractors (Hyder Consulting)?

 The "End of Cycle Route" sign is a useless waste of space. It's placed at the scheme's boundaries; where the authorities couldn't think of any other sign.
Where are the "End of Motor Route" signs?

Monday, 10 November 2014

Crossing Sandy Lane and cycling on Kingfield Road

Cycle Coventry route 1 improves the route between the city centre and the Ricoh Arena

Expand the map by clicking on the icon at the top right.

Crossing the ring road

It's proposed to use a toucan crossing. Some people think that would delay traffic and be unsafe. More

Crossing Sandy Lane

Something like this is being considered by the council:

After crossing the recreation ground, cyclists would cross Sandy Lane just north-east of Caldecote Road and use a pavement conversion to reach Daimler Road.

Cycle paths on the inside of cars can have problems: cycling in the "door zone" and cars crossing from the carriageway. Newspaper report on a terrible piece of "cycle infrastructure" in Farnborough. Still in Sandy Lane there are no places where cars cross and there should be enough width for cyclists to avoid the door zone.

Kingfield Road

The council is considering widening the pavement on the west side, putting in a crossing, and widening the pavement on the east side up to Lockhurst Lane. Then crossing Kingfield Road again, using the pavement on the west side of Lockhurst Lane to the signalised crossing and then the pavement on the east side to Station Street West.

I suspect there will be a significant safety problems with cars darting from the carriageway into the various side roads and factory entrances:

What works for pedestrians doesn't work for cyclists.

A pedestrian has a stopping distance of a few inches, allowing them to avoid a collision with a car darting into a side road from the main road. More than that, the Highway Code states that motorists turning into a side road should give way to pedestrians already crossing. Cyclists travel at least three times faster than pedestrians and so need about ten times the stopping distance. So if a cyclist is close to the side road he/she won't have enough space to avoid a collision. Slowing to walking pace before crossing any entrance or side road is no way to make progress. While a motorist can regain lost speed by pressing their right foot, a cyclist has to find the lost kinetic energy from within their own body.

Setting the side road crossing back from the carriageway offers a solution; cyclists can see whether a car is heading their way significantly sooner. Even better is to give priority to cyclists as well.

Bollards might be needed to stop pavement parking.

After dark many people won't want to use the path through the woods and park. I suspect faster cyclists won't use the new route; they will use the Kingfield Road carriageway.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Henley Road

Coventry Council is proposing to improve the Henley Road section of the cycle route between University Hospital and Longford Park.

The proposals include
  1. Widening the Henley Road footways to create shared pedestrian/cyclist paths:
    • On the north side between the Sowe river bridge and Deedmore Road. This is likely to be about 2.4m wide.
    • On the south side between the new Toucan crossing and Brierley Road. This is likely to be just over 3m wide.
  2. Adding Toucan crossings to Henley Road at the points shown with red markers on the map. This includes adding Toucan phases to all three arms of the Deedmore Road / Henley Road junction
Details of the proposed scheme. A presentation was given to a local Neighbourhood Forum on 3 September.

I'm concerned about the lack of segregation between pedestrians and cyclists - the footway close to Henley College can get busy. Also there's some issues about the crossing of Henley Mill Lane:
  • the turn for motorists needs to be made sharper; to slow traffic
  • cyclists travelling on the new path along Henley Road need to retain their priority over turning traffic
  • there should be enough space to allow a car
    • turning into Henley Mill Lane to clear the Henley Road carriageway before having to stop for pedestrians & cyclists
    • leaving Henley Mill Lane, waiting for a gap in the Henley Road traffic, to clear the pedestrian/cyclist path.
A good example of a cycle path crossing a side road:

Details of the proposed scheme

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Netherlands Study Tour

In mid June, four of us from the West Midlands went on a David Hembro Study Tour. The most remarkable thing about cycling in the Netherlands is the sheer number of cyclists:

Only a small minority of Dutch cyclists ride mountain/road bikes or wear helmets/Lycra. Despite the proportion of such sporty cyclists among the general population being higher in the Netherlands than the UK, they are swamped by the large number of people who use a bicycle to ride a couple of miles from A to B.

It's not the flatness of the Netherlands that encourages cycling (much of eastern England is just as flat) and certainly not the weather - it's often raining and the wind can be punishing. It's the way cyclists are separated from motor traffic, often onto to routes which are shorter than those taken by motorists.

Back in the 1950's the streets of Coventry were full of cyclists. Then people bought cars in large numbers, just as they did in the Netherlands. Conditions on the roads got much worse for cycling. In the UK, and in many other countries, few good cycling facilities were built and cycle use declined dramatically. For reasons no-one seems to understand very well, the Dutch highway authorities built decent cycle facilities and so many car owners continue to use their bicycles for short journeys.

Dutch cycle path crossing a side road. Note priorities, footway and sight-lines.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

More traffic on Lynchgate Road

Those who cycle to the University of Warwick via its Lynchgate Road entrance will be disappointed to learn that the University wishes to put a large car park just inside the entrance with access via Lynchgate Road:

They propose a roundabout where the Science Park access road and the access road to the new car park meets Lynchgate Road. Link to planning application.

Plenty of people have objected, complaining about the traffic increase the proposal, if adopted, would bring.  Here's my comment:

I object to this planning application as it will have a negative impact on pedestrian and cyclist access to the University and Science Park.

The Department for Transport's "Manual for Streets (2007)" adopts a hierarchy of users to assist in design, planning and development control decisions. This places pedestrians at the top, followed by cyclists, then public transport, with unaccompanied private­ car users last. Furthermore there are local policies AM8 (Improving Pedestrian Routes) and AM11 (Improving Cycling Facilities).

The University's Lynchgate Road entrance has the potential to be the major access point for pedestrians and cyclists working and studying at the campus and Science Park, due to the large volume of residential housing within walking and cycling distances. In addition there is a great potential for rail plus cycle commuting from further afield via the Canley and Coventry railway stations.

According to The Department for Transport's LTN "Cycle Infrastructure Design" the first thing to be considered when creating or improving a cycle route is Traffic Volume Reduction (followed by Traffic Speed Reduction). The application proposes a Traffic Volume Increase on Lynchgate Road. It also proposes a downgrade of the cyclist/pedestrian route within the University campus from segregation between cyclists and pedestrians to a shared pedestrian/cyclist path. Such arrangements are unsuitable for routes with medium to high cyclist and pedestrian use.

If the car park is to be built, a much more imaginative approach needs to be taken to its access by motor traffic. An approach which reduces rather than increases the delay and danger posed to pedestrians and cyclists. One possibility would be to have access via the Science Park's Sir William Lyons Road and to move the access between Sir William Lyons Road and the public highway significantly closer to Kirby Corner Road.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Canley Railway Station to Warwick University

Coventry Council is consulting on a number of traffic schemes in South West Coventry. The schemes are mostly about making it easier to access the various employment and study sites in the area by car.

It's a chance to get things improved for cyclists as well!

The map shows a cycle route between the city centre and Kenilworth:

Open map in a new window

The section between Canley Railway Station and the University of Warwick links various residential areas with Westwood Business Park, the University of Warwick and the University's Science Park. People living close to any of the railway stations along the line to Birmingham could also use this section as part of a train + cycle commute. 

How might it be improved?

Sir Henry Parkes Road, between Canley station and the A45 has little traffic. Unfortunately the road is rather wide, a relic of the days when the road and railway met at a level crossing and a major car factory was on the north side of the tracks. So there is speeding. To make the road more cycle-friendly, the centre white line should be removed and the speed limit reduced to 20 mph. Other changes to the layout should be considered to encourage motorists to slow down. Perhaps 2m wide cycle lanes should be painted on both sides, even wider where they pass areas where cars might be parked.
Sir Henry Parkes Road - View towards the A45

Motorists need to reduce their speed as they leave the A45 roundabout

As can be seen from the map, the current recommended route for cyclists from the NE side of the A45 to Lynchgate Road uses seven Toucan crossings in a distance of less than 700m. No help is provided at either Sir Henry Parkes Road (NE of A45) or Lynchgate Road to join/leave this "toucan crossing tour".

One way of reducing the number of Toucan crossings would be to remove the bus lane on Sir Henry Parkes Road to make room for a cycle path on the south-eastern side. Cyclists who don't want to use the carriageway would no longer need to cross Sir Henry Parkes Road and then cross back when travelling between Lynchgate Road and the A45. They would avoid three Toucan crossings.

The refuge in the centre of the A45 is too narrow

Lynchgate Road is a subject on its own. Large numbers of pedestrians must cross this road to reach the shopping centre from the Science Park. None of the pedestrian crossing points are marked with traffic signs or Belisha beacons.
A large sign blocks the view of pedestrians about to cross left to right

Recently added "safety" feature (hidden behind Tesco sign)
Sign of a recent fatality

Traffic speed and volume need to be drastically reduced on Lynchgate Road.

One way of cutting volume would be to block Lynchgate Road south of the shopping centre and replace the current Science Park entry/exit with one much closer to Shultern Lane:

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Improved A45 / Kenilworth Road junction

For years cyclists have complained about the A45 crossing of the Kenilworth Road cycle path.

There was simply no phase when it was safe for cyclists to cross the west bound carriageway of Fletchamstead Highway. At busy times there was often a constant stream of traffic coming from either Kenpas Highway or Kenilworth Road.

Recently, as part of Cycle Coventry, a Toucan crossing was added linking the two segments of cycle path.

The central reservation is rather small:

A number of issues have been raised:
  1. It might get dangerously full in summer when the fair weather cyclists are out.
  2. It's the wrong way around. When a cyclist or pedestrian crosses to the road's centre, he/she must then turn right to go towards the exit. At which point he/she is facing away from the traffic. If the reservation had been designed so that the cyclist/ pedestrian turned left on entry, they would be facing the traffic as they approached the exit; a more satisfactory approach.
  3. Motorists turning left into Fletchamstead Highway from Kenilworth Road will be faced with a stop sign only a few metres into the A45. If following traffic is not expecting the vehicle in front to stop, this might lead to shunt incidents and / or motorists ploughing straight across the Toucan crossing.  Against this it's worth remarking that the left turn from Kenilworth Road is quite tight, so motorists won't be travelling very fast; moving the crossing closer to Kenilworth Road would increase the hazard of tailbacks reaching the Kenilworth Road.

The shared pedestrian/cyclist space between the Toucan crossing and Kenilworth Road is rather narrow:
Fletchamstead Highway - south side

Fletchamstead Highway - north side

The A45 (Coventry by pass) built with cycle paths along its whole length. They were subsequently sacrificed at Kenilworth Road to make the A45 carriageway wider. It had been hoped that a Toucan crossing would be provided across the southern arm of Kenilworth Road as a token towards reinstatement of the paths, but the crossing is only a Puffin. Pedestrians only, although a person pushing a cycle is regarded in law as a pedestrian. Perhaps there was just too little space for a Toucan crossing. There's certainly not much space for a child's buggy or a wheelchair:

Overall the changes to the junction are a definite improvement for cycling. Despite this some cyclists will continue to find it more convenient to use the carriageway to cross the A45 when travelling towards Coventry. Indeed many cyclists will continue to use the carriageway along the whole of Kenilworth Road, to avoid having to give way to turning traffic at Cannon Hill Road, Aberton Way, Gibbet Hill Road and Cryfield Grange Road. Cyclists using the carriageway when travelling south  avoid crossing the road at the ends of the path.

We still have a long way to go to reach Dutch standards of highway engineering for cyclists. That's shown by the statistics on cycle use. In the Netherlands, 27% of journeys are made by bike, in the UK less than two percent.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Bridge over A444 at Whitley - Planning committee adds conditions

To recap, here's a diagram of the original proposal:


To see the area in its current state, go to google maps and put 52.387153, -1.492980 into the search box.

So to cross from Black Prince Avenue (at the bottom left hand corner of the diagram) towards  Whitley Academy (off the top right hand corner of the diagram), school children would have to use four Toucan Crossings.  Plenty of temptation to take shortcuts across the commuter traffic going to the Jaguar Land Rover plant and the Whitley Business Park (at the bottom right hand corner of the diagram)!

On 6th February Coventry Council agreed to make some improvements to the scheme:

Coventry Council also promised to look into possibilities for reducing the number of Toucan Crossings for pedestrians and cyclists travelling between Black Prince Avenue and the Jaguar Land Rover plant / Whitley Business Park.  Both the original and the new proposals have us crossing three carriageways. One idea is to provide subways under the two new slip roads and a path along the south side of the new bridge. The new slip roads are to/from the A444 south of the bridges.

Toucan Crossings are not as safe as some people think. See this article about a driver jumping a red light on a Pelican crossing and killing a cyclist.

Update September 2015
The final result is a bit different from either of the above plans.  The differences from the second diagram are:
  1. The Toucan crossing at the extreme east is now staggered into two halves.
  2. The subway along the river (under the carriageway) has disappeared.
  3. There's a shared use cyclist/pedestrian path along the south side of the new bridge, with  light controlled crossings over Leaf Lane and the slip road from the northbound A46.  There's no lights on the crossing over the slip road to the southbound A46. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Bridge over A444 at Whitley - Report to planning committee published

No sign of movement in the report from council officers to the planning committee of 6 Feb 2014.

On page 10, the report refers to the Coventry Development Plan (CDP):
 AM12 states that convenient cycle routes, made safer by design, must
generally be incorporated in the design of new developments and highway schemes. 

concedes (p11):
.. the number of crossing points increases to get from Leaf Lane to the JLR site
but then implies that making them signalised is a step forward:
all of these crossings are signalised whereas the current crossing points on Leaf Lane are uncontrolled. 

So one uncontrolled crossing of Leaf Lane traffic is worse than
  1. a controlled crossing of Leaf Lane traffic plus traffic leaving the business park towards Coventry
  2. plus a controlled crossing of traffic approaching the Business Park from the Festival Island roundabout
  3. plus a controlled crossing of traffic leaving the Business Park towards the south
I'd rather cross no traffic than have to wait at a crossing.

One thing the report does include is an improved map.

Think about cycling in central London.  It's not pleasant, it's not safe, but lots of people do it. For many journeys it's more convenient than any other form of transport.  Convenience matters!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Whitley cycle route downgraded

Roads like the A444, A45 and Coventry's ring road present major barriers to cycling across the city. So cyclists need to take interest in any changes at the few places where they can be crossed.

Coventry Council proposes to increase the traffic handling capacity of the access to the Jaguar Business Park at Whitley. As is the usual practice, improvements for motoring mean a down-grade for walking and cycling.

The current arrangement:
The carriageways are shown in red and the toucan crossing a little north east of the roundabout outside the business park is shown in turquoise at the bottom of the diagram.

To understand the orientation, here's the above diagram pasted onto a satellite image:

The council's proposals:
The main aim of the changes is to add slip roads to the A444 for traffic to/from the Stivichall Interchange.

As far as walking and cycling are concerned, I've submitted the following comments (planning application reference FUL/2013/2599):

1) The proposals will make cycling and walking between Leaf Lane and the Business Park more time consuming and inconvenient. At the moment pedestrians and cyclists need only cross the path of Leaf Lane traffic. The proposals will force them, in addition, to cross the path of all traffic entering the Business Park, all traffic leaving the Business Park travelling south and all traffic leaving the Business Park travelling north (twice).

2) The idea, expressed in the Transport Assessment (Section 4.2, November 2013) of "requesting that cyclists dismount when crossing and within the central storage areas" on the island in the middle of the new bridge is fanciful. The requests will be ignored, leading to friction between pedestrians and cyclists.

3) As an alternative proposal, I would suggest grade separation between motorised and non-motorised users. Separated by grade, the delay suffered by both motorised and non-motorised users would be reduced. The hazard of cyclists/pedestrians tiring of waiting and crossing against the lights would be removed, as would be that of motorists ignoring/jumping signals at red.

Subways under the new slip roads and use of the southern rather than the northern side of the new bridge would be a means to this end. Use could be made of the new bridge over the Sherbourne to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the access road to JLR at a level a little above the river's surface.

This alternative would allow a contra-flow cycle lane on Leaf Lane between the west most subway and Black Price Avenue. This feature would remove the risk and inconvenience to those cyclists travelling west/south bound towards Black Prince Ave. or the south most portion of Leaf Lane of twice crossing Leaf Lane.

Further points:

4) The plans seem to indicate that all the paths used by cyclists will be at least 3m wide.  This is an improvement on the current situation where some of the paths (especially on the bridge over the A444) are very narrow.

5) The current cycle path at the Black Prince Ave. end of Leaf Lane is too narrow, especially as cyclists should not be expected to cycle close to the kerb (a gap of at least 500mm is needed between wheels and carriageway edge). The current design is also awkward for cyclists travelling  southwards along Leaf Lane towards Baginton. Note that LTN 01/12 para. 7.36 recommends a path width of at least 3m plus a buffer zone of at least 0.5m between a path and any carriageway (para. 7.60).

6) Segregating cyclists and pedestrians would be preferable to "shared use". The paths are likely to be used by commuting cyclists in a hurry. A white line would be better than nothing. Although a line might be ignored by many pedestrians when there are no cyclists present and also by many cyclists when no pedestrians are present, a line would be helpful when both types of user are present. There's a parallel with the "keep left" rule for vehicular traffic.

7) The diagrams in the planning application are inadequate for public consultation. None of them show only the latest proposal. Instead diagrams such as "General Arrangement Sheet 1 of 3 Dwg 5123654-ATK-DR-S-0001" show not only the latest proposal but also an older proposal (with the existing bridge being used for bus access), the current arrangement and various other details all in the same diagram.

Some might think that allowing the existing bridge to be a cycle/pedestrian route is a bonus. But it's in a place which won't bring any benefit - I suspect it would be expensive to demolish and might have a future use in supporting a bus route.