Thursday, 19 November 2015

Coventry's Precinct

People cycling on paths designated for pedestrians indicates a failure of town planning.

Coventry's Precinct is a classic example of poor planning for cycling:

The maps show the centre of Coventry as it was in 1937 and as it is today. In 1937, Broadgate was linked to Corporation Street by Smithford Street, providing a direct east-west route between Gosford Street and Spon Street. By 2009, the heart of Coventry had been pedestrianised (marked in pink on the map).

The Precinct now blocks the central east-west route. People travelling by car don't notice; the ring road provides a speedy highway without traffic signals. People using cycles are expected to use Fairfax Street, Hales Street and Corporation Street, with their traffic signals, one-way system and stop-start buses.

In recent weeks journey times for cyclists using the Fairfax Street, Hales Street and Corporation Street route have dramatically increased as a result of extra traffic lights and temporary one-way restrictions:
  • Corporation Street: extra traffic signals at Spon Street and Upper Well Street.
  • Corporation Street: west-bound only between Bishop Street and Upper Well Street.
  • Fairfax Street / Trinity Street / Hales Street junction (Whittle Arch): west-bound only
  • Fairfax Street / Priory Street junction: extra traffic signals
It's no surprise that complaints about cycling in the Precinct have grown louder in recent weeks. Cyclists in a hurry are cutting through the pedestrianised area, taking the route of the now almost forgotten Smithford Street.

I suspect that the complaints aren't really about cycling as such, they are more about speeding cyclists. This "rat running" will continue until it takes less time to use Fairfax Street and Corporation Street to cycle between Coventry University and Spon Street than to cut through the pedestrianised area.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Aldi near Cannon Park

Aldi has applied for planning permission for a new store at Shultern Lane:
(Marked with the red line)

I've put in a comment:

The Transport Assessment (section 3.6) states that space will be provided for 8 cycles to be securely parked.

No grounds for supposing that this is adequate are given in the Transport Assessment. Yet in March 2015 the Cannon Park Shopping Centre Manager (Tim Pople) stated that 100 places were planned to be in operation there for the 2015/6 academic year.

The centre is 300m from the proposed development so the demographic of its customers will be similar. 
See planning application FUL/2015/2906


Planning permission was granted on 11 November, but with a condition that the building must not be used until the developers have provided adequate cycle parking (the council to decide what is adequate).

The council has also got £56,000 from Lidl to help pay for the construction of a three metre wide shared use footway/cycleway between Lynchgate Road and De Montfort Way. That is a path along the north side of Shultern Road between Lynchgate Road and the section of Shultern Road barred to motor traffic.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Roundabout for the A45 / Broad Lane junction

Coventry City Council is proposing substantial changes:

 The current arrangement (google satellite view)

The council proposes to add a roundabout and alter the traffic signals:

Council proposals

In both of the above images, Broad Lane crosses between right and left (east and west) and the A45 crosses between top and bottom (north & south).

I understand that the traffic lights on the A45 will follow a cycle of just under 60 seconds:
  1. Traffic from A45 (south) held
  2. Traffic from both A45 directions held
  3. Traffic from A45 (north) held
  4. Traffic from both A45 directions held
More details from Coventry Telegraph.

What about Cycling?

Roundabouts are often dangerous for cycling. Motorists leaving the roundabout cross the path of cyclists. Motorists trying to enter the roundabout may overlook cyclists already on the roundabout, especially if the cyclist is too close to the outside kerb or the motorist is impatient.

Cycling along Broad Lane

I think cyclists using the carriageway will find the new arrangement to be no more or less daunting than the current arrangement. It won't be the most dangerous sort of roundabout as traffic lights will protect cyclists from traffic entering from the A45. The big change is the addition of Toucan crossings to provide an off-carriageway route over the junction.

Off-carriageway cycle paths typically suffer from the following problems:
  • Sharing with pedestrians. The narrower the path the bigger the problem.
  • Turns too tight; routes are often designed for pedestrians rather than cyclists. Pedestrians have a far smaller turning circle than cyclists.
  • Hazards on returning to the carriageway.
The council has yet to publish details of the off-carriageway cycle route, so specific comments cannot be made at the moment. The vehicular entrance/exit to the Wing Wah restaurant (SW corner of the junction) will pose difficulties for westbound cyclists rejoining Broad Lane.

Cycling along the A45

There won't be much difference for people cycling along the A45. The council is, however, proposing a change 200m north of the junction, on the east side of the A45 which could lead to an improvement.

At the moment the service road on the east side is one-way, southbound (marked with arrows):

The council proposes to cut a gap between the service road and the A45 at the point marked with the blue spot. Motorists coming from the northern suburbs will join the A45 at that point, but their access to the service road south of the point will be blocked.

If the footway along the east side of the A45 were made into a shared use path, people would be allowed to cycle legally from the Broad Lane junction alongside the A45 carriageway to the "blue spot". From there they could continue to the residential areas to the north. I'm negotiating with the council about this point.

UPDATE August 2015

At the Public Services Cabinet Member meeting (4th August), it was agreed that the footway running alongside the A45 between Broad Lane and Rembrandt Close be converted into a shared use footway/cycleway. This will provide a safe and convenient route between the Broad Lane junction and the Windsford Avenue / Buckingham Rise area (avoiding Wildcroft Road).

It was also agreed to provide a puffin crossing on Broad Lane to the east of the A45. This might help people cycling to/from Sainsbury's.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Butts Road / Albany Road junction

Getting over (or under) the ring road is a major problem for cyclists in Coventry. One of the safer crossing places is the Spon Street subway. It's also part of Cycle Coventry Routes 12 & 13, shown in yellow on Coventry Council's cycle map:

Routes 12 & 13 provide a fairly direct path to Hearsall Common, but they are not very useful for those cycling to or from the Earlsdon Street area. This could be improved by adding a link between Meadow Street and Albany Road, as indicated with a red blob on the map.

Exiting from Albany Road, cycling with the traffic, it's easy enough to turn right into the Butts Road bus lane. Unfortunately, as the google streetview image shows, you then have to bump up over the kerb and cycle five metres before bumping down to Meadow Street:

The Earlsdon bound trip presents bigger problems. You might cycle to the middle of Butts Road and join the traffic waiting to turn right into Albany Road. Or you might dismount and use the pedestrian crossing to walk across Butts Road. 

Many would find waiting in the middle of Butts Road daunting. Others might try cycling across the pedestrian crossing, annoying pedestrians whilst trying to negotiate the sharp bends and ending up on the wrong side of Albany Road:

Current routes from Meadow Street to Albany Road (Google satellite).

There are simple solutions to these problems.
  1. Add dropped kerbs and 3 more metres of blacktop to provide a cycle path between Meadow Street and Butts Road
  2. Add dropped kerbs to the central reservation, providing a refuge for cyclists turning right into Butts Road. Once in Butts Road, they would turn left at the traffic lights into Albany Road:
Proposed routes:

The fence on the central reservation has already gone. The reservation is over two metres wide, so there's enough of room for cyclists to safely wait for a gap in the traffic. Bicycles being about 1.8 m long. Waiting there would be much safer than on the carriageway proper and cyclists would only need to look for traffic coming from one direction at a time.

An application has been made for planning permission build a five storey extension to the Sherbourne House student accommodation block on Meadow Street. I've proposed that the developers should be required to contribute money to help provide the links described above. There will be a pressing need for cycle facilities, as students will be prohibited from bringing cars into Coventry as a condition of their tenancy.

Monday, 20 April 2015

City Centre Action Plan

A consultation on the City Centre Action Plan has recently closed.

I wasn't impressed with the plan. Too little consideration was given to cycle and bus routes to and through the city centre. The council seems to be stuck in the 20th century view that people should travel to the centre by car and then walk about before returning home by car.

I'm reminded of what happened with "Council Square". As a result of objections raised by myself, the council agreed that make cycling legal along the four sides of the square (Little Park Street, Much Park Street, Earl Street and St John’s Street). But the roads haven't been designed to properly accommodate cycling.  The carriageways are designed for motor vehicles, the pavements for pedestrians.  The only things for cyclists are signs indicating that cycling is legal in both directions on the Much Park Street and St John’s Street carriageways and that the pavements on the south side of Earl Street and the east side of Little Park Street are shared use pedestrian/cyclist paths.

Anyway here's my comments on the Action Plan:

  • The routes to the car parks need to be re-thought to reduce the conflict between cars accessing the parking and buses, cyclists and pedestrians. The access to the West Orchard car park demonstrates a poor design, with a large volume of car traffic crossing a major pedestrian, cyclist and bus route along Corporation Street. The grade separated access to the barracks car park at Hertford Street demonstrates a good design.
  • On-street car parking on Far Gosford Street needs to be replaced by off-street parking. This will allow Far Gosford Street to become bothway for cycling.

    The current recommended city-bound cycle route (along Sky Blue Way) is very unpopular leading to footway cycling on Sky Blue Way and Far Gosford Street. Far Gosford Street has the potential to be a major cycle route from east Coventry to the city centre. Parked and unloading vehicles provide significant blocks to buses using the street.
  • Improved cycle access is needed between Warwick Road (& thus the railway station) and Broadgate. Warwick Lane and Greyfriars Lane could be used.
  • Better cycle access is needed between Technology Park Quarter (Parkside) and both Gulson Road and the railway station. This would also improve the link between the station and east Coventry (via Gulson Road).

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Canal Basin Bridge - not fit for purpose

Coventry Council is proposing to replace the Canal Basin pedestrian bridge over the ring road. The bridge links St. Nicholas Road / Canal Basin with Bishop Street.

Details of proposals: part1 part2 (pdfs).

James Avery has written a post on the issue.

Here's the contents of a letter from myself, published in the Coventry Telegraph on 13 March 2015:

The canal basin bridge over the ring road is not fit for purpose.

A safe cycle route between the canal basin and Bishop Street is needed. Cycling is banned on the pedestrian bridge as it's too narrow. Few dare to cycle across the Radford Road or Foleshill Road roundabouts.

At the Bishop Street end, the gradient causes trouble for wheelchair users and pram pushers. It's too steep.

This is not just about existing cyclists. Many more people would cycle if the routes were felt to be safe and convenient. But few are prepared to cycle on the roads as they currently exist. More cycling would mean improved public health and more efficient use of space. Cycle paths have seven times the carrying capacity of lanes dedicated to private cars.

A surface crossing is, perhaps, not the right answer. It would cause delay to motorists, pedestrians and cyclist alike. Has the council looked at an underpass for walkers & cyclists? What about a new, better bridge, perhaps with a spiral ramp at the city end?

Monday, 2 March 2015

Ideas from a Citizen

Last December, Mike Lees sent the following letter to Councillor Lancaster (Coventry Council's Cabinet Member for Public Services):

Dear Ms. Lancaster,

I was pleased to read of the improvements to cycling in Citivision. I would like to suggest some low cost improvements to help fellow cyclists.
  1. Drapers Field bridge, West side - the kerb needs lowering or instead, place a wedge of tarmac in the gutter. There used to be a wedge but someone removed it! It didn't block the gutter.
  2. Make Greyfriars Lane and Salt Lane two way for cyclists. (less need to cycle through the precinct)
  3. Lower the kerb at Cooke St. Gate.
  4. Make it legal to cycle on the pavements adjacent to the ring road.
  5. Make it legal to cycle on the pavement on the east side of Foleshill Road from Harnall Lane round to White Street.
  6. Keresley Road dual carriageway, both sides.Currently the inner lanes on both sides are used as a car park. They easily could be made into cycle lanes. All the houses (except for a handful) have rear car access. In the vast majority of cases there is no reason to park on the road. This section of road provides a quick route down to Radford. The road would be safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
He was promised "comprehensive feedback to you in the New Year when I have fully investigated the proposals."

I made some comments to Mike on these suggestions. Here they are with Mike's responses

1 Drapers Field bridge The council want to greatly increase the traffic on Leicester Row - so that brings up the issue of what cyclists do when they get to Leicester Row!
REPLY - Make a new cycle path on the pavement to Foleshill Road. It's quite wide. Then either go north or cross Foleshill Road and go south down new cycle path (see 5) to city centre.
2) Make Greyfriars Lane and Salt Lane two way for cyclists. The council will no doubt claim that there's a safety hazard with the taxis.
  • Is there any evidence this is the case?
  • Cyclists use it the wrong way even if its not legal
  • Would the council prefer people to cycle through the precinct?
3) Lower the kerb at Cooke St. Gate. Yes!
4) Make it legal to cycle on the pavements adjacent to the ring road. Yes. I often cycle on the fragment that goes past Queens' Road Baptist Church, connecting Queens Road with the subway under the ring road.
5) Make it legal to cycle on the pavement on the east side of Foleshill Road from Harnall Lane round to White Street. Good idea, although the footway probably needs widening (esp. near bus stop) and there needs to be a safe and convenient way of cycling on and off the path at the Harnall Lane end.
6) Keresley Road dual carriageway, both sides. Unfortunately there would probably be great resistance from the residents. Is there enough room to move the parking further toward the centre of the road to provide a cycle track between the parked cars and the footway? People find cycling with a barrier of parked cars between them and moving traffic better than a white line. The side road junctions would have to be carefully re-designed to ensure that cyclists got priority over turning traffic. All rather expensive I'm afraid!
  • The west side of Keresley Road between Kelmscote Road and the Old Shepherd island is served by a service road - Stennels Close - double yellow lines would not inconvenience the residents .
  • A cheaper solution would be to severely restrict parking on the rest of Keresley Rd - say to 1hr max. This would still be a considerable improvement on the current situation.
  • Have there been any complaints about road safety on Keresley Rd? If so reducing car parking and thus increasing visibility would surely address the issue

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Tollbar End death

January's meeting of the Cycle Coventry Advisory Group began with a minute's silence to commemorate the death of Andrew Wolfindale, who was killed in a collision with an HGV at Toll Bar End on 6 January.

As is usual with a death resulting from a Road Traffic Incident, the police are investigating the circumstances of the crash.

Is that good enough? The police will only concern themselves with whether a case can made which will be strong enough to stand up in court. Everyone is "considered innocent until proven guilty", so it's not unlikely that no case will come to court. Yet a man has died, so something, and I expect quite a number of things, weren't as safe as could be reasonably expected. A lot of other people who use the junction think so too. But unlike incidents which involve trains or aircraft, there will be no body to conduct a full public investigation and to make (legally binding) recommendations to improve future safety.

It's no wonder that travelling on the highways is far more dangerous than travelling across the skies or in a train.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Whitley Business Park Expansion

A planning application has been made to extend the Whitley Business Park to the south west.

As James Avery explains in his blog, it's "another example of a planning scheme in Coventry which completely fails to provide the required cycle access, in accordance with Coventry City council's own policies, which clearly require cycle and pedestrian access to be safe, convenient and direct."

Here's a map of the proposal:

The proposed new road (shown in red) will serve the storage and distribution unit (shown in blue).

About 100 metres south of the new road, there's the cycle path along the north side of the A45/A46. It would be so easy to provide a link. Yet the Highways Agency (who manage the A46) has no comment on the scheme.

At the moment the A45/A46 cycle path only provides a route to the east (Toll Bar End and Selsey Close / Sunbury Road), but a link over the Stivichall Interchange ("Festival Island") seems feasible. On the roundabout there's space on the bridge over the A444 and traffic lights at the junction with the slip road from the A444:

Existing cyclist/pedestrian paths are shown in green as are paths due to be re-instated as when the A45/A46  Tollbar End Improvement Scheme has been completed.  Shown in red is a possible route to link Finham & Stivichall to the Whitley Business Park.