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.

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