Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Bishop Street Bridge

Proposals have been made to build a food superstore, a multi-storey car park and a health & fitness club on the site of the old Royal Mail sorting office in Bishop's Street. The pedestrian and cyclist access between the site and the area north of the ring road needs to be improved to encourage a switch from car travel to walking/cycling for reasons of health, the environment and (personal) finance.

At the moment pedestrians use the footbridge 3000 times a day. The bridge is rather ugly and its access ramps are too steep for many wheelchair users. It's also too narrow for safe shared pedestrian/cyclist use:

About half the width recommended by the Department of Transport for shared cyclist/pedestrian use.

The developers propose to replace the bridge with a ground level light controlled crossing (Toucan crossing).

Rather mixed views on this proposal have emerged, mostly concerning safety but also raising other matters. I've listed some below, I don't think they are all of equal weight:

Points for a Toucan crossing
  • The need for a 2m high barrier between the ring road carriageways shows that many pedestrians prefer a ground level crossing to climbing up stairs.
  • The developers probably favour a ground level crossing instead of a bridge on cost grounds and the Council would not want to place obstacles in the way of the redevelopment of the site.
Points for a Bridge
  • It's not unknown for motorists to jump red lights and it is not unusual for pedestrians to cross without due care and attention. Children, people with mobility impairments or partial sight might be put at significant risk with a Toucan crossing. As the city centre has a number of late night venues, a higher proportion of users are drunk than is the case at other places in the city.
  • Incidents occurring after the introduction of a ground level crossing might lead to the council paying large amounts in compensation to injured parties. These payments might be large enough to lead the council to cuts jobs or services in order to balance their budget.
  • Traffic stopped at the lights might tailback to ring road junctions 1 (Foleshill Road) and 9 (Radford Road), obstructing traffic turning into or out of  Foleshill Road or travelling to Wickes.
  • Pedestrians who have crossed one carriageway will have to wait in a central "sheep pen" to reach the other side of the road. This "sheep pen" might get congested at peak times.
  • At peak times, to cope with large flows of motor traffic, there may be considerable delays for pedestrians and cyclists crossing the road.
Other points
  • Traffic speed and volume might be too much for a Toucan crossing. Yet something similar on Birmingham's inner ring road (James Watt Queensway) seems to work:
  • The ring road was designed to carry motor traffic around the periphery of the City Centre, creating obstacles on it will lead to traffic rat-running through the centre. This and the stopping of traffic on the ring road will create additional air pollution, noise pollution and wear and tear on vehicles. However London has much higher congestion than Coventry and that seems to lead to a much higher levels of public transport use, walking and cycling.
The Motorcycle Riders' Association are against a ground level crossing, contact

Further details about the developer's proposals:


  1. see Derby for a similar sized city with a busy ring road with lots of toucan crossings, tedious for everyone, lots of pedestrians and drivers taking risks.

    radford road / upper well street isn't bad for cyclists to get across the ring road, a few improvements here and some cycle friendly improvements under the ring road at white street and i think bishop street bridge could justifiably be left pedestrian only.

  2. Going from Town I cycle the Folehill Road junction going out from Town and going down and under the subway (from Pool Meadow) to Cov and Warwick going back into town.

    Part of the question would be what would the routes be from the new bridge, how would it be reached from the Foleshill Road into town.

    The Toucan crossings on the Foleshill Road / A444 are a case in point. The wait is just too long (and you are diverted).

    A lower wider bridge would be better.

  3. A cycle crossing of the ring road at Bishop Street / canal basin would be advantageous for people cycling between the city centre and

    1) Canal Basin & Draper's Fields. There's some idea at a future date to improve the canal towpath to make cycling more feasible there.

    2) St Nicholas St / Sandy Lane / Widdrington Road area. Radford Road is rather busy. Outbound you have to make a right turn, uphill into Light Lane.

    3) Foleshill Road. The junction of Foleshill Road with Harnall Lane could be improved to provide a good link for cyclists between Leicester Row and the Foleshill Road (via the open air car park between Foleshill Road and the canal). The current legal cycling alternatives are very poor.

    I agree that there's a number of cities with busy ring roads with lots of Toucan crossings which are tedious for everyone, Derby, Leicester, London come to mind.

  4. Despite it's obvious flaws the ring road actually works extremely well in moving motor traffic around the city quickly and freely; and keeping it away from the city centre. Putting any obstructions along it would be taking a step backwards fifty years!

    The council needs to have the courage to insist that the developers put in the best possible infrastructure that the city needs: A broad bridge with wide access ramps from all directions with as shallow gradients as possible.

    A innovatively designed bridge can act as a focal point for a locality; a talking point; a source of local pride and a monument to regeneration and a commitment to the future. Whoever said that about an (idiotically named) Toucan crossing?

  5. For everyone's safety a wide bridge for both cyclists and pedestrians has to be put in. The developers need to stump up the cash to do this out of the handsome profits they will make from this development. Why should greed be allowed to put peoples safety at risk?

  6. The main problem with a new bridge is that with the latest building regulations the access ramp would be at a 1 in 20 (5%) gradient. To give 5m clearance for the road plus 1m for the bridge itself would give you a ramp 120m long. Almost the same as diverting to the Radford road crossing.

    A subway would be easy on the Bishop street side. There would be a ~60m ramp on the canal basin side (dog-leg on the site of the existing access ramp) with steps for the able bodied. Good lighting and Some carefull design like a large radius curve from the subway to the ramp should prevent this becoming a trouble spot.

    This would probably be more expensive, but they installed a railway bridge in Reading over a weekend so I don't see why the the same can't be done for the Coventry ringroad.