Thursday, 29 March 2012

Hales Street - a process failure

On 19th March I met council officers to consider a westbound cycling route on Hales Street.

A pavement route on the north of Hales Street is a pretty bad idea for at least two reasons:

Firstly there's not enough room at the bus stops.

Secondly cyclists travelling from Fairfax Street to Corporation Street would have to cross the path of oncoming buses and taxis to reach the pavement at Millennium Place and to get back to the left side of the road at Bishop Street.

Another idea is to convert the pavement on the south side to  pedestrian/cyclist shared use. 

It's pretty narrow, but has far fewer pedestrians than the north side. Whether it's better than an on-carriageway contra-flow is debatable.

Using the pavement presents problems at and beyond the bend.

Cyclists will have to move to the right to see pedestrians further down the road.  

Past the bend the pavement gets narrow.  People will be coming in and out of shops. There's also the problem of obstruction by retailers' signs.

A  suggestion was made to take some space from the carriageway to widen the pavement.

Contra-flow on the carriageway is the obvious solution, until you notice a bus coming from Bishop Street:
No problem for a fast (15 mph) cyclist. Such a cyclist would only take three seconds to cover the distance from where the photos were taken to the junction. But a slow (7 mph) cyclist won't reach the junction before the bus had blocked it.

The kerb on the north side has been built out too far. If the build-out were a metre less, a bus could get around the corner without taking the whole of the carriageway.

I expect the council will say it's too expensive to move the kerb.

Why didn't the design brief for the junction include a requirement for bothway cycling on Hales Street?  Perhaps if cyclists hadn't been overlooked at that stage, something much better would be in place now.

Hales Street is marked on Coventry Council's cycle map as a cycle route.

Recommended cycle routes in blue


  1. looks like a case of incompetence by the council. the blog seems to show a problem and then walks away from it. why do you accept the current situation? why not fight it and demand the cycle lane is put back in. have you got the councillors involved? if not why not? elevate the nmatter to a national level. take it to the ombudsman and downing st if necessary. the council should not be allowed to get away with this.
    coventry - hosting the olympics but dont use ya bike !!

  2. I sent an email to Cllrs Lindsley Harvard and Allan Andrews (cc'd to Colin Knight) on 1 February about the issue.

    I expect the site visit on 19 March was the result of the prodding.

    My understanding is that the engineer I met would write up some proposals which would be considered by those higher up and then the council would issue formal proposals. What exactly those proposals will be, I don't know. Costs come into it, but as I'm no Civil Engineer I've no idea what they would be.

    I wrote the blog entry to report back what I know has happened. What the next steps are, I've no firm opinion.

    There's a Coventry Cycling Campaign meeting on 8 May. The council might have made up its mind by then, what exactly that is and who is interested in campaigning against it should be discussed there. Maybe a campaign group on this single issue should be set up.

  3. So what was the Council officer's response regarding the absence of a cycle route on Hales Street, e.g sympathetic/apologetic/couldn't care less?

    From my point of view it looks like the Council is either incompetent or negligent, and I sincerely hope it is the former rather than because they were bullied by the taxi association into providing more taxi ranks at the expense of cyclists.

  4. There is a bigger issue here. We live in a democracy, but if the first we know about something is when the mistake is made, it is too late to rectify it.

    What we need is a local news site that means that we find out about things like this before things go wrong. Sorry I am dreaming, but with free video hosting (e.g. YouTube) it would be great for people to get together and produce a monthly programme on what is happening in Coventry and then interview people who make the mistakes and try and get people like Midlands today to pick up the bigger stories. It would be great for the cycling campaign. If someone could make a decent attempt I'd certainly watch it.

  5. The decision about what provision will be made for westwards travelling cyclists on Hales Street won't be made by the engineer I spoke to. He was there to think up (& cost?) alternatives. The decision will be made by people higher up. Colin Knight (Assistant Director, Planning, Transport and Highways, Coventry City Council) said he had some money set aside for improving things for cyclists on Hales Street; whether it will go very far given the "facts on the ground" is another matter.

    I can accept that the person who wrote the original design brief forgot about cyclists. What is unreasonable is that this mistake wasn't picked up when his/her peers reviewed the document. That is supposing that the council does have the sort of procedures which are commonplace in modern industry?

    As for a local news site, who is going to staff that? Any unemployed/retired journalists about?

  6. the local elections are just around the corner so why not go political. why not get all the parties (of all ilkes) to commit to doing something about it and saying when it will happen. the timing for getting a result for cycling is perfect.

  7. Why not move the in-bound buses to Upper Well Street where the drop off point would be nearer the shops? This junction still has pedestrian crossing lights so people would not need to cross the road at the "shared space" if they didn't want to. This would make Bishop Street outbound only (except cyclists?).

  8. I don't understand why the taxi rank can't be on the west side of Trinity Street, just around the corner. Am I missing something? Surely that's the cheapest solution. A cycle lane on Hales St. could borrow a few yards of the pavement at the junction of Bishop St. to avoid buses coming around the corner.

  9. It looks like the petition has had no effect. The recommendation is to confirm the status-quo. See:

  10. I suppose it's not worth making anymore fuss about the issue.

    I hope that officers will draw the lesson that they shouldn't overlook the existence of cyclists when changing the roads. This mess-up has already cost officer time and will cost £hundreds more to get the traffic order sorted out.

  11. Last week I measured how long it took me to cycle between the Corporation Street / Bishops Street junction and Millenium Place.

    Corporation Street / Bishops Street junction --> Millenium Place. 30 seconds
    Millenium Place --> Corporation Street / Bishops Street junction (via Palmer Lane). 60 seconds