Sunday, 2 June 2013

Hearsall Common - joining up the lines

The east-west route across Hearsall Common has long been a issue for people wishing to cycle between the city centre and western Coventry.

While it's by no means the only problem area between the city centre and the areas served by Tile Hill Lane, Broad Lane and Canley Road, it has a high level of motor traffic and is used by a lot of cyclists (by Coventry standards). Furthermore it seems likely that cycling conditions could be greatly improved by the sacrifice of only a small amount of grassed area.

Location of Hearsall Common and the Cycle Coventry routes (green: 4, red: 5, purple: 6).

The google satellite view shows details of Hearsall Common: 

The blue lines show reasonable cycle routes. The cycle path is a shared use pedestrian/cyclist path but is reasonably wide and isn't used by many pedestrians. Kingston Road is a quiet back street which provides a route to the city centre via the Sovereign Road railway bridge, Upper Spon Street and the Spon Street subway under the ring road. Canley Road provides a quiet start to a route towards the University of Warwick.

How can the blue lines be joined together?

From Kingston Road, cyclists could cross Earlsdon Avenue North at the signalised junction of Earlsdon Avenue North / Hearsall Lane / Queensland Avenue / Hearsall Lane. There would have to be some sort of shared pedestrian/cyclist use between Kingston Road and the junction.

Space would have to be taken from the carriageway and the bus stop would have to be moved elsewhere:

Crossing Earlsdon Avenue North at Kingston Road is a more practical option. At busy times there will be considerable traffic so a place to wait half way across would be useful.

Having crossed the road, it's proposed to continue on the southern side of the Hearsall Lane carriageway by widening the pavement into a shared cyclist/pedestrian path. Some people think that widening the pavement on Earlsdon Avenue North is a good idea (shown in blue below):

The desire line is elsewhere and is visible in the satellite image. It's much used by both pedestrians and cyclists. Following the desire line also means that cyclists on the path will stay clear of pedestrians at the bus stops on Hearsall Lane:

Past the bus stops, the pavement along the south side of the Hearsall Common carriageway needs widening and the poles need to be avoided.

The footway is less than 1.8m wide. The minimum width of a shared use pedestrian/cyclist path is 3m. As it's unsafe for pedestrians or cyclists to get within 50cm of the kerb, a path width of at least 3.5m is needed.

On the north side of Hearsall Lane there's a grass verge about 1m wide between the cycle/foot way and carriageway; which is both safer and more attractive to walkers and cyclists than a path immediately next to the carriageway.

At some point along the Hearsall Common carriageway, it's proposed to install a Toucan crossing  to link the south side cycle path with the north side. Coming from Kingston Road I'm not sure that I would bother crossing the carriageway, only to re-cross a little later on:
 I'd be inclined to continue on the carriageway - a short track between the to join the Broad Lane roundabout to the cycle path link to Tile Hill Lane  would be useful (marked in red above).

Canley Road is one-way (north-east to south-west) between the junctions with Hearsall Common and Beechwood Avenue. To reach the bidirectional part of Canley Road, two ideas have been suggested:
  1. A bothway cyclist/pedestrian shared use path along the south-east side, as shown in red below.
  2. A cycle lane on the Canley Road carriageway for north-east bound cyclists (shown in blue below). South-west bound cyclists would use the same lane as motorists.
Motor traffic levels on this part of Canley Road are not high. On a Sunday soon after midday, I counted 100 motor vehicles westbound on Hearsall Common in 9 minutes. In the same time seven cars turned into Canley Road, about the same number of pedestrians did the same.

It's worth noting that shared pedestrian/cyclist paths are almost unknown in the Netherlands, where they are much more practiced in cycle matter than here. Where motor traffic levels and speeds are low, cyclists share with motorists, where they are high cyclists have their own paths separated from both pedestrians and motorists.

Hearsall Common was discussed at the Cycle Coventry Advisory group on 7 May.

More on Cycle Coventry route 4.


  1. Having lived here for the last 6 years, I can confirm that the travel levels along Canley road are minimal. Cyclists also already cycle along this street in the wrong direction (against the one-way system) as do they along the pavements on both sides of Hearsall Lane. Personally I have no issue as a pedestrian with this (although it would help if everyone rang their bell to warn you), but then I'm young and fit enough to jump out of the way if I needed to.

    I expect you are already aware, but when CCC tried to tarmac over a strip of the common for a bus lane, it was met with strong opposition and legal action (an attempt to get the common classified as a village green was made).

  2. The council certainly got its fingers burnt over the bus road issue. There are significant differences with the proposed cycle paths:

    1) Pedestrians will be able to use the paths as well.
    2) The bus road was planned to be 6m wide, the shared cyclist/pedestrian path will be only 3m wide.
    3) The bus road would have only brought benefits at peak times. The rest of the time it would have produced no advantages for anyone. The path will bring advantages throughout the day as for most of the time there enough traffic on Hearsall Common to deter cycling.
    4) Use of the carriageway by cyclists under the age of 12 is just not an option.
    5) The start of the bus road on Earlsdon Avenue was much further away from the Hearsall Lane junction; its length was much greater than the proposed cyclist/pedestrian path.
    6) There were fears that the bus road would be the "thin end of the wedge" - in Birmingham links which were bus only have been opened up to general traffic.

    The current 1.8m wide pavements are too narrow for shared cyclist/pedestrian use. In my opinion (and it's shared by many others), there's already too many places where cyclists pass pedestrians too closely. There needs to be enough room for the cyclist to pass without disturbing the pedestrian. It's similar to the recurring complaint of motorists passing too close to cyclists; the old Highway Code rule of leaving at least 6 feet (1.8m) made a lot of sense.

  3. That's some really excellent detail George on the challenges faced around this location. The fact remains that if a one-way contraflow isn't provided, many cyclists will just use their own means anyway - just as I see on Hales St regularly.

    I'd be interested to see the designs for the cross roads, as I still expect I'd stay on the road here most of the time.

  4. George,

    I like the idea of the protected area for cyclists in Earlsdon Avenue North at the Kingston Road junction. Transport for London have a drawing of what you are suggesting at (C15/p211)

    There is also a desire line visible on Satellite photos on the southern edge of the common between Earlsdon Avenue north and Canley Road. This could be upgraded and linked in to the little used path on the south side of the common from Canley Road to Tile Hill Lane near the Village Hotel. This would eliminate the crossing of Broad lane at the roundabout and the need for a toucan crossing on the common itself. Ideally the existing pedestrian crossing near the village would be upgraded to a Toucan crossing and relocated to provide a link from the end of the path to the stub of Tile Hill Lane (a 'desire' crossing point which is used more than the actual one).

  5. Hello Peter,

    Kingston Road. I found a diagram from an earlier scheme:

    I suspect that a path along the south side of the common won't be as well used as a path close to the B4101 and that there will be opposition from local residents to proposals for adding tarmac where it won't be much used. A path could be added at some later time; the path from Kingston Road is needed for cyclists to/from the city centre.

    Crossing the B4101 and Canley Road is better than crossing the B4101 and Broad Lane. Perhaps the council wants to put in at bus gate at the end of the bus lane?

    Given the difficulty in providing a convenient crossing of the A45 for outbound cyclists at Tile Hill Lane, the idea of using Guphill Ave and the A45 underpass near Buckingham Rise might get back on the agenda.

  6. Hi, I run a driving school in Coventry and we are going around schools increasing the awareness of cyclists on the road.
    If anyone has any advice they would like to share with me, to put out to the students and new drivers - let me know.

  7. I found this on transport For London's website:

  8. A Street News showing the council's proposals has recently been published: