Should councils be fined for cycle promotion on fast/dangerous roads

Yesterday afternoon I was out on a cycle ride with my wife from Ipswich to Colchester via Hadleigh and Sudbury. Most of the route was covered by either Sustrans or South Suffolk Cycle routes. Some of these routes run along busy B roads, with traffic speeds of up to 60 mph through the use of the national speed limit sign.

National Speed Limit sign

At one point I came across a junction where all the signs had been wiped out:

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There were also various bits of squashed animal on the roads, some are meant to be quiet back lanes (instead seem to be rat runs), including the NCN1. I’ve not included any photos as it is rather gruesome.

This didn’t exactly fill me with any confidence that cycling along this road, the National Cycle Network Route 13 would actually be safe.

There were many cars that were driven at high speed and/or close past me, and on several occasions I feared that some driver would try and overtake when there wasn’t enough time, especially when there were many curves in the road thus short sight lines. Having cycled along the road before, I knew there was a turn off the B road and it just couldn’t come soon enough as by the time I had got there I was a little shaky. I really couldn’t see how anyone could allow children to cycle along that road, even so it’s part of the National Cycle Network.

This got me thinking about how to prevent these so called cycle routes being introduced in the first place.

Could councils be fined for having a signed cycle route or other direction encouraging cycling where cycle users would have to compete with motor traffic of more than 30 mph? How much would the fine be? Would £1 per metre be enough? How much would that be over a whole county? What happens if the council or police don’t then enforce the 30 mph speed limit? Would councils just ban cycling from many roads instead of reducing the speed limit to avoid the fines?

Of course the alternative is to build a Dutch style cycle track that runs parallel to the main road, thus car drivers can drive as fast as they like without having to deal with cycle users slowing them down, whilst cycle users can pootle along in a safe environment without a fear of being knocked down. It would also make the road feel safe enough that many more people would feel safe enough that they would switch from the car to a bike. I wonder how much it would cost for the councils to compulsory buy strips of land down farmers’ fields to be able to create safe cycle tracks?

The Suffolk Cycling Strategy that lacks ambition

Back in June 2014 Suffolk County Council released their Suffolk Cycling Strategy. It has some good and expected bits that I can’t complain about, such as why people should cycle, however it’s rather lacking in detail and vision on how to get more people cycling. The how is relegated to a 1 page table of actions and outcomes and another 1 page appendix of planned projects.

The main vision is:

“Our vision is to increase the number of people cycling in Suffolk, firmly establishing it as a normal form of transport for everyone.”

In general it’s good, however it doesn’t set any target of how much increase that is measurable.

All the reasons of why people should cycle, with all the benefits, is all good and what I would expect, as are the various statistics that are listed.

The delivery of the strategy has essentially been left for the single page appendix. The list of potential funding sources on page 11 is impressive, however there is no commitment from Suffolk County Council to have a specific proportion of the transport budget allocated to cycling infrastructure. This contrasts with Edinburgh City Council who have allocated 5% of the transport budget to cycling infrastructure, increasing that by 1% a year.

The first item in the list of references is a link to the Get Britain Cycling report, however only mentions it as the “All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group”. The strategy also ignores one of the key recommendations of a cycling budget of the report which is the amount of sustained funding required for cycling. If this was implemented then there would be between £7.2 million and £14.5 million spent on cycling each year in Suffolk. Or between £1.3 million and £2.6 million in Ipswich alone. Full figures for all local authorities based on the last census are available in my previous blog post.

In appendix A – the medical and public health evidence – it’s noted that the:

“minimum annual health cost of physical inactivity in Suffolk is more than £14,000,000″ – Executive Summary, Appendix A: Suffolk Cycling Strategy

Which works out to be about £20 per person, which is also the upper figure recommended by the Get Britain Cycling Report! Thus solely on the grounds of public health, the council should be increasing their spending on quality infrastructure, thus reducing the health care costs.

This would avoid the current problem of any significant changes to the cycle infrastructure require either new developments to contribute section 106 funds, or there to be a bid to various funds, which I discussed recently in the hidden costs of British cycle funding.

The main part of the strategy document doesn’t discuss the current barriers to cycling such as subjective safety. Appendix A does have a whole section on the barriers. As it’s a health document it primarily covers stats about risks of injury and where injuries are likely to occur. However the perceived barriers by people who don’t currently cycle, or don’t cycle for more journeys are not covered anywhere. Rather than just countering these perceived barriers and lack of subjective safety with education; looking at improving the infrastructure would go a long way to changing things, as improving the infrastructure, is more practical, and cheaper than stopping everyone (both motor vehicle drivers and cyclists) as they enter Suffolk and ensuring they have been given some training on how to “share the space” or “taking the lane”.

Lets look at some of the actions and outcomes proposed. There is a full A4 page with a table covering the strategy, actions, and outcomes. What’s there is good, however there could be more detail, I’d expect the bulk of the strategy discussing how the strategies would be implemented and potential barriers to implementing the strategy and how these barriers would be overcome.

The row of the table on fostering enthusiasm for cycling in young people is good for encouraging schemes such as Bikeability, Sustrans Bike It, and the Primary school bike project; and also facilitating school travel plans. However this seems to require the schools to make the first move, and to want to run the schemes. What happens when a school head refuses to allow kids to cycle to school as it’s too dangerous? I’d like to see an action where the council work with schools to ensure that routes to schools are safe from an infrastructure perspective. How about an ambition of every single school pupil in Suffolk having Bikeability training to level 3, with further training as required?

The strategy mentions to “adopt best practice as described in the Manual for Streets 2″. What happens if better advice such as Making Space for Cycling, or the upcoming TfL London Cycling Design Standards, or even the Dutch Design manual for bicycle traffic (CROW)? Should these be included explicitly, or a simpler action of looking for and acting on upcoming standards and advice?

One of the actions is to “Focus on improving areas with infrastructure to maximise return”. I’m assuming this means cycle infrastructure. This is all very well, however there would then be an increasing disparity in which parts of the county have infrastructure. As an example the infrastructure in Ipswich varies quite widely, and this suggests that the council will improve current facilities over doing something radical or larger in an area which desperately requires improved cycling facilities, for example where there are none in the lead up to a school. This is already a significant problem in the South West of Ipswich with several schools close together, and sixth form college where many pupils drive there, and there’s no parking for pupils on site.

I’d like to see some additions to the strategy “Create a safe and cycle friendly environment” such  as considering modal filtering, and looking at whole areas to see how rat runs can be removed. Also using temporary infrastructure to create modal filters or segregated cycle tracks is a great way to trial a scheme before going permanent with it. This has happened in New York, and is currently happening in London with the mini Holland schemes.

This has been hard to write, as a lot of the content in the strategy can’t be argued with. I really want to see a huge improvement to the cycle infrastructure so that everyone feels safer cycling and thus increasing the number of people cycling and gaining the various benefits mentioned in the strategy.

On Thursday 9th October Cycle Ipswich are taking the lead from Leeds Cycling Campaign’s Cycling: A Vision for Leeds, by holding a public meeting to gather ideas for a cycling vision for Ipswich, with the aim of using Cyclescape to have a long list of items to improve. Full details are available on the Cycle Ipswich website.

Using my Brompton for collecting images for Mapillary

Mapillary is a new project to allow people to collect street view like images easily with their smartphone or other camera. It means that if you want to have street view images of some cycle path or footpath you can easily add it, unlike with Google’s street view.

To make it easier to collect the images on my Brompton I have made a little holder for my phone using some custom cut denim sewn together, adding some buttons and button holes. Adding the trim around the hole for the camera, and a section of fabric to keep the camera out front, were required otherwise the denim was fraying and causing single strands, or a big chunk of fabric, to get into the image. I’ve added a piece of pipe insulation to help cushion and steady the movement of the phone, otherwise the phone moves too much and generates too many blurry images. It now seems to be at the stage where it’s pretty reliable.

I unfortunately don’t have a good view of the screen thus can’t easily tell if it’s working. Here’s some photos of the holder:

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Desire to aimlessly cycle test

Having been to many places now, I’ve started noticing a pattern of a particular itch or tingly feeling I get in my legs to hop on the bike and cycle somewhere, potentially aimlessly. Cycling aimlessly involves hopping on the bike and just randomly cycling wherever looks good. This desire usually comes from the quality of the cycle infrastructure, news about changes, or better said improvements to infrastructure, driver attitudes, and levels of motor traffic. This test will have different results for each person based on what they’ve heard, and their personal preferences with regard to safety, and speed of cycling etc.

I’ll give some examples:
I’ll start with the most obvious one. When taking a train through The Netherlands, I look out the window and see the high quality cycle infrastructure, and would prefer to be on my bike than on the train, even if it would take longer. On another trip I had a day in a town with not much to do, and I couldn’t find anything better than just randomly cycling around the streets and cycle paths. (I was on a budget, thus it was a good way to keep me occupied without spending money). While doing so I felt perfectly safe with no fear of being run over by some motor vehicle.

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On a recent trip to New York, I wanted to see what all these bike lanes and tracks were all about, and to see what it like to cycle in the city. The desire to cycle wasn’t aways there, and I even had a couple of occasions where I was pushing the bike, such as around Times Square while cycling along Broadway from Central Park to about 11th Street. However I slowly got to know which streets and avenues where nicer to cycle on thus could switch to those instead. In general the avenues were better due to fewer traffic signal stops, and often being quieter, however the avenues had better cycle tracks (locally called lanes).

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In London, I’ve come to know the nicer off road cycle paths and quieter back roads, thus have some desire to out and cycle, however aimlessly cycling randomly is a desire I generally lack due to the lack of infrastructure.

In Ipswich, Suffolk, I don’t get this desire to get out and cycle much. The majority of the roads have to be shared with motor vehicles. Where cycle lanes do exist, they are usually so narrow that I can’t fit in them, never mind having a buffer between myself and the overtaking motor vehicles. Where there are off road cycle tracks, there’s only the occasional one which is high quality. Normally though it turns out to be shared with pedestrians, whether completely shared or a painted line down the middle doesn’t make much difference, or the surface quality is extremely poor, such as the flagship National Cycle Network Route 1 being just mud in places.

There are a lot of MAMILS and other faster cyclists who are happy going out cycling in the Ipswich area in the evenings and weekends, however the level of commuting and

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National Cycle Route 1 heading into Ipswich from the south

Aimlessly cycling is a desire I don’t get in Ipswich. Rather I have to somehow encourage myself to get out on the bike. Once I’m further out of Ipswich, or in an area where the traffic is quieter or there is cycle tracks (though very few exist – I’m not convinced the overuse of legalised pavement cycling counts) it does get nicer, and I start to enjoy it. Another way of phrasing aimless cycling would be leisure bike riding where you go out on a bike ride just for fun, and not.

I find the desire to randomly cycle is primarily based on the cycle infrastructure and the style of driving in each area. I suppose the test is a variation of The Copenhagenize Index comparing bicycle friendly cities, without the formal categories.

Would you agree with this desirability to cycle aimlessly test?

The Two Speeds of Cycling in Britain

I’m increasingly finding that many people who want to cycle in Britain, have two options for their style of cycling. Note this doesn’t apply everywhere, however is particularly prevalent in Ipswich, Suffolk and other places that I’ve cycled.

If you are in the mood for cycling slower at a pootling pace, or have kids learning to cycle, you can use some pavements where cycling has been legalised. However when there are higher pedestrian flows, you’ll often have to travel slowly at walking pace, thus negating the advantage of cycling for those sections of the journey. This means the journey time is extended, and made more tedious and less enjoyable.

The alternative used by faster cyclists is to keep up with the speed of motor traffic and to take the lane. This would mean cycling at 20, 30 or more mph. I can manage the odd sprint at 20mph on the level, or 30mph on a downhill stretch, however it’s not something I can manage for longer sprints or whole journeys.

I have had occasions in the past where I’ve kept a fairly constant distance of a couple of bicycle lengths from the vehicle in front, and had the driver behind either honk their horn at me for being in the way, or dangerously overtake to squeeze in between me and the vehicle in front. Thus keeping your wits about you, taking the lane, and travelling at a similar speed to the vehicle in front doesn’t appear to be a valid option either, even so I’ve regularly been told to do this by experienced fast cyclists.

Being able to cycle at a speed between walking pace and motor vehicle pace is the ideal solution, however the current road environment in Ipswich and many other parts of Britain doesn’t make it easy to travel at a comfortable pace. For example being able to cycle somewhere without breaking into a big sweat, at a speed faster than walking pace.

Ipswich has a lot of pavements where cycling has been legalised, however you are generally having to negotiate pedestrians. I’m told that if you don’t like that, then you should be on the road, however I find that to be a horrible experience too, and it’s also dangerous due to the big metal boxes on wheels, that could kill me.

Quiet residential and service roads do allow for the middle pace of cycling, however they are often riddled with pinch points, traffic calming, rat runs, on-street car parking, or busy periods(or just lots of traffic). Thus these roads are often not perceived to be safe for cycling on by many would be cyclists, or parents wanting to let their kids to cycle.

Ipswich does have a few great bits of cycle infrastructure, such as a section of Rope Walk, which has been closed to through motor traffic, and pedestrians respect it due to the wide pavements, and the road like feel of it. There is a downside in that just to the north there is a rat run, which is on National Cycle Network Route 1, as drivers in the morning peak try to avoid a set of traffic lights. In the other direction, there’s a junction which has made it to the Warrington Cycling Facility of the Month.

Ravenswood and Kesgrave/Grange Farm are more recent housing estates in the Ipswich area, which have high quality cycle paths through the areas, limited through motor vehicle access, and some of the highest cycle to school rates in the country. However many of those people don’t venture out of the area by bike. The bike paths are just a 3 metre wide bit of tarmac with a white line down the middle, which simply isn’t wide enough for catering for both fast cyclists, and people wanting to cycle side by side talking to each other.

The new Ipswich Northern Fringe or Ipswich Garden Suburb, as it’s now called, is due to have high quality cycle paths throughout. A high quality cycle route is also needed from the new development in the north to the town centre, however it’s hard to find the best possible route that will be used, as any route that is chosen will need the through motor traffic removed due to the narrow streets and park (which is closed at night) in the way. My fear is that the compromise will produce a route which won’t entice the new residents on to their bikes or buses.

Finally, how do we get some of the current older cyclists, and campaigners who are happy with the current road conditions for cycling and are holding back campaigning for cycling facilities that will encourage more people to cycle, to accept that the current two tier system is inadequate?

Ever wondered how much your local authority would get per year if the Get Britain Cycling report was implemented?

Have you wondered how much your local authority would have to spend on cycling if the Get Britain Cycling report was implemented? Particularly the point about £10 to £20 per head of population per year.

Well wonder no longer as I’ve created a spreadsheet with the population for each local authority in Britain based on the last census.

Take a look at this Google doc that I’ve created: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1LFoIdkcaxCmN2__mxu_jwb41l4jBnHrVi4kQD_as70I/edit?usp=sharing

You can search for your Local Authority in the Google Doc. How much infrastructure could be built in your area if this level of sustained  funding was implemented?

 

Hidden costs of British cycle funding

One of the big problems with the funding of cycle infrastructure in Britain, is that unlike other things it is rare for there to be a dedicated revenue budget for the cycle infrastructure. The City of Edinburgh Council is one of the notable exceptions who have allocated 5% of the transport budget and are increasing it over the next few years.

On the other hand in many other parts of Britain, such as Suffolk, cycle infrastructure is generally funded either through Section 106 money from new developments, or through bidding for specific projects with certain pots of money that get announced from central government from time to time. There is generally relatively little money in the main transport budget allocated to cycling beyond repairs.

With the Section 106 agreements the money from a single development is often so little that it won’t give a single improvement scheme, and the money if often banked until there are several developments that provide Section 106 money before a scheme is implemented. Also recent changes mean that it’s much easier for developers to not pay up, or argue that the demands are too onerous.

With the bidding process for the special pots of money that get announced from time to time, there are various problems with the system. It’s unknown when the next pot of money will be announced nor how much it will be. Often it will be short notice, so there won’t be enough time to draw up the bid in time for the bidding process or spending the money, such as when it’s got to be spent in the same financial year. I have heard of cases where the council officers ask local cycle campaigners a few days before the bid is due, which often isn’t enough time to respond. However councils and cycle campaigners can be organised and ready for this situation to occur.

Matt Turner has a blog post listing all the announcements from central government highlighting investment in cycling, which he keeps up to date. However a lot of the funding is mixed with other sustainable transport funding, which means that that councils don’t have to spend the money on improving cycle infrastructure, thus it’s harder to come up with a figure of how much has been spent on cycling. It is also extremely complicated as to which pot of money can be used by each authority and for which purpose.

There is a hidden cost to the bidding process as council officers have to spend time speculatively writing up potential projects which will often just be rejected due to too many bids or poor quality rushed bids. It would be much better if they were spending their time on projects which were more likely to succeed.

In the past there have been network based plans of improvements, such as the LCN+ in London, however it wasn’t backed up with the regular funding needed to see through the completion of the network and often left out the hard bits, such as junctions. However if there is a single point on someone’s journey where they can’t cycle safely, the transport planners have failed them, as the bicycle user may just give up and revert back to the car as they don’t feel safe enough to ride a bike.

Of course this wouldn’t be a problem if cycling would have a significant revenue budget. This means that longer term plans could be much easier planned in over the longer term, as the transport planners and cycle campaigners know that there will be money available each year for cycling related improvements. It then becomes a problem of ensuring that the improvements are of a high quality, which is a much easier problem to solve than there being not enough money on a regular basis for ambitious improvements. Of course there could still be some form of bidding process for bigger pots of money for bigger projects, however that should be an exception rather than a rule.

Ideally councils would have £10 to £20 per head of population per year, to spend solely on cycle infrastructure so that Britain can catchup with The Netherlands and Denmark. These figures have been mentioned in the Get Britain Cycling report, and by a Lothians MSP. For Suffolk County Council with a population of 668553 at the last census, that would mean £6,685,530 (£6.6 million) to 13,371,060 (£13.3 million) per year available for cycling. Unfortunately Suffolk County Council don’t make it easy to find the transport budget, I can only presume that it sits in the “Economy, Skills & Environment” part, which stood at £77 million in the 2013-2014 financial year, thus hard to say how much of the transport budget it would engulf.

Suffolk County Council’s Nacton Road/Ransomes Way plans are dangerous to cyclists and walkers

Suffolk County Council currently have a consultation running about Nacton Road and Ransomes Way corridor. It is “to meet the projected increase in traffic associated with development in this corridor”. You can find out more on the Cyclescape thread.

Please find below my response to the consultation. I’m hoping that many more people respond with a similar response before the consultation ends on Wednesday 5th March 2014.

 

Nacton Road and Ransomes Way corridor consultation

General comments

Quality of cycling facilities

Has any consideration been given as to why people are driving here even so there are cycling facilities? Could it be that the cycling facilities are of poor quality? Could close passes by motorists be putting cyclists off? Could people annoyed at being put in conflict with another vulnerable road user group? Are people driving between the shops rather than cycling and walking? Cycle Ipswich members are aware of people who have given up cycling due to unclear cycling facilities, or too many near misses or close passes.

The nearby Ravenswood estate is just off the Nacton Road, it has a high level of cycle to school, yet few people will venture out of the estate on their bike to do something like shopping. Why are these people not venturing out of the estate much by bike? You need to look at these issue before implementing designs which will induce even more traffic.

Throwing cyclists on to the pavement with pedestrians should be a last resort, rather than a default action that it seems to be in Ipswich. This creates conflict with pedestrians and doesn’t create a pleasant cycling experience as you have to cycle slowly if there are pedestrians about. Dedicated space for cyclist, and no I’m not talking about a white line down some legalised pavement cycling is what is needed. If shared use pavements, or legalised pavement cycling as I prefer to call them worked so well, significantly more people would be cycling in Ipswich. Light segregation which will be in the next version of London Design Standards, and has already been implemented on Royal College Street in London for example is an option to increase flexibility, and is also fairly cheap to implement.

Would you be happy to have your 8 year old child using these roads on their own or would an 80 year old be happy using the roads? If not, the facilities on the roads aren’t good enough.

You should take a look at the video and information at http://www.protectedintersection.com on protected intersections.

Number of lanes to cross

There are many junctions in the proposals where cyclists and pedestrians are expected to cross two or three lanes of traffic. This is something that is really hard to do, especially if you get one stationary lane and another with faster moving traffic. You end up waiting in front of a stationary vehicle while a gap in the passing traffic opens up, and then the driver gets annoyed as they can’t continue due to the traffic causing them to be stationary having moved on.

The Dutch have spent a lot of time looking into the safety issue of cyclists and pedestrians crossing multiple lanes at an uncontrolled crossing. For any uncontrolled junctions they now narrow the junction down to a single lane so that you only need to cross one lane at a time, and motor traffic is slowed so that it is safer for everyone, thus there are fewer collisions. It also makes it subjectively safer for pedestrians and cyclists thus more walk and cycle. If multiple lanes are needed, a controlled crossing is used, however the timings are very dynamic with very good detection of cyclists and pedestrians, and avoid them waiting for a long time, as currently often happens in Ipswich.

Dog leg crossings

There are many dog leg crossings in the proposals. As both a pedestrian and a cyclist, especially having used a trailer in this area for transporting good from the shops, I find them a total pain to use. Have any of the people proposing these taken a look at how people currently use them. They’ll find that many people just ignore the zig zag and cross straight over and walk over the kerb stones using a more direct route, often ignoring the second signal.

I find it extremely unfair that motor vehicles don’t get the same treatment as pedestrians and cyclists when going through junctions, I’d really like to see a motor vehicle junction where they arrive and have to wind down the window to press a button and then get a green after a bit more waiting. The driver then has to do an awkward maneuver to get through the junction, even if they are going straight on, including pressing another button to complete the passage through the junction.

Mapping

The on the first page could have a more up to date map background, for example OpenStreetMap is much more up to date, with no costs or requirements other than attribution.

Specific comments

A14 junction

As the National Cycle Route 51 travels under the A14 and across the slip roads, consideration needs to be given here too, to make it safer for cyclists crossing the slip roads as it can currently be quite difficult. The slip roads need narrowed to slow motor vehicles and priority is given to cyclists, which is part of the Dutch strategy at encouraging cycle usage, and is perfectly possible to implement here.

Nacton Road (A14 to Thrashers roundabout)

Will cyclists using the legalised pavement cycling have priority over turning vehicles at the junction into Orwell Country Park?

The is the only section where I will accept a shared pavement as a solution for space for cyclists due to it being almost wide enough the whole way, and there are very low expected demand from pedestrians.

Thrashers roundabout

The dog leg crossing needs removed, see explanation above.

Where there’s an uncontrolled crossing there ideally needs to be only one lane of traffic for cyclists and pedestrians to cross, or an absolute maximum of 2 lanes, whereas in places there are 3 lanes. The lanes also need to be kept as narrow as possible to slow motor vehicles to increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Minimisation of lane switching is also needed.

The wide corners that can be taken at speed, which makes it even more difficult to cross the road, especially when combined with the number of lanes that need to be crossed. There needs to be clear space for cyclists, without mixing them with pedestrians or motor vehicles. Motor vehicles need to be slowed to prevent collisions. Tighter corners are needed to slow down vehicles and improve sight lines so that drivers can see cyclists and pedestrians and reduce the risk of them being in the driver’s blind spot.

Ransomes Way

Where is the space for cycling along this road? Has anyone questioned why there are so few people walking and cycling along here to access the shops? Will the speed limit be reduced to 30 mph from the current 40mph?

The current legalised pavement cycling is horrible for both cyclists and pedestrians. The Cranes to Felixstowe Road section is particularly bad due to the narrowness particularly on the west side of the road as it gets close to the railway bridge. I’ve cycled along there with a bike trailer on a Brompton and had to wait at a wider section for pedestrians to pass. This places cycling as a second rate mode of transport. Instead of 3 lanes of motor vehicles, there should be some light segregation used to create a safe cycle lane. The light segregation is relatively cheap to install, and will be in the upcoming London Cycle Design Standards. This will do far more to promote cycle use than the current shared footways which discourage many people from cycling as they are so inconvenient.

Why can’t pedestrians and cyclists get from John Lewis on to Ransomes Way using a more direct route that means that they don’t have to go the full length of the car park first?

Ransomes Europark/Cranes

The dog leg crossing over James Bennett Avenue need to be changed to straight over crossing, ideally without having to stop in the middle and press the button again, otherwise you are designing the road environment to promote motor vehicle use instead of sustainable modes of transport.

Similarly the crossing over Ransomes Way needs to be timed that you can cross straight over without stopping. By reducing the length of the middle roundabout, that will help shorten the distance that cyclists have to cross, thus reduce the time for them and the waiting time for motor vehicles.

Ransomes Way/Felixstowe Road roundabout

This is a horrible set of changes for cyclists. As someone who has recently cycled up the west side of Ransomes Way to cross over Felixstowe Road to get to Sainsburys and Homebase with a trailer on the bike, it was a horrible experience. I got stuck in the middle of the road fearing my trailer would get damaged by vehicles passing behind me. The new plans make it even more difficult for cyclists as there will be no crossing on 2 sides of the roundabout. This means that if a cyclist happens to go along the wrong side of Ransomes Way they either have to take a long detour up Felixstowe Road to cross, or dart across the fast traffic, or go back they way that they came.

Crossing the two lanes entrance and exit to the Sainsburys car park is also horrible currently as the cars go so fast, this needs improved for cyclists trying to access the cycle parking for Homebase. There should be a maximum of 1 lane in and 1 lane out of the car park for the best possible safety.

I would recommend changing Murrills Road to be a bus gate near the Homebase, thus reducing traffic at this junction. It also encourages more people who live in the local area to walk and cycle to these shops, as the bicycle or walking is journey is shorter and more pleasant. I don’t see why there needs to be a through road here private motor transport. This is standard practice in The Netherlands.

None of the changes at this junction will encourage more people to get on a bike to get to the shops here, rather it will put them off, and induce even more motor traffic. The position of the pedestrian crossing is significantly off the desire line, thus I expect some pedestrians to be crossing closer to the roundabout.

Lindbergh Road/Nacton Road

I’m concerned about the width of the cycle lane here. Will it be 2 metres wide, thus giving enough space for cycling? Far too many cycle lanes in Ipswich are so narrow you can’t even fit the bike in them while cycling, never mind the passing space so that cyclists feel comfortable with vehicles passing. I’m concerned that there will be pinch points created and many vehicles will pass cyclists too close, thus discouraging people from cycling along this section of road. This road has plenty of space to put in real dedicated space for cycling, whether it be a separate track (not the pavement, which is for pedestrians), or light segregation.

Is the island in the middle of the crossing really needed? Surely giving more time for pedestrians to cross in one go will encourage more people to walk, than if they may need to stop half way on the refuge.

Landseer Road/Nacton Road

As there will be an increase of traffic on Landseer Road the whole of Landseer Road will need to be looked at too. There currently is issues with the cycle lane being too narrow, and in places gets a build up of leaves in the autumn, particularly where it goes past the park. Floating bus stops, where the cycle track goes behind the bus stops are also an option along these roads.

The dog leg crossing needs to be a direct straight across type instead.

Will cyclists turning left be protected from vehicles cutting the corner when turning left? I would much prefer the space used for the right turn to continue on the Nacton Road towards the town centre to be used to protect cyclists going round the corner, however it also needs to be designed to allow them to safely get across and continue on the Nacton Road if they wish to do so.

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Nacton Road/Ransomes Way

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Nacton Road/Ransomes Way 52.030106, 1.202145

BBC Reporting Scotland not covering the space to overtake issue on ASA ruling

This evening I happened to catch the short BBC Local News at 20:00 on BBC 1 Scotland between programmes this evening. One of the items featured was the ASA adjudication regarding the Cycling Scotland advert to improve cycling safety.

I then later recorded and watched the late evening news, which covered it in more depth (video below). It’s great that Reporting Scotland has picked up on the story, however it would have been better had they covered the “cycling in the middle of the road” issue much more than the passing remark. As someone who has had many close passes, including being knocked off my bike due to close passes, I have a significantly increased fear of being knocked off my bike by an overtaking vehicle. I am annoyed that the BBC didn’t pick up on the road positioning point more. This is rules 212 and 213 of the Highway Code, and is something that needs to be emphasised more, as often cyclists have to ride further out to avoid pot holes or to prevent a motor vehicle for passing so close that they knock the cyclist off their bike.

KT on twitter has done a little annotation of a video still to highlight why the rider in the advert is as far out as they are:

Namely so that they aren’t riding on the pavement nor in the gutter and are avoiding the potholes as per the highway code, whilst not riding on the pavement, which I’m sure someone else would complain about.

This tweet from icycleliverpool sums this space for cycling issue up succinctly:

I’ve made the relevant segment of the BBC Reporting Scotland late evening news at 22:25 available on YouTube:

It’s also worth noting that much of the cycling blogging community had complained about the original Nice Way Code adverts, however have become united against the ASA, due to both the plastic hat and road positioning issues, as pointed out in these two tweets:

Bez has made a great post on the  problems with the ASA ruling, including links to the original background, thus I don’t need to repeat them all here.

BBC London News highlighting confusion of Bow traffic lights

The BBC London news this evening (27 January 2014), had a segment on the new eye level cycle lights being introduced at Bow Roundabout today. I think it’s great that they are starting to be used, however the design of the traffic lights at the junction needs an overhaul as it’s extremely dangerous.

The first part of the correspondent Tom Edwards talking about it, highlights the confusing nature of the lights, whereby an average person sees a green cycle light and believes that they can proceed through the junction, as is the case with most junctions in the UK, and doesn’t realise that they have to stop at the second traffic light a few metres later. This is a horrible design and needs to be changed urgently so that it is not confusing to the average user, before someone else is killed at this junction. If the design is not changed I fear there will be another death here as it’s too confusing for the average person. A random person should be able to easily understand the design of the junction and be able to safely navigate it, otherwise the designers have failed.

The current 4 second head start is split into two parts. It’s based on 2 seconds to let the cyclists set off and another 2 seconds between the motorists setting off and getting to the traffic line. If there is a lot of cyclists, there is still potential for a motorist to crush a cyclists if they are turning left.

Ideally a new design for the traffic lights is used, which makes it safe for cyclists and pedestrians. By holding motor vehicles while cyclists get a turn, and vice versa means that pedestrians will also get a chance to cross. It will add a very small delay to motor vehicles, however if the subjective safety of the junction is improved enough then the number of motor vehicles will reduce.

The separator between cyclists and motor vehicles needs to be extended to the final stop line before the roundabout thus increasing the safety for cyclists. Also the traffic lights should be able to be phased dynamically based on the traffic levels. For example if there are suddenly a lot of cyclists and not many cars, give the cyclists more time. If there happens to only be 1 cyclist, then it’s best to change for them with minimal waiting time, but you only need to stay green for a very short time so that they can clear the junction. It will require reliable detection of bicycles, which isn’t the norm in this country at the moment, however will make a huge difference.

Finally when there is heavy rain, giving cyclists and pedestrians more time is a great idea, as it means that they’ll get less wet, and be happier cycling. The people in motor vehicles will stay dry, thus can wait a little longer with no detriment.

BBC London News report:

ITV London News report:

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Bow Roundabout

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Bow Roundabout 51.529638, -0.013947