Suffolk County Council are making many changes to increase active travel to prevent a significant proportion of people switching to driving a private car and causing gridlock and additional pollution after the lovely low air pollution and traffic levels during the lockdown.
One of the proposed changes is to make Bramford Lane a little more pleasant for walking and cycling by closing a rat run where Bramford Lane goes under the railway bridge. Bramford Lane is part of a local cycle route from the edge of the town centre (you’re left to fend for your self for the last kilometre into the real part of the town centre) from the Whitehouse area of Ipswich.
Bramford Lane is currently a horrible road to cycle along (particularly on a cargo trike or bike with no suspension) due to the speed humps and the excessive car parking. Very few houses have off street parking which doesn’t help. It’s signed as a local cycle route, and a short section is part of National Cycle Route 51.
On the highway authority’s plan is to close Bramford Lane at the railway bridge, which is a good step in the right direction. This will help to reduce the number of people driving a significant distance along the road, and instead move them on to the main roads. I however think we should be going much further with a quieter neighbourhood scheme where every property is only accessible from one main road. This would make the whole area much quieter, making it more pleasant for walking and cycling. All motor vehicle journeys can still be done, however for short journeys they are likely to be longer by motor vehicle. If people switch to walking, cycling, and other similar modes then the short journeys become more pleasant based on evidence elsewhere.
In all cases this is an idea up for discussion, details of the exact locations blockades could be moved to have the same effect.
Working through the proposal from the town side.
A block on Bramford Lane between All Saints Road and Windsor Road. This creates a group of roads between All Saints Road, Bramford Lane, Norwich Road, and Chevalier Street. I’m not aware of rat running between Chevallier Street and Norwich Road, if there is, a possibility is a few short one way streets.
The next blocks would be Richmond Road (Norwich Road end), and between Surbiton Road and Kitchener Road. This would create a larger block that would only be accessible from the Bramford Road side. Richmond Road could have the the no through motor vehicle access at any point on the road, allowing access on to Norwich Road instead for that section of Richmond Road.
The following section would be a closure on Bramford Lane between Springfield Land and Putney Close, making Kitchener Road and Springfield Lane only accessible for motor vehicles from Norwich Road.
The last section to the railway bridge would only be accessible from Bramford Road. Putney Close could be accessible from either Norwich Road or Bramford Road depending on the where the block would be placed.
On the west of the railway bridge to prevent rat running and through motor vehicle access from Bramford Road to Norwich Road, I’d close Cromer Road between Bramford Lane and Westbourne Road. The Bramford Road side of this split would be a cell that would cover up to just before the junction on Marlow Road.
The next section becomes more difficult due to the bus routes. It’s possible for a split with only 3 further closure points. There’s a lot of fast traffic on High View Road, thus a closure on High View Road between Diamond Close and Bramford Lane is needed. Marlow Road next to Ulster Avenue is the second point. Finally Bramford Lane to the east of Ulster Avenue is where the bus gate would go.
Lovestofts Drive and Bramford Lane would get a reduction in traffic making it far easier for parents with kids and kids on their own to be able to cross the road to school.
Ulster Avenue probably needs cycle tracks added. Waterford Road could become one way for motor vehicles, northbound same as the bus route, and a cycle track added for southbound people cycling.
Marlow Road has 2 schools, and urgently needs school streets too. I’d also include Galway Avenue in the school streets. School Streets are where a group of roads around a school are closed to motor vehicles with some exceptions (primarily residents on the specific streets and blue badge holders) for around 30-60 minutes around the school arrival and departure times. School streets have been very successful in Edinburgh and other locations, with parents in other schools asking for their school to be included too. Most children don’t need to be dropped off right at the school gate, they can either walk or cycle the whole way to school, or be dropped off a few streets away to then walk the final section. Deliveries can be schedules outside of the school arrival and departure times, a cargo bike used, or parking the van outside the zone and walking the last bit. It may add to the cost, however the safety of children should be the priority.
To support the above, I’d also add a closure on Jovian Way near Bramford Road as there’s a lot of rat running through this residential area instead of using Sproughton and Bramford Roads.
20mph should be introduced on all of the residential roads to make it safer and quieter for residents.
Throughout all of the above walking and cycling would still be possible, making short journeys much more pleasant when walking and cycling. Motor vehicle access to every property would still be possible, with minimal difference for longer journeys. The main roads would get a little busier for a while, however as modal shift happens, the motor traffic would evaporate way, as short journeys are less likely to be done by motor vehicle.
I realise this is quite radical, however it’s the sort of things that’s really required to reduce air pollution, obesity, inactivity, concentration of workers & school kids, and motor vehicle congestion.
I recently seen a at Cambridge station advertising cheap weekend returns to London so I thought I’d check the fare splitting via the longer route.
This is looking at the super off-peak day returns or nearest equivalent.
On the direct Ipswich to London Liverpool Street ticket there is only an off peak return valid for a month at £42.20 or the off peak travelcard for a single day at £47.50.
The most common split is at Manningtree as some trains don’t stop at Colchester.
Off peak day return
Super off peak day return
Saving compared direct fare
Splitting in Colchester is cheaper:
Super off peak day return
Super off peak day return
Saving compared to direct fare
Weekend return via Cambridge turns out to a whopping £11 cheaper compared to the direct single ticket, or £3 compared to the cheapest split ticket, if returning the same day:
Off peak day return
Weekend Super Off Peak Day Return
Saving compared to direct fare
Saving compared to cheapest direct split
However this involves a much longer journey time. Ipswich – Cambridge is around 1 hour 20 minutes. There’s one train per hour. Cambridge to Liverpool Street on direct trains takes around 1 hour 26 minutes to 1 hour 38 minutes with 2 trains per hour. Due to the timings, and long layover in Cambridge, particularly towards Ipswich, the total through journey time is around 2 hours 50 minutes towards London and 3 to 4 hours towards Ipswich.
In comparison the typical journey times on the direct route from Ipswich to London on trains stopping at either Manningtree or Colchester is around 1 hour 07 mins to 1 hour 23 minutes. Thus it’s very much faster on the more direct route for a tiny saving. If planning far enough ahead advance fares would be cheaper than the above walk up fares.
On the 13th January 2018 walking with my family from Ipswich town centre to the railway station I came across some roadworks on Princes Street including some dangerous signage around some roadworks
Roadworks in bus stop and cycle lane
First was the “cyclists dismount and use footpath” sign:
Sign in cycle lane saying “cyclists dismount and use footpath”
I very much dislike the use of this sign for a number of reasons. First it indirectly causes drivers to complain about cyclists not following the rules or signage.
Second with some bikes (including the cargo trike I was pushing that day, as my daughter wanted to walk) its extremely hard to stop and lift it on to the pavement. I would probably be causing more delay to the traffic by doing that compared to taking the lane.
Third some people with disabilities and other medical issues such as back pain, find it very difficult mount and dismount a pedal cycle, however find cycling alleviates the pain compared to walking.
Fourth this section of pavement already allows cycling so why would people need to dismount to travel along it? Though it does add conflict with pedestrians.
Fifth there was a sign after the roadworks to say that the cycle lane was closed. Surely by that point the cycle lane was open again to use.
Cycle lane closed sign after the roadworks
Finally, even back in November 2011, London had better signs saying “Narrow lanes do not overtake cyclists”, as shown below. Why can’t these signs be used here in Suffolk?
P.S. When will there be signs saying “Drivers get out and push”?
Edit: Reworded item 3 to be more encompassing about other medical issues. Added map.
The level of traffic on the closed road and several surrounding streets was significantly reduced. I’m wondering if the reduction was enough for the bus companies to notice an improvement in the running times on the core towns centre bus routes that run along Dogs Head Street, Upper Brook Street, Tacket Street, and the Cattlemarket bus station. See the map below.
Map showing location of the incident and streets that were quieter.
The ambient noise level was lower due to the lower level of motor traffic. People were much more likely to walk on the road than the narrow pavements.
Repairs in progress
After the road was repaired and quietly reopened the traffic levels stayed low initially, slowly rising over a few weeks as the rat running and evening parking returned.
Completed repairs to the sinkhole.
The Lower Brook Street, Turret Lane, Rose Lane, and Cutler Street combination seems to be used as a rat run to avoid the Star Lane gyratory, particularly when there’s problems on the A14 meaning that it’s very slow moving. I’ve seen several trucks getting stuck on the narrow Turret Lane. There’s also been several buildings around the junction of Lower Brook Street and Turret Lane damaged by vehicles. I’m of the opinion that Turret Lane should be closed to through traffic to stop the rat running.
Around the time of the incident traffic speeds or counts were being collected, (based on the various black bands across various streets), so I’m also curious if Suffolk County Council have stats correlating the change in traffic levels.
On Monday 3rd April 2017 BBC radio Suffolk had picked up on the story about grass verges being torn up by car parking, and there will be a crack down on people parking in the verges and pavements in some areas in Ipswich.
As someone who doesn’t have a motor vehicle in the household and has a toddler who is walking about, sometimes in a buggy, pushing her buggy, walking beside me while I’m pushing my bike before or after my commute; or now starting to use her trike; I find pavement and grass verge parking particularly inconsiderate as it can be difficult to get past.
One of the comments by Mark Murphy was “there’s no chance that we’ll ditch our car any time soon”. I found this highly ironic when Ipswich Star on the very same day launched their excellent Ditch the Car campaign.
It also prompted me to check the stats on the car or van availability from the last census in 2011 to see what proportion of people in Ipswich and Suffolk don’t have access to a car. The results table “KS404EW – Car or van availability” has the information and is available on the Nomis part of the Office for National Statistics site.
Within Ipswich 27.8% of households have no access to a car or van, which is a rather significant proportion likely due to the closeness of various amenities such as schools, shops, and work to where people live, and the frequent local bus service.
All categories: Car or van availability
No cars or vans in household
1 car or van in household
2 cars or vans in household
3 cars or vans in household
4 or more cars or vans in household
sum of all cars or vans in the area
For Suffolk the percentage of households without a car is lower at 17.9%.
I very much look forward to the success of the Ipswich Star’s Ditch the Car campaign and seeing the number of households without a car increasing in the next census.
On 30th May 2015, I led a Cycle Infrastructure Tour around Ipswich. It was an excellent day where we had people from Cambridge, London, and Edinburgh, along with locals including Andrea McMillan who is writing the Cycling Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for Ipswich Borough Council.
There’s a route map shown at the bottom, and photos are clickable to either a larger version, or through to the Mapillary page so you have the location and nearby photos too.
We started at Ipswich Railway Station and had a discussion regarding the future plans, including the change to the layout inside Ipswich Station, and some of the current issues, such as the cycle parking being tucked away around the back, and not sign posted, which should hopefully be improved as part of the station redevelopment.
On departing the station, a couple of police officers noted that it was the first occasion that they had seen the Bike and Go bikes out in use. This isn’t surprising considering you can’t rock up at the station and hire a bike, instead you need to plan at least a week in advance to sign up online. There is no automated process at the station either, so you have to wait in the queue for a member of staff to get the key for you.
On departing the station we crossed the road and headed along to the cycle path on the pavement, to the side of the Encore hotel. It was noted there is a lot of cycle parking, however it’s not sign posted, sheltered, nor in an optimal configuration as some of the stands wouldn’t be able to be used when there were bikes in some of the stands. It’s almost as though the developer was required to include some cycle parking for the site (which includes residential and shops), so placed in one corner, rather than spread around the site.
Suboptimal cycle parking layout
We then headed over the Sir Bobbie Robson Bridge, which is a cycle and pedestrian bridge which was put in as part of the developer to the south of the river. At times it can be a bit on the narrow side thus significantly slowing down cyclists. A wider bridge would reduce the level of cycle/pedestrian conflict. After the bridge we turned left to join NCN51 westbound.
Sir Bobby Robson bridge
At the 2 large London Road junctions we had a short discussion highlighting that the junctions are designed for large amounts of motor vehicular traffic, with pedestrians and cyclists significantly inconvenienced by having to way 2 or 3 times to cross the road. On some of the lights it was difficult to see the red and green man when standing close to the signal due to the angle they were looked at. Due to the time that pedestrians have to wait they often cross in a gap in the traffic instead of waiting.
On heading up London Road, the visitors from London noted that there were already bus stop bypasses in existence as you were cycling along the pavement legally. However few people recognise them as such.
London Road bus stop bypass
Just past the London Road allotments there is an pedestrian access route into the residential areas, however there are some significant barriers in the way, which make it difficult to use. Enabling this for cycle use and sign posting the route would mean that people have a mostly traffic free route from Chantry via London Road and NCN51 into Ipswich town centre.
At the junction of London Road and Robin Drive there was a discussion regarding the double dog leg crossing which makes it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to cross as they have to wait 3 times to cross London Road. Also if you are on a bike with a long wheelbase or have a trailer, extreme care is required to get the corners right for the dog legs.
The parallel residential part of London Road is generally nice to cycle along due to the low levels of motor traffic, and the hedge between you and the main road. This separation is a common design element that is used in The Netherlands. However the road could do with being resurfaced as it’s getting uneven, so can be tough to cycle on.
London Road parallel residential road
At the next junction it was noted that the cycle path (on the pavement) that leads from Suffolk One just stops at the traffic lights, rather than there being a toucan crossing to allow people to cross the road safely. There is a significant issue where the students at Suffolk One drive there and there is no car parking for students. This was a deliberate decision to discourage driving, however due to the distances that students need to travel and little alternative transport, they just park in the local to the annoyance of the neighbours. Small things like a missing toucan crossing at the end of a cycle path contribute towards people not walking and cycling.
Cycling along Scrivener Drive, Shepherd Drive, and the start of Hawthorn Drive was rather intimidating due to the narrow road width and heavy traffic, particularly coming from the A12 and A14. Something needs to be done to make friendlier alternative routes in the area for people on bikes.
The rest of Hawthorn Drive has a significant issue which is resolvable with minimal impact on motor traffic. The road is wide with a houses on both sides, and occasionally shops, amenities, etc, with grass verges which are often parked on, even so there is space in most front gardens. There is also a problem of traffic islands, where drivers will try to squeeze past you. It’s a rather intimidating experience, especially if you are not able to cycle fast.
It would be possible to remodel the road such that there is the pavement, separate cycle path, parking, traffic lanes, parking, separate cycle path, and finally the pavement on the other side of the road. There would be some points where there would only be cycle parking on one side of the road only, or not at all near junctions. This design would be typical of a Dutch distributer road, and would mean that the local school children have a safe route to walk and cycle to school. There are many schools within a small area, so this would be a big impact, especially with the current significant complaints about the school run problem.
At the Hawthorn Drive/Mallard Way roundabout we had a discussion regarding the roundabout, as it’s significantly larger than many other busier roundabouts in the town, yet has very low traffic volumes, and has very wide corners so drivers can go round it with only small reduction of speed, and could easily injure a pedestrian or cyclist. Someone pointed out that the roads were probably originally designed so that the grass verges could be changed into an additional car lane instead at a later stage. Mallard Way could get a similar treatment to the suggestion for Hawthorn Drive.
Hawthorn Drive Roundabout
We then heading along Stone Lodge Lane West, Birkfield Drive (which has the space for similar treat meant to Hawthorn Drive and Birkfield Drive), and into Carolbrook Road, where we followed a cycle path through Ellenbrook Open Space to reach National cycle network route 1 to head back into town. This section of NCN 1 is off road, and one of the better sections through Ipswich, however it’s very short before you are back on the road again.
Heading along NCN1 on Stoke Park Drive can be rather scary, and isn’t somewhere I would be keen on taking young children due to the cycle lanes stopping for traffic islands where motor vehicle drivers regularly try to squeeze past you. I’ve seen occasions where car drivers accelerate past on the other side of the road on the wrong side of the island, or cut in just before the island. The cycle lane is less than the 1.5 metres wide, and it’s hard to fit a bike in never mind including some passing distance. Towards the end there is a right turn into Bourne Park, which wouldn’t be easy for less experienced cyclists.
Stoke Park Drive
The cycle path through Bourne Park is pretty rough gravel, and is tough going for adults, and extremely difficult for young children to learn to ride a bike. If there was a smooth surface through the park, and around it to make a circuit, there would be an ideal environment for children to learn to ride a bicycle, and play in the park. This is something that is really needed in this part of town, as there are few places which are safe traffic free environments for children to learn.
On heading out of Bourne Park the NCN route swings north just to run parallel to the rail line along a narrow path which is overgrown with vegetation, and sometimes has flytipping at the north end. It’s not a pretty sight considering it’s the flagship national cycle route 1, and non standard bikes would struggle to get along the route.
NCN1 by railway near Bourne Park
To save us going up and down a hill, and to also see another bit of cycle infrastructure, we headed off the NCN1 temporarily and headed along Wherstead Road. This is one of the main routes into town from the south, and connects with the A14. The road starts wide and gets narrower, particularly at the point where it goes under a rail bridge (for goods trains to get into the Port of Ipswich). Shortly after the rail bridge, there is a cycle access off on to the quieter residential streets and a toucan crossing. The cycle slip road requires you to come off the road at an angle which means that you either have to slow down and/or swing out in the middle of the road. Alternatively you can follow the route many in the group choose and head on to the pavement early which was a more natural route to follow. It would be a fairly cheap change to remove the railing and increase the dropped kerb, which would make it safer. The point where the cycle path joins the road is rather tight and there would be problems for people with cargo bikes or trailers.
Wherstead Road 1
Wherstead Road 2
Wherstead Road 3
Onwards we rejoined NCN1 again briefly and headed quickly to The Brewery Tap via the waterfront as we were running a little behind schedule at this point. The waterfront has some traffic free sections, and has some heavy pedestrian use. This makes is problematic at weekends and in the evenings when there are heavy pedestrian flows. I have come across a regular local cyclist who didn’t realise that it is two way for cyclists, whilst only one way for motor vehicles.
After lunch we headed up Cliff Lane and followed National Cycle Route 51 out to Ravenswood. At the junction of Cliff Lane and the entrance to Holywells Park we stopped for a chat. There’s a significant school run problem in the area (which has been on BBC Radio Suffolk in the past). There is also a similar issue with people driving to visit the park often with children.
During the cycle along NCN51 to Ravenswood, the Londoners on the ride noted how quiet the residential streets were. This is in part due to the route being filtered, and the residential roads being the furthest possible from the main access routes to the residential area. It is a much longer route, and many locals will choose shorter routes, such as Clapgate Land and Nacton Road instead, especially into town downhill, as it’s much faster and more direct. The NCN51 route is quieter, safer, and sign posted.
At the point the Morland Road joins to the cycle path through to Raeburn Road there is currently a confusing NCN51 sign for people coming from the east, which suggests the route is into town only. Either that sign should be taken down, or it should be updated to show the route goes in both directions. Turning right takes you into town, and left towards Ravenswood and Felixstowe.
Ravenswood is a fairly new build housing estate, built on the old Ipswich Airport (final flight January 1998). The estate was designed to be environmentally friendly with many cycle and foot paths, limited car space, traffic calming measures and a frequent bus link into the town centre.
Through Ravenswood the NCN51 cycle path is very good if you are passing through the area, as there is minimal interaction with motor vehicles. However if you are trying to get from the main cycle paths on to the residential streets, it is very difficult to do so, and the cycle paths are around half the width they need to be. Often you have to cycle on the road where drivers can be rather intimidating. Ravenswood has one of the highest cycle to school rates in the county.
On the edge of the Ravenswood estate there have been 4 new major chain restaurants built in the past year. Sheltered cycle parking has been provided, however little consideration has been given to how you get from the cycle paths of the car park to the cycle parking. It’s as though it’s been stuck in some unused corner as a requirement of the planning permission, rather than properly planning the cycle parking in so that it is easy to get to.
Ravenswood restaurant cycle parking
The staggered toucan crossing on Ravenswood Avenue by The Thrasher roundabout is quite tough to use on a bike, especially if you are in a group of people on bikes, have a trailer on the bike, or a cargo bike, the crossing becomes very difficult. Some of the tight corners at junctions within the estate are also very difficult with non-standard bikes.
We then headed through Futura Park which is a new retail area built in November 2012. There were some additional racks added by Waitrose and John Lewis shortly after they opened as they were fully utilised in the first week of opening. There is legalised pavement cycling for people to get to and from the shops, however once you get to the main road, Ransomes Way, the pavements get rather narrow. Also the plans for the junction outside the Sainsburys and Homebase will require people to plan ahead if they want to cross with the toucan crossing. Ransoms Way is also having the 2 lanes (1 each way) turned into 3 lanes (2 towards roundabouts, and one leaving roundabouts). I’d rather a cycle track or possibly a wider pavement to be implemented instead to reduce the conflict with pedestrians, and encourage more people to cycle to the shops.
Heading along Felixstowe Road back into town, cyclists start on the pavement, and around the borough boundary cyclists are taken on to the road in a cycle lane with heavy and fast (40 mph speed limit) traffic and no protection between cyclists and the motor vehicles. Just after the roundabout we stopped on Bixley Road for a quick discussion. I have seen families walking their bikes around the roundabout and then getting back on to cycle on the pavement afterwards. This roundabout is a stumbling point for encouraging more people to cycling due to the crucial link it provides with various parts of the town, including being on the main ring road route of the town.
Due to the heavy motor traffic on Bixley Road, I chose a route that took us on to quieter back roads pretty quickly along Princethorpe Road, Temple Road, Chilton Road, Foxhole Road, and Heath Lane where you get to a cycle path, which is a back entrance to Copleston High School, and the end of the back access road to the hospital. However it looks from the signage that you can’t cycle in this direction to get to the hospital, even so it would be a useful link to the hospital avoiding the main roads.
Hospital back entrance oddity
We stopped within the hospital grounds on NCN1 to discuss the hospital cycle access. The main A&E has some good quality sheltered cycle parking, however cyclists are expected to share the road with motor vehicles. Other departments have large cycle parks near their entrances, however it’s generally of the wheel bender designs, so people will try to lock their bike in a similar manner to a Sheffield stand, such that the bike is supported. Some of the cycle parking could be better sign posted for example similar to a bus stop flag post to encourage usage, and so that people can see the cycle parking from a distance. The north cycle path on to Woodbridge Road doesn’t connect with other cycle routes well, nor gives a nice transition back on to the road.
Hospital cycle parking 1
Hospital Cycle parking 2
Hospital Cycle parking 3
From the hospital we followed National Cycle route 1 back into town, on the way we stopped off on Rope Walk, which is seen to be one of the best cycling facilities in the town as through motor traffic stopped on this section of road, and it means there is a safe reasonably quiet route from here into town. Just beforehand, Kings Avenue and Milner Street are a significant rat run in the morning peak, and need to have the rat run closed to through traffic to make the route more pleasant and also reduce motor vehicle congestion since drivers on St Helens Street are letting drivers out which then reduces the flow of vehicles from entering the traffic lights at the bottom of Grove Lane, Spring Road, and Warwick Road.
At the junction of Rope Walk, Waterworks Street and Bond Street, there is an interesting arrangement whereby cyclists just have to give way to traffic from the left and don’t need to wait for the green light. It can be a bit narrow to get through if you are on a wide cargo bike or have a bike trailer.
Rope Walk and Waterworks Street Junction
We headed through the town centre which was quite quiet with it being the end of the day. We stopped off in Arlingtons Cafe to have a final discussion and review of the day.
The was a lot to look at, and several other places I’d have liked to have gone to discuss too. I’m planning to run some more rides at a slower pace so that there can be more discussion at the stops.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
In the February 2013 issue of the Ipswich council newspaper, The Angle, which is delivered to local residents in Ipswich, they were proudly saying how the council was helping businesses by reducing car parking charges within the town. Ipswich Borough Council have reduced the parking tariffs in all of its town centre car parks “in a bid to boost retailers”.
Also in the same issue they were running a competition to win 12 months free swimming or a car parking season ticket for 3 months. The council also has a project called Travel Ipswich which is all about improving traffic management and promoting smarter and sustainable transport. I find it rather strange that one part of the council is trying to promote sustainable travel, yet another is doing the opposite of promoting more cars into the town centre. I’d be much happier to see one of the prizes to be a free bus pass for a family for 3 months. This is especially true if it went to a family who currently primarily uses a car, but could use public transport instead to try an encourage them to travel more sustainability.
I’m sure there are other ways that the council could help the local businesses such as with the business rates or other improvements to make it much nicer to cycle from the suburbs and out lying villages to the town centre. In some of the newer suburbs of Ipswich there is fairly high levels of cycling to school due to the road layout, with many cycle paths alongside the roads including past schools.
Here’s some photos of the relevant page in the newspaper:
Update 2 April 2013: I’ve been contact by Ipswich Borough Council who have corrected some of the points in this blog post. Here’s what they have to say:
We’ve recently seen your latest blog post on cheaper parking and just wanted to clarify a few things you had mentioned.
The Travel Ipswich project that you refer to is led by Suffolk County Council, not IBC, and more information can be found here:http://www.travelipswich.co.uk/. One of the aims of the project is to improve traffic management, as well as improving pedestrian and cycle routes across the town.
Also, Ipswich Borough Council collects business rates but it does not set business rates in the town. The level of business rates is decided by the Government’s Valuation Office Agency, over which the Council has no control.
If you have any questions or want to check anything in future, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Recently the junction nearest to where I live had some temporary traffic lights again for some roadworks. Unfortunately the toucan crossings on the junction had a sign added that states “Crossing not in use”. However the next nearest option for crossing requires going back on yourself and walking an extra 5 minutes. People who do come across the sign just ignore it as they aren’t going to do a big diversion as shown in the photo.
In this case there didn’t appear to be anything elsewhere on the crossing that would cause an issue and it’s not a constant flow of pedestrians.
Surely it would be much better to use signage which turns the crossing into more of temporary zebra crossing where motor vehicles have to give way or at least slow down in case there is someone on the crossing? This would make the road safer than the motor vehicle drivers driving fast through the crossing as they assume that the crossing is clear thus making it more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. It would also reduce the annoyance of pedestrians and cyclists tripping over the sign and being rated as second class citizens.