Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Improved A45 / Kenilworth Road junction

For years cyclists have complained about the A45 crossing of the Kenilworth Road cycle path.

There was simply no phase when it was safe for cyclists to cross the west bound carriageway of Fletchamstead Highway. At busy times there was often a constant stream of traffic coming from either Kenpas Highway or Kenilworth Road.

Recently, as part of Cycle Coventry, a Toucan crossing was added linking the two segments of cycle path.

The central reservation is rather small:

A number of issues have been raised:
  1. It might get dangerously full in summer when the fair weather cyclists are out.
  2. It's the wrong way around. When a cyclist or pedestrian crosses to the road's centre, he/she must then turn right to go towards the exit. At which point he/she is facing away from the traffic. If the reservation had been designed so that the cyclist/ pedestrian turned left on entry, they would be facing the traffic as they approached the exit; a more satisfactory approach.
  3. Motorists turning left into Fletchamstead Highway from Kenilworth Road will be faced with a stop sign only a few metres into the A45. If following traffic is not expecting the vehicle in front to stop, this might lead to shunt incidents and / or motorists ploughing straight across the Toucan crossing.  Against this it's worth remarking that the left turn from Kenilworth Road is quite tight, so motorists won't be travelling very fast; moving the crossing closer to Kenilworth Road would increase the hazard of tailbacks reaching the Kenilworth Road.

The shared pedestrian/cyclist space between the Toucan crossing and Kenilworth Road is rather narrow:
Fletchamstead Highway - south side

Fletchamstead Highway - north side

The A45 (Coventry by pass) built with cycle paths along its whole length. They were subsequently sacrificed at Kenilworth Road to make the A45 carriageway wider. It had been hoped that a Toucan crossing would be provided across the southern arm of Kenilworth Road as a token towards reinstatement of the paths, but the crossing is only a Puffin. Pedestrians only, although a person pushing a cycle is regarded in law as a pedestrian. Perhaps there was just too little space for a Toucan crossing. There's certainly not much space for a child's buggy or a wheelchair:

Overall the changes to the junction are a definite improvement for cycling. Despite this some cyclists will continue to find it more convenient to use the carriageway to cross the A45 when travelling towards Coventry. Indeed many cyclists will continue to use the carriageway along the whole of Kenilworth Road, to avoid having to give way to turning traffic at Cannon Hill Road, Aberton Way, Gibbet Hill Road and Cryfield Grange Road. Cyclists using the carriageway when travelling south  avoid crossing the road at the ends of the path.

We still have a long way to go to reach Dutch standards of highway engineering for cyclists. That's shown by the statistics on cycle use. In the Netherlands, 27% of journeys are made by bike, in the UK less than two percent.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Bridge over A444 at Whitley - Planning committee adds conditions

To recap, here's a diagram of the original proposal:


To see the area in its current state, go to google maps and put 52.387153, -1.492980 into the search box.

So to cross from Black Prince Avenue (at the bottom left hand corner of the diagram) towards  Whitley Academy (off the top right hand corner of the diagram), school children would have to use four Toucan Crossings.  Plenty of temptation to take shortcuts across the commuter traffic going to the Jaguar Land Rover plant and the Whitley Business Park (at the bottom right hand corner of the diagram)!

On 6th February Coventry Council agreed to make some improvements to the scheme:

Coventry Council also promised to look into possibilities for reducing the number of Toucan Crossings for pedestrians and cyclists travelling between Black Prince Avenue and the Jaguar Land Rover plant / Whitley Business Park.  Both the original and the new proposals have us crossing three carriageways. One idea is to provide subways under the two new slip roads and a path along the south side of the new bridge. The new slip roads are to/from the A444 south of the bridges.

Toucan Crossings are not as safe as some people think. See this article about a driver jumping a red light on a Pelican crossing and killing a cyclist.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Bridge over A444 at Whitley - Report to planning committee published

No sign of movement in the report from council officers to the planning committee of 6 Feb 2014.

On page 10, the report refers to the Coventry Development Plan (CDP):
 AM12 states that convenient cycle routes, made safer by design, must
generally be incorporated in the design of new developments and highway schemes. 

concedes (p11):
.. the number of crossing points increases to get from Leaf Lane to the JLR site
but then implies that making them signalised is a step forward:
all of these crossings are signalised whereas the current crossing points on Leaf Lane are uncontrolled. 

So one uncontrolled crossing of Leaf Lane traffic is worse than
  1. a controlled crossing of Leaf Lane traffic plus traffic leaving the business park towards Coventry
  2. plus a controlled crossing of traffic approaching the Business Park from the Festival Island roundabout
  3. plus a controlled crossing of traffic leaving the Business Park towards the south
I'd rather cross no traffic than have to wait at a crossing.

One thing the report does include is an improved map.

Think about cycling in central London.  It's not pleasant, it's not safe, but lots of people do it. For many journeys it's more convenient than any other form of transport.  Convenience matters!