Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Netherlands Study Tour


In mid June, four of us from the West Midlands went on a David Hembro Study Tour. The most remarkable thing about cycling in the Netherlands is the sheer number of cyclists:


Only a small minority of Dutch cyclists ride mountain/road bikes or wear helmets/Lycra. Despite the proportion of such sporty cyclists among the general population being higher in the Netherlands than the UK, they are swamped by the large number of people who use a bicycle to ride a couple of miles from A to B.

It's not the flatness of the Netherlands that encourages cycling (much of eastern England is just as flat) and certainly not the weather - it's often raining and the wind can be punishing. It's the way cyclists are separated from motor traffic, often onto to routes which are shorter than those taken by motorists.

Back in the 1950's the streets of Coventry were full of cyclists. Then people bought cars in large numbers, just as they did in the Netherlands. Conditions on the roads got much worse for cycling. In the UK, and in many other countries, few good cycling facilities were built and cycle use declined dramatically. For reasons no-one seems to understand very well, the Dutch highway authorities built decent cycle facilities and so many car owners continue to use their bicycles for short journeys.


 
Dutch cycle path crossing a side road. Note priorities, footway and sight-lines.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

More traffic on Lynchgate Road

Those who cycle to the University of Warwick via its Lynchgate Road entrance will be disappointed to learn that the University wishes to put a large car park just inside the entrance with access via Lynchgate Road:



They propose a roundabout where the Science Park access road and the access road to the new car park meets Lynchgate Road. Link to planning application.

Plenty of people have objected, complaining about the traffic increase the proposal, if adopted, would bring.  Here's my comment:

I object to this planning application as it will have a negative impact on pedestrian and cyclist access to the University and Science Park.

The Department for Transport's "Manual for Streets (2007)" adopts a hierarchy of users to assist in design, planning and development control decisions. This places pedestrians at the top, followed by cyclists, then public transport, with unaccompanied private­ car users last. Furthermore there are local policies AM8 (Improving Pedestrian Routes) and AM11 (Improving Cycling Facilities).

The University's Lynchgate Road entrance has the potential to be the major access point for pedestrians and cyclists working and studying at the campus and Science Park, due to the large volume of residential housing within walking and cycling distances. In addition there is a great potential for rail plus cycle commuting from further afield via the Canley and Coventry railway stations.

According to The Department for Transport's LTN "Cycle Infrastructure Design" the first thing to be considered when creating or improving a cycle route is Traffic Volume Reduction (followed by Traffic Speed Reduction). The application proposes a Traffic Volume Increase on Lynchgate Road. It also proposes a downgrade of the cyclist/pedestrian route within the University campus from segregation between cyclists and pedestrians to a shared pedestrian/cyclist path. Such arrangements are unsuitable for routes with medium to high cyclist and pedestrian use.

If the car park is to be built, a much more imaginative approach needs to be taken to its access by motor traffic. An approach which reduces rather than increases the delay and danger posed to pedestrians and cyclists. One possibility would be to have access via the Science Park's Sir William Lyons Road and to move the access between Sir William Lyons Road and the public highway significantly closer to Kirby Corner Road.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Canley Railway Station to Warwick University

Coventry Council is consulting on a number of traffic schemes in South West Coventry. The schemes are mostly about making it easier to access the various employment and study sites in the area by car.

It's a chance to get things improved for cyclists as well!

The map shows a cycle route between the city centre and Kenilworth:



Open map in a new window

The section between Canley Railway Station and the University of Warwick links various residential areas with Westwood Business Park, the University of Warwick and the University's Science Park. People living close to any of the railway stations along the line to Birmingham could also use this section as part of a train + cycle commute. 


How might it be improved?

Sir Henry Parkes Road, between Canley station and the A45 has little traffic. Unfortunately the road is rather wide, a relic of the days when the road and railway met at a level crossing and a major car factory was on the north side of the tracks. So there is speeding. To make the road more cycle-friendly, the centre white line should be removed and the speed limit reduced to 20 mph. Other changes to the layout should be considered to encourage motorists to slow down. Perhaps 2m wide cycle lanes should be painted on both sides, even wider where they pass areas where cars might be parked.
Sir Henry Parkes Road - View towards the A45


Motorists need to reduce their speed as they leave the A45 roundabout


As can be seen from the map, the current recommended route for cyclists from the NE side of the A45 to Lynchgate Road uses seven Toucan crossings in a distance of less than 700m. No help is provided at either Sir Henry Parkes Road (NE of A45) or Lynchgate Road to join/leave this "toucan crossing tour".

One way of reducing the number of Toucan crossings would be to remove the bus lane on Sir Henry Parkes Road to make room for a cycle path on the south-eastern side. Cyclists who don't want to use the carriageway would no longer need to cross Sir Henry Parkes Road and then cross back when travelling between Lynchgate Road and the A45. They would avoid three Toucan crossings.

 
The refuge in the centre of the A45 is too narrow


Lynchgate Road is a subject on its own. Large numbers of pedestrians must cross this road to reach the shopping centre from the Science Park. None of the pedestrian crossing points are marked with traffic signs or Belisha beacons.
A large sign blocks the view of pedestrians about to cross left to right

 
Recently added "safety" feature (hidden behind Tesco sign)
Sign of a recent fatality

Traffic speed and volume need to be drastically reduced on Lynchgate Road.

One way of cutting volume would be to block Lynchgate Road south of the shopping centre and replace the current Science Park entry/exit with one much closer to Shultern Lane: