Thursday, 18 June 2015

Butts Road / Albany Road junction

Getting over (or under) the ring road is a major problem for cyclists in Coventry. One of the safer crossing places is the Spon Street subway. It's also part of Cycle Coventry Routes 12 & 13, shown in yellow on Coventry Council's cycle map:

Routes 12 & 13 provide a fairly direct path to Hearsall Common, but they are not very useful for those cycling to or from the Earlsdon Street area. This could be improved by adding a link between Meadow Street and Albany Road, as indicated with a red blob on the map.

Exiting from Albany Road, cycling with the traffic, it's easy enough to turn right into the Butts Road bus lane. Unfortunately, as the google streetview image shows, you then have to bump up over the kerb and cycle five metres before bumping down to Meadow Street:

The Earlsdon bound trip presents bigger problems. You might cycle to the middle of Butts Road and join the traffic waiting to turn right into Albany Road. Or you might dismount and use the pedestrian crossing to walk across Butts Road. 

Many would find waiting in the middle of Butts Road daunting. Others might try cycling across the pedestrian crossing, annoying pedestrians whilst trying to negotiate the sharp bends and ending up on the wrong side of Albany Road:

Current routes from Meadow Street to Albany Road (Google satellite).

There are simple solutions to these problems.
  1. Add dropped kerbs and 3 more metres of blacktop to provide a cycle path between Meadow Street and Butts Road
  2. Add dropped kerbs to the central reservation, providing a refuge for cyclists turning right into Butts Road. Once in Butts Road, they would turn left at the traffic lights into Albany Road:
Proposed routes:

The fence on the central reservation has already gone. The reservation is over two metres wide, so there's enough of room for cyclists to safely wait for a gap in the traffic. Bicycles being about 1.8 m long. Waiting there would be much safer than on the carriageway proper and cyclists would only need to look for traffic coming from one direction at a time.

An application has been made for planning permission build a five storey extension to the Sherbourne House student accommodation block on Meadow Street. I've proposed that the developers should be required to contribute money to help provide the links described above. There will be a pressing need for cycle facilities, as students will be prohibited from bringing cars into Coventry as a condition of their tenancy.

Monday, 20 April 2015

City Centre Action Plan

A consultation on the City Centre Action Plan has recently closed.

I wasn't impressed with the plan. Too little consideration was given to cycle and bus routes to and through the city centre. The council seems to be stuck in the 20th century view that people should travel to the centre by car and then walk about before returning home by car.

I'm reminded of what happened with "Council Square". As a result of objections raised by myself, the council agreed that make cycling legal along the four sides of the square (Little Park Street, Much Park Street, Earl Street and St John’s Street). But the roads haven't been designed to properly accommodate cycling.  The carriageways are designed for motor vehicles, the pavements for pedestrians.  The only things for cyclists are signs indicating that cycling is legal in both directions on the Much Park Street and St John’s Street carriageways and that the pavements on the south side of Earl Street and the east side of Little Park Street are shared use pedestrian/cyclist paths.

Anyway here's my comments on the Action Plan:

  • The routes to the car parks need to be re-thought to reduce the conflict between cars accessing the parking and buses, cyclists and pedestrians. The access to the West Orchard car park demonstrates a poor design, with a large volume of car traffic crossing a major pedestrian, cyclist and bus route along Corporation Street. The grade separated access to the barracks car park at Hertford Street demonstrates a good design.
  • On-street car parking on Far Gosford Street needs to be replaced by off-street parking. This will allow Far Gosford Street to become bothway for cycling.

    The current recommended city-bound cycle route (along Sky Blue Way) is very unpopular leading to footway cycling on Sky Blue Way and Far Gosford Street. Far Gosford Street has the potential to be a major cycle route from east Coventry to the city centre. Parked and unloading vehicles provide significant blocks to buses using the street.
  • Improved cycle access is needed between Warwick Road (& thus the railway station) and Broadgate. Warwick Lane and Greyfriars Lane could be used.
  • Better cycle access is needed between Technology Park Quarter (Parkside) and both Gulson Road and the railway station. This would also improve the link between the station and east Coventry (via Gulson Road).

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Canal Basin Bridge - not fit for purpose

Coventry Council is proposing to replace the Canal Basin pedestrian bridge over the ring road. The bridge links St. Nicholas Road / Canal Basin with Bishop Street.

Details of proposals: part1 part2 (pdfs).

James Avery has written a post on the issue.

Here's the contents of a letter from myself, published in the Coventry Telegraph on 13 March 2015:

The canal basin bridge over the ring road is not fit for purpose.

A safe cycle route between the canal basin and Bishop Street is needed. Cycling is banned on the pedestrian bridge as it's too narrow. Few dare to cycle across the Radford Road or Foleshill Road roundabouts.

At the Bishop Street end, the gradient causes trouble for wheelchair users and pram pushers. It's too steep.

This is not just about existing cyclists. Many more people would cycle if the routes were felt to be safe and convenient. But few are prepared to cycle on the roads as they currently exist. More cycling would mean improved public health and more efficient use of space. Cycle paths have seven times the carrying capacity of lanes dedicated to private cars.

A surface crossing is, perhaps, not the right answer. It would cause delay to motorists, pedestrians and cyclist alike. Has the council looked at an underpass for walkers & cyclists? What about a new, better bridge, perhaps with a spiral ramp at the city end?