Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Cycle Parking - how much space?

We are all familiar with poor cycle parking. Last Sunday I tried to park my bicycle in the stands at the Draycote Water cafe only to find that the metalwork crushed my spokes. A few weeks before I had difficulty using the stands outside Warwick University's School of Law; they were too close together.

Standards for cycle parking have been established, for those who are bothered to look, as an alternative of just plumping for the "cheapest is always best" option.

With standards in mind, I examined a planning application to build a five storey student accommodation block on the site of the Aylesford Intermediate Care Centre in Hillfields (Reference: FUL/2016/0193).

The block is about a mile from Coventry's University Square, so cycling would be a credible alternative to walking.
The site is marked in red.

My comments:

The plans do not provide enough space to meet the promised bicycle parking capacity.

The Site Plan shows two cycle parking areas. One of 16 square metres and the other of 32 square metres. According to Transport for London, Sheffield Stand type bicycle parking uses 1.4 square metres per bicycle. With that technology, the space is adequate for no more than 34 bicycles. Higher capacity bicycle storage is available and according to a distributor, two tier bicycle racks can increase the number of bicycles parked by up to 50%. That would be enable a maximum of 51 bicycles to be parked in the spaces. Far less than the 120 promised in the Design and Access Statement.

The developer needs to make a more convincing case that their plans can accommodate 120 bicycles. Allowance must be made for bicycle manoeuvring in front of the racks. Two tier racks can be difficult for some types of user and can be unsafe unless fitted strictly in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

As the storage is long-term it must have high levels of security (key access).

Furthermore, if the reserved space is only sufficient should the highest capacity system be employed, there will be no room for expansion should the proportion of tenants owning bicycles rise above the initial estimate. The development is a mile from the centre of Coventry University, far enough for cycling to have definite advantages over walking.


I understand that where high capacity cycle parking is needed, the Dutch use staggered stands:
Guides are used to raise the front wheel of each alternate bicycle, so that the handlebars are clear of their neighbours'. Simple, yet effective.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Whitley South

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Coventry City Council have submitted an application to build a Technology Campus called Whitley South. It will be located south of JLR's current site straddling both Stonebridge Highway (A45 combined with A46) and Rowley Road. 

In the application's "Non Technical Summary" it's claimed
measures included in the Travel Plan (when combined with the new bus route) aim to reduce car usage to no greater than 65% of employee commuter travel, against a typical figure of 81% in the surrounding parts of Coventry

But later it's written
Whilst the proposal aim to reduce car usage to 65% is outlined above, the design of the improvements to the highway network has been based on the prevalent 81% figure to ensure sufficient capacity will always be available
 
The reality is a detailed strategy about moving thousands of cars in and out of the new development but no more than a few vague words about bus and bicycle routes. Failure to plan is to plan for failure.

The area earmarked for development is shown in brown in this plan, with the new/improved motor traffic routes shown in red:

Motorists will be able to enter the new sites from Festival Island, Stonebridge Highway and the existing access on the A444. There will be a new bridge over Stonebridge Highway and measures will be put in place to prevent employees rat-running through Baginton.

The proposed (off carriageway) cycle routes are shown in green:


These routes are full of gaps. I've put two red crosses at gaps you won't be able to cycle across:
  • between the entrance to the Stonebridge Trading Estate and the new bridge over the A45. The existing path on the south side of the A45 will be lost, its place taken by a slip road into the development.
  • between the nature reserve north of Stonebridge Highway and Festival Island.
Cycle paths frequently interrupted by turning traffic are unpopular. It's not just the time spent waiting; cyclists lose energy when they brake, energy which they must recover by their own efforts! Some cyclists won't bother slowing, leading to crashes. While a person walking can come to an emergency stop in a few inches, a cyclist needs a much greater distance.

Experienced cyclists use the carriageway instead. Inexperienced cyclists will go by car.

Application details. Reference: OUT/2016/0405. Consultation closes 3 March.




Postscript

I put this comment about the planning application to both Coventry City (ref OUT/2016/0405) and Warwick District councils (ref W/16/0239):

To meet the ambition of greater cycle use by commuters, a condition must be put on the development regarding the quality of cycle routes. They must be safe, direct, attractive and easy to use. That means routes which do not require that cyclists give away to significant motor traffic flows.

In particular,
  1. Cycle paths are required
    • Along the western and northern parts of the development between Rowley Road and the path along the south side of Stonebridge Highway, with spurs to any staffed buildings, to avoid the large motor traffic flows at the new roundabouts and the car park entrances.
    • On Festival Island (centre), along the whole circumference. This would provide direct routes to the employment centres on both sides of Stonebridge Highway. 
  2. The cycle route between the new developments and Toll Bar End at the north end of the new bridge over Stonebridge Highway needs to be re-considered. The current plans show a ramp between the east side of the link road and path on the north side of Stonebridge Highway (towards Toll Bar End). Cyclists are expected to cross the link road in three stages. Moving the ramp to the other side of the link road, so that the route uses the subway with a "dog leg" arrangement to reach the "Jaguar link road" path would remove the delay/danger of an at-grade crossing.
  3. The cycle paths must have priority over side roads (car park egresses in particular), otherwise they won't be used.
  4. The timings at light controlled junctions must be cyclist friendly.
Section 106 money for improvements to the cycle routes to Coventry railway station (for rail+cycle commuting), south/east Coventry and Kenilworth needs to be investigated.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Coventry's Precinct

People cycling on paths designated for pedestrians indicates a failure of town planning.

Coventry's Precinct is a classic example of poor planning for cycling:


The maps show the centre of Coventry as it was in 1937 and as it is today. In 1937, Broadgate was linked to Corporation Street by Smithford Street, providing a direct east-west route between Gosford Street and Spon Street. By 2009, the heart of Coventry had been pedestrianised (marked in pink on the map).

The Precinct now blocks the central east-west route. People travelling by car don't notice; the ring road provides a speedy highway without traffic signals. People using cycles are expected to use Fairfax Street, Hales Street and Corporation Street, with their traffic signals, one-way system and stop-start buses.

In recent weeks journey times for cyclists using the Fairfax Street, Hales Street and Corporation Street route have dramatically increased as a result of extra traffic lights and temporary one-way restrictions:
  • Corporation Street: extra traffic signals at Spon Street and Upper Well Street.
  • Corporation Street: west-bound only between Bishop Street and Upper Well Street.
  • Fairfax Street / Trinity Street / Hales Street junction (Whittle Arch): west-bound only
  • Fairfax Street / Priory Street junction: extra traffic signals
It's no surprise that complaints about cycling in the Precinct have grown louder in recent weeks. Cyclists in a hurry are cutting through the pedestrianised area, taking the route of the now almost forgotten Smithford Street.

I suspect that the complaints aren't really about cycling as such, they are more about speeding cyclists. This "rat running" will continue until it takes less time to use Fairfax Street and Corporation Street to cycle between Coventry University and Spon Street than to cut through the pedestrianised area.