It was with great aplomb that the ramp was finally opened last week. I love the way it connects the area of Oldfield Park to the Two Tunnels path.
It’s been one hell of a battle, at one point having to meet with the council’s Senior Cycling and Accessibility engineer, Highways Department Senior Engineer , and Jamie Edwards (Sustrans) on the ramp to try and sort out the dire bollard situation.
I swear this council wants people to behave badly by installing bad design. After much discussion a couple of weeks later we arrived at this:
It’s a beautiful functional ramp that will do a lot for connecting Oldfield Park to the city and providing a traffic free route into the heart of the city (via the River Path) and a great connection out to Midford.
So that’s all good yes? Well no. Both myself and Jamie (Sustrans) wanted ONE bollard. The entrance is just under 3m wide (I’ll leave the obsession this council has with bollards for another article). There is also the slight issue of the grate of doom at the bottom of the ramp! Yes it almost got me.
However, and this is the big one, looking at the picture of the ramp exit above, you’ll notice there is actually no easy access from the road onto the ramp as the 3 inch kerb is not dropped. In fact it would technically be illegal to ride from the road onto the ramp. Worse still is that if you are riding along Claude Avenue your best bet is to ride onto the footway at either end of the bridge, ride along and join the ramp. Naturally this will be the cyclists fault. Not the way the infrastructure was designed.
There is a relatively simple solution by ‘just’ removing the double yellow lines on the ramp side of the bridge and putting them on the other side.
It solves a lot of issues.
- Bus stop is now free of cars.
- Footway along which kids are expected to walk/ride up to the school from Linear Park now gives better protection as cars are parked along it.
- The built out footway with a dropped kerb gives a ‘natural’ route for cyclists to take to join the ramp encouraging them not to use the footway through design.
- Parking spaces are not reduced.
- It makes turning into the industrial estate at the end of the bridge easier for vehicles as they now have a larger turning circle.
There are issues, like the bus stop further down towards the junction on the ramp side, but this is a 20MPH zone now. So making road space ‘complicated’ is not a bad thing. It should be noted that this type of chicane is used further up the road on Coronation Avenue quite extensively with multiple bus stops.
What I find hard to believe is that the council built the ramp without considering the idea of completing the network. Finishing the link to the community. There is no LEGAL ROUTE for a cyclist to join the ramp from the road except to dismount in the road and walk their bike across the footway. You’d be crazy to do that. Imagine having a trailer with a child in it. (Sorry I had to use the “think of the kids” meme.)
I did discuss why the parking had not been moved with the council officers, but it was felt it was too hard and there would be uproar from the residents having their current parking affected on the bridge no where near their properties. Since when does the right to park your private property on public roads on a bridge come before the safety of children and the provision of a safe legal route for cyclists.
Sometimes I despair at this council. We have to be better at this. We have to stop treating cars as the top of the food chain. The council needs to be a lot braver than it appears to be.
Ending on positive note, I have to say that the council were brilliant at working with CycleBath. The bollard situation on the ramp could have been a real mess and to remove some and move/widen the 5 bollard design really has made a difference as can be seen in the picture below. Thank you for listening to us.
This is going to be a real asset to the community. The fact most of Moorlands and Oldfield Park now have a route along the Two Tunnels to drop their kids off at Oldfield Park Junior’s school without encountering ANY cars/trucks/buses is worth applauding.