Category Archives: New Infrastructure

The role of children in designing good cycle networks

Children cycling on a city’s roads and paths are the canary in the coal mine. Without overthinking this too much, a parent won’t let a child out to play on a bike unless that parent can perceive that the child can make mistakes and not be run over.

And this gets to the premise that Cycle Bath campaigns on:

To enable everyone to cycle in comfort we need high quality space for cycling, inclusive for all ages and abilities, connecting communities with schools and centres of employment. Routes must be direct and cohesive, with space on main roads re-allocated from the general carriageway, not the footway.

So when Peter Walker writes in the Guardian:

In countries where decades of investment in bike routes has made cycling safer and more everyday, the reverse is true. Almost 40% of Dutch children go to and from school by bike.

We need to understand how you achieve that level of cycling and for that we can look at Public Highways England IAN 195

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Continue reading The role of children in designing good cycle networks

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The Locksbrook Greenway – The final piece in the puzzle.

Part of trying to understand how to make walking and cycling more attractive given that 47% of people living in Bath and working in Bath walk or cycle to work is trying to create cohesive end to end networks.

Whether you like it or not, your only real option for accessing the city centre from the west is to use the congested river path. It’s not only narrow, due to years of poor maintenance, but is also not perceived as safe late at night.

The Locksbrook Greenway Scheme fixes this:

Locksbrook Greenway Scheme (4)
Using the proposed BRT route we can create a traffic free corridor into the heart of the city with a new parallel Fieldings Cycle Bridge, refurbishment of Locksbrook Bridge and replacement of Traffic Light controlled Windsor Bridge junctions with Cycle Bypass Roundabouts.

But significantly it also fits in with Cycle Bath’s call to break Pines Way Gyratory:

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Remove Pineway Gyratory, replace traffic lights with roundabouts, create segregated space for walking and segregated space for cycling. The gyratory is 4 lanes in parts and this enables it to go down to 2 lanes for cars creating a larger public realm and even enable bus bypass for the protected cycle lane.

This then delivers you directly to Quays Bridge and into the city centre.

This proposal is roughly identified in the Bath Enterprise Plan

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However their proposal around the Pines Way misses the trick of identifying a core transport corridor to the train station.

The Locksbrook Greenway is not a new idea, but simply one that seems to be forgotten.

Churchill Bridge Turbo Roundabout Proposal

I think when looking at road systems it can be hard to create something that is great for maximising vehicular traffic flow and keeps cyclists safe. Roundabouts fall into the keeping traffic flowing while making cycling unsafe category.

Bring in spatial constraints and you can end up with something horrible that is extremely hostile to people wanting to cycle.

As an exercise in rethinking Churchill Bridge Roundabout I began looking at turbo roundabouts. Something highways engineers use to create a high volume vehicular throughput.

Turbo roundabout

A specific form of roundabout for motorists, with a spiral pattern that commits motorists to choosing the correct lane before entering the roundabout. Lane changes on the roundabout itself are eliminated

And I came up with this:

Churchhill Bridge Turbo Roundabout Proposal (2)

The Churchhill Bridge Turbo Roundabout Proposal (3) pdf is probably clearer.

I’m really uncomfortable with creating a Wellsway cycle lane to the right which ‘forces’ somebody cycling to take a primary position to then access the new cycle crossings. So for people that are uncomfortable with roundabouts, it’s a big ask to get them to do this just to access a traffic free way to negotiate the roundabout.

I did try and have a west crossing point, but the sight lines make it phenomenally dangerous and even the east crossing point is probably inadvisable.

For people comfortable with cycling, the roundabout now offers a lot more ‘control’ as taking the lane controls the traffic around you. No longer will you be under/over taken

Comments welcome. I have submitted it to Highways for consideration, particularly as the layout fixes the accident blackspot which is the Wellsway leg of the current roundabout.

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In support of the Bath Cable Car

Recently I have been working with census data that indicates around 31,000 local car journeys are being made in the city, with around 7000 Bath residents driving to work in Bath and 5000 school children being dropped off and picked up by car. The decision commuters and parents make to use the car is fundamentally down to the choices they feel they have to make those journeys.

For many people living on one side of Bath that work or go to school on the other side of Bath, the lack of good cycle provision, the challenging seven hills of Bath, and the time consuming hub centred bus network requiring you to change buses at the bus station, reduce the choices people feel they can make down to one. Use the car.

Continue reading In support of the Bath Cable Car

BaNES just closed a vital traffic free cycle path and made it dangerous

Now this might come across as hyperbole, but I am adamant that if you want people to stop using cars, you need to provide good safe choices. This evening I discovered that the council had removed a wide dropped kerb, and created a narrow crossing that is not part of the desire line that 1000s of people use every day. It not only creates problems for people cycling, but has a real impact on people on mobility scooters, wheelchairs and push chair. It’s a vile, thoughtless, bureaucratic piece of bullsh*t that has me spitting feathers.

This is what they have done:

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This is what it used to be:

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[google streetview]

And this is the result of removing the dropped kerb and enabling easy access for people…

The river path is now no longer a good ‘legal’ cycle route. It is now a desired cycle route. Even if you used the dropped kerb, the footpath is 1m wide. It’s creating huge amounts of conflict between users of the path and requires people cycling to ride illegally along a footpath.

Even if you ignore the cycling aspect, the gradient of the path is steeper on the narrow footpath making it a problem for wheelchair users. The path is 1m wide making passing hard.

This is utter utter utter bullsh*t and a complete waste of taxpayer’s money.

I have no idea who you write to about this. I’m guessing local councillors (Jasper_Becker@bathnes.gov.uk & ian_gilchrist@bathnes.gov.uk) and definitely Cllr Anthony Clarke (anthony_clarke@bathnes.gov.uk)

This is sheer incompetence and complete disregard for accessibility or a need to recognise air pollution is a problem in this city and cycling is one of the answers.

[Update 14th of March] I have been reliably informed that this footpath is actually a road called Spring Gardens that was closed to traffic, hence the bollard. The council have infact, illegally closed a road by building a kerb across the access point to it.

 

Keynsham High Street – Designing out inclusive mobility

The council recently announced a trial to create a one-way system on Keynsham High Street. I’ve even heard it was designed by cyclists for cyclists but I’m guessing the term ‘cyclist’ must have clouded their way of thinking and I’d just like to remind the council that ‘cyclist’ is not a middle aged man in lycra and that you must design better.Designing For.png

There are big big issues in the design which have not considered sustainable safety. I mean serious omissions. Highways have ‘baked in’ infrastructure that encourages illegal behaviour that creates real danger for anyone cycling in the space.

This is only a quick run down of the issues. If you want to follow along, this is the PDF from which I’ve taken the details.

Continue reading Keynsham High Street – Designing out inclusive mobility

Cycle Ambition Fund 2: Bear Flat Event Thursday 26th 3pm-6pm

Sustrans are working with Bath and North East Somerset Council as part of the Cycling Ambitions Fund 2 (CAF) to consider how walking and cycling in several areas throughout Bath could be improved. We will be engaging directly with local communities in order to understand the needs and aspirations of those living and working within the project areas.

As part of this process, Sustrans and BANES will be holding a number on-street events and running an online interactive map, giving people the opportunity to tell them what is currently stopping them from walking and cycling and which routes they use at the moment.

We would value your input into this process so please do come along to the events or log onto the online mapping tool and record your views.

Please find details of the Bear Flat event attached, I will be sending details of the London Road event in the next few days but for reference it will be held on Thursday 26th  of January from 3pm until 6pm.

I would be very grateful if you could pass the details on to any groups or individuals you think would find this of interest and please do get in touch if you require any further information.

bear-flat-event (pdf)

West of England Joint Transport Study: Transport Vision Response from CycleBath

The vision is considered naive.

There are no target modal-split values in the vision. The poster child for sustainable cities is Freiburg in Germany. A city of around 150km2 vs Bristol’s 110km2.

Looking at the modal-split in Freiburg.

In 1982:

  • 35% of people walked,
  • 15% cycled,
  • 11% used public transport (trains, buses, trams),
  • 9% were car sharing
  • 29% in single occupancy vehicles.

By 1999, 17 years later:

  • 23% walked (-13%),
  • 27% cycled (+12%),
  • 18% were using public transport (+7%),
  • 6% car shared (-3%),
  • 26% single occupancy vehicles (-3%)

The ambition by 2020 is:

  • 24% walking (+1%),
  • 27% cycling (0%),
  • 20% public transport (2%),
  • 5% car sharing (-1%)
  • 24% single occupancy vehicles (-2%)

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Freiburg is a big city which has had phenomenal success and has achieved this through the building of 400km of segregated cycle tracks but think getting more than 27% of the population cycling is not possible.

So when you look at the West of England transport vision fails to answer two simple questions.

  1. What is the current modal-split by city/region?
  2. What is the target modal-split by city/region?

Once you have the answer to these two questions, you can actually begin to have a vision. At the moment the vision just feels like civil servants and politicians wanting to play with very big expensive train sets. It is vague and appears to have been deliberately written this way to allow for future back tracking.

Walking and cycling has been lumped into one budget. This type of lumping in creates situations where councils misuse money intended to develop good segregated cycling connections between communities and schools/centres of employment and allocate it to ‘public realm improvement schemes’. Bath’s Seven Dials scheme being a classic example of wasting cycling ambition fund money.

Cycling needs its own budget and one that has specific controls/standards/audits around the bid processes to ensure the delivery of high quality segregated infrastructure.

The World Health Organisation has recommended that 20% of any transport budget is allocated to the development of cycle networks as these support the 0-8km travel range which covers the majority of most people commuting to school/work. Given the £7.5 Billion budget, the vision should be allocating £1.5 Billion to cycling ALONE not £0.4 Billion to cycling AND walking.

An example to consider is London which has just allocated £900 Million to cycling. The cycle superhighway has enabled Embankment to increase road capacity by 5% by reducing the space allocated to motorised vehicles.

The vision also ignores the need for legislature to achieve better road capacity. Transport For London have been able to increase road ‘people’ capacity, note the lack of using the term traffic flow, as they ‘own’ the major corridors and can do what they want with them.

The trunk roads within our cities are at the whim of the councils. In many instances on-road parking is a higher priority for local politicians than the development of a balanced modal-split transport network. In other words, you can have segregated cycle tracks but only if it does not impact the residents on-street parking on major A roads. This approach must be changed.

The vision also needs to clearly state that transport is a public health crisis that, through deliberate design over many decades, has encouraged the use of the car as “the” premier form of transport while degrading public transport. This article discusses this in detail. Highways and planning must take responsibility for delivering healthy environments. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/15/sedentary-lifestyles-social-care-crisis-exercise-ill-health-old-age

Sedentary lifestyles and morbidity can be countered through delivery of good active travel options and discouraging the use of the private car.

The vision document fails to deal with any connection to Radstock. It very much discards rural North East Somerset. This seems short-sighted.

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Particularly within Bath the maps are way-off with the key cycle network routes. See the attached Bath Cycle Network Map. The light rapid transit system appears to be using the Bristol To Bath cycle path while running parallel to the current rail network. Why not increase the number of trains? The authors have forgotten the 2007 protests in Bristol when the BRT was proposed to run along the cycle path. The authors of the vision also seem to have forgotten that the path has been widened in parts due to the immense number of people using it.

It is estimated that 20-25% of rush hour traffic is the school run. The school run must be tackled and eradicated. Many councils are beginning to create school drop-off exclusion zones, but more importantly, ways need to be found to offer free public transport to all school children. Some schools in Oxford have 80% of pupils cycling to school, not through training and education, but because the provided infrastructure enables traffic free commuting from their communities to the school. Travel independence is key for school children.

The JTS mentions education, by which we are assuming Bikeability training. However cycling rates in 10+ children are phenomenally low. No matter how well you train kids, they will not share the road with HGVs and will be driven to school.

We stress again the modal-split that Freiburg will achieve in 2020:

  • 24% walking
  • 27% cycling,
  • 20% public transport,
  • 5% car sharing
  • 24% single occupancy vehicles.

The majority of travel within the city of Freiburg is by bicycle, the same can be said for Copenhagen, and even some parts of London.

It is considered vital that the JTS provides target modal-splits by region/city and then actively pursues those targets through the correct allocation of budgets to either encourage or discourage forms of transport. These can be derived from the 2011 census data and re-evaluated using the 2021 census data.

More importantly, the JTS MUST split cycling out from walking. It is not acceptable to have these two different forms of transport that do not mix well together in one pot of money.

Adam Reynolds

CycleBath Chair

 

You’ll Never Leave…

Following some chat on Facebook about how the cycle routes through Radstock are in the process of changing I thought I would try and clear up some of the current confusion.

Prior to 22nd August 2016 the “Colliers’ Way” cycle route left town in the direction of Kilmersdon, Mells and Frome via Church Street and Meadow View. This was always intended to be a temporary route, pending redevelopment of the former Radstock West Station site (once a busy station on the GWR Bristol and North Somerset branch) since the  cycle route opened in 2004.

Continue reading You’ll Never Leave…

Why “sharing the road” has failed

It’s quite interesting how you can end up with strange bedfellows within a Facebook group and have interesting, if unfortunately fruitless conversations. However I do think that the 44 ton truck driver I was in discussion with had some interesting points that needed addressing.

Do I think, that in anyway, I changed his viewpoint? I hope so. Some of what he stated and believed is quite scary, and if we, as a society, want to create better road spaces that provide facilities that enable people to make real choices to move away from the private vehicle, then we need to bring these truck drivers with us.

More importantly this discussion is about councils being honest with the way roads are perceived and how different types of traffic should be using them.

Continue reading Why “sharing the road” has failed