Pedaller

A pilot project to make a Hampshire town more liveable

The present cycle route on Weyhill Road, Andover abruptly ends.

The present cycle route on Weyhill Road, Andover abruptly ends.

A couple weeks ago, I said that the proposed shared space cycleway for Weyhill Road in Andover was a Box-ticking Bodge Boondoggle.

The Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council have received some money and are itching to spend it in order to say that they’ve “done something” for cycling.

Weyhill Cycleway - ARH20140518-1345-Nexus5-06 (resized)

Looking East: In the distance is the railway bridge after which Weyhill Road winds its way past a school and the Council offices before ending at Andover’s town centre.

There is one tiny flaw in the councils’ plan: it is bollocks.

More precisely, their shared space cycleway proposal will increase the possibility of road danger, not reduce it.

I have exchanged a fair few emails with the councils, trying to understand their motivation for the flawed proposal. The flow of letters to the editor of the Andover Advertiser continue too: I was pleased to see a positive response to the suggestion of doing the right thing and building Dutch quality segregated cycle paths.

Alas, the councils are opposed.

(Updates from the Council have been added below – click HERE).

SMOOTHING TRAFFIC FLOW

Weyhill Cycleway - ARH20140518-1345-Nexus5-09 (resized)

Looking West: Weyhill Road in Andover feeds into residential communities, and in the distance leads to the A303 and industrial estates.

The councils’ shared space cycleway proposal for Weyhill Road is, at its core, just about ‘smoothing traffic flow, to reuse a phrase coined by the Mayor of London (apt since he might well become the MP for North-West Hampshire in 2015!).

Getting those #BloodyCyclists off the road and onto a totally inappropriate shared path will mean those big, heavy HGV lorries and trucks can rumble along the 30mph residential area unencumbered – no more “fuming in the fumes” as Boris put it.

Heck, the people driving won’t even have to be bothered to give way where the proposed shared path intersects with the road! Brilliant!

Best of all, I was told that the Hampshire County Council’s Quality Assurance procedure for the Safety Audit of Highway Schemes had identified no safety issues. Brilliant again!

Test Valley Borough Council has its offices on Weyhill Road near the town centre. Convenient bicycle parking is provided at the entrance.

Test Valley Borough Council has its offices on Weyhill Road near the town centre. Convenient bicycle parking is provided to the right of the entrance doors.

WOBBLY

I knew things had taken a serious wobbly when I discovered that the councils had consulted themselves over the scheme.

I kid you not!

The local bicycle user group is actually a once-a-year meeting that is organised, chaired and run by the local council.

So, for the councils to say they consulted the bicycle user group is to say they consulted themselves!

It gets even better: they didn’t respond!

You couldn’t make this up if you tried!

ARH20140518-1642-A55-1

Conflicts are present on the road and on the pavement along Weyhill Road.

COUNCILS COMMITTED BUT…

A shared-space cycleway next to this busy road will just shift a conflict from one place to another: from the road with people driving and cycling to the pavement with people walking and cycling. Worse, everyone will come into conflict at intersections because the most dangerous vehicles are given priority.

My proposal for them to do the right thing, installing hard-segregated space for cycling, was shot down:

We [Hampshire County Council and Test Valley Borough Council] are committed to looking at innovative design solutions for transportation schemes and welcome your comments but in this case there isn’t the scope to provide facilities such as the Dutch examples you provide…

That seemed to be the end of discussion on the matter as far as the councils were concerned.

Undeterred, I made another visit out to Weyhill Road and this time I took along my bicycle and car cameras to cycle and drive the road from one end to the other. UPDATE: you can see a video embedded below.

The "local traffic only" sign at the western end of Weyhill Road - the council offices are at the opposite end, near the town centre.

The “local traffic only” sign at the western end of Weyhill Road – the council offices are at the opposite end, near the town centre.

It wasn’t until I got home and looked at some of the footage that I spotted it.

A second possibility, if not segregated cycle routes, for reducing the road danger along Weyhill Road came to me when I spotted the signs that the councils themselves had erected!

LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY

The councils have made it very clear to people who use Weyhill Road that the only people who should be using the road are ones who are local to the area.

So, why then do the councils put up with through-traffic on Weyhill Road and its residential areas when they have already spent the money building a wide, convenient, and fast ring-road?

The answer to moving more people along Weyhill Road safely isn’t to shuffle some of them off to the side onto a dubious shared-space cycle path, but instead to ensure that just local traffic uses the road…

…and that could be done with an inexpensive pilot project.

Andover GoogleEarth - marked up 5

It would take at most 1 minute longer for through-traffic to get from one end of Weyhill Road to the other by using the ring-road instead.

PILOT PROJECT

Here is my proposal to the councils for an easy to implement pilot project:

  • Install 3 bollards across the roadway, each side of the railway bridge; and,
  • Change the speed limit on all the roads in the area to 20mph.

This inexpensive pilot project would still permit local people to walk and cycle to the shops, the schools, the train station, the council office and the town centre – they would cross the railway bridge, which is about half-way along Weyhill Road, as normal.

A pilot project to erect bollards across Weyhill Road at the railway would give space to people who choose to walk and cycle.

A pilot project to erect bollards across Weyhill Road at the railway bridge would still allow people who walk and cycle to cross; and children would have an opportunity to design the decoration of the bollards!

People who choose to drive to get to the same places can still do that too, albeit by using the ring road for the longer journeys, which it turns out doesn’t add much at all to journey times:

Driving end-to-end along Weyhill Road takes 6 minutes to cover the 1.7 miles according to a calculation done using Google Maps; Making the same journey using the ring-road for 2.8 miles would take just 1 minute longer. In fact, it may not even be that given the maneuvering required to get around parked cars and people cycling on Weyhill Road today.

Businesses would still be able to make their deliveries, too: The lorries would be using the ring road and travelling at a less dangerous speed when in the residential area.

The people who call the area home would benefit from a much more ‘liveable’ area too: less noise, less pollution, and fewer HGV lorries. Weyhill Road would truly become for “local traffic only”.

More people than do now might also take up cycling and walking to get around locally – especially the elderly and children.

Some fun can be had too: the bollards could be decorated in colourful schemes chosen by people in the local community.


Further reading: LIVEABLE CITIES and UNRAVELING MODES. There was also a letter to the editor of the Andover Advertiser on 16 May relating to the signage: Can we enforce signs for ‘local traffic only’?


UPDATE: Videos taken at Weyhill Road

YouTube: Cycling along Weyhill Road towards Andover town centre

UPDATE: Site visit by decision maker

The Andover and Villages website reported that Councillor Seán D T Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, visited Weyhill Road on 2nd June 2014 ahead of his decision on the scheme on the 10th. There is no report of him and the others riding a bicycle along the route as it is now; nor is there any mention in the article about the proposed pilot project described above. There has been no response from him or any councillor to the pilot project proposal above.

The article does state that, “During the hour the visit took, only four cyclists travelled down the Weyhill road on their bikes, two choosing to ride illegally on the footpath and two using the road.”

The implication appears to be that there is no demand for cycling facilities, to which I make the analogy: you don’t determine whether a bridge should be built over a river based on the number of swimmers. More people than now will choose to cycle and walk if road danger is reduced through proper infrastructure.

The report indicates these other people were present at the site visit: Cllr Zilliah Brooks, Cllr Sandra Hawke, Cllr Tim Rolt; and local residents Alan Turner and Keith Cezair.

UPDATE: Correspondence

I wrote to the councils with the proposal described above; below, is their response and follow-up. Earlier correspondence can be found HERE.

From: Seán Woodward [HCC] on 3 June 2014 11:03
To: Andrew Reeves-Hall
Cc: Robert Drew [TVBC]

Dear Andrew

Thank you for your e-mail.

I did visit the site yesterday and walked the entire route of the proposed cycleway and asked a number of questions to assist me in making my decision next week.

I have dropped comments [shown in RED] into your e-mail below.

Best wishes

Councillor Seán D T Woodward
Executive Member for Economy,
Transport and Environment
County Councillor for Sarisbury Division


On 29 May 2014 13:08, Andrew Reeves-Hall wrote:
Hello Seán and Robert,

Thank you for the various correspondence following my questions about your proposal for a Weyhill Road cycleway.

I folded up my Brompton bicycle and drove over to Weyhill Road to experience traveling along it first hand – both on a bicycle and in a car. There did seem to me to be room to create a proper Dutch solution with hard-segregated cycle routes, especially along the western portion.

Officers have already responded to you regarding this point to say there isn’t enough carriageway space for segregated cycle lanes on Weyhill Road

Nevertheless, I have taken on board your earlier feedback and now have an alternative suggestion made up of 2 parts which I would like you to consider during your upcoming site visit and leading up to the decision about the cycleway proposal.

Instead of a shared path, I would like the councils to conduct a pilot scheme that:

a) Sets the speed limit to 20mph for Weyhill Road and its surrounding residential areas; and,

20mph speed limit pilots are already underway across the county and until the results of these are know (sic) we will not be considering anymore

b) Erects 3 bollards across Weyhill Road, each side of the railway bridge.

Closing Weyhill Road would be complex and not something Hampshire County Council would want to pursue at the current time. Any road closure of this nature would need careful consideration in terms of the justifications and execution.

· Hampshire County Council would need to make a robust case why we would close this arterial route into the Town Centre rather than any other similar routes. Our solution to a safer connections to the town centre is the proposed shared use cycle way rather than a road closure which could disadvantage many people

· It would also lead to traffic diverting off Weyhill Road to use less appropriate routes into the Town Centre such as The Drove, King George Road, Mylen Road and Millway Road to circumnavigate the road closure

· Increased journey times could also be unpopular particularly at the AM and PM peaks

This inexpensive pilot project would still permit local people to walk and cycle to the shops, the schools, the train station, the council office and the town centre – they would cross the railway bridge, which is about half-way along Weyhill Road, as normal.

People who choose to drive to get to the same places can still do that too, albeit by using the ring road for the longer journeys, which it turns out doesn’t add much at all to journey times:

· Diverting traffic onto the Ring-Way would also increase the traffic pressure on this section at the busiest times. Whilst it does cater for higher volume traffic, in time traffic growth could adversely impact on the Ring-Way and its junctions;

Driving end-to-end along Weyhill Road takes 6 minutes to cover the 1.7 miles according to a calculation done using Google Maps; Making the same journey using the ring-road for 2.8 miles would take just 1 minute longer. In fact, it may not even be that given the maneuvering required to get around parked cars and people cycling on Weyhill Road today.

· The diversion (if you live close to the closure) would be more considerable than is stated and it’s highly likely local people would object as their direct road connection to the town centre would be removed.

Businesses would still be able to make their deliveries, too: The lorries would be using the ring road and travelling at a less dangerous speed when in the residential area.

The people who call the area home would benefit from a much more ‘liveable’ area too: less noise, less pollution, and fewer HGV lorries. Weyhill Road would truly become for “local traffic only”.

· A ‘local traffic only’ arrangement does not mean that some cyclists will still not prefer to cycle on the footway

More people than do now might also take up cycling and walking to get around locally – especially the elderly and children.

Some fun can be had too: the bollards could be decorated in colourful schemes chosen by people in the local community, such as is done in Whitchurch.

Best wishes,

~Andrew~

From: Andrew Reeves-Hall on 3 June 2014 15:07
To: Seán Woodward [HCC]
Cc: Robert Drew [TVBC]

Hi,

Thank you for that reply.

Roads are used by people not cars.

I resent you putting words in my mouth: I did not say anything about a road closure! I would like to ask for an apology from you.

To be clear: Weyhill Road would remain open to people under the proposed pilot scheme.

It is quite concerning to me that there appears to be such a biased view at senior positions in the council about transport issues, as well as the dangers created by the proposed shared path scheme.

To be clear on that point: your proposed scheme prioritises car use at the cost of endangering the lives of local people that walk or cycle.

~Andrew~

From: Seán Woodward [HCC] on 4 June 2014 09:49
To: Andrew Reeves-Hall
Cc: Robert Drew [TVBC], Gary Hedges [HCC]

Dear Andrew

When you propose putting bollards across a public highway in two locations I read that as closing the road to traffic. That is a road closure with the implications that I have stated. A cycleway if I agree to it is intended to improve safety for cyclists, not reduce it.

Thank you for your comments.

Best wishes

Councillor Seán D T Woodward
Executive Member for Economy,
Transport and Environment
County Councillor for Sarisbury Division

From: Andrew Reeves-Hall on 4 June 2014 11:07
To: Seán Woodward [HCC]
Cc: Robert Drew [TVBC], Gary Hedges [HCC]

And there is the rub.

You narrowly define traffic as being people driving cars; whereas I and others see roads for use by people using various forms of vehicles (cars, bicycles) or none (ie walking).

We are living with a well-established cultural mindset that must be overcome; one which has brought us to this point of worsening congestion on the roads (and fatter people and more polluted towns).

We together are aiming to reduce road danger; to make places more liveable; and reduce the financial burden on the NHS who are dealing with an obesity crisis

I appreciate that you believe your cycleway proposal improves safety but it only shifts the conflict and then increases danger at intersections.

Please, I implore you, look at the priority you propose at junctions and at pedestrian islands….

a) Junctions: The priority is for car traffic, not people walking or cycling. There is heightened conflict and danger which will result in some people continuing to chose to cycle on the road (where they will have equal priority with car traffic).

b) Islands: These create pinch points on the roads and raise the danger for people that still choose to cycle on them (as they likely will if they perceive the cycleway is not maintained or poses danger like at intersections).

Have HCC even checked to see if the islands are wide enough for a person on a bicycle to be on them without wheels protruding into the car lanes?

Streetview - intersection in Assen, The NetherlandsNote how road danger is reduced in The Netherlands… This one picture from street view captures both points well: http://goo.gl/Bt3BOC

– firstly each form of vehicle (car, bicycle, walking) have their own space [dismissed by HCC]
– second, at a T-junction the stop/yield line is before the bicycle section (often raised with a hump for cars but which keeps the cycle route flat)
– third, islands for people walking are clearly marked on the roads where people drive (again kept level for people using them – walkers!)

With very best wishes,

~Andrew~
Copenhagenize - new question for 21st century citiesp.s. See nice poster of people/cars traffic here:
http://www.copenhagenize.com/2014/04/the-new-question-for-21st-century-cities.html

From: Seán Woodward [HCC] on 4 June 2014 11:10
To: Andrew Reeves-Hall
Cc: Robert Drew [TVBC], Gary Hedges [HCC]

Thank you for your further comments which I will also take note of in arriving at a decision next week.

Best wishes

Councillor Seán D T Woodward
Executive Member for Economy,
Transport and Environment
County Councillor for Sarisbury Division

3 comments for “A pilot project to make a Hampshire town more liveable

  1. Mrs W
    June 2, 2014 at 00:35

    I am all for progress, a safer environment for all and freedom of speech, however, think about what you are saying before you start slating the council and their ideas. i know the plan is not flawless but at least it will not lead to the demise of local business and the increase in risk of death in residential areas!

    Can I ask, where do you live?

    Have you considered those of us who actually live on Weyhill Road (to the west of these proposed bollocks, (sorry probably should call them bollards). I live West of them, have a child who attends school to the East of them and I work on the other side of town. I have just used the same Google maps “calculation” and found my simple journey from home to school to work, back from work to childcare then home again would mean I would have to change my working hours just because you want some pretty bollards.

    What about, The Grain Silo, Colebook Way, Motorworld or any other business along Weyhill Road? To get to the A303 from any of these would mean either travelling though town where there is enough congestion already, this journey would then take 8 minutes as opposed to the 2 minutes currently (even going past my house)!!! Alternatively to save fuel and time; both incredibly important to business, the other option is to turn off at the railway bridge, travel along the Drove, dodging the 500+ children and parents attending the 3 schools in the area, head down King George Road (with all those pre-school children playing on the grassy knolls), then back up the already congested and over used Mylen Road! What a fantastic solution, or perhaps not!

    Maybe you could start a business at the top end of Weyhill road with fleet of cycle powered delivery vehicles, Rickshaws and tuk-tuks to ensure Business as usual for all the residents and small business you are planning to scupper!

    People travel from far and wide to shop in Burbidges, Kenyons and many small local business on Colebook Way alone, what would happen to them?

    If you have a suggestion to put forward to the Council it must be flawless or they will be opposed to it from the outset, oh yes, you said they were!

    Keep up the good work, and maybe learn to drive!

    • June 3, 2014 at 00:25

      What if the area felt safe enough so that you might let your child walk or cycle to school? If they are quite young then what if parents worked together to organise a “walking bus” for them?

      May I ask what evidence there is that local businesses would scupper, as you say? They all are still accessible by car, bicycle or walking.

  2. Mrs Giles
    June 2, 2014 at 19:38

    I use to work on West Portway and ride to work on my bike but had a near miss with a lorry cutting in too quick after overtaking me. I walked to work after that. Then i got a job on Walworth Industrial Estate and I used to ride my bike to work as it’s a 50 minute walk from my house at top of Salisbury Road, until a driver knocked me off and ruined my bike.
    The point I’m making is there is nowhere near enough cycling lanes for cyclists especially to the industrial estates or town and in some ways I font cyclist riding on paths even tho it’s not for them (as in signposted). Salisbury Road has a short cycle path going nowhere in particular!!

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