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Weyhill Cycleway Approved Without Dutch Quality

Hampshire County Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment.

Hampshire County Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, approved the Weyhill cycleway plans on 10 June 2014.

It has come to this: the cycleway proposal for Weyhill Road in Andover was approved yesterday by the roads authority, Hampshire County Council, specifically Councillor Seán Woodward, the Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment.

The works are proposed to start in September, with completion just before Christmas.

The council’s stated aim of the now approved £230,000 bidirectional shared-use route is:

To help make Hampshire safer and more secure for all and to improve the quality of place.

As I’ve argued in previous articles, the cycle way is not safer: the road danger conflict has merely been shifted from the roadway to a path shared with people walking, and to its intersections with the side roads and driveways; It is a Box-ticking Bodge Boondoggle.

All my suggestions for improvement were rejected:

DUTCH-QUALITY REJECTED

In its decision, the council gave these reasons for rejecting quality infrastructure to reduce road danger:

It is not practical to provide a segregated on road cycle facility due to insufficient width on the existing carriageway.

For the length in question, the north side footway does not have sufficient width to provide the shared use cycleway within the existing highway boundary so was discounted.

Doing nothing was not considered a desirable option due to the existing use of the footway by cyclists and the need to provide a safer provision for cyclists and pedestrians.

A segregated route (pedestrians one side of the footway and cyclists the other) was considered but this type of provision requires a greater overall width (recommended minimum of 4m), which would not be achievable for sections of this route.

FAILURES AND MEASURING SUCCESS

The council will measure the ‘success’ of the cycleway based on people’s opinions alone it seems,

Success of the measures will be through qualitative feedback from local people, including the Police. On site cycle surveys will also be undertaken to establish uptake.

The council has admitted the current layout of the road with its ‘pinch points’ are unsafe:

In 1998 traffic calming was applied to Weyhill Road with pinch points, islands and pedestrian refuges. It has been noted that some traffic still passes between the cyclists and the traffic calming features without slowing significantly… Pinch-Points along this section of the road push traffic closer to pedestrians and cyclists, increasing risk for these vulnerable road users. Cyclists were observed using the pavement instead.

The engineer at Hampshire County Council states:

By providing a suitable width for shared use footway this conflict [between people walking and cycling] will be reduced.

Regarding entering and leaving the cycleway, the engineer states:

This risk does already exist as a number of cyclists currently use the existing footway.

Weyhill Road video thumbnail with Youtube logos

Click to pay YouTube video: Cycling along Weyhill Road towards Andover town centre

CONSPICUOUS BY ITS ABSENCE

Conspicuous by its absence is any consideration to adjusting the overall roadway itself to reduce road danger – no doubt because this would hinder what the Mayor of London has called ‘smoothing traffic flow’.

No change was considered either for making the residential area that Weyhill cuts through more liveable, despite the roadway being signed by the Council for “local traffic only”.

The council reject any further 20mph implementations whilst their pilot project is ongoing (at least a year) and they reject any limit on through-traffic flow for motorised vehicles.

Worse, though, is that the council has not attached any conditions to the plan which would make the intersections the cycleway has with road traffic less dangerous. Even the islands aren’t big enough for bicycles to fit on!

The priority at intersections will remain with people driving on the road even though it is hoped children and elderly will be using the path.

Indeed, the engineer at Hampshire County Council states:

All the existing vehicle movements will remain unaffected by the island at The Drove. Additionally the relocation of Tesco’s access to the west side of their plot should deter cars from exiting from this ‘in-only’ access, and the hatching for the island will provide an informal right turn lane for The Drove.

and,

[Council] Officers have met with residents with driveways adjacent to the island and agreed to widen their access to allow them easier turning around the island

Map of Andover showing location of serious injury to person cycling on Weyhill Road in 2013.

Map of Andover showing location of serious injury to person cycling on Weyhill Road in 2013.

NO MAINTENACE

Also concerning is the statement from the council that little or no maintenance will be undertaken on the new scheme!

The Council states:

The additional maintenance implications will be minimal as only a small section of widened footway is to be added. It is not anticipated that any maintenance will be required for a considerable period.

As most people who walk or cycle already know, the condition of footpaths and cycle routes are in a very poor state which is why so many people continue to use the road to cycle on.

Sadly, it seems the council will continue this trend of poor investment in maintaining paths for people not in cars.

SAFE ENOUGH FOR COUNCIL OFFICIALS

I asked the key officials at the councils this:

Can you tell me if you are confident in the safety of the proposal such that you would use the cycleway when walking and cycling?

The three officials that I asked have replied that they would cycle on it and consider it safe enough — see the correspondence below.

Watch this space!

CORRESPONDENCE

Various discussions with the council officials regarding the cycleway…my emphasis added.

From: Andrew Reeves-Hall on 6 June 2014 11:50
To: Seán Woodward [HCC]
Cc: Robert Drew [TVBC], Gary Hedges [HCC]

Can you tell me if you, Seán, and you, Robert, and you, Gary, are confident in the safety of the proposal such that you would use the cycleway when walking and cycling?

Thank you,

~Andrew~

From: Seán Woodward [HCC] on 11 June 2014 00:12
To: Andrew Reeves-Hall
Cc: Robert Drew [TVBC], Gary Hedges [HCC]

Dear Andrew

I have agreed the recommendations having studied the accident record, reads and responded to correspondence and visited the site.  And yes, were I a resident cyclist in Andover, I would be happy to use the cycleway.

Best wishes

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

From: Andrew Reeves-Hall on 11 June 2014 06:25
To: Seán Woodward [HCC]
Cc: Robert Drew [TVBC], Gary Hedges [HCC]

Hello,

Thank you for the update.

Did you apply any conditions as I suggested previously? Where can I read your official notice of approval?

Thank you for letting me know that you would cycle on the cycleway.

I have not heard from Gary or Robert if they are confident in the safety of the cycleway and would cycle on it. Will they reply, please?

~Andrew~

From: Robert Drew [TVBC] on 11 June 2014 10:15
To: Andrew Reeves-Hall
Andrew,

Yes, I will use the cycleway when walking and cycling.

Regards

Robert Drew

From: Gary Hedges [HCC] on 11 June 2014 10:30
To: Andrew Reeves-Hall
Cc: Robert Drew [TVBC], Seán Woodward [HCC]

Good morning Mr Reeves-Hall,

I do and will continue to walk along Weyhill Road and would have no worries to cycle it upon its completion.

Kind regards,

Gary Hedges
Principal Engineer
Capital Scheme Delivery

From: Members Services [HCC] on 11 June 2014 11:19
To: Members Services [HCC]
Bcc: Andrew Reeves-Hall

For your information, I can confirm that a decision relating to Weyhill Road, Andover has been made by the Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment on 10 June 2014, which can be viewed here:
http://www3.hants.gov.uk/councilmeetings/advsearchmeetings/meetingsitemdocuments.htm?sta=&pref=Y&item_ID=5817&tab=2&co=&confidential=

Best regards

Democratic and Member Services
Corporate Services Department
Hampshire County Council

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