The £10,000,000 rebuilding of Black Dam roundabout in Basingstoke, next to the M3 junction 6 interchange, will result in an intersection that is unsafe for people who choose to cycle and walk, according to the Highways Agency.
The decision to make the intersection unsafe flies in the face of official Department of Transport statements and official guidance which emphasises the importance for road designers to accommodate the needs of cyclists and pedestrians in road design.
The Black Dam roundabout (map) sits between the Ringway South and London Road, which continues on to Old Basing and into the town of Hook.
FROM DIFFICULT TO UNSAFE
Maria Miller, the MP for Basingstoke, admitted to Parliament in October that (emphasis added):
“…because the pre-existing road layout made cycling difficult, few cyclists regularly choose to use that junction.”
She also said in her speech that:
“The Prime Minister himself has made it clear that all new big road developments will incorporate the needs of cyclists.”
However, the £10m make-over for the junction will take it from being “difficult” for people on bicycles to unsafe, contrary to national guidance and the assurance given by the Prime Minister himself.
Area 3 EM Highway Services Ltd, who work on behalf of the Highways Agency, stated on 3 October that:
“there is no new cyclist provision included within the scheme as it is not considered safe for non-motorised users to cycle through the junction.”
Even so, Maria Miller told Parliament in mid-October that:
“We need to design cycling into our everyday lives. Like many successful towns, Basingstoke faces the big problem of road congestion.
More than £30 million has been spent on improving the roundabouts for which Basingstoke is so famous. That money is there not to allow cars to move around more easily, but to reduce traffic congestion.
Encouraging more people to cycle and indeed to walk is part of achieving that strategy.”
MAYOR SEEKS SAFETY
The Mayor of Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council for 2014/15 Cllr Roger Gardiner stated:
As Mayor, I support all measures that seek to to improve road safety across the Borough.
While, I would like to think [that] the Highway Authority and Hampshire County Council would not be so irresponsible as to introduce an unsafe highway, this is a busy junction and its suitability for cyclists and pedestrians is questionable…
…I [am] sure you would agree that it would be preferable for cyclists to to avoid this very heavily trafficked intersection of the M3, A30 and A339.
Cllr Gardiner stated that he has communicated the safety concerns with Hampshire County Council and Maria Miller MP in person.
The Mayor suggested that people who choose to cycle or walk should use alternative routes through Eastrop Park and Basing Road; there is also a subway under the M3 motorway link road which connects with Crabtree Plantation.
The Mayor was asked if Traffic Orders are to be put in place to restrict the use of the junction, and whether signposts will be erected to direct people to well-maintained, suitable alternative routes.
In response, Cllr Gardiner admitted that “signage is not as good as it should be” and that he has contacted Richard Wareham, the Community Design & Regeneration Manager at B&DBC.
Update 17 November 2014: The Mayor of B&DBC has been asked what the outcome of his meeting with Richard Wareham was regarding traffic orders; as well he was queried as to how much of the £10m funding was allocated to the 2 alternate routes he suggested. The example of a 55 year old cycling the 2.3 miles from Old Basing to the Council offices; and an 8 year old child cycling to the War Memorial Park to meet his friends; were given as examples. See Google maps below; or alternatively with CycleStreets.
The Department for Transport (DfT) stated in its response to the Get Britain Cycling inquiry that,
The National Planning Policy Framework introduced in 2011 sets out clearly that including facilities for cycling and walking should be part of delivering sustainable development.
Furthermore, the DfT referred to its ‘Manual for Streets‘ that guides their design process. It states in part:
Streets should not be designed just to accommodate the movement of motor vehicles.
It is important that designers place a high priority on meeting the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users, so that growth in these modes of travel is encouraged.
The Local Transport Note on Cycle Infrastructure Design also reiterates the need to design roads and junctions taking into account the use of them by people who are cycling and walking. It states in its introduction:
The underpinning principle is that measures for pedestrians and cyclists should offer positive provision that reduces delay or diversion and improves safety.
In its response to the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry, the Department for Transport noted that it would soon be even easier for local authorities to cater for people who choose to cycle and walk:
Through the revised Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions, due in 2015, Government will be making further changes to make it easier for councils to install cycle facilities, by removing the requirement for Traffic Orders for mandatory cycle lanes and exemptions for cyclists (such as ‘No Right Turn Except Cycles’).
Update 26 November 2014: Back in July 2013, the Department for Transport published its ‘Action for Roads’, an improvement plan for the English road network (read the article about that HERE). At the time they said, “The Highways Agency will need to think strategically about how it can best support non-motorised traffic, to stop the network being a barrier for walkers and cyclists.”
The Highways Agency states that the purpose of the £10m works is to: reduce congestion and improve the flow of traffic at the M3 Junction 6 Black Dam Roundabout. The work includes:
- construction of a four-lane northbound carriageway through the roundabout
- widening on the eastern side of the gyratory to provide four lanes
- widening on the north-eastern section of the gyratory to provide five lanes
Update 13 February 2017: Look! Crashes up since it opened so more money will be spent to fix it (still no cycling infrastructure)… Basingstoke Gazette: Notorious Black Dam roundabout set for more improvements
Update 17 November 2014: Added maps showing alternate routes suggested by the Mayor of B&DBC.
Update 16 November 2014: Article based on the above is on road.cc: £10m roundabout redesign for Basingstoke – but it’ll be so dangerous there’s no provision for cyclists at all