The well known line from starving Oliver Twist, “Please, sir, I want some more” came to mind as I fired off yet another email to the elected councillors and council employees responsible for the design of the cycleway along Weyhill Road in Andover.
The council state (my emphasis added):
“The proposed scheme will implement a range of improvements including widening the existing footway on the southern side of Weyhill Road to allow it to be used safely by cyclist and pedestrians.”
The council want safety improvements. This scheme is a start; but as I’ve argued before, it is hardly good enough.
So, with apologies to Dickens, having had a taste of improved cycling provision, and with certainty in the knowledge that I won’t appear in Pseuds Corner, I say: I’m hungry for some more road danger reduction.
I also asked if conditions could be attached to their decision, stipulating particular road danger reduction infrastructure; but nothing further on that was heard – only that a “strict safety audit” checks that the scheme “conforms to national or any county specific standards.”
Risking insanity (and another rejection) I have ploughed on with a further request to the councils.
I have asked for a minimal change to the proposed layout, to make it just like elsewhere in the UK…
By coincidence, I had a business trip to that well known cycling town of Cambridge last Friday.
I took the train into London Waterloo and cycled to Kings Cross where I caught another train to reach Cambridge. I then cycled the 4 miles up to the area near the Science Park. Along the way, I kept my eyes open for cycling infrastructure that could be easily copied by the councils back home.
Copying Cambridge infrastructure isn’t as good as installing Dutch quality from the start – Cambridge ain’t no Netherlands – but it is a step towards it, something already in the UK, and something to build on: Please, sir, I want some more.
Aside: I guess there is something to be said of thinking of a quote from a fictional oppressed child trying to get the folks in charge to do something that seems so obviously the-right-thing-to-do; especially when in the end the ones doing the oppressing end up finding themselves in exactly the same position as the child. But I digress…
PRIORITY TO PEOPLE
The piece of cycling infrastructure in Cambridge which caught my eye was a shared use cycleway along Cowley Road.
The cycleway there is very similar to the one proposed for Weyhill Road in Andover: It is segregated from the main road and it is shared by people who ride and cycle in both directions.
Today, I asked the councils to replicate it for Weyhill Road.
The simple change to their plans is this: give people using the cycleway priority at intersections.
To do that, I asked the councils to raise the road level up to the height of the cycleway and use road markings and signs to indicate the traffic priority.
Anyone who travels out of, or into, a side road must give way to those on the cycleway.
Just like they do in Cambridge.
My emails to and from the councils involved in the Weyhill Road cycleway follow. My emphasis added.
From: Andrew Reeves-Hall on 16 June 2014 11:31
To: Seán Woodward [HCC], Robert Drew [TVBC], Gary Hedges [HCC]
Cc: Annie Tomlinson [TVBC], Vivien Messenger [TVBC], Steve Raw [TVBC], Sir George Young [MP]
I hope that you had a good weekend.
Last Friday I was visiting one of my customers in Cambridge. I took the train up there and rode out to their facility on my Brompton bicycle.
I spotted on the way a shared cycle path similar to what you have approved for Weyhill Road in Andover.
Its intersections with side roads gave priority to the people using the shared path:
– there is a hump which raises the road level with the cycle path;
– there is a yield each side of the cyclepath at which drivers must give way; and,
– there is signage indicating the priority.
Can I ask please that you do the same for the Weyhill cycle path where it meets side roads?
Thank you, best wishes,
From: Robert Drew [TVBC] on 16 June 2014 6:29pm
To: Andrew Reeves-Hall
Cc: Seán Woodward [HCC], Gary Hedges [HCC], Annie Tomlinson [TVBC], Vivien Messenger [TVBC], Steve Raw [TVBC], Sir George Young [MP], Jonathan Yogev [TVBC]
There is an argument to be made for these arrangements; however it is good practice to leave enough space for vehicles to give way at the cycleway after leaving the main carriageway.
Otherwise you end up with vehicles coming to a stop on the main carriageway (risk of shunts), and the potential for cars turning with cyclists in their blind spot or simply not giving way (bad outcomes for the cyclist).
I would not suggest giving cyclists priority crossing the side roads off Weyhill Road at present; it may be considered in the future if the route is well used.
It is worth noting that in your example the cycleway crosses a private access into a gated area, not a public side road.
There are no give way markings for vehicles exiting the main carriageway, the give way marked is on the side of a private access, and there is no space for a car to stop off the main carriageway.
Indeed the signs are temporary and private respectively, and would indicate they are having some issues with cars not giving way to cyclists.
The road marking and highway signs shown within the highway do not give any indication that vehicles have to give way to cyclists, except the coloured surface.
It’s arguable that this ambiguity puts cyclists at an increased risk, in these situations in general and particularly in this example.