Thursday, 1 January 2015

Consultations - 'Quietways' and more!

Did you know there are now three 'Quietway' junction proposals out to consultation? TfL are consulting on junctions on Stamford Street (part of Quietway 2), City Road and Great Dover Street.

In particular City Road is worth commenting on - although the lane widening on Colebrooke Row is needed, the proposals for two stage right turns at look confusing and possibly inadequate with clear potential for conflict with pedestrians. Cyclists are directed to a small area with no separation from the road, their backs to the traffic and pointing in the wrong direction. As there are already ways to make two stage right turns in these locations, I can't see people will want to use the proposals currently drawn.

What these proposals say about the Quietway programme:

  • TfL thinks building a Quietway mostly means making bigger ASLs.
  • All the proposals maintain the current traffic arrangements at the junctions and many of the improvements are improved versions of the existing infrastructure or purely cosmetic.  
  • The proposals do not attempt to significantly improve the conditions for cycling at these junctions.

Haven't we been here before?

New signs, maps and pictures of bikes painted in the road, but missing out on meaningful improvements or cycle infrastructure. TfL appear to be repeating the same mistakes they made with the original Cycle Superhighways. The success of a route will depends on the quality of the provision.

The idea of Quietways was to make use of back routes with little motor traffic to provide a safe, inviting and cost-effective network of routes (an idea I support). However the designers seem to have interpreted this to mean it's OK to produce ineffective/cosmetic interventions with negligible benefits to cyclists and designs which either are either lazy or lacking in ambition.

TfL need to learn that real improvements are needed to create routes for inclusive cycling: More signage isn't going to convince people to take up cycling when they feel the the roads aren't safe!

The Quietways should be more ambitious about providing high quality provision through the junctions and where possible eliminating all through traffic from routes. The Colebrooke Row scheme should have sorted out a route which is currently disjointed, instead Owen Street is untouched and only half the route is resolved to a decent standard. Any two stage right turns need adequately sized and marked waiting areas in the right locations in order to make these viable.

This is what Stamford Street would look like with a shot of ambition:

Dangerous (safer!) junction consultations still open!

Have you checked out Old Street roundabout, Vauxhall Cross and Stockwell Cross? All still open for your comments - please support them!

The good news is that TfL are now getting a lot of the big decisions right, after a lot of work from campaigners like the LCC (and their Space4Cycling guidance). However there are some areas for criticism:

  • Some of the details give the impression the designers think a bike is new kind of car - 20m slip lanes suggest a frustrated motorway designer did Old Street roundabout.
  • In other areas the design is incoherent - as if the cyclists can evaporate when the designers run out of ideas. I hope the lane on the east of Old Street is a drawing error and they don't plan to have it slim down to a pinch point and then widen a few metres later seeming fed from the pavement... it would literally make no sense if they wanted to do this on purpose.
  • Finally the proposals for Stockwell Road are disappointing in that they include potential for cyclists to get left hooked, despite making improvements elsewhere. While there are some measures to mitigate this (early start), they should follow through and completely remove this possibility.

While progress sometimes often feels slow, after decades ignoring cycling the UK is overcoming a lack of knowledge and standards. Hopefully consultation responses help push things forwards? Comment below if you want.

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