Cyclists and Pedestrians failed by Leicester City Council

Back in November I wrote Bad road junctions #1 Leicester A607/A563 and said that I had emailed the appropriate people in Leicester City Council.

I have now had a reply (apparently it was first sent on 5th January to the wrong email address). It includes this:

Thank you for enquiring about pedestrian and cycle facilities at this junction, which we received on 18th of November 2010.

You are correct in saying that this junction is poor for pedestrians and cyclists to cross. We have looked at addressing this but have found it to be prohibitively expensive to construct safe crossing facilities at the junction and we currently have no scheme in progress this financial year. As a cyclist I fully understand your concerns about using this junctions, especially when we have reasonable cycle facilities on sections of Melton Road and adjacent routes. I have copied this email to Andy Salkeld, our cycling co-ordinator, so that he can advise you alternative routes if that is helpful.

That is from

John Dowson. Team Leader Sustainable Transport. Transport Strategy. Highways and Transportation

To be honest I am quite stunned by this response. In my reply I pointed out that to achieve a safe crossing for pedestrians we need:

  • The installation of green/red pedestrian indicators on existing traffic signal posts.
  • The reprogramming of the traffic light sequence to provide a pedestrian pause on the parts of the junction where there isn’t one (I think that means the four exits from the junction).

Let us be clear. A few signal display boxes, a bit of re-wiring and reprogramming does not meet anyone’s definition of “prohibitively expensive”. A small team should be able to complete the work in a couple of nights work.

I wonder how the cost of this work compares to the 18 planned weeks of work that we are still enduring on the northern end of the B667 in Thurmaston. These have blocked the pavement for that whole time and the result will be a wider road for cars to feel more comfortable when they break the speed limit and so be less safe for cyclists (oh and add a junction into a new industrial area that looks like a race track designed for cars travelling at 60mph).

I do not accept that the installation cost of safe crossings for pedestrians is “prohibitively expensive”. I suspect that instead what is really meant is:

We have looked at addressing this but have found it to be prohibitively expensive to construct safe crossing facilities that do not delay motorised traffic at all at the junction

It seems that providing safe crossings for pedestrians and cyclists is unimportant compared to slowing cars at all. As we hear these priorities let us remember that the number one cause of deaths of Children in the UK is road transport.

Note that if the work is done to provide safe crossings for pedestrians then making it safe for cyclists simply requires less than 400metres of existing pavement to be re-designated as shared use, given the typically appalling levels of sign-age for cycling facilities in Leicester we could expect two double sided shared use signs per section of pavement. So 8 double sided signs to be installed on existing posts. That can hardly be described as prohibitively expensive either (it might take one person half a day, with no road closures needed).

I have responded to the email with this cheap interim suggestion. However I want to recognise that Leicester describes itself as a Cycle City with a stated aim “Leicester City Council’s aim is to get more people cycling, safely and more often”. So I have also suggested that it should be obvious to everyone that this cheap interim solution can hardly be considered ideal and that it will do little to encourage more cyclists (at this point see this post from today: What won’t bring about mass cycling (5) vehicular cycle campaigning). My longer term suggestion that I included is quite simple and I accept it would be a little more expensive:

Obviously as Leicester is a “Cycle City” I would expect a much higher quality cycle provision such as I have used in the Netherlands and in Copenhagen. That would include:-

  • a 2.5m wide separated cycle lane on each side of the Melton Road from East Goscote to Leicester City Centre
  • the entire cycle route to be raised above the road level giving clear priority over all motorised traffic at every driveway and side road along the whole route
  • proper maintenance of a smooth cycle surface including priority gritting and snow sweeping when required.
  • prioritised traffic light flow for cycles along the whole route as that when a cyclist gets one green light they will not see a red light all the way along the route

I concluded with:

I am sure that as cyclists you would agree that without routes of that quality it is a nonsense to call Leicester a Cycle City and without such an infrastructure Leicester will not achieve a significant increase in modal share for cycling (and I do not see how any interim target less than say 20% of all journeys could be considered significant). I am sure you are aware that no city in the western world has achieved significant model share for cycling without a significant investment in separated cycle infrastructure.

I look forward to hearing from you as to
a) Why relatively minor changes at the Melton Road/Troon Way junction to make it much safer will be prohibitively expensive
b) What is being done to provide a cycle infrastructure for Leicester that justifies the title “Cycle City”

I’ll let you know when I hear something.

Related Posts
  1. From experience I’ve found that the part of the work that is prohibitively expensive is not the actual physical work and changes needed. It’s the traffic regulation orders, consultations, plans, revisions, meetings and all the bureaucracy that surrounds it that is expensive. Keeping in mind that putting up a small sign can often cost hundreds of pounds per sign. Of course this is no excuse. Often the reason found for not doing things is that they are not within regulations or are too expensive as if that is a reason to not try to do anything.

    The real answer is that the things higher up that hinder these things need to change to allow them to be possible. Regulations need to be rethought for the world we’re living in now rather than using standards and regulations that have been around for decades and are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Processes need to be simplified to make them less expensive and prolonged.

    Accessing the people who make those decisionsto make that change though… I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult that would be.

  2. Y’know, if you look at this & other similar situations elsewhere, there is a bit of an erosion of basic needs going on isn’t there? The act of doing something as simple as crossing a road is obviously well down the pecking order.

    Looking forward to the reply, should they bother.

    • Ian,

      Good points. Can we argue that it is a basic human right to be able to walk about a community?

      It is clear from papers on the web that this junction is one that planners look at in terms of increasing traffic flows. My view is the people responsible for a junction like this with no safe crossings should be fired.

  3. A view of Leicester Critical Mass « 42 Bikes - pingback on January 28, 2011 at 11:00 pm
  4. Katja Leyendecker

    There might be an opportunity here: the Local Sustainable Transport fund (LSTF) bid that local councils should be busy preparing as we speak needs community support to be viewed favourably by the DfT, the assessor and granting body.

    As local authorities have failed utterly in the past to cater for walking and cycling modes… they need your help. And the DfT recognise and acknowledge that in the ‘terms and conditions’ of the fund.

    Any campaign/community groups with interest in green and sustainable transport should get in contact with their council now and offer their assistance.

    Councils will need a “letter of support” from these groups! Big Society… in action. If councils listen.

  5. Clearly the first thing that needs to change is the people’s way of thinking if we expect any improvements on the streets and signs to actually work. Check out this video that takes on the coexistence of bikes and motor vehicles.

  6. Leicester City Council cause outrage in our home « 42 Bikes - pingback on February 9, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Leave a Comment

NOTE - You can use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: