Leicester City Council cause outrage in our home

I have been writing to Leicester City Council about the total lack of any provision for pedestrians or cyclists at a major junction (Melton Rd/Troon Way). For background see Cyclists and Pedestrians failed by Leicester City Council « 42 Bikes.

Today I got a response to my last email (and my thanks to John Dowson for replying in about two weeks):

We have looked at whether low cost improvements can be made, but the length of crossing distances and hence the time a pedestrian would be crossing the highway are outside of standard design requirements. This means that simply putting in a pedestrian/cycle facility on a junction a junction without intervening islands to segregate the lanes, which would also be necessary to keep traffic moving, would be inherently unsafe. As the lane widths have to be maintained, this also means widening the junction, which increases the costs significantly. The junction has a high accident record, generally of shunts, red light infringements and turning movement errors, which means that we need to be thorough in designing a safer, better junction. The simple solutions you suggest are regretfully not practical and this remains a junction that we have been unable to improve at a reasonable cost.

I have replied with some detailed questions.

However, when I showed this email to Jane she was reduced to spluttering outrage.

Our understanding of the junction of Melton Road and Troon Way can be summarised as:

  • The Council knows this junction has a high accident rate
  • There are no signals to indicate to pedestrians or cyclists when it is safe to cross because the distance is too far to cross safely
  • Travelling to and from Leicester a pedestrian needs to cross a minimum of 5 lanes of traffic.
  • Travelling to and from Leicester a cyclist has separated cycle paths that end before this junction and start after it
  • There are no alternative options for pedestrians or cyclists (other than a long detour on unlit paths through Watermead Park)
  • There is a secondary school less than 1/3 of a mile away
  • The Council are unwilling to make the junction safe for pedestrians and cyclists because they believe it is too expensive to make it safe for pedestrians and cyclists while maintaining the flow of traffic (note how they exclude pedestrians and cyclists from their definition of traffic, it does not matter if their flow is destroyed and their safety is a lower priority than the flow of cars).

Is this legal?

How can a Council provide footpaths and cycle paths that lead to a junction that they know is unsafe?

Shouldn’t there be signs up saying:

“Leicester City Council know that this junction is unsafe:

  • there are no lights to tell you when to cross,
  • the light sequence does not give you time to cross,
  • there are no safe refuges,
  • vehicles frequently crash here.

Therefore do not try to use this pavement or cyclepath as it does not go anywhere and we should never have built it.

We apologise that this means you cannot get into or out of Leicester by walking or cycling.

Have a nice day!”

 

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19 Comments.

  1. Katja Leyendecker

    Hm. Sounds all too familiar to me. Always the same. Keep-the-traffic-flowing business-as-usual.

    Here’s are two recent comments from my council. Prepare to cry or laugh, depending on your mood.

    Referring to a dangerous junction which has been openly identified as dangerous for walking and cycling for a long time (years), but still not getting tackled. Postponing the postponed. When will they get round to it?
    “It was made clear to the working group that the improvements at the John Dobson street/St Mary’s Place junction were interim measures pending the development of plans for a Civic Boulevard. These plans are longer term and further improvements may be possible in the meantime.”

    Referring to a dangerous T-junction. Keep it flowing to the detriment of cyclists safety. Lovely.
    “As was explained to the Forum and the working group, the first phase would concentrate on northbound improvements. The left filter at Durant Place has been looked at but needs to be retained to keep the traffic following at peak times.”

    • At some point “business-as-usual” is going to catastrophically fail. It might be caused by child deaths, the obesity crisis, fuel shortages or climate change. Sadly we are doing nothing to prepare.

      Meanwhile business-as-usual continues to kill children, it continues to damage our health, happiness and wealth.

      Seem to be a lot of heads stuck in the sand.

  2. “outside of standard design requirements” aah.. that old Chestnut. Dismissed based on standards and requirements, often used to escape blame for the situation by the person responding to you. Basically telling you it’s someone else higher up who decided something a long time ago that has caused the problem. As I’ve mentioned in comments here before, something higher up needs to change to make those standards and requirements work to make things possible for the world we’re living in now, not just accepted and used as blanket excuses for decades to come.

  3. Try contacting Andy Salkeld, LCC cycling officer, andy.salkeld at leicester.gov.uk
    He might be able to help bring pressure to bear. I know the junction – used to work at Thurmaston. One of many reasons I don’t use cycle paths! But I support your campaign to get it altered. The idea that you can’t even walk from Belgrave to Thurmaston is insane!

    • Thanks Eric, Andy has been in on some of the earlier discussions on this.

      I am hoping to get an invite to the Cycle-city Workshop although I won’t be able to make the next one due to a funeral.

      • You don’t need an invitation, it’s a public meeting. Andy should be able to give you times, it’s always in the town hall.

        • Ok, it wasn’t clear to me that it was a public meeting. I was told:

          The Cycle-city Workshop is a monthly meeting for representatives of constituted groups promoting cycling across the city.

          Meetings take place at 5pm (from 4.30pm for plan viewings) at Leicester Town Hall – Third Wednesday of each month.

          That doesn’t appear to mean I could just turn up.

  4. What a crock.

    I wonder if the Council are admitting out loud that they know the junction is unsafe, but are seen to not be doing anything about it simply in order to ‘maintain traffic flow’, if there might be a liability case next time a pedestrian or cyclist gets hurt on the crossing…? There’s an idea that might get them to sit up and pay attention a bit more…

    What is sad is that road designs and junctions like this are prevalent across the UK – unpicking the planning decisions of our 60s forefathers is going to take a lot of hard work.

    • Mark,

      One problem is that they have made it so unsafe that people don’t walk there.

      Cyclists for the most part seem to ride on the dual carriageway rather than the cycle paths (not really surprising given they don’t connect through the junction).

      The crashes are (I quote):

      “The junction has a high accident record, generally of shunts, red light infringements and turning movement errors”

      The seem only focused on these issues in any future redesign (for which it seems there is no money anyway).

  5. I wonder whether this is a task for the nascent CEGB. Perhaps there’s a legal argument from the duty of care that I presume that the Council owes citizens who use its infrastructure. We need some legal assistance here.
    Could be a test case. Will probably cost money.

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  9. Interesting that the response to “no-money” is to leave an unsafe condition in place. Surely, that intersection could be closed to cars (costs no money) and then it would be safe.

  10. And the irony is that on the new Leicester Cycle map, it shows pelican crossings at the junction which don’t exist on the ground.

  11. It isn’t daft when you go by bike « 42 Bikes - pingback on March 20, 2012 at 7:25 am
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