Tag Archives: Pedestrian

Why pedestrians walk on the cycle paths

IMAG0436 by Dave 42
IMAG0436, a photo by Dave 42 on Flickr.

When HGV’s choose to park on the pavement is it any wonder that one of the few separated cycle paths in Leicester gets used by the pedestrians (despite the appalling trip hazard the edges of the concrete slabs make). This is alongside the Melton Road in Leicester.

Transforming cities

This video demonstrates the way a city centre can be transformed for better.

I visited Copenhagen many times over nearly 20 years from the mid 1980’s so I have seen how nice the city centre was but how much better it got as speeds were brought down over a wider area and how more facilities were added for pedestrians and cyclists. I worked with friends who lived with frustrations that as car drivers it got harder to park but who also loved the life and energy and social atmosphere that grew where ever the streets were reclaimed from cars.

In Leicester the pedestrianised streets get busier and busier with people which makes a huge contrast with the nearby streets that are smelly, noisy and unpleasant places to be due to the clogged up traffic.

Imagine if Leicester took a long term view of it’s streets and started reclaiming them in an organised way. Keep cars out of the city centre, block more streets to buses, taxi’s and vans. Provide faster cross city cycle routes than mean we only ride on the main pedestrian areas to actually get to the shops rather than to commute.

Imagine if all the main routes into Leicester were transformed into pedestrian and cyclist friendly places. Think how vibrant the Belgrave Road could be if the restaurants could have outside seating, if the pavements were wider and full of people. If there were little noise and pollution from cars, if you could wander freely from shop to shop without being in danger from cars using it as a race track. All it would take is a clean sweep down the road leaving a minimised two lanes (one in each direction) with effective cobbled speed humps, wide cycle tracks on each side, wider pavements cleared of obstructions (the debris of a car focused street in terms of signs etc all blocking the pavement) for pedestrians, a 20mph speed limit and pedestrian/cyclist priority at every junction (so the pavement and cycle paths go level past every side street with cars giving way to get turn on/off).

Look again at the thriving streets in Copenhagen, they have not always been like this. I have been to many of them when they were car dominated and there were few successful shops and businesses, where it was unpleasant at night, where there were few people about.

We could transform our cities. As Leicester claims to be both an Environment City and a Cycle City it would nice to hope that someone has experienced the amazing changes that can come by a change of priorities away from the car.

Hat tip: If Things Are Not Good For Business, They Will Be Changed

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!”

 

Leicestershire highway maintenance block cyclists again

Today they were replacing a sign on the A6 between the A46 and Rothley.

So this being Leicestershire they completely blocked the shared pedestrian/cycle route for most of the day with no provision at all for pedestrians and cyclists. After all this is only a dual carriageway that is used as a racetrack and of course there was no warning and there is no alternative cycle route anyway. So much for this being a valued part of a national cycle network.

IMAG0391

IMAG0390

Note that the cones block off nearly a whole lane. However, the cranes and people lifts from their vehicles overhung most of this. Also the cones were not at all obvious coming from the south.

When going north there was a sudden gap in the cones to allow vehicles to enter/exit the junction. This was right at the back of the bigger lorry so there was no warning and no visibility when coming from the north. Of course nothing was done to provide a way over the kerb and raised grass verge either.

There is not even the normal excuse of not knowing this is a cycle route. In the first picture you can see the sign for a shared use path within a few feet of where they are working.

I politely asked the men working there if they could sort something out when I first rode past at about 10am, by 12:30pm nothing had been done to make it safer for cyclists or pedestrians. At the time I returned they were operating the crane on the lorry from it’s nearside with nobody watching for passing cyclists or pedestrians. Very dangerous and most unpleasant to pass.

Finally just to confirm for anyone from Leicestershire County Council the vehicles involved on Tue 8th of Feb were FD53 ZCE and NV10 NLF

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.

What cars do to us

I have written before about the effect our car culture has on a number of aspects of our lives such as The war on Children. Today as I rode to Starbucks I was thinking about another set of effects on us.

The practical problems are obvious (death of pedestrians and cyclists, especially of children; congestion; obesity; pollution etc). However, I have come to believe that cars have had other more insidious effects.

Have cars made us more selfish and less tolerant of others? Have they made us less patient?

At Thurmaston Shopping centre there is a roundabout at the junction between the two halves. Asda’s car park on one side and the car park for the other shops on the other side.

None of the four roads in/out of this roundabout have zebra or pelican crossings so there is no help for pedestrians or cyclists trying to cross from one side to the other.

The reaction of drivers at this junction demonstrates nicely what the car does to us. I see time after time that drivers ignore people trying to cross these road. There are always parents with pushchairs, kids, cyclists, other pedestrians trying to cross between the two halves of the shopping centre. However, the drivers are incredibly selfish and impatient. Almost none of them pause to allow people to cross the road despite the fact that so often they are queuing slowly.

I don’t believe that people are by nature this selfish, intolerant and impatient. They rarely are when you meet them face to face. The contrast when I cycled home through Watermead Park and met people face to face is quite different, I get people saying hi, giving way to each other, smiling at each other.

It seems our addiction to cars has blinded us to the negative effects on our very humanity.

Yet all our government can do is blindly encourage more of this addiction. What is it going to be like when the oil shortage really hits and society has to go cold turkey?

Do It For The Children

Following an impassioned post by David Hembrow in  Stop the Child Murder Karl has written Do It For The Children in which he notes:

Now the killer fact: In the UK, providing your child doesn’t have an inherited / genetically based disease (congenital defects, child cancers, etc), then the thing that is most likely to kill them, most likely to stop you becoming a grandparent, and most likely to stop them reaching their full adult potential . . . is still a road traffic incident.

That comes after noticing

The UK has seen a 50% improvement in road traffic deaths in the last 35 years, yet the Dutch have achieved a 78% improvement in the same period.

Clearly making the roads safer for cars has been unsuccessful in keeping children alive compared to making the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

However, making the roads safer for cars has not only failed to protect children it has had a number of other very negative effects:

When the focus is on making the roads safer for cars the key effect is not only children are killed but also there are other side effects:

  • congestion: More people are encouraged to travel by car. This becomes a vicious circle as the more people travel by car the less safe walking and cycling feel so the more people travel by car and so on. However, wide we make the roads, however efficient we make junctions congestion still gets worse.
  • obesity: The UK has the worst levels of obesity in Europe. Our preferred means of travel is a key element in this. Simply we get less exercise as we drive everywhere.
  • school achievement: studies have shown that children who walk or cycle to school are more alert and better behaved as they are properly awake and have had some exercise
  • pollution: we fail to meet the targets for pollution as we refuse to accept the role of the car (and especially cars stuck in congestion) as a key cause. This has knock-on effects on people’s health and happiness which negatively impact the economy.
  • carbon footprint: transport is a large factor in our national carbon footprint and cars hugely significant within this. We have built an infrastructure and culture that commits us to an unsustainable carbon footprint.
  • energy dependency: we have passed or are passing peak oil. From here on global oil production (from industry figures) is in terminal decline. Yet we continue to build an infrastructure and culture that is dependant on oil
  • But to repeat the point David and Karl make. Our car focused transport policy kills Children. Until we change our policy as they did in the Netherlands and as they have since done in Copenhagen and are starting to do in many other cities we will still kill Children.

Our transport policy is not working and as a result our children are being killed. So let us change the policy.

Let us stop the war on Children and make the roads safer for them. That requires

  • A high quality segregated cycle network which covers whole journeys with safe crossings at junctions and with low levels of traffic. Note there are easy tests of the quality of a cycle network. Is it being used by children and Mum’s? Are people switching from their cars to use the network? Is 50% of all journeys by foot or bike a goal that we can see annual double digit progress towards?
  • 20mph speed limits in all towns on all roads in those towns except major trunk routes which ALWAYS have fully separated cycle and pedestrian paths and where every single junction has a safe crossings for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Strict enforcement of driving offences: speeding, parking (especially on paths and cycle routes), mobile phone usage etc. The penalties to be significant with long term loss of driving license being expected by all.
  • Always, automatic and immediate removal of driving licenses for life for anyone who kills a pedestrian or cyclist while driving whatever the circumstances.
  • Always, automatic and immediate  confiscation of the vehicle from anyone who kills a pedestrian or cyclist while driving whatever the circumstances.
  • Just as Paris is considering ban the most polluting vehicles from all city centres (SUV’s, road legal racing cars etc). They frighten pedestrians and cyclists, take up too much space and damage the city environment too much.
  • Targets for all schools for % of children walking or cycling to school. Helped by enforced no parking within 1/2 mile of the school.
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