Tag Archives: Sainsbury

Despite all the posts Sainsbury’s forgot some signs

I have been getting at Sainsbury’s and Leicester City Council for the mess they have made of the junction of Melton Road and Troon Way/Watermead Way. See

Anyway, we went shopping there yesterday (yes by bike, traffic on a Friday afternoon is terrible, we would have been crazy to drive).

We were trying to find our way in and find the bike parking. It turns out that my original guess (south side of the vehicular entrance) was wrong. The best way in on a bike is off Troon Way. But despite all those posts there is not a single sign anywhere to tell cyclists how to get to the store. DUH!!!!

I wonder how a large company like Sainsbury’s can work so hard to promote themselves as having excellent environmental policies, how they can have huge posters everywhere explaining how this new store is so brilliant for the environment while being so totally useless about supporting staff and customers arriving by bike.

 

What Leicester City Council and Sainsbury’s could have done (2)

In my previous post What Leicester City Council and Sainsbury’s could have done (1) I took a minimalist approach to providing a safe infrastructure for the Melton Road junction with Troon Way/Watermead Way at the site of the new Sainsbury’s. Now I want to take a little more radical approach.

Political Support

Both Sainsburys and Leicester City Council make bold claims for their political support for the environment and for carbon reduction.

Sainsbury’s on the environment

Let us imagine the sort of design that would fit with a Supermarket chain that claims the following:

Respect for our environment

At Sainsbury’s, respecting the environment is about doing the right thing. We aim to be the UK’s greenest grocer, which is great for our business but even better for the environment.

Making a positive difference to our community

For us, retailing is about more than quality products and great service. It’s also about supporting and helping the communities where we work, and being a good neighbour. We aim for our stores to be at the heart of the communities they serve

Further more, let us imagine they wish to build a flagship store that is their most environmentally efficient:

Sainsbury’s new supermarket in Leicester is one of two ‘Triple Zero’ stores the retailer has just opened. It is Sainsbury’s most environmentally friendly store to date and uses the very latest technologies available to complement its industry-leading standard specification.

Neil Sachdev, Sainsbury’s Property Director, said: “We aim to be the UK’s Greenest Grocer and achieve our 20×20 target to reduce our operational carbon emissions by 30 per cent absolute. To do this we’re now building and running highly sustainable, low carbon stores.

Such a store would of course take into account the environmental impact of it’s customers travelling to and from the site, sadly though all their public messages about the environment ignore transport, it is the elephant in the supermarket.

Of course if you want to build a very environment friendly superstore it helps to do it in an environment friendly city, so let us consider Leicester City.

Leicester City on the Environment

Leicester makes bold claims:

Setting sensible targets

So with a Supermarket chain and City both committed to a sustainable and low carbon environment, to the local community and to healthy and active travel, what might they do for transport at a site with 1,000’s of homes within a couple of miles, a site at a major junction where there is a lot of congestion and which is at the junction of key routes into and around the city.

  • They would presumably have targets for the percentage of staff walking, cycling or using public transport to get to work. They would do all they could to encourage this to reduce congestion, reduce car parking needs and increase the health, wealth and productivity of their staff.
  • They would presumably have targets for the percentage of customers walking, cycling or using public transport to get to and from their store. They would prioritise access to the store for these customers recognising that by doing so they benefit the local community by reducing congestion, pollution and health care costs.
  • They would presumably recognise how key the junction next to the store was for access into and around the city. They would note that it is the most direct route into the city for the communities of Thurmaston and Syston (and beyond). They would note that alternative cycling and walking routes into the city are far less direct and are through unlit parkland that is on the flood plain and thus inaccessible at night and when flooded. They would note that the crossing of the river Soar from the junction is one of the few that does not flood (the next nearest to the North is the A46 which is 3 miles away, to the south it is Loughborough Road 1.4 miles away) and so is important for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • They would note how close schools were to the site and the safety issues that come from having an attractive supermarket across a busy road from schools.

Noting all these things creating safe, attractive and convenient walking, cycling and public transport routes to, from and past the Supermarket would be of the highest priority.

Designing the transport links

The roads by this site are all very busy. For example the Melton Road is a dual carriageway that has 5 lanes heading south into this junction. Troon Way has 4 lanes heading east into the junction. There are frequent tailbacks on all 4 arms of the junction.

The London Cycling Campaign has helpfully adopted a simple formula for when cyclists should be provided with high quality protected space. If speeds exceed 20mph (based on 85th percentile actual speeds not the speed limit) or 2,000 PCUs per day (passenger car units, a weighted measure see this pdf for more detail. Here is a bit more detail. The London Cycling Campaign claim this is similar to Dutch requirements although it seems to me that theirs are more finely grained and consistently applied which no British standard relating to safe cycling infrastructure has been. See the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain for some analysis of Dutch standards.

However, every road at this junction way exceeds both the 20mph speed limit and the 2,000 pcu per day measure. The suggestion from a City Council officer I met at the safety audit that cyclists heading out of the city should ride on the dual carriage way shows a worrying lack of interest or understanding of safety for people on bikes.

So, idiot engineers from the City Council aside, it is clear that this junction should have fully protected cycle infrastructure on every arm. Consider the map

If Sainsbury’s and Leicester City were serious about their environmental policies then they would be looking at making the following cycle journeys safe and convenient:

  1. North/South along Melton Road A607 to provide good access in and out of Leicester (especially for the Golden Mile) for people in Thurmaston/Syston (and the villages beyond). Also to the Rushey Mead Secondary school on the Melton Road.
  2. East/West along Watermead Way/Troon Way A563. This is a critical east/west connection for cyclists, especially at night and in winter when many will not want or be able to cross the river Soar in Watermead Park. It provides critical connections between work places, hospitals and residential areas
  3. North/South to East/West due to the strategic crossing of the Soar and the direct route of the Melton Road there are many routes that will turn at this junction. For example from Syston to Glenfield Hospital is from North to West. Syston to the General Hospital is North to East.
  4. Local Routes to Sainsbury’s. The closest homes are behind the store in Thurmaston and across Troon Way. However, access from Melton Road (North and South) as well as Watermead Way (Birstall is from 1 mile away) will also be popular.
  5. In the summer connections into Watermead Park and the Sustrans route along the River Soar would probably be popular for people who are less confident cyclists.

With roads as busy as these I believe that grade based segregation is the best solution. Toucan crossings are slow and inconvenient. In the UK these are never very responsive to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists due to the focus on maximising motorised traffic flows. Nor do they provide attractive options that encourage school children to cycle (especially they do not encourage parents to allow their children to cycle to school).

However, the UK also has a very poor history when it comes to the design of grade separated segregation. We build subways that feel dangerous and which flood. We build bridges that are eyesores as well as narrow with long detours on the steep ramps. There are examples close to Sainsbury’s and they are frequently ignored by pedestrians and cyclists like this:

The Dutch do things differently and the best recent example is the Hovenring at Eindhoven that I rode over this summer. (although Mark also mentions a somewhat similar roundabout in Norway).

Note how the Dutch solution is attractive (no more than that, beautiful)!

hovenring

Not only is it beautiful it also feels very safe. The ramps are gentle and wide, for the most part with grass banks rather than railings. The roundabout gives you a choice of directions so you can avoid other people to feel safe. There is great visibility from all directions and the road which also makes you feel safer.

There are other practical advantages to the Hovenring, installation was quick as large segments were simply lifted into place. Cyclists and pedestrians never have to wait and never delay motorised vehicles. Maintenance is easy as the Hovenring is wide enough and strong enough for normal maintenance vehicles to drive on it.

Imagine how Sainsbury’s could have used this in their publicity and as a sign of where their most environmentally friendly store was. What a great gateway into the City the Council could have made this.

Things would have been done very differently. Instead of all the roads rising upto the junction it would have been lowered by a couple of meters, this would have provided the material for the ramps. It would have made the slopes easy for cyclists and pedestrians. One exit ramp could have curved gently down to the store canopy (where no doubt Sainsbury’s would have thought of providing more than 19 Sheffield stands for bike parking). One ramp could lead to a new cycle bridge alongside Watermead way where currently cyclists have to ride with no protection on a very busy road with a 50mph speed limit.

With imagination and a commitment to their public policies Sainsbury’s and Leicester City Council could have produced something to be proud of, something that would have gone a long way to transform the way that people get around Leicester and to/from this store. With that imagination they would both have gained huge visibility just as Eindhoven is currently reaping the benefits of being see the world over as a leading city for cycling.

 

 

What Leicester City Council and Sainsbury’s could have done (1)

I have written a lot of blog posts now on the failures of Leicester City Council and Sainsbury’s in the design and implementation of the new junction on the Melton Road at Troon way/Watermead Way because it is appallingly bad. There is probably at least one more critical post to come about actually getting to the Superstore by bike. So if you haven’t seen these posts have a look:

The thing that is really frustrating is that it could easily have been so different. On the east side (where Sainsburys is) there is lots and lots of space.

So my first suggestion for what Sainsbury’s could have done is very simple. They could have re-connected the old 1930’s segregated cycle track alongside the Melton Road so that it stayed as a segregated track running all the way through the junction.

They could have copied the design of the new segregated cycle track they have put in on Newarke Street where there is a colour and grade separation between the cycle track and the footway. See that in this video:

Then at all the crossings they could have copied the design of the “super crossing” near the station where a toucan crossing is both very wide and straight as it crosses the Central Ring dual carriageway.

The cycle track and footway would have needed to curve away from the Melton Road slightly from just north of the Sainsbury’s entrance to just south of Troon Way in order to allow the toucan crossings to be straight. This would have also allowed the cycle track to bypass behind the bus stop as they always do in the Netherlands.

The new left turning lane into Troon Way would have needed to be made a little more separated in order to line up the crossings. The central refuge of the Troon Way crossing would have needed to be a little wider so that the cattle pens could be removed and the crossing be straight.

None of this would have cost very much in the context of the whole junction.

The problems with the other side of the junction could have also been solved very simply by

  • upgrading the existing 1930’s cycle track on the Sainsbury’s side from Thurmaston to Belgrave.
  • upgrading one Melton Road crossing north of the junction and one south to supercrossings (with linked lights)

As part of this the Council could have reasonably resurfaced the 80 year old segregated cycle track on the east side of the Melton Road all the way from Manor Road in Thurmaston to the entrance to Rushey Fields in Belgrave (just south of the vehicle entrance into Rushey Mead Secondary School). Most of that cycle track has not been resurfaced in 80 years and now the concrete slabs have big steps between them. While resurfacing it could have been widened into it’s grass verge, been given priority over side roads and entrances by running it across a hump as existing standards allow (there are only about 4 needed) and bus stop bypasses installed.

If that work had been done then I am confident many people would be content to use this as a fast two way cycle route along the Melton Road and when travelling North would cross from the west side to ride the whole length on the east side. Therefore a crossing of Watermead Way would no longer be an issue.

[Update]

I feel I should have made it clearer that my suggestion is not just about this junction but about how it connects and how it can contribute to a wider network.

My suggestion connects at the north end with a scheme (that has a significant number of design issues itself) provided by Leicestershire County Council. With a naff bit of shared pavement you can get past the health centre and shops at the Humberstone Lane junction and then use the route along the Thurmaston bypass which is partially on a 20mph limit road (a speed limit that is widely ignored) and then on a shared footway to Thurmaston Shopping Centre. From there the quality goes down again and you have a section of poor shared footway to the mini roundabout at Fosse Way where you are abandoned.

At the south end of my suggestion there is the possibility of using Lanesborough Road to connect to Bath Street and join the Sustrans route through Abbey Park. There are only two problems with this. a) the bit between Thurcaston Rd and Abbey Pumping Station floods a lot and b) there is no safe route into the City once you get to the Central Ring Road.

A signposted alternative for cyclists at the southern end is to go through Rushey Fields and along Harrison Road. I only recommend this if your destination is on Harrison Road and you are a confident cyclist with a death wish. It is horrible!

More frequently these days I tend to go straight along the Melton Road/Belgrave Road. It is unpleasant but it is fast. I find it easier going towards the city than away from it though. This is the Golden Mile in Leicester, it has exciting vibrant shops and restaurants but ends being dominated by a combination of parked and speeding motorised vehicles. The road could be made so much more attractive to visit by reducing it to a single lane of motor vehicles in each direction with protected segregated cycle tracks and wider pavements with outside seating for the restaurants in the summer.

The questions Leicester City Council don’t want to answer

In a three month period Leicester City Council have opened three new pieces of cycle infrastructure:

  • A new segregated cycle lane on Southgates
  • A new segregated cycle lane on Newarke St
  • The Melton Rd/Troon Way/Watermead Way junction at the new Sainsbury’s

All have been built with posts in the middle of the cycle infrastructure. The ones on Newarke Street have now been removed, we are promised the ones on Southgates will be removed in the new year (4 months after it opened) and today I was promised that some of them at the Sainsbury’s junction will be removed – but no promise of when.

However, this leaves a number of questions for Leicester City Council:

  1. How did these posts get put in the middle of cycle infrastructure in the first place?
  2. What policies and procedures at the City Council have been changed to make sure this does not happen again?
  3. What new training has been given or is planned for the City engineers involved in these projects?
  4. When the Cycle City Workshop was shown drawings why were these posts not on them?
  5. How much has it cost us to correct these errors?

At the same time the City Council has published a new design for the Haymarket Bus Station. This has lost the segregated cycle track that was shown to the City Cycle Workshop and now has no provision for safe cycling (while adding a number of features that the Cycle City Workshop have made clear increase the danger for cyclists).

So why is the City Council not making it a design brief requirement that all new infrastructure is safe and convenient for cyclists?

 

Leicester City Council Safety Audit failure

On my way into Leicester I noticed a large volume of high vis safety jackets at the now notorious junction at Leicester’s new Sainsbury’s where the Melton Road crosses Troon Way/Watermead Way (see my three previous posts).

It turned out that inside the high viz jackets were a team doing a safety audit, so I stopped to talk to them.

The good news is that Sainsbury’s are going to move the smaller posts that are dotted all over the paths (but I don’t know when and I have no specific assurance that this will be all the posts).

The bad news is that a man who seemed to be talking for the developer said that none of the posts supporting the road signs will be moved. There are 3 sets of posts:

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(note this last one does now have a sign on it).

I was told that these cannot be moved because the posts have to be in these positions due to the large number of services running under the footway and the verge at this point.

This is a failed excuse!

It is an excuse that would never be acceptable in a road used by motor vehicles! Can you imagine saying “We are sorry that we have put this post in the middle of the dual carriageway, but there was nowhere else it could go because of services under the road”.

I could accept them saying “we clearly made a mistake and it would be very expensive to correct now. We have changed out design standards and our policies, we are sending our engineers and site managers on training courses to make sure this never happens again”.

What I do not accept is this excuse which says cyclists and pedestrians do not matter to us, we are not willing to invest any skill, any resources into creating and implementing a design that will be safe and convenient for them.

There is so much space around the signs. The posts on the Sainsbury’s could have been placed up to about 4 metres more away from the road. When the whole area has been dug up and relaid in a new place it is entirely unacceptable to claim that the position of services prevents safe positioning of these signs.

 

Other problems at new junction on Melton Road by Sainsburys

Last night I wrote Posts at new junction on Melton Road by Sainsburys which has now been viewed over 500 times in the first 24 hours.

While the posts, signs and other street furniture scattered randomly around the shared use footway are a big problem they are by no means the only problem.

Even if the footway were fully cleared of all this junk the junction would still be very slow and inconvenient for cyclists and pedestrians and that is for two reasons:

a) the junction design and traffic light sequencing is entirely focused on motorised traffic throughput. Hence there are a lot of separate toucan crossings and they only go green when vehicles can’t use those lanes due to conflicts with other vehicles.

b) Sainsburys have managed to wangle their way out of providing any crossings at all on the west side of the junction where pedestrians and cyclists travelling North on the 1930’s segregated cycle track need to cross Watermead Way. This means pedestrians and cyclists need to cross the Melton Road twice and Troon Way once instead of crossing just Watermead Way.

This junction is really important for journeys in and out of Leicester along the Melton Road to the North East. With Thurmaston; Syston; East Goscote; Cossington and Sileby all in easy reach of the city. The only popular alternative is to use the National Cycle Network through Watermead Park. However, this has been inaccessible due to flooding for around 8 weeks in 2013. Even when not flooded it is very slow and much further (8.5 miles instead of less than 6 from Syston).

So, how much of a problem is it? At the moment I am told that the traffic lights are not in their final programmed state so I have not taken any timings.

Heading South

If you head South through the junction towards the city you have got to use 5 separate toucan crossings (2 for the Sainsburys entrance and 3 to cross Troon Way). Due to the way these prioritise motorised vehicles they cannot all be green. So far I have not experienced less than 3 waits.

Heading North

The “normal” route North would be on the segregated cycle tracks (that become shared footways close to the junction) on the West side of the Melton Road (ie travelling in the same direction as the lane of traffic alongside you). This route requires 7 Toucan crossings and you get stopped at lots of them (I think it takes 2 or 3 complete junction light phases to get through).

An alternative route North would be to cross the Melton Road at a different spot. However, all the crossings for about a mile in each direction are made up of two separate Toucan Crossings and as they are not part of junctions they are set to be very slow to respond to button presses. Therefore any time saving is likely to be very small. If you are continuing North past Thurmaston you do need to cross to the East side at some point, however doing this at Troon Way adds additional side roads to cross and the 2 Toucan crossings for the Sainsburys entrance.

On Road Routes

Many “fast” cyclists will be tempted to stay on the road. Partly because they will get through this junction so much more quickly but also because the cycle tracks have had almost no maintenance since they were built of concrete slabs in the 1930’s. The joints are now several inches high making for a very jarring ride that soon breaks lightweight wheels or causes pinch flats. When the northbound Melton Road was recently resurfaced the Council said that while there was a planned maintenance schedule for the cycle track after only 80 years it was not yet due for resurfacing.

So heading north along the Melton Road it is a straight dual carriage way about a mile each side of the Troon Way junction. Traffic is heavy and fast, while the speed limit is 40mph when you drive at that speed you are overtaken be vehicles going much much faster (I would suggest a significant % doing around 60mph). I see some cyclists riding this but I have tried it only once and found it so unpleasant that I have never used in since. Neither my wife or sons (21, 18 and 15) would consider riding along this road.

Going south there are a few more options. You could ride the whole dual carriage again, it is very little nicer than going North. At the northern end traffic is very fast having just come from the 50mph Thurmaston bypass (usually at a lot more than 50mph), at the southern end the left lane is a bus lane which at least means there are fewer drivers trying to kill you.

You could also join the carriageway at the Sainsburys entrance and leave about 100 metres south of Troon way where there is way onto the cycle track. However, you now have the added danger of a new left feed lane for the junction so you risk being knocked off by left turning traffic crossing lanes into you.

Conclusion

I have written about this junction as it used to be, when it had one of the worst accident rates in Leicester. Then there were no safe crossings for pedestrians and cyclists on any of the arms of the junction and also no safe refuges in the middle. For very patient and slow pedestrians and cyclists it is now a little better, for everyone else it is worse. What a waste of an opportunity!

Later I’ll write about what could have been done with a bit of imagination and a willingness to invest in transport for the future.

 

Posts at new junction on Melton Road by Sainsburys

The new junction includes access to the new Sainsburys and a complete reworking of where the Melton Road is crossed by Troon Way (to the East) and Watermead Way (to the West).

Approaching from the North heading towards Leicester on the west side of the Melton Road.

First is the classic Leicester City design (also seen at the new Southgates cycle path) where posts are added to the middle of a cycle track, of course they are not high vis despite their position). This is at the entrance to Sainsburys.

PB190097

also the matching post once you have crossed the junction. After all there is no space to put this post except in the middle of the path (not!)

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Same post from the opposite direction, completely unclear how you will get into Sainsburys by bike as the path ends just on the corner ahead.

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Then we have a huge road sign. Pictured from both sides. It shows how easily the posts could have been positioned to the side of the path instead of reducing the width and making it far too easy to catch them with your handlebars.

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The next sign needs to have been a bit wider so that the posts could have been positioned clear of the path.

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Yet more posts, presumably for another sign. Again there is no reason why these have to block the cycle / pedestrian shared space.

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Look how much fun we can have with positioning a lamp post, a no stopping sign and a bus stop

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Where else would you put this vital sign other than the very middle of a shared use pedestrian and cycle pavement? After all it would be impossible to fit the sign to either the lamp post or the bus stop.

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By the entrance to Sainsburys why put these brand new boxes of electronics in the cycle path?

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At the corner of Melton Road/Troon Way the boxes are positioned more sensibly. Why couldn’t they be consistent?

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On the North West side of Melton Road they decided that for a change to install the post 1/3 of the way across the path.

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On the South West side a return to normal with the sign right in the middle of the path

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This junction has been closed for weeks, everything has been replaced and yet all these posts have been placed in such stupid places.

To my knowledge the Cycle City Workshop was never shown detailed plans of this junction. I want to know who decided on this junction layout. I want to know who decided to position these posts in these way. Is it the City engineers? Have the construction team followed the design correctly or did they choose these positions?

No doubt cyclists will have to live with this rubbish for the next 50 years. I reported a new sign post in the middle of the new cycle track on Southgates in September and was told on 17th September that the engineer was aware of the problem and the post would be reallocated. Nothing has happened yet and that was a single post in what was an unfinished cycle track.

At the moment I have lost all my confidence in the ability of the City Council to implement safe cycle infrastructure. In another post on this same junction I will also show how the City Council are also failing to implement convenient cycle infrastructure.

 

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