Tag Archives: Segregated cycle facilities

Everyone wins from cycling, even those that won’t ever cycle.

Our lives are full of people complaining about cyclists.

Yet this excellent post Take Away Space From Cars to Reduce Congestion For All includes these essential reminders:

  • It [Cycling] is here that there is the greatest unmet demand.  It’s also incredibly cheap compared to other ways of moving people around and provides paybacks in the region of 40:14:1 just from the health benefits.
  • Building cycle infrastructure is what’s best for those people who will never travel by any other way than driving too
  • Everyone wins from cycling, even those that won’t ever cycle.
  • The argument that says that where we have a limited resource (in this case, space) that we should prioritise use of it for the least efficient use of that resource (cars) is fundamentally flawed.

Read the post and get everyone else to read it too.

Investment in making Cycling feel safe is a huge win for everyone!

BJ52YHA always blocking the Melton Road Cycle Track

This car is starting to really annoy me. So when I have a moment I pause to take a picture as I try to ride along the Melton Road.

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Notice from the tyre marks how often the driver parks here. Note the other cyclist forced onto the pavement because this car is completely blocking the cycle track.

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I have passed this car parked here many more times than I have taken photos, frequently it is not the only car parked on the cycle track.

Note that all the nearest houses have driveways with space for more than 1 car, I have never seen the driveways full.

Makes you wonder how this bollard got broken doesn’t it.

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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?

 

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.

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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.

 

Wondering about potential while gliding past stationary traffic

This morning I had a 9:30am appointment at the Leicester Royal Infirmary (another wisdom tooth to be removed).

So at about 8:45am I gently cycled into Leicester along the Melton Road passing about a mile of stationary traffic queuing due to the roadworks at the Troon Way junction.

I tried counting the cars with only one person in them but gave up after 19 of the first 20 were single occupancy.

After passing all these cars and going straight through the traffic free City Centre I got to the LRI where I was of course able to park for free right at the entrance.

Obviously huge numbers of people travel shortish distances along the Melton/Belgrave Road everyday and it is only about 5 miles from Syston to the City Centre, it is almost flat and it is a wide road (especially if you measure the full width of the space).

As always I can’t help wondering how much we could save and benefit from installing wide segregated cycle tracks along the full length from East Goscote to the Clock Tower with priority at all the junctions.

There would be huge savings for individuals (fuel, parking, time, gym, illness) as well as transformational savings for the community through cutting congestion and pollution while generating significant health and increased productivity benefits.

So many studies show how the businesses for example along the Golden Mile would benefit if it were a more pleasant place to sit, walk and cycle.

Along the route you also pass several schools, wouldn’t it be fantastic if the children could get to and from school without being at risk from busys roads. For that matter how much better would society be if the air they breathe all day in school were not full of particulates coming from diesel engines going past their windows.

I struggle to understand why people sitting for half an hour in a queue are not clamoring for cycle tracks to reduce the traffic and make the places they go nicer.

I completely fail to understand why residents on these busy and wide roads are not up in arms demanding cycle tracks to reduce the noise, pollution, congestion and danger outside their homes.

Have our brains been destroyed by cars?

Last day riding in the Netherlands this holiday

So sad, today was our last full day in the Netherlands, in the morning we pack up to head back to cycling carnage in the UK.

It also rained all morning but by mid afternoon it had cleared up and we went for a beautiful ride.

You can see a map of the route here on Strava.

As with every ride in the Netherlands this holiday there was not a single dangerous or scary moment.

I got caught a bit as piggy in the middle between a son wanting to rush onto the next place where we might buy him food and a wife who wanted to enjoy the scenery 🙂

The ride to Camperduin included some lovely off road bits with some amazing sand mountains to see at Schoorl. Then we stopped for a drink at the cafe on top of the dunes at Camperduin, so windy the froth was being blown off the drinks as the staff brought them to the tables (despite the glass screens).

The next bit is wonderful, a scenic ride through the sand dunes. A real delight even with the hills and a very strong headwind. We passed one family with 3 children between the parents bikes (Mum with the younger two and Dad with the older one) working their way up the first long climb. There were lots of bikes all the way along with people of all ages riding them.

We then had an early evening meal at Bergen aan Zee with a sea view which was lovely before a ride back to the campsite on which you pass some really great home designs.

I did 23.3 miles which was probably a mile or two further than the others as I commuted between them 🙂

A great ride to finish the holiday.

Note looking forward to UK roads at all!

 

Some normal sights in the Netherlands

I’m sorry but I’m not much of a photographer so you’ll have to make do with word pictures.

We have now been in the Netherlands for 10 days. Here are just a few of the normal sights around here that you won’t normally (if ever, for most of us) see in the UK

1: An elderly couple out for a ride together. She is on a mobility scooter and he is on an electric assist bike.

2: A mum with a cargobike riding alongside a young child (maybe about 5 years old) who is riding their own bike along the normal cycle infrastructure (at this point a painted lane on the road). When I caught up with them they were stopped at a red traffic light and clearly having a conversation about what that meant and when they would be able to continue.

3: Parents with two children on a normal bike (one in a seat behind the handlebars, the other a seat on the backrack).

4: Teenage girls riding out of town on their own in the late evening.

5: Groups of young people riding about town together, using the safe infrastructure not the pavement or the road.

6: A group of 4 Scouts in uniform on a fully loaded tour

7: Tandems with couples of all ages in normal clothes

8: Couples in full lycra on nice road bikes riding together heading in or out of town

9: People getting off their bike, parking it and taking a walking stick from the basket in order to be able to walk away.

10: Crowds of bikes parked outside every restaurant, cafe, pub, shop in an ordinary town not just a University city.

11. Cash machines at banks that most of the people use them one handed while holding their bike in the other hand

12. People of all ages giving people of all ages rides on their back racks (or sometimes their front racks)

13. Dogs in front baskets, dogs in rear baskets, dogs on leads alongside bikes

14. A gentleman riding home with a huge brass band instrument on his front rack

15: A mum with two maybe 10 year olds in the front of her cargobike (seen halfway between two towns)

16: Bike traffic jams at traffic lights despite it not being rush hour, not being a city and not being a narrow lane.

Naysayers defeated by the Dutch again!

Naysayers defeated by the Dutch again!

Today we moved from Bladel to Alkmaar, due to congestion around Amsterdam we arrived a little later than we expected. Anyway, once the folding camper was setup I headed into town to buy some food.

The campsite staff had given me a little map to show where the town centre was but in fact I didn’t need it. The advice to turn left at the campsite entrance (we had arrived from the right) was enough. That took me straight onto a segregated cycle track and from there on it was both clearly signposted and full cycle infrastructure.

Once at the town centre I was able to get some cash and arrive at the little supermarket in the centre just as it was closing.

So I decided to scout around and see if I could find somewhere open and at the same time put the Dutch cycle infrasrtructure to the test.

Blindly riding around a town you have never visited in search of a food shop that is open when the first one you visited told you that there would be no others open seems a good way to test the cycle infratructure.

Surely this time I would make a bad choice somewhere and end up where there was no safe cycle infrastructure!

So I continued down the almost completely pedestrianised shopping street until I met a busy looking inner ring road by a canal. That had an excellent segregated cycle track, I continued along that, went over a huge lifting bridge on a segregated track and ended up on a quiet road which had a clear sign saying bicyles had priority. I saw a bus with a queue behind waiting patiently behind a very slow cyclist. I passed two teenagers riding side by side. Cars only overtook when the other direction was clear and gave lots of space.

I came to another big road, crossed it with priority (a car stopped for me) and then headed back towards the town through some out of town shopping units, still on a segregated cycle track. I then spotted a Lidl and crossed at a bike specific crossing into the carpark where there were plenty of bike racks right by the shopping trolleys. It was open! So we have been able to eat and will be able to eat tomorrow 🙂

I then continued around the edge of the town centre until I reached my original route in, then I came back to the campsite.

In total 5.6 miles and I didn’t find a single junction or section of road where cycles were not fully catered for. I felt totally safe the whole time despite not having much idea where I was. I navigated by looking for busy areas where there might be semi out of town shops like the Lidl I found and I got back by using my Garmin GPS showing my track so I could make a rough circle and reconnect with my route into the town.

The cycle infrastructure varied. Sometimes there was no road (just a cycle track), sometimes it was a cycle track separated from the road, sometimes it was a painted lane, sometimes a quiet road with special markings, sometimes a semi pedestrianised road.

Whatever the infrastructure was along the roads every junction still had proper provision for cyclists whether it was priority over side roads, special lanes or segregated tracks around roundabouts or specific traffic light phases.

I have ridden in what have variously been described as the best UK towns and cities (Cambridge, Oxford, Stevenage, Milton Keynes). None of these even come close to this essentially randomly chosen Dutch town.

Everywhere in the UK needs to have a complete rethink and get their road designers to the Neterlands on bikes for as long as it takes for them to understand what they need to do.

 

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