County Council Elections
We have asked the Loughborough Candidates for the Leicestershire County Council Elections to complete a questionnaire regarding their thoughts on cycling. You can read the responses we have received here.
Proposal for Pavement Cycle Track
We were asked to comment on a proposal to move the on road cycle lane between Knightthorpe Road and Byron Street Extension onto the pavement. After considerable debate in the yahoo forum, this is the response we made:
We have some concerns with the proposals. They need to be viewed within the context of the A6 as it passes through the urban area of Loughborough (from the bridge over the Great Central Railway in the south to the Bishop Meadow roundabout to the north). This is a main route with a high level of motor traffic often travelling at speed. The route is used by cyclists of all types with high pedestrian use. Consequently we believe that high quality segregated provision is appropriate for the route, suitable for all types of cyclists i.e. acceptable to cyclists travelling at up to 20mph. It is important that cyclists can complete their journeys as efficiently as possible, if people are to be encouraged to cycle rather than take the car.
Currently the route for cyclists along the A6 is a mish-mash of incoherent arrangements, set up in a pragmatic fashion over many years, to make some provision for cyclists at minimal cost. This has resulted in:
- Sections with no cycle infrastructure. Usually at junctions or traffic islands. Both dangerous places for cyclists where they need maximum help.
- Sections with mandatory cycle lanes (solid white line) such as the section under consideration outside Ring O Bells. However, these are narrower than the standards suggest (0.9m at Ring O Bells) and are anything but continuous. In many places the paint marking them has all but faded away.
- Sections with permissive cycle lanes (dashed white lines). All the same problems as the mandatory lanes but with the added expectation that vehicles will use the space.
- Sections of cycle track on the pavement marked by white lines and sometimes different colour surface.
- A mixture of single direction and two way sections, including two way sections less than 1m wide (which is less than half the recommendation for one way).
- Sections of shared use pavement. Some well under the 3m recommendation. These come and go with little clarity as to where they apply.
The proposal involves cyclists having to stop at side roads. Currently cyclists are on the main carriageway and have right of way at the junctions. Consequently the "new facility" will not be used by many. Even those who use it will have to look sideways over their shoulder (or sometimes even totally behind) to negotiate the new junctions. As such it may well introduce as much hazard as it removes, while also delaying the cyclist.
There is also a danger that this proposal will increase conflict between cyclists who continue to use the road and motorists. Many drivers object to cyclists on the road when there is a low quality cycle facility available and have been known to "cut them up", thus increasing the risk to the cyclist. Consequently we feel that the proposals are inferior to the current low standard cycle lane.
Conversely, some faster cyclists may be encouraged onto the pavement, resulting in some clashes with pedestrians. It is not advisable to mix faster cyclists with pedestrians.
We believe that the Council should have a vision as to what this route should eventually encompass and ensure that all future changes are gradually working towards this objective. We suggest that such a solution, to gradually extend a consistent high quality infrastructure over the whole route, would be:
- Keep 2 x 3.1m vehicle lanes
- Keep 1 x 2.8m bus lane
- Add 2 x 2m hybrid cycle lanes (ed. on-road cycle lane with physical demarcation between the cycle lane and the carriageway)
- Leave 2 x 2m pavements
The cycle track and pavement would be implemented with clear level priority across every side road and driveway. This will need clear signs along the route (not every driveway) "Cyclists and Pedestrians have right of away across all junctions". Motor vehicles would have to cross a hump to enter or leave every side road. These would be tactile and would also be clearly painted to show they have to give way to pedestrians and cyclists. To leave a driveway a car will have 2 half kerb drops. One onto the cycle lane and one onto the road. There will be no smooth dropped kerbs as these encourage fast entrance and exit movements and give the impression of right of way. They also make the pavement less easy for walkers and the cycle route less comfortable for cyclists.
A key challenge will be to keep people from parking in the cycle track. One solution can be seen here and could be used between the cycle track and road, except at sideroads and driveways.
No drains or manhole covers would be permitted within the cycle tracks and they would be suitable for sweeping and gritting using standard council vehicles.
Bus stops will need to be worked out properly. In Copenhagen there is an island between the hybrid lane and the road for the bus stop so that the hybrid lane is unbroken.
we received a response that included the following:
“The budget for the current proposals does not stretch to amending or providing new facilities along the length of the A6 through Loughborough; however, we would be happy to meet to review the whole of the route at some future date. Can you therefore please confirm whether you would prefer the scheme be implemented, as shown on Drawing No. 3910.025/Z1/1/1, or for the road/ footway layout to remain as it is?”
In the circumstances and following some discussion in the Yahoo forum the following response was sent:
While the current on road provision is a "substandard mandatory cycle lane" we do not believe that the proposed replacement would be regarded as of a high standard by many cyclists. Whilst it will no doubt be of use to cyclists intimidated by the A6 traffic, it will hinder those attempting to use bicycles in the place of cars, who wish to complete their journeys in a timely manner.
As stated in our initial response "There is also a danger that this proposal will increase conflict between cyclists who continue to use the road and motorists. Many drivers object to cyclists on the road when there is a low quality cycle facility available and have been known to "cut them up", thus increasing the risk to the cyclist."
Consequently we suggest that the best compromise would be to leave a cycle lane on the carriageway whilst providing a shared use facility on the pavement. This would make it clear to drivers that cyclists have a legitimate choice and avoid delaying faster cyclists. We would have no objection to removing the "mandatory" element of the cycle lane and marking out a wider (1.5 metre) non mandatory lane (which does not have to meet the criteria for mandatory lanes) or demarcating it with large painted cycles on the carriageway.
The current weather situation highlights the benefit of keeping cyclists on the road. The roads are salted/gritted whilst the pavements/cycle tracks are generally sheet ice.
We would be pleased to review the whole of the route with you at a mutually convenient time in the future as you suggest.
Cycling Stats at Local Authority Level
The Government has now begun to publish figures, collected by Sport England through the Active People survey, which allow cycle use to be compared in different English local authority areas. This information can be found at http://4c3.de/shz. Overall, 15% of adults in England cycled at least once a month. Rates were highest in the South East (18%) and lowest in the West Midlands (12%). The figure for Charnwood was 19%, a figure no doubt inflated by our student population.