As you may know, I was on my hols the other week and during our time away we went to Great Yarmouth a couple of times.
South Beach Parade has been designed as a pay-and-display car park, pure and simple, but even at the end of the day during the school half term it was pretty much deserted. I did scoff and I did tweet my contempt for the layout. The thing is, the Pleasure Beach has a car park which is free to those getting a day ticket to the theme park and just behind where I took the photo, there is plenty of roads without parking controls.
A couple of days later, we decided to go further north to the main beach and town as the Pleasure Beach is some way from the heart of the action. We parked on the outskirts, perhaps 10 minutes walk from the beach. At this stage its stating that Great Yarmouth suffers from awful traffic congestion, a proportion of which must be caused by people like me driving in as a tourist - perhaps park-and-ride is part of the answer for getting people in?
|The building and covered area beyond is to rest the horses pulling|
carts along the sea front and to pick up fares - very much like a taxi
Essentially, this road is about 4.5 metres in width (I didn't have a tape measure with me!), it is two-way, machine laid and contains many of the feature I think makes a good cycle track. I would state that I am looking at this in isolation and being on the beach, it means that there are no side roads to worry about which is an issue for two-way tracks. A series of photos follow which I think give the feel of the layout and I will offer some thoughts at the end.
The "train" running on the shared-use road is a small road train. It doesn't go fast, although might still be intimidating to some cycling - plus at the "stations", one would have to overtake. The "stations" are also floating bus stops for the main road bus stops, although it means people have to cross the shared-use road to get to them if they are using the seating in the shelter. The main road bus stops were in laybys which could so easily be filled in with duplicate shelters and seating. Cycle parking is also provided, although I can't see it being linked to parking up to ride the bus, unless one is going a long way.
As with anything half-decent in the UK, it comes to an end all too soon, although getting back into traffic is with traffic signals and at least one is protected for a few seconds. I don't know how this scheme was developed, but it could have continued, there is loads of space. I didn't really see how things went on from here, but I suspect there wasn't much of a dense cycle network in the town.
Looking back from the other end just shows the space. This could have had the cycle lane to the left with a buffer created by the taxi rank. The cycle lane is provided with flush kerbs which could so easily have been stepped as a track. Oh, and the road train parked in the lane doesn't help.
I don't know why this scheme was built, although I suspect it was perhaps more to do with the tourist draws of the horse & cart rides and land train than cycling, but the layout actually ticks quite a number of boxes for cycling. I could easily imagine this layout picked up and stuck by the Embankment in London for example and indeed, the principles would hold for single-direction tracks on both sides of a road. Someone seems to know what they were doing, but I have yet to track down when this scheme was opened and who designed it.
People often say that we need to learn best practice from overseas and perhaps import Dutch and Danish engineers. I say that schemes like this show that we can do things well in the UK, it is just we are so bad and building networks. Imagine a grid made of cycle routes designed to the principles of Great Yarmouth on main roads, with filtered permeability elsewhere - it would be a pretty fine start!