I have had a good load of material from the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain's AGM and Gathering which took place earlier this month and this week is my third and last post on the infrastructure safari part of the weekend. (Part 1; Part 2)
|At the junction with The Drive looking east onto the hybrid track.|
Operational for a couple of years now, the scheme was aimed at improving walking and cycling along a road which although classified (A270) it was bypassed years ago by the A27 which was built to take long-distance and heavy traffic. What was left was a very wide and now firmly suburban road which was still dominated by and for the convenience of motorised traffic.
|Passing a bus stop.|
The junction of The Drive and Old Shoreham Road is a crossroads and for cycling, has a four-arm (not staggered) set of Toucan crossings whereby pedestrians and cyclists cross on all arms at the same time. From memory (and I stand to be corrected) traffic runs in two stages north - south and east - west and so the method of control is relatively simple. It did seem a long time to get green on the Toucan though.
|The cycle track interrupts vehicle accesses to private homes, but|
the stepped arrangement means the vertical alignment changes
remain smooth and comfortable.
As the footways around the junction have been designated shared-use cycle tracks, left turns can be made without waiting for signals, but 3 of the 4 corners are so narrow, I can see conflict with pedestrians being the issue.
|At some side roads, a kerb is carried round into the side road, but|
the set back give way line shows that the cycle track has priority
over side roads. The track is 2.5m wide here.
The scheme could have maintained the cycle track through the signalised junctions and provided cycle signal stages. I don't know if a radical layout was proposed or if Toucans at the signalised junctions was the original concept because of traffic impacts, but they are certainly a blight on the scheme from a cyclist and indeed pedestrian point of view.
The cycle tracks are mainly 2.5m wide, going down to 1.8m in places. Where wide, people can easily cycle next to each other and chat, although this would block anyone wanting to overtake. The narrower sections can still take riding two abreast, but the outer person starts to get close to traffic. There is one short section of shared-use, unsegregated track where the route passes over a railway bridge. To have prioritised cycling, traffic could have been taken down to a single lane with traffic signals or "give and take" priority signs. I assume traffic flow made that unpalatable (my second guessing might be a bit unfair of course).
|Here is a uni-directional cycle track in Copenhagen by way of a|
comparison. It is notable that pedestrians get squeezed in many
places to provide cycle tracks rather than taking traffic lanes.
Where the cycle tracks pass opposite a side road, there is a section of flush kerb (with the carriageway) to allow riders to turn right into or out of the side road. Turning right off the cycle track would mean stopping on the right hand side and then looking over one's right shoulder to find a gap in the traffic.
|The cycle track is dropped flush with the carriageway when passing|
a side road opposite. In this view, the dropped area is in the shadow
of the bus.
Perhaps it would have bee simpler to accept the compromise and make the sections passing bus stops just shared with (yes I know) a bollard at each end to guide cyclists back to "their" side. Tactile paving is provided to guide blind and partially-sighted people to the "footway" side at each end of the bus stop area anyway. The bus stops weren't busy when we rode the route, but I can see conflict here. This is kind of similar to some (narrow) layouts in Copenhagen where passengers use the cycle track to board and alight although I understand that passengers have priority. Time will tell I guess.
|One of the narrower sections. Even at 1.8m, it is pretty good, but|
overtaking gets one a bit close to traffic. I must preferred the wider
sections which were 2.5m!
Surfacing-wise, the cycle track looked like machine-laid 55/10 HRA for the most part (I may be wrong!) which basically made up of 55% 10mm sized stones with binders and other smaller stones and fine material. In other words a great surface to cycle on.
In conclusion, there are big compromises for cycling at the signalised junctions which are arranged for traffic capacity which does affect user experience, but the cycle tracks are great, especially at 2.5m wide. I might have liked a 45 degree chamfered kerb between the cycle track and the footway, but I think the original kerbs were mainly used (and left in place on the whole) and replacement would have cost a lot. Really, this scheme gives the minimum standard for cycle tracks and as I cycle around, my mind starts to project what cycle tracks like this would look like in places I know.
Trying to write a post a week is challenging to say the least and so I welcome those days or weekends when I see lots of different stuff, so thanks to CEoGB for the weekend, it has given me plenty to blog about. Perhaps more importantly as a designer, I have some new ideas on how things can be done and I will able to share my photos and experiences with others in my field. I will leave you with a shaky video!