Sunday, 22 March 2015

Response to Wilmslow Road Consultation

This is my response to the Wilmslow Road consultation on the proposed new cycle route.
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I support these proposals from the principle of providing safe segregated cycle tracks along the length of this route. This route is one I currently avoid when cycling because I consider it to be too dangerous. This is because of the large number of buses, poor driving, bad parking and conflict with drivers looking for somewhere to park. Whilst this design will do nothing to improve any of these it will reduce the impact of all of these on people cycling.

Apart from the plans for Oxford Road these are the only proposals which approach the standard required to enable cycling as an everyday mode of transport in Manchester.

These cycle routes should be safe and convenient to use by anyone, from the age of 8 to 80.


Europaplien, Amsterdam

However, I have major concerns about many of the details of these plans, and their effectiveness in achieving these aims.

General Comments

Firstly, it should be noted that these plans fail to come up to the standards laid out in the TfGM publication "Greater Manchester Cycle Guidance". The designs for this short route are strangely varied, as if it has been designed by several different people with no attempt at a consistent design.

There are a number of key issues that need to be addressed in these plans before this route can be considered safe. A comparison with Scheldestraat in south Amsterdam, a very busy route with many shops and street caf├ęs, is useful to see where some of the problems in the Wilmslow Road plans lie.


Scheldestraat, Amsterdam

The most obvious problem with these plans is the lack of a 20mph speed limit. In such a busy area with many people moving around on foot it is unacceptable to leave the speed limit at 30mph. Most of the surrounding roads have 20mph limit, so it would also be consistent with the surrounding area.

Next there is still an excessive amount of space given over to the roadway in many places. It is unnecessary to accommodate 3 lanes of traffic at any point on this route. Space is very restricted and is needed to give protection to the cycle track not increase traffic flows. The ban on private motor vehicles on Oxford Road will remove Wilmslow Road's role as a radial route into the city centre, so more should be done to reduce traffic capacity along this route.

These plans do not specify the widths of the cycle tracks and the kerb separation widths. Segregated cycle tracks should be 2.5 metres wide, and a minimum of 2 metres wide where space is restricted. There should also be at least 1 meter separation between any parking spaces and the cycle track to avoid people cycling being hit by opening car doors.

Also the kerb heights and types are not specified. The kerbs should be half height (maximum 50mm) and preferably sloped. Full height kerbs, such as those used on the Alan Turing Way are oppressive and potentially dangerous, especially on narrow cycle tracks.

However, the most dangerous part of these plans is the lack of proper junction treatments. In these plans the segregation disappears at the junctions which is the place where most cycle crashes happen. Contrast this with the Dutch approach where there are clearly demarcated cycle route at the junctions and separate cycle phases at traffic lights.


Scheldestraat, Amsterdam


President Kennedylaan, Amsterdam

On Wilmslow Road the cycle tracks should cross the side roads on raised tables to clearly mark the crossing out from the road. Green paint alone won't send a strong enough message to drivers.

Also, many of the parking bays are too close to junctions and crossings and should be removed for safety reasons.

Detailed Comments along the Route

1) Moss Lane East to Great Western Street

Note that the map for this section is incorrectly labeled.

All the images below link to the maps on the council's web site.



Issues to note:-
  • The junction with Moss Lane East is not shown on the plans. From the small amount that is visible it is clear that there is no protection for cycling through this junction in either direction. 
  • The three lane section of road at this point should be narrowed to two lanes.
  • The central island should be widened to improve safety for cycles turning right out of Rusholme Place.
  • Narrowing the road would also enable a greater clearence between the parking spaces and the cycle track.
  • The cycle track across the side road, Rusholme Place should be on a raised table to distinguish it from the road.
  • The cycle track across Banff Road should be on a raised table to distinguish it from the road.
  • There is no segregation past Banff Road, this section should be segregated.
  • There is no need for the 3 lane section of road opposite the petrol station. There should only be one lane each way and the lights should be phased to allow each direction to go in turn, removing all turning conflicts.
  • The design of the junction with Great Western Street has no protection for cycles. This junction is not safe and should be radically redesigned with proper segregation and a cycles only green phase.

2) Great Western Street to Walmer Street




Issues to note:-
  • The cycle track across Dagenham Road should be on a raised table to distinguish it from the road. Also the cycle track should continue in a straight line across Dagenham Road with the give way line pushed back.
  • There is no right turn facility opposite Dagenham Road. The parking bays opposite should be relocated and replaced with a right turn facility.
  • The cycle track across Denison Street should be on a raised table to distinguish it from the road.
  • There is no right turn facility opposite Denison Road. The parking bays opposite should be removed and replaced with a right turn facility.
  • The parking bays and loading bays south of Denison Street interfere with the crossing, they shorten the ziz-zag line area just before Walmer Street. These bays make the crossing unsafe and should be removed or reolcated.
  • The parking bay south of the crossing, opposite Walmer Street also is in the crossing safety zone and should be removed.
  • The cycle track across Walmer Street should be on a raised table to distinguish it from the road. Also the cycle track should continue in a straight line across Walmer Street East with the give way line pushed back.
  • There is no right turn facility into Walmer Street - this can be included by removing the parking space.
  • The cycle track across Walmer Street East should be on a raised table to distinguish it from the road. Also the cycle track should continue in a straight line across Walmer Street East with the give way line pushed back.
  • There is no right turn facility into Walmer Street East.

3) Walmer Street to Park Crescent




Issues to note:-
  • The cycle track across Thurloe Street should be on a raised table to distinguish it from the road. Also the cycle track should continue in a straight line across Thurloe Street with the give way line pushed back.
  • There is no right turn facility opposite Thurloe Street. The parking bays opposite should be relocated and replaced with a right turn facility.
  • The parking bay on the opposite side of the road between the Jobcentre and Grandale Street encroaches into the safety zone (ziz-zag line area) of the crossing. This bay should be shortened to keep the crossing clear.
  • The loading bays opposite Grandale Street encroach into the safety zone of the crossing and interfere with the bus stop. This bay should be relocated to keep the crossing and the bus stop clear.
  • The cycle track across Grandale Street should be on a raised table to distinguish it from the road. Also the cycle track should continue in a straight line across Grandale Street with the give way line pushed back.
  • There is no right turn facility opposite Grandale Street. The loading bays opposite should be relocated and replaced with a right turn facility.
  • The cycle track across Park Crescent should remain segregated and then cross the road on a raised table to mark it out. 
  • Also the cycle track should continue in a straight line across Park Crescent with the give way line pushed back.

4) Park Crescent to Dickenson Road




Issues to note:-
  • The cycle track across Claremont Road should be on a raised table to distinguish it from the road. Also the cycle track should continue in a straight line across Claremont Road with the give way line pushed back.
  • There is no right turn facility opposite Claremont Road. The loading/parking bays opposite should be relocated/removed and replaced with a right turn facility.
  • The design of the layout for the light controlled crossing between Claremont Road and the Supermarket is a mess. It is inconsistent with the rest of the route and needs to be completely reworked. Southbound the loading bays before and after encroach into the safety zone. these must be relocated for safety reasons. Northbound this is the only place where the cycle route is included in the crossing. The road can be narrowed at this point to preserve the cycle track segregation, and the parking bay removed that is in the crossing safety zone.
  • The cycle track across Rusholme Grove should be on a raised table to distinguish it from the road. Also the cycle track should continue in a straight line across Rusholme Grove with the give way line pushed back.
  • The junction with Stone Place and Dickenson Road is not shown on the plans. From the small amount that is visible it is clear that there is no protection for cycling through this junction in either direction. The design of this junction needs to be changed to provide a safe passage for cycling.


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for your thorough and well-considered analysis, especially considering it isn't your side of town!

    Totally agree on pretty much all points. The 20mph limit should be consistent down the whole corridor, if only to avoid confusion.

    Apparently the sop to cyclists at the larger signalised junctions (such as Great Western Street) is to replace the pelican crossings with toucans (for the more timid cyclists), as they ended up doing at the junction of Wilmslow Road and Wilbraham Road. I strongly feel this is a cop-out, as cyclists should have one clear safe route through a junction (in each given direction), rather than dual options (road or pavement), neither of which is optimal.

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