Sunday 20 July 2014

Deansgate Junction Consultation ZZ208237H

Comments in response to ZZ208237H – Cycle City Ambition Grant – The Bridgewater Canal

General Comments

It is very unfortunate that this design is being considered in isolation from the LSTF proposals for the junctions to the north involving Trafford Street, Bridgewater Street, Liverpool Road, Great Bridgewater Street and Deansgate. These two areas need to be considered as one design in order to create a coherent design for the whole area.

Though labelled The Bridgewater Canal the main substance of this document is the junction between Deansgate, both north and south, Whitworth Street West, the Bridgewater Viaduct and Castle Street. This is a very unpleasant and complex junction which has been designed to maximise traffic flows and creates a very unpleasant environment for people walking and cycling.

The proposed design lacks ambition for encouraging of cycling in the city and when judged on the five core principles of design for people walking and cycling, safety, coherence, directness, comfort and attractiveness1 these proposals fail on all these principles. It also fails to take account of people with children in cycle trailers or people with disabilities who ride unconventional machines such as handcycles.

See detailed comments in Appendix 1.

Alternative Design

Rather than focus on the proposed junction layout, the junction should be redesigned to increase safety and improve the environment which would also bring economic benefits to the Castlefield area which has several bars and clubs as well as the tram stop and railway station.

I live in this area, and during rush hour many more people walk through this area than travel by car. The priority for this area needs to be radically changed to improve the environment for walking and cycling.

Walking is the most common way of moving around Castlefield and those who arrive by bus, tram or train also walk to their final destination. In the City Centre around 43% of residents travel to work on foot2. This whole area must prioritise the movement of people and restrict the movement of motor vehicles.

This junction could be radically simplified by taking a completely different approach to the phasing of the traffic lights, namely that each arm of the junction should be given the green phase in turn so that there are no conflicting traffic movements for people turning right. There should also be an all green walking/cycling phase where all motor vehicles are stopped.

The great advantage of having of having green phases for each arm in turn is that there need only be a single vehicle lane leading up to the junction, because there is no need for traffic to give way in any direction. This enables the area taken up by motor vehicles to be dramatically reduced, leaving space for the inclusion of high quality cycle provision through this junction as well as a significantly improved environment for people on foot.

As a result the Bridgewater Viaduct, Deansgate and Whitworth Street West can all be reduced to one traffic lane each way leaving room for good quality cycle tracks on both sides of the road.

There would then be no need for traffic light control ofCastle Street. It should be a give way junction, set back from the cycle track. There should be no right turn onto the Bridgewater Viaduct and no right turn into Castle Street from Bridgewater Viaduct southbound. This would allow people cycling northbound on the Bridgewater Viaduct to bypass the traffic lights straight up onto Deansgate, giving cycles a significant advantage over the motor vehicles.

A similarly radical approach needs to be taken with the Liverpool Road, Great Bridgewater Street and Deansgate junction to the north.

See below for a rough sketch of a possible layout. Note the dramatically different scale of the roads in the area. Red signifies motor vehicles, green pedal cycles.

Appendix 1 Detailed comments on the original proposals

Deansgate / Whitworth Street West / Bridgewater Viaduct/Castle Street Junction
The principle proposals for the junction are:
• Upgrade the existing pelican crossing to a toucan crossing to facilitate signal controlled
cyclist movements across the junction east/west direction to access the Bridgewater

The current pedestrian crossing layout is inadequate, it does not enable crossing at the southern end of Deansgate, nor the north end of Bridgewater Viaduct, both of which are significant desire lines, particularly with the Railway and Tram stations nearby.

The area to the south, Deansgate below the bridge, is very unpleasant and often used as a car park. Access to this area needs to be closed off to motor vehicles and a properly defined cycle track created across this area.

• Relocate and increase existing pedestrian islands within the junction

These islands are very small, and would not be big enough, for example, for a bicycle with a trailer carrying children.

• Unsegregated shared footways between crossing points

This is an unsatisfactory approach. Simply pushing pedal cycles onto the pavement causes conflict and reduces the amount of space for people on foot.

• New ASL (Advanced Stop Line) on right turn lane from Whitworth Street West on to
Deansgate. ASL cycle reservoir increased on Deansgate southbound

Lack of feeder cycle lane into new reservoir makes it pointless.

It is proposed to amend the existing traffic lane arrangement at the junction:
• Bridgewater Viaduct northbound; from one lane ahead, one lane ahead and right to one
lane ahead, one lane right

There will be nothing to prevent vehicles ignoring these markings, leading to conflict.
• Deansgate southbound; from one lane ahead, one lane ahead and left to one lane
ahead, one lane left

Again there is no physical barrier to prevent drivers cutting right across pedal cycles from the left hand lane.
• Whitworth Street West and Castle ; existing lane arrangement to be retained
Cycle lanes are proposed to be introduced at the junction, see drawing ZZ208237H-000-005 Rev D. All proposed cycle lanes are at least 1.5m wide, with width increased through

It is unacceptable to be installing cycle lanes less than 2m wide when narrow cycle lanes make driver behaviour worse3.

Also there should be no right turn from Castle Street onto the Bridgewater Viaduct and there should be no right turn into Castle Street from Bridgewater Viaduct southbound.

Deansgate (to the north of the junction)
The main proposals are:
• Direct northbound traffic into the centre of the carriageway and away from cyclists
travelling in the nearside cycle lane by introducing a small splitter island

The island looks very small from the plans and the cycle lane runs straight into the bus stop.

• Existing bus stop to remain

see above

• Tie into the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) proposed works along Deansgate
(project number 206292) Southbound

It is quite impossible to comment on this as these plans have not been provided.

• 2m wide cycle lane between the two general traffic lanes

This is a pretty scary looking cycle lane, and it will be difficult to reach in moving traffic
• Cyclists in more prominent and visible position on approach to the junction

This may not make much difference, see above.

• Accessing the unsegregated shared footway through dropped kerbs in the ASL reservoir

Again this is pushing pedal cycles onto the pavement bringing about conflict with people on foot.
Whitworth Street West
The main proposals are:
• Cyclists can access Whitworth Street West eastbound using the proposed toucan
crossing and unsegregated shared footway

This will be slow and inconvenient and will be difficult for cycles with trailers or other larger machines.

• Tie into existing cycle lane via a short length of proposed 1.5m cycle lane

It is unacceptable to be installing cycle lanes less than 2m wide when narrow cycle lanes make driver behaviour worse4.
• Nearside cycle lane to access unsegregated shared area under the railway arch or cycle
lane on Bridgewater Viaduct southbound

It is not clear how this will work from the diagram. Suddenly stopping in the lane to try and get onto a busy pavement is a real problem.

• Cyclists can access all arms of junction using proposed toucan crossing

Again this will be slow and inconvenient and will be difficult for cycles with trailers or other larger machines.

• Access to Deansgate and the Bridgewater Canal via unsegregated shared area

Again this will be slow and inconvenient and will be difficult for cycles with trailers or other larger machines.

• Tie into existing cycle lane

The existing cycle lane is too narrow and dangerous because of the on-street parking.
Bridgewater Viaduct
The main proposals are:
• Cyclists join carriageway on approach to the junction with Castle Street, as existing

This existing cycle track is dangerous and is largely ignored by people cycling. The entrance to the ASL is particularly dangerous.

• Lighting column proposed to be relocated

See above.
• On carriageway 2m cycle lane

As the plans show the reduction from 2 to 1 traffic lane, there will be space to provide a 2m wide segregated cycle track rather than an unprotected lane which will be blocked in rush hour by drivers forming two lanes.

Deansgate (Chester Road to Whitworth Street West)
The main proposals are:
• To access the canal basin, an existing car parking space is to be relocated as shown

This is very dangerous. Firstly there is the danger of ending up trying to emerge between parked vehicles such as vans which block any view of oncoming traffic.

Secondly all the parking spaces are at right angles to the road with most people driving into the parking spaces. This means they reverse out into the road, without sight of oncoming cycles. All this parking needs to be turned parallel to the road to make this route safe.

• Preferred canal basin access option would involve the removal of one existing car
parking space; however, there is space adjacent to the existing car parking bays for a
replacement space

See above

• Ramp access on towpath by canal basin

The surfacing of this ramp needs to be such that it does not become slippery when wet. The current surfacing can become very slippery in the winter.

• Tie in with existing cycling facilities on Chester Road

This will need to be updated to provide a satisfactory access and egress.

• Signed route to Deansgate/Manchester City Centre for cyclists travelling northbound
using existing two way cycle track on Chester Road

See above. Note most of the signage around the city centre for cycling is unsatisfactory and difficult to follow, especially the NCN routes.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Salford Cycle Forum this Thursday

The next meeting of Salford's Cycle Forum will take place on Thursday 17 July 2014 at 6.00pm in committee room 3, Salford Civic Centre, Swinton.

Agenda below.

This information isn't on the web site but has been posted on the Facebook group

I won't be able to make it, but it would be good if lots of local cycle riders could attend and tell the council what they really think about the poor state of cycle routes in the area.

The Sign of Failure

For most of the past year I have been unable to ride a bicycle, restricted to my four-wheeled recumbent I have been temporarily disabled. Worse than that, much of the local cycle infrastructure is unridable on such a machine.

So, when today I was finally able to ride my touring bike without pain it was a cause for celebration, I made it out to Monton Green via the Bridgewater Canal.

This route would have been totally impossible on a trike or four-wheeler, as to get to the newly resurfaced section of the Bridgewater Canal I had to carry my bicycle down a steep set of steps and lift it over a barrier. This section is unfinished so hopefully access will be easier from further east once it is finished.

On the return journey I decided to try out NCN Route 55, through Salford, which should have been the best option. Yet again, with this barrier at the bridge over the entrance to Ellesmere Park would have been impossible on my four-wheeler.

Then at the south eastern end of Ellesmere Road I meet the first sign of failure.

Salford Council have run this route down a private road and into a narrow footpath

with a bollard at the end, just to ad an extra insult.

The second sign of failure is at the bridge over the motorway. It is wide enough for a shared cycle route, but getting into it involves getting onto the pavement round the barriers.

The final failure was then at the roundabout between the A57 and the A576.

The use of the "Cyclists Dismount" sign on cycle routes clearly demonstrates a lack of political will on the part of the council to provide decent, safe and accessible cycle routes.

Sunday 6 July 2014

Rail Bikes & Velocipedes

During a brief trip over to York to see the Bishophill Velocipede Festival, more of which in another post, I called in to see a completely different type of Velocipede event at the National Railway Museum. This was a weekend visit of the the UK Velocipede Group who were demonstrating some adapted bicycles, home-brew designs and original machines which were designed to get inspectors and engineers around the railways.

Here is an adapted bike alongside an original design.

Another design based around a bicycle frame.

And this is their, build it yourself, track bike design

which can be pedalled in either direction, so you don't have to lift it up and turn it round.

All the machines just follow the rails, except for the adapted bicycle which has to be steered along the rail. Note how the wheels all sit on top of the rails, where as the other designs have flanged wheels.

The earlier machines are all hand powered with a rowing motion and are designed to carry two people.

These two on show belong to the Railway Museum

Whenever I see a machine like this I have visions of riding round the tram tracks in central Manchester.... ;)

Thursday 3 July 2014

GMCC News 6 - and my last one...

I have just officially resigned as the GMCC Newsletter editor, now that the person who interfered with my first GMCC newsletter has been confirmed as chair of the organisation.

So this is my last newsletter...

GMCC News6 - Summer14 by Mike Armstrong

It will give me more time to spend campaigning for better conditions for cycling in Manchester...