Is Highways really delivering safe routes to Schools?

This one is slightly personal in that it directly impacts upon my daughter. She goes to Hayesfield and lives within walking distance of the school (Bear flat). She has asked if she can ride to school and we’ve told her no due to Wellsway. The recent Hayesfield newsletter had this message from the head teacher:

Crossing at Lower Oldfield Park

I would like to update you with the proposed new road crossing for our students. A £35,000 budget has now been allocated by BANES under the ‘Safe route to school’ section of the Highway Capital programme. The proposal is for a pedestrian footway buildout, zebra crossing and associated highway works near the student entrance on Lower Oldfield Park. The timescales for the various schemes on the capital programme are being drawn up over the next couple of weeks and I will let you know what the date for completion is once it has been confirmed.”

Now I’m all for making a crossing across the horror that is Lower Oldfield Park road, but I’m slightly concerned that we are creating a buildout that narrows the lane and forces a child cycling to school to have to “take the lane”. This crossing is important and needs to happen, but I’m unsure if a build out is the right thing here.

Maybe there is a better solution.

At a simplistic level this is potentially possible but it ignores on-street parking.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 22.37.48
Taken from the TfL Streets Toolkit Cycle Design Chapter 5: Junctions and Crossings

However given that the council, as part of the Bath Quays Bridge delivery, are looking to connect into Oldfield Park, there is a better, more radical solution. Why not make Lower Oldfield Park one way and slow traffic down using speed tables?

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 09.46.51
Blue is two way traffic, red is one way (two way for cycles), new zebra crossing marked in orange, and black identifies the new Bath Quays Bridge crossing. There is a compromise in allowing two way traffic to give access to Westmoreland Station Road.
2-bike-lanes-in-136m-remix (2)
One way street using parking to protect the cycle lane going both ways.

This fits into CycleBath’s scheme to “break” Pines gate and make it a great public space:

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 22.07.14
Remove Pineway Gyratory, replace traffic lights with roundabouts, create segregated space for walking and segregated space for cycling. The gyratory is 4 lanes in parts and this enables it to go down to 2 lanes for cars creating a larger public realm and even enable bus bypass for the protected cycle lane.

What I am saying is that Highways projects look at things in isolation without trying to understand transport at a macro level. Brougham Hayes, Pines Gate, and Lower Oldfield Park need to have a vision of what they want it to look like because the current reality is an absolute nightmare.

There are too many officers inside the council that feel Pines Gate cannot be broken due to “traffic models”.

Are we trying to deliver a city that is walking and cycling friendly, particularly around one of the best schools in the country, or are we saying that the car must always have the best and fastest rat runs through our city?

Is the Highways department really just the Carways department?

Is Highways really trying to deliver Safer routes to schools?

Why is the Highways department not prioritising walking and cycling?

I feel that the approach is tokenistic and, in this case, making discourages a child from cycling to school. More specifically, it encourages parents to drop their kids off to school as cycling is perceived as to0 dangerous. It adds to rush hour congestion, of which about 25% of it is considered to be the school run.

The irony is that there is £3.1M of cycle money in the pot to deliver this, as well as billions of enterprise area money, but this isn’t easy to do. It might impact parking.

If you are a parent at Hayesfield, this really is important. Your child is likely to make one journey a day walking from Lower to Upper or vice versa. This space could be so much better. Write to your councillors and ask them what they are doing to make Bath safe so your child can safely cycle or walk to school. Ask them what their vision is for the Hayesfield area and ask them to ask Highways what they are doing to make it safer for your child to cycle to school.

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