Active Travel Fund: Upper Bristol Road technical analysis

Posting this on behalf of Roger Houghton who has submitted an exceptionally detailed technical critique of the “new” design to the council including local councillors Andrew Furse and Sue Craig. The “old” design is what the public were consulted on and had high levels of approval. The “new” design is a politically compromised poor solution that prioritises car ownership over the safety of children.

Streetview

https://goo.gl/maps/6nmgsbo4wv6gkUkq7

Version one (Publicly consulted ON)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1f1tFiaYgpwnZ82yk-d4-Cvsv4Qq9XWvE/view?usp=sharing

Version two (The one they plan to deliver)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bq3w5jM0tHYoRsSWNxH2TTXmym29FwvX/view?usp=sharing

Westward route from Charlotte Street/Monmouth Place 

Overview of major issues. (Might need opening in new browser window)

1) No clear start – doesn’t link into existing infrastructure, e.g. how about a contra-flow  cycle lane on Monmouth Place to link to National Cycle Route 4? 

2) Cycle lane width reduced from 2m to 1.5m.  

Falls foul of LTN 1/20: “Desirable minimum width = 2m… The absolute minimum width [of  1.5m] should only be used for sections where there is a physical constraint on an existing  road.” N.B. Even the “absolute minimum” of 1.50 m should be after allowing extra width  for kerbs (+ 200mm) and drainage gullies and gratings (LTN 1/20, sect. 5.5). Under original scheme vehicle carriageway width was between 5.90m and 7.95m,  already consistently greater than the minimum 5.5m width suggested by Manual for  Streets 1 (figure 7.1, p.79) as adequate for two passing HGVs. 

3) The loss of the floating island at the bus stops. This means that bus passengers will now  step off the bus directly into the cycle lane while waiting passengers will board directly  from the cycle lane. It is claimed that this “is in line with the DfT’s guidance on cycle  infrastructure design”. Yet LTN 1/20 states that “this layout is best suited to bus and tram  stops with less frequent services and lower passenger and pedestrian volumes (6.6.14)”.  That’s not a description of the Upper Bristol Road.  

It is also claimed that this revision is due to “lack of available space”, although there  appears to have been adequate space in version 1. The vehicle carriageway will  instead be increased to around seven metres width or more. 

4) The provision of parking spaces west of Nile Street necessitates the relocation of the  signalled crossing (at what cost?) and the loss of two trees. (These trees are presumably  sacrificed to improve visibility yet won’t visibility on the south side of the crossing be  seriously impaired by the introduction of parked and manoeuvring cars in the new  bays?) 

5) Another three parking spaces have been provided ahead of the relocated crossing,  inside the controlled area marked by the zig-zag lines. Is this not in contravention of  Section 27 (2) of The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002? “Subject to  paragraphs (3) and (4) and without prejudice to regulation 28, a zig-zag line shall  convey the requirement that the driver of a vehicle shall not cause any part of it to stop  in the controlled area in which it is marked.” At the very least a manoeuvring vehicle will  block sightlines, defeating the object of having a controlled area.

6) The farther side of the crossing has the zig-zags across the entrance to Nile Street. This  appears to be in contravention of Section 27(1) of The Traffic Signs Regulations and  General Directions 2002. 

7) Nor is the crossing’s close proximity to the junction compatible with Section 2.1.1.1 of LTN  2/95: “Crossings should be located away from conflict points at uncontrolled junctions…  a minimum distance of 20 metres is suggested for a signalled-controlled crossing”

8) Six parking spaces are now to be provided west of Nile Street (despite the provision of  five new spaces just metres away on Nile Street). These will be inside the cycle lane.  It is asserted that “there is not enough space to take the cycle lane behind the parking” without making it clear why it takes up less space one way than the other. LTN 1/20 sect.  6.2.20: “…it is preferable to place a cycle track between the parking and loading  provision and the footway. This arrangement provides greater protection for cyclists and  does not occupy any greater width.” 

9) Instead it creates a situation where: 

a) “a frequent turn-around of use during the day, which would enable drop-off and  delivery” will mean a constant supply of vehicles crossing the cycle path to enter  and leave the spaces; 

b) vehicles will be stopping on the cycle path in order to reverse into a space; c) vehicle doors will open directly onto the cycle path; 

d) there will be no barriers between the cycle path and the main carriageway. 

10) Three new parking spaces west of Victoria Bridge Road, raising the same issues as  oulined above. (Why not put these spaces in Victoria Bridge Road itself? The carriageway  there is almost 5.0m wide with no through vehicular traffic. Not ideal maybe but far safer  than that proposed.) 

11) These spaces require the relocation of the south side bus stop which then requires the  relocation of the north side bus stop. Both lose their floating islands (see 3, above) although  it’s not clear why the south side need lose its one; instead the design opts for increasing the  pavement width. 

12) As the government’s Gear Change points out, “A scheme is only as good as its weakest  point”. The weakest point here must be when about 17 metres of the cycle path disappears  completely, replaced with a loading bay and a short stay disabled parking bay outside the  

Hop Pole. Apparently this is okay because “for the most part of the day” the bays would  not be occupied (although it means that there will now be no separation from the main 

carriageway even at these times). How the riders (that’s “everyone from 8 to 80 and  beyond”, remember) avoid the occupied times is unclear though. 

13) The original scheme included raised crossings across minor side roads (“It gives much  more priority to pedestrians, makes it easier for people to cross as it’s a level surface”, Paul  Garrod). These have now been abandoned, supposedly because of the fear of high  maintenance costs. Yet these are minor roads with light traffic. Why not just change the  design, perhaps to that used on Camden Road where they cope with a far greater traffic  flow? The ramp effect of a raised crossing is a crucial indication to car drivers that they are  crossing a pedestrian route and for pedestrians a level route is both easier to manage and  an indication of their right of way. As Paul Garrod said, this priority is expected to be  adopted for the Highway Code. 

14) It is proposed to increase the spacing of cycle wand separators from 1 metre to every 15  metres. This, apparently, is to allow lorries and other vehicles to enter the cycle lane, despite  their purpose being to prevent such intrusion and, equally important, indicate to cyclists  that vehicles are not going to be entering the cycle path. 

Someone at Avon Fire & Rescue, it seems, believes that every road must be wide enough to  accommodate a bus, LGV and fire tender simultaneously (i.e. 7.58m). As the B&NES officer  points out “There are many main roads across Bath that are not wide enough for  emergency vehicles to overtake traffic, either due to the physical width of the road or the  presence of parked vehicles”.  

How common might such a need be anyway, with cars unable to pull back to allow a fire  tender through? Set against this the additional risk to cyclists 24/7 of the loss of visible  separation from the carriageway together with a reduction in the cyle path width and the  knowledge that vehicles, including lorries, are now being encouraged to enter the cycle  lane.  

And if there was a real emergency fire tenders could drive over the plastic separator  wands. (BTW, couldn’t fire crew be taught to check before opening a door?) There also  seems to be an assumption that neither cyclists nor car drivers will notice firefighters in hi-vis  clothing standing next to a fire engine with its blue lights flashing.  

Is this the official view of Avon Fire & Rescue or just of one person there? It’s noticeable that  South West Ambulance had no objection to the original proposals despite presumably  facing exactly the same issues. 

And haven’t we all been held up by refuse vehicles, buses and white vans elsewhere in the  city? It’s part of city life. For refuse vehicles it’s for a brief period one day each week; for  cyclists the loss of continuous separation will be a 24/7 penalty.

No one really knows the level of suppressed demand for cycling on the Upper Bristol Road.  Nor will anyone ever know if the scheme implented does not at least approach the  standards set out in LTN 1/20. On the basis that a route should be suitable for anyone from 8  to 80, this scheme as amended falls woefully short. 

Who would send their child along a cycle route that weaves between parked cars and  moving HGVs, with vertical separators spaced 15 metres apart rather than just one, with  refuse lorries and delivery vehicles pulling on to it, car doors opening into it and with  stretches that disappear completely at random moments?  

A successful experiment – and this is, after all, intended to be a trial – will most likely deliver  more customers to Mr D’s by bike, more users will cycle to their exercises at Phase One and  more residents may receive deliveries by cargo bike. 

Instead, though, this cycle route will be a failure because a significant proportion of  potential cyclists will continue to see it as an intimidating and dangerous route. Not only  that but it will mean a reduction in future government grants for highways’ infrastructure. 

Notes: 

Gear Change and LTN 1/20 

“The Government intends that all proposed schemes will be checked by a new inspectorate against  the summary principles before funding is agreed, and that finished schemes will be inspected as  appropriate to ensure that they have been delivered in compliance with them.” 

“Not only must cycle infrastructure be safe, it should also be perceived to be safe so that more  people feel able to cycle.” 

“Cycle infrastructure should be accessible to everyone from 8 to 80 and beyond.” 

“Cyclists must be physically separated and protected from high volume motor traffic, both at  junctions and on the stretches of road between them.” 

“Cycle infrastructure should be designed for significant numbers of cyclists, and for non-standard  cycles… We also want to see increasing numbers of cargo bikes to replace some van journeys.  Cycle routes must be accessible to recumbents, trikes, handcycles, and other cycles used by  disabled cyclists.” 

“There will be a presumption that schemes must deliver or improve cycling infrastructure to the  standards in the Local Transport Note.”

“Routes should be planned holistically as part of a network. Isolated stretches of provision, even if it is  good are of little value.” 

“There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that cycle and pedestrian-friendly streets can boost  footfall and retail sales,” 

“A scheme is only as good as its weakest point.” 

The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 

Road marking shown in diagram 1001.3: zig-zag lines—no stopping 

27.—(1) In this regulation and regulation 28— 

“controlled area” means a length of carriageway— 

(a) which is adjacent to a signal-controlled crossing facility and has a zig-zag line marked  along each of its edges (with or without zig-zag lines also marked down its centre); and (b) in or near which no other signs or markings have been placed except ones comprised in  the combination of signs and markings indicating the presence of the facility or shown in  diagram 610, 611, 612, 613, 616, 810, 1029 or 1062; 

(2) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4) and without prejudice to regulation 28, a zig-zag line shall  convey the requirement that the driver of a vehicle shall not cause any part of it to stop in the  controlled area in which it is marked. 

Local Transport Note 2/95: The Design of Pedestrian Crossings 

2.1 Proximity of Junctions  

2.1.1 Approach to a Side Road  

2.1.1.1 Crossings should be located away from conflict points at uncontrolled junctions. This will give  drivers an adequate opportunity to appreciate the existence of a crossing and to brake safely. The  ‘safe’ distance will depend on the geometry of the junction and type of side road. However, a  minimum distance of 20 metres is suggested for a signalled-controlled crossing and an absolute  minimum of 5 metres for a Zebra crossing. It is suggested that the distance be measured from the  position of a driver waiting at the give-way line of the side road. Where it is impossible to obtain a  ‘safe’ distance, consider banning turning movements towards the crossing or make the side road  one way away from the junction. 

B&NES 

It is a requirement of the fund that schemes are built in accordance with the latest design  standards for cycle infrastructure, Local Transport Note 1/20.  

The DfT has advised that future funding may be reduced to authorities that do not follow the  standards. 

The Rapid Cycleway Prioritisation Tool identified Upper Bristol Road as being one of the top  routes in the West of England with greatest potential for increasing the volume of cyclists. 

8 comments

  1. This is, as the last comment, a truly professional and brilliant response. Thank you to Roger for the work in this. Were there any comments from the Councillors referred to?

  2. Hi Adam – have you posted this today for any reason? We have not yet had the TRO issued which as residents we are waiting for – have you had insight that it is being issued?

    Thanks – like you the new scheme is awful. But also I think the first scheme was also not well designed when considering all users and improving the towpath and routes through the park would be better use. Weston Lane across the top of the park should have all parking removed and improved for cyclists with easy access out of the park. That would have passed well and then the route to RUH could be properly developed.

    • Roger sent this last week to the council and I asked him if he was ok with me writing it up here.

      Critique is of the publicly available drawings as presented on the 23rd of June at the cabinet meeting (https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=122&MId=5971 item 27). No further drawings have been issued and the Active Travel And Accessibility Forum last met in March 2021 when Cllr Joanna Wright was the Cabinet member for Transport. Repeated requests for the ATAF to be reconvened have not had an effect and I have refused an offer to meet one on one with Cllr Sarah Warren when she became Cabinet member with the sustainable transport brief. The ATAF is a publicly minuted meeting and we shouldn’t be engaging behind closed doors. Hope that helps.

      Be aware that paths along the river path and through the park are extremely hostile towards women particularly after dark. Strategic routes should be inclusive and socially safe and not out of the way on dark isolated shared paths. We also want to keep higher speed cycle traffic off the river path and use the protected cycle lanes to protect the footpaths from vehicle incursion.

      The major request we wanted with the changed design was to “float” the parking/loading bays to protect the cycle lane, as recommended in LTN 1/20. I have an email from Cllr Sarah Warren stating that this design is LTN 1/20 compliant. Roger and pretty much the rest of the world disagrees.

  3. Hi Adam, I wrote to you when you sent this a week ago asking how we can get involved in the process. Any ideas? I’m an older cyclist, and am really keen on improved provision for cycles on the roads. Would Roger Houghton talk to our XR lobbying group? Can you ask him to email me, or pass on his contact details? Thanks Annie Beardsley

    >

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