At the last Cycle Consultation Forum, we agreed to hold a snaller group meeting to look at some plans for road schemes that are either coming up, or have recently been carried out.
We were asked by the Council to limit it to 6 cyclists, and in the end we took a delegation of 4. Here's the summary of the discussion:
M1 J44 pinch point scheme: Footways are to be improved to allow shared use. Toucan crossings will be provided at all arms except slip road onto eastbound M1 where an informal crossing is in place. This crossing can't be a Toucan due to vehicle capacity. To avoid this informal crossing, 6 extra toucans would be required. So a safe route is provided, but it's inconvenient and delayed. Cyclists will still have the option to go on the road if they prefer.
Gildersome roundabouts north and south were discussed, there was the suggestion of turning the east pavement that joins the 2 roundabouts to shared use. Rob highlighted the dangers of merging traffic from the motorways, the planned improvements will increase traffic speed and in certain places cars will be turning left leaving roundabouts whilst looking to their right, potentially not seeing cyclists ahead of them.
There was discussion of whether a bridge avoiding this area entirely could be authorised for cycling use, and further details of how it can connect up the A62 west of the roundabouts. Part of this area falls inside Kirklees so that would be something to consider.
Junction 28 of the M62 (Tingley white bear) had little direct impact from a cycling point of view, the improvements are to ease congestion leaving the motorway. However the potential for increased speeds of vehicles is a risk.
Churwell Hill: we reported the discussion on facebook and the problems with car parking reducing the effective width of the road. Bottom line, there isn't room for a standard-width (1.5m) cycle lane, and without parking restrictions parts of it may end up unusable anyway. The 'cycle lane' that's there at the moment was just the guide line to discourage vehicles from hitting the bridge; it wasn't ever intended to be a cycle lane. We discussed the option of having cycle lanes but no centre line, and Nick cited the recent research showing that removing the centre line leads to slower average traffic speeds. But the designers were uncomfortable with this solution on a very busy traffic route with frequent buses in both directions, with the constraint of the viaduct where taller vehicles need to align themselves carefully. So we recommended using the available width (about 4.2m) for a wider traffic lane in the uphill direction, and keeping the downhill traffic lane to 3m. This seemed to be the least worst option but it's something we will need to adress in future as apparently this width of road is fairly standard. We asked that cycle lanes and no centre line be considered on more minor and quieter routes without buses.
NOTE: In April, new central regulations will be implemented, meaning that the previous long-winded and expensive process for implementing parking restrictions is going to be scrapped! Instead of 6-12 months and several thousand pounds in legal fees, the Council will be able to apply single or double yellow lines in as little as 6 weeks! So if you see problems with dangerous or indiscriminate parking that could be alleviated by application of yellow lines (and of course enforcement of the restrictions!), please let us or highways know (we'll get contact details for the chap responsible).
The Council reps also suggested that they can make available their schedule of routine maintenance schemes for the year ahead, so we can circulate it, and try to identify any potential trouble spots that might need more thinking about. The maintenance teams work to a tight schedule and it's usually like-for-like replacement with no time to re-design the layout. But with a bit of notice, we may be able to have a positive input.
Chapeltown Road pinch point, by Mexborough Ave
We asked why a single, full-width crossing had not been implemented as discussed at the site visit earlier in the year. We all agreed the layout is not acceptable as it's hardly an improvement on what's there at the moment. A possible alternative would be closing the entrance to Mexborough Ave to motor traffic, which might allow space for the cycle lane to run behind the parking bay, though the pavement isn't all council property at the moment. The council team are going to do some further investigations and report back.
Wood Lane, Rothwell
This scheme had already been implemented but we'd had feedback from a member that the change of layout caused vehicle drivers not to understand what the safe cycling position is, and to act impatiently. Council reps reported they'd had a couple of cycling colleagues ride the route and couldn't understand what the problem was. We (hopefully) explained that although it may not be a problem for experienced and confident cyclists, it definitely isn't a cycle-friendly route for children or novices, but this would require a lot more work and funding. Speeding is a problem on this route but traffic-calming measures installed several years ago had been take out at the request of local Councillors!
Calverley Lane North scheme has been completed as discussed at the full Consultation Forum. We discussed adding a cycle logo to the shared use facility to encourage cyclists to join it though there is no obligation to.
Barriers are being installed on the East side of the road here to address the high winds being dangerous to pedestrians. There is currently a cycle lane leading to the advanced stop box at the entrance to the Great Wilson Street gyratory. This is to be replaced by the option to cycle on the footway which will become shared use, allowing access to the crossing of the road to head down Water Lane or the entrance to the canal/river path by the Asda building. Alternatively cyclists can use the road. There was some discussion about why when the road is being dug up to install these barriers a proper cycle facility could not be implemented, instead cyclists are 'encouraged' to use to road (3 lanes heading towards the motorway) or tolerated on the footway. The highways team explained that this had been urgent works without time to reconfigure the highway and mentioned that when further overhead baffles are installed, this barrier may not be needed and might be removed. There is a longer term plan to reduce traffic in this area (and the rest of the city centre) which should bring improvements for cycling.