Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Labarum
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Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby Labarum » 30 Dec 2019, 11:20pm

The local paper contains a lot of chatter about supposed improvements to Southampton cycle tracks.

https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/181279 ... ycle-lane/

Do members of this forum have views?

How was the cycling fraternity consulted about these improvements.

A fortune has been spent, but my guess is not to much advantage for cyclists, motorists or pedestrians.

Marcus Aurelius
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 31 Dec 2019, 10:13am

Labarum wrote:The local paper contains a lot of chatter about supposed improvements to Southampton cycle tracks.

https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/181279 ... ycle-lane/

Do members of this forum have views?

How was the cycling fraternity consulted about these improvements.

A fortune has been spent, but my guess is not to much advantage for cyclists, motorists or pedestrians.

It’s better than it has been for as long as I can remember now. Some well known CTC stalwarts have been at the planning meetings, not always 100 percent listened to, but they’ve certainly had some concerns addressed. The infrastructure improvements have been very much geared towards leisure / commuting / social type rides, and there will no doubt be lots of faux pro types, who are ‘far too good for that stuff, yeah’. However, if you’re trying to get from one end of Southampton to the other, by bike / trike / unicycle / whatever, the structure of the improvements does now make it safer and easier than it ever has been. There are a lot of moaners, for whom seemingly nothing would be adequate, and a lot of motorists aren’t happy, however, Southampton soon will be as easy to navigate ( by bike) as Portsmouth is. Some bits seem to be beyond just about everybody’s comprehension ( the ‘Dutch junction’ on the Southampton side of the Itchen bridge ) for example, but it certainly seems as though the penny is starting to drop with an increasing number of people ( both motorists and cyclists ) which is encouraging.

PT1029
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby PT1029 » 31 Dec 2019, 10:35am

Out of interest, are you a cyclist, or none cyclist, trying to understand why cyclists don't use the cycle facilities (I see you joined the forum yesterday). Your question is in itself quite reasonable. I write generally, as I am not familiar with the Southampton example.

Were cyclists consulted? I can't say (I'm in Oxford) - public responses to consultations are publically available, so I expect you could rummage online to see (probably under papers for the council meeting(s) where the councillors approved projects).
What I can say is I/collegues/various cycling groups in Oxford have responded to numersous consultations over a few decades - with a lot of development plans, we sometimes have 4 - 6 big scheme consultations going on at once, these take up alot of time! In that time I can think of 2 occasions* where my comments were directly adopted. One after numerous strong follow up e mails. The other was to put "No Cycling" on the footway at the end end of a shared use foot/cycle route, to deter cyclists from continueing on the footway. There was a 3rd occasion with 2 conflicting green traffic lights (cycles vs motor traffic crossing...) which took 6 months or seriously stroppy e mails to get any movement on making a less bad design - the relavant folder in my in box has nearly 300 e mails for this junction.
In reality, most consultations have no effect what so ever because the design has been set by the time the consultation takes place, so it is more a rubber stamping exercise, with only scope for the smallest of tweeks.
(*With earlier stage consultations, I hope I/we have had more influence on designs, so we might have an effect without directly knowing about it.)

Why don't people use the cycle lanes? Usually because:
They are poorly designed or too narrow.
The junctions are poorly designed, so the cycle facility leaves you in the wrong place or more dangerous position to navigate the junction.
They provide various places to cross the road, which are usually long winded and time consuming to cross. Using the road you simply join the traffic for a faster passage of the junction.
Any cycle route/lane/facility is only as good as the worst part, so if a wonderful new well designed cycle lane that has a bad/dangerous (actual or percieved) junction 100m along the road, people still won't use it.
Often if you look at what is provided, and what good practice says should be provided, there is often a shortfall.
Our test for a cycle facilty is, would you sent your 12 year old along there unaccompanied to school?

I think the main problem is the highway designers and engineers. After decades (and a career) designing for the motor vehicle, most simply do not have the knowledge/skill/view point to design safe cycle facilities that are easy, quick and direct to use. Often they are designed with the aim of keeping motor traffic moving to reduce congestion, so designing to keep cycles out of the way produces a different design to one designed to offer quick and direct passage for cycle users. We get these motorcentric designs, even when they fail to meet the councils own stated policies/objectives. The council officers think they are doing a good job, the councillors (who generally know less than the officers) see all this new tarmac/white lines and think they are doing a good job too. Until that changes, this nonsense will simply continue.
My feeling is that Oxfordshire is (now) infact a lot more helpful than alot of highway authorities (they are now consulting us at the pre design stage on major scheme, so our imput is there before the design is set. So while the county is gradually improving in its cycle design, to meet climate/air quality needs means what we need to demand goes up as well, I fear the countys' improvements are not keeping up with the demands improvements.

Over the years I have moved to using more cycle facilities than I used to, but if the road is easier/quicker/better surfaced/does not have over grown hedges encroaching on it/has right of way over side roads when the cycle track does not have a better surface/right of way over side roads etc, then I'll use the road.

Hopefully this might give an insight into why.
I have not dared venture into the "comments" section of the newspaper article. If they are like the ones on the Oxford Mail, most are not worth the pixels they are written with.

Labarum
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby Labarum » 31 Dec 2019, 11:05am

I, the original poster, am a cyclist. I am 70 and I have been cycling all my life. I have been a member of CTC/Cycling UK many-a-year. It seems I had to re-join the forum yesterday as the board software had changed (some time ago) and my registration lost.

For those who know Southampton I live in Northlands Road, within yards of the the Avenue where all the work and disruption has been going on for months. At the moment all I see is the disruption to many people's lives, and I cannot see that much advantage for anyone has been bought. Time will tell. It may be that those commuting by cycle into town from way up the hill will find the work done useful. Me? Going into town I use the old shared cycle track. Coming out of town I use the new. Yesterday I was passed by a man in his 20s riding a skateboard in the wrong direction, and I have seen quite a few cyclists using the northbound lane for riding south - they should have been on the other side of the dual carriageway, or on the old, shared bi-directional track. Hey ho!

I have once used the new cycle lane southbound into town having crossed the Avenue at St Andrew's Church, but, as is often the case, that track just vanishes when the road circumstances get too difficult, and you have to recross the Avenue to get back onto the old bi-directional shared track. Maybe there are plans to continue the southbound track into St Mary's.

Nor have I any idea what plans there are for cycling higher up the Avenue. The sensible answer would be a cyclists' "motorway/snelweg" up the length of Southampton Common - no, wait, it would fill with pedestrians and baby-buggies!

As I said, as far as I am concerned the jury is still out!

The so called improvements at Bittern Triangle achieved precisely nothing - except to lose the small traders at that corner a lot of business while the work was in progress.

I have not yet sampled the new Millbrook cycle lane - but it was largely there anyway, using permitted footways and the safety roads to the dual carriageway. I will explore in the summer.

So yes, I am a very sceptical cyclist.

peetee
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby peetee » 31 Dec 2019, 12:35pm

Although I have now moved away I lived in Southampton for many years and travelled as a cyclist, car and goods vehicle driver. The Avenue is a very heavily trafficked route that is the most direct path into the city from the north I.e., London and the Midlands. It is not however the preferred route as far as local planning is concerned. The M27 and M271 is the signed route for the docks and city centre from that direction. The Avenue passes right through a prosperous residential area and the highly regarded Southampton common. With these facts I can't help but believe that the installation of these cycling facilities had a quite intentional and deliberate function to make vehicle usage of this road even more intollerable than it once was and persuade as many drivers as possible that the longer, signed route is the better option.
The volume and speed of traffic on this road has long been a problem. I once had a conversation with a fellow driver regarding this road. The Avenue was effectively a dual carriageway with no central reservation. 4 very narrow lanes of near continuous traffic travelling at 40 mph with inches to spare and in no part is there more than a 50 yard stretch without a tight side junction, roundabout or pedestrian crossing. This chap thought the speed limit should be 50mph until I pointed out the potential for a 100mph impact resulting from a moment's inattention. Not surprisingly that fact escapes many people and its not uncommon to see cars doing that sort of speed.
Current status report:
Back on two wheels in deepest Pastyland and loving every minute. Mission: to enjoy big, bad hills again.

Bez
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby Bez » 31 Dec 2019, 12:46pm

Marcus Aurelius wrote:Southampton soon will be as easy to navigate ( by bike) as Portsmouth is.


Image

Labarum
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby Labarum » 31 Dec 2019, 1:00pm

Here are pictures of the tracks from Northands Road south to the Law Courts at London Road

https://photos.app.goo.gl/LsjdUw7LujB21RrA7

You can see the old bi-directional shared track (which is the only track in some places) and the new northbound track stolen from the carriageway.

Labarum
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby Labarum » 31 Dec 2019, 1:33pm

You may be right, Peetee.

A bus driver told me there are plans to extend the cycle lane on either side of the Avenue for the full length of the Common and maybe even further north. That would indeed concentrate a few minds if the Avenue was reduced to a two lane local road, rather than the motorway it is without central reservation.

In the meantime I feel very sorry for those whose livelihoods depend on getting about my part of Southampton. It has been misery for three months, and they are not finished messin' yet. Take for, example, the suspension of the southbound Northlands Road bus stop - that has put the town out of bounds to folk with mobility problems, who cannot walk to the next bus stop. I only use my bus pass when it's wet, and I get a bit wetter walking to the farther bus stop, but I can still use the busses into town.

(I'm very particular where I park up my custom made Robin Mather Audax - I do have wreck of a Trek, but I have to be desperate to mount it!)

Marcus Aurelius
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 31 Dec 2019, 3:16pm

The avenue cycle lane is going to extend right up to the roundabout at the end of the motorway slip, where it will link to the path right down past Chilworth, and also the new cycle path which will extend to join up with the infrastructure down to Chandlers Ford and Eastleigh. It’s going to make life easier for most cyclists, getting into and through Southampton, and pretty much into the New Forest, in one direction, and pretty much out to Fareham, in the other direction, once all the new built bits are properly linked up. There will no doubt still be people moaning about it, but it’s a whole lot better than what we had before.

Labarum
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby Labarum » 31 Dec 2019, 3:28pm

I do hope so, Marcus.

Are you connected in any way to the planning and/or execution?

Where is the grand plan declared?

The track up the hill from the Eastleigh ASDA can only be an improvement.

Marcus Aurelius
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 1 Jan 2020, 1:24pm

Labarum wrote:I do hope so, Marcus.

Are you connected in any way to the planning and/or execution?

Where is the grand plan declared?

The track up the hill from the Eastleigh ASDA can only be an improvement.


I’m very tenuously linked to the process, via being asked by some councillors that I know socially what my views are. I believe the grand plan is somewhere on Southampton city council’s website ( I don’t know exactly where though ). The new cycle lane, up Bournemouth road should make it possible to ( pretty much ) get all the way from out towards Fair Oak, to Marchwood / Hythe, without having to use many ( if any ) road sections. And once the infrastructure over the Itchen bridge through Woolston is sorted, you should be able to pretty much get to Chichester, and right on towards Brighton, without using much of a road, should you wish not to.

Labarum
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructurte

Postby Labarum » 1 Jan 2020, 2:17pm

Thanks Marcus. Grand plan here

https://transport.southampton.gov.uk/co ... e-network/

Not that a London Underground schematic tells you much about real world cycling possibilities.

More here

https://transport.southampton.gov.uk/tr ... e-freeway/

https://transport.southampton.gov.uk/tr ... le-scheme/

This morning I cycled from Lodge Road to London Road on the new southbound track stolen from the southbound carriageway of the Avenue. It is already cluttered with leaves, twigs (even branches), cans, bottles and clothing. If it is not regularly cleaned by the council it will be unusable. At the moment it comes to an abrupt end, but the plan may be to run down into St Mary's. It is possible to use the underpass to London Road, the ramps are quite usable, but the tight corners risk collisions with pedestrians. If I were using that route I would move onto the carriageway and negotiate the roundabout onto London Road.

I am trying to be positive, but it really is quite difficult as I keep asking myself "Why did they do that, and not that?" and of course at some locations there is no obvious solution.

It's a complicated social problem - there are many varieties of cyclist all of whom see things differently - from the racer on 23mm tyres to the toddler out with parents. Motorists are likely to be irritated by changes, and pedestrians are likely to walk all over the cycle tracks without concern for cyclists or even their own safety. If town planners are not experienced cyclists they really do not have the eyes to the see problems and the possibilities.

But we have to try.

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hondated
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby hondated » 1 Jan 2020, 2:34pm

Marcus Aurelius wrote:The avenue cycle lane is going to extend right up to the roundabout at the end of the motorway slip, where it will link to the path right down past Chilworth, and also the new cycle path which will extend to join up with the infrastructure down to Chandlers Ford and Eastleigh. It’s going to make life easier for most cyclists, getting into and through Southampton, and pretty much into the New Forest, in one direction, and pretty much out to Fareham, in the other direction, once all the new built bits are properly linked up. There will no doubt still be people moaning about it, but it’s a whole lot better than what we had before.

Earlier this year I had to take my grandson back to Uni to take a resit exam so knowing I would be there a few hours I thought about taking my bike and going off for a ride somewhere. But when I sat down with a map I found it difficult to plan a traffic free route so I opted instead to have a kip in the back of my van.
Hopefully by the time my next grandson is old enough to Uni and if he chooses to got Southampton cycling routes will be linked up.

peetee
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructurte

Postby peetee » 1 Jan 2020, 4:22pm


It's a complicated social problem - there are many varieties of cyclist all of whom see things differently - from the racer on 23mm tyres to the toddler out with parents. Motorists are likely to be irritated by changes, and pedestrians are likely to walk all over the cycle tracks without concern for cyclists or even their own safety. If town planners are not experienced cyclists they really do not have the eyes to the see problems and the possibilities.

But we have to try.


Indeed we do. And your paragraph pretty much sums up the shortcomings of cycle infrastructure in this country as so many threads on this site amply demonstrate.
I remember being involved in cycle infrastructure planning as an employee of a Hampshire civil engineers in the early 90's and the decision makers really didn't understand the basic needs of cyclist back then.
It beggars belief that is the case now.
Current status report:
Back on two wheels in deepest Pastyland and loving every minute. Mission: to enjoy big, bad hills again.

Labarum
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Re: Southampton Cycling Infrastructure

Postby Labarum » 1 Jan 2020, 5:00pm

O where did it all go wrong? Many of you will have seen this video before about high quality 1930s cycle schemes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcKscQL ... e=youtu.be

But to return to Southampton. Three or four years ago I was at the Central Railway Station and wanted to get to the other side, so I decided to carry my bike over the footbridge. I had ascended (maybe) a dozen steps when I noticed a 18" wide ramp running up the edge of the concrete staircase. Then I saw the notch running up the centre of the ramp. "Looks like my wheel would run in that track", I said to myself. Sure enough, the footbridge had been built with a "tramline" running up and down each side to help cyclists get their bikes over the railway. Now there is some thoughtful building by folk who probably cycled to work every day! It made the job very easy, and I have used that bridge often ever since.

Does anyone know of other bridges equipped with such an aid for cyclists?