Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

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horizon
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Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby horizon » 17 Sep 2015, 10:17am

Hereford is a sizable town of 50,000 people but calls itself a city by virtue of its very beautiful cathedral. And it’s justified: the city centre spreads for about half a mile in all directions, curtailed by the river Wye in the south and a ring road to the north, east and west. It is large enough to want to cycle across it yet small enough to make cycling the best way of getting about. In many ways Hereford is the ideal cycling city.

But you cannot cycle there. Cycling is banned in the whole of the central zone of the city for much of the day. For the rest of the time, one way systems make practical cycling difficult and problematic. People do cycle to the city centre but not in it. The alternative to cycling across the city centre is the busy and unpleasant ring road. There is the odd provision for cycling (including a contra-flow cycle lane that stops suddenly half way along a major street) and a variety of cycle stands. There are some cycle paths outside the city centre. And that’s about it. Basically the city is a no-go zone for cycling - you can see people walking across the city pushing their bikes.

Hereford city centre is no shopping mall by the way: it’s a full-on city centre with long streets which were once major traffic thoroughfares. You could easily walk half a mile in one direction and half a mile back in the course of doing business or shopping in the centre. And it isn’t as though Hereford doesn’t need cycling. At about 4.00 pm every day the city is gridlocked.

Hereford is clearly anti-cycling. Yet Hereford might have been the city most likely to embrace it: it’s an intelligent, well-off, beautiful city strangled by traffic and large enough to make cycling needed, small enough to make it ideal. If Hereford cannot embrace cycling then nowhere can; if cycling doesn’t make sense in Hereford then it makes no sense anywhere else in an urban context.

Cycling in Hereford as far as I can see isn't an issue between cars and bikes – that hasn’t even hit the radar yet. It’s a simple conflict between pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrians dominate the city centre and their needs (many of whom will have driven there) come first. And the pedestrians hold an ace card: one of their number was killed this year by an errant cyclist in the pedestrianised zone. If that is used as a reason to ban cycling then I presume (on the same logic) that the whole of the A49 through Herefordshire faces closure as well. But it doesn’t.

So cycling is rejected in Hereford. And if there, then what future does it really have as a better means of transport anywhere in the UK?
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

james01
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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby james01 » 17 Sep 2015, 11:15am

We recently visited Hereford, arriving from the South West along NCN46 from Abergavenny. The signage seemed to disappear as we neared the centre, and we found ourselves struggling through supermarket carparks and under a subway beneath the fast and busy ring road. We then gave up and locked the bikes in the pedestrianized old centre and proceeded on foot to our objective, the cathedral. As cyclists we felt unwelcome and almost alien (very few other cyclists around).
On paper it's an ideal cathedral city, but like so many other country towns it doesn't "get" cycling. That wide and threatening ring-road actually sums it up very neatly - we only welcome people in motor vehicles here. After a quick look around we were glad to get out and back to the glorious surrounding countryside.
Cycling's best chance seems to be where driving and parking are difficult or impossibly expensive. Many small towns have enough land to allow relatively cheap parking, but where this isn't available cycling (and use of public transport/walking) flourishes. Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton and especially London are good examples (although not perfect). Human nature is such that generally if people can use their car easily it will remain their transport of choice.

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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby mjr » 17 Sep 2015, 11:32am

horizon wrote: In many ways Hereford is the ideal cycling city.

But you cannot cycle there. Cycling is banned in the whole of the central zone of the city for much of the day. For the rest of the time, one way systems make practical cycling difficult and problematic.

I've not been there yet but https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/media/ ... re_map.pdf makes it look like that "whole of the central zone" is basically a handful streets north of the Cathedral. Much of the rest is 20mph zone, which various people here like to suggest is better than cycling infrastructure.

It does look like it would really help if the East Street one-way was "Except Cycles" (which is OK because it's a 20mph zone) or one of the wide paths past the cathedral allowed cycling (the map says no, but I see no signs on Street View and they look like an obvious continuation of the route along King Street/Broad Street), but Hereford doesn't look as restricted as even Milton Keynes's city centre (which has a square-kilometre hole that you can only cycle across on huge multi-lane roads). Is it really so bad?
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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horizon
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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby horizon » 17 Sep 2015, 12:26pm

mjr wrote: Is it really so bad?


That's a good question. I've been to Hereford about three or four times recently. On my first visit, I was shocked by the sheer awkwardness of it all. But on my last visit I questioned whether I had over-reacted. I spoke to several other cyclists about it (it wasn't difficult as they were walking their bikes at the time!), a couple of motorists and a highway worker. All confirmed without hesitation my own impressions. There are three main problems:

1. Cycling through or across Hereford without stopping: apart from the removal of all through-route signs this is impossible as far as I can see without going on the ring road or walking (I was going south to north). I haven't checked this exhaustively but nothing was obvious. I've checked the map you linked to and even on the map I cannot see a way of doing it.

2. The places where you might want to go i.e. the banks, Cathedral, shops, offices etc are all in the no cycling zone. Yes, you can cycle on other, quiet back streets but only if you need to visit someone on a quiet back street and your journey doesn't take you across the centre (unlikely as this constitutes all the old through routes).

3. Some of the roads where cycling was allowed were one-way. You would need to know the centre well to get around these. Going back on yourself (as one might while shopping, eating etc) was impossible, even outside the main no-cycling time.

I would add that while life with a bike may not be impossible in Hereford (there are bikes around but only a tiny handful compared to other cities), all the advantages of a bicycle (quick, simple, flexible here-and-there transport) are lost and rejected in Hereford. Cycling to a city centre and then walking with your bke for a quarter of a mile is hardly making the best of cycling.
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

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mjr
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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby mjr » 17 Sep 2015, 12:54pm

1. Cycling through or across Hereford without stopping: it does seem like the routes for through cycling are the path south of the river (East-West) and the Great Western Way (North-South) and there's not much thought of attracting cycle-tourists to the city centre.

2. It looks like banks, shops and offices exist outside the no-cycling zone too. I'd just ignore the ones in the zone as much as possible, same as I do around King's Lynn.

3. The one-way streets are madness for bikes and someone with an interest should ask Herefordshire Council to except cycles from enough to create viable cycle routes.

Cycling to a city centre and then walking with your bke for a quarter of a mile is hardly making the best of cycling.

I agree with that wholeheartedly.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby Lance Dopestrong » 17 Sep 2015, 4:42pm

A city? I've dropped logs that cover a greater area.
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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby Mattyfez » 17 Sep 2015, 8:38pm

Could someone please clarify... Cycling banned? From roads? Or it it very pedestrianised, so cars are also presumably banned?

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horizon
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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby horizon » 17 Sep 2015, 10:15pm

Mattyfez wrote:Could someone please clarify... Cycling banned? From roads? Or it it very pedestrianised, so cars are also presumably banned?


The city centre has four or five roads which are either fully pedestrianised or have loading/cycling access only at certain times. My point is that this is a significant portion of the most significant section of the city and, combined with one-ways, makes cycling impractical. Remember, the pedestrianised areas aren't shopping precincts - they are the former main roads running through the city. The cars are routed onto a busy and unpleasant ring road leaving the cyclists with, IMV, nowhere to go.

I found mjr's link to this map very useful:

https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/media/ ... re_map.pdf
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby mattsccm » 23 Sep 2015, 7:48am

Funnily I don't find it a great problem. You can approach the city centre from all directions without using the ring road. Agreed there are main roads that would always be enhanced by a cycle path but that isn't going to happen. Once you get right into the middle, lets say past the cathedral or over the inner ring road thing change. Its quite small and nothing more than a 5 or 10 minutes dawdle. The answer here of course is to get off and walk. It take no time at all and solves the problem.
I do think it is a bit much to expect to be able to cycle everywhere. After all cyclists seem to want equality with vehicles rather than be treated as second class citizens.

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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby horizon » 23 Sep 2015, 11:41am

mattsccm wrote: The answer here of course is to get off and walk.


Yes, this is the concept that I was grappling with and basically the idea that I was confronted with in Hereford. It's a fair argument. That "Well, you can walk" is probably what sustains the pedestrianisation. But it's fallacious.

And here is the argument against:

1. Would you choose to get off and walk with your bike? Probably not, so there is an advantage in cycling that extra 500 metres - it is what bikes are designed for.
2. So that makes using a bike advantageous at least in one respect. And that makes the choice of going by bike to the city centre advantageous over using the car. Of course, you don't have to park either but for many people it is still a fine balance.
3. So you have thrown away one key advantage of a bike - the ablity to go quickly and easily from point to point in the centre.
4. So at 4.00pm the city centre is gridlocked (the traffic barely moves).

Of course we haven't mentioned the one way streets, the insecure cycle parking, the lack of any car toll ino the city centre. But we've thrown away a "bike plus".
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby horizon » 23 Sep 2015, 11:45am

mattsccm wrote:Funnily I don't find it a great problem. You can approach the city centre from all directions without using the ring road.


You cannot pass south to north without either taking the ring road or getting off your bike. You can approach the city but cannot then cycle. If you believe in cycling, then that is a problem. If you don't mind walking, it isn't a problem. If you are responsible for the well-being of a city then it is still a problem.
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby horizon » 23 Sep 2015, 12:18pm

mattsccm wrote:Funnily I don't find it a great problem.


mattsccm: thank you by the way for your post as you've hit the nail on the head. I've tried to meet it head on and explain why I think it's wrong. It's a very deep issue IMV and has huge implications for cycling everywhere.
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby Silverdorking » 25 Sep 2015, 8:26pm

Your 'cycle free' zone extends to a very limited, central, pedestrianised area, making up the principle shopping offer, known as High Town. Freedom from all wheeled vehicles makes for a reasonably relaxed shopping experience which I for one, even as an inveterate cyclist appreciate! Cycling through High Town in contravention of 'pedestrianised' zoning is currently very sensitive following the death of a pedestrian though the rash and irresponsible actions of a cyclist.
Otherwise, traffic management in Hereford is difficult in the extreme. Hereford is the hub for many radial,through-routes with no bypass in the offering, making crossing the City an unpleasant experience for 4 and 2 wheeled road users alike. As had been described above the City is frequently gridlocked and the Council, seriously cash strapped, recognise the benefits increased cycle use could bring.
With local knowledge, traversing Hereford in any direction, or access to attractions can be reasonably easily achieved. These routes could benefit from greater signage!

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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby Pete Owens » 25 Sep 2015, 10:55pm

Simply putting up "Except Cyclists" signs on all the one way streets could make a big difference.

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Re: Cycling: not Hereford, not anywhere?

Postby horizon » 26 Sep 2015, 12:55am

Silverdorking wrote:Your 'cycle free' zone extends to a very limited, central, pedestrianised area, making up the principle shopping offer, known as High Town.


It isn't just the "shopping area". These restricted streets form the main through route for cyclists through Hereford. Obviously no thought was given to cycling when it was proposed (the cars got a by-pass) and none since. It's odd the thing about the pedestrian death: none of the motorists who use the "shopping area" are suggesting that numerous roads and streets be closed to traffic following any of the deaths caused by motorists in Hereford and elsewhere.
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)