Conversion of major cycleway to a road.

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mjr
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Re: Conversion of major cycleway to a road.

Postby mjr » 12 Aug 2013, 12:07pm

And as predicted, this conversion of NCN1/EV12 to a road has reappeared, coming from nowhere to appear on the shortlist of the Norfolk and Suffolk Local Transport Body's Local Major Transport Scheme Funding programme. It wasn't on the long list put out for consultation. Public questions submitted to their meeting in good time (before the meeting papers were published, even!) have still not been answered, over 2 weeks later. Two of the three LTB voting members (Norfolk County Council, New Anglia LEP) had already supported the previous failed bid and although NCC has changed political control since then (was Con, now a Lab/UKIP/LibDem/Green pact I think), it still seems hell-bent on this daft project, prioritising it above the bus station and bypass improvements we need more mainly because they hadn't got any plans ready for those!

I'm trying to keep the current status on http://mjr.towers.org.uk/proj/cyclynn/ along with a summary of the project. I've also asked about the legal status and basically got back a "don't know" which I find incredible: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ ... ional_cycl

While confident riders will probably keep using the direct route even if it becomes a road (suggested above and a view expressed to me by some local CTC members), no cycle-proofing is shown on the design and so I'd expect more of the sort of "get on your cycle path!" rider/driver conflict we already suffer on our other "lost" section of NCN1 and the nearby Southgates and Hardwick roundabouts on the A149. There's also the current path users to consider, which includes a high proportion of young people riding between the housing estates to the north and the leisure centre and two large schools to the south - they may well use the diverted/downgraded track and the current plan adds two dangerous skewed road crossings to that.

That's before we consider wider concerns like where the road will go at its south end in future (could we lose the current NCN1 all the way to the town centre?) and the destruction of wildlife habitats alongside the current route (not enough width for road and paths if that remains).

I'm happy if the more moderate campaigners also want to explore cycle-proofing the route, but it'd still be basically tarmacking the last greenway out of one of the 10% most deprived areas of England (DCLG Indices of Deprivation 2010), when there are parallel roads to its east and west which could be used instead, so I'm not sure I'd agree with any plan that shoves a road up that alignment.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Pete Owens
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Re: Conversion of major cycleway to a road.

Postby Pete Owens » 12 Aug 2013, 9:42pm

At least as a road they are considerably less likely to install "helpful" features such as locked gates, it will be well surfaced, it will maintain priority over side roads.
If you are "taking cycling seriously" then you you need to be campaigning about conditions for cycling on the road itself rather than letting them brush you off with off-road alternatives. The main issue for cyclists will be the detailed design of the junction where it meets the main road (at least there will be a proper junction rather than a barrier). This could be cycle friendly - say a continental geometry roundabout or mini roundabout or traffic lights OR it could be a vastly over-engineered large roundabout with multiple lanes.

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Re: Conversion of major cycleway to a road.

Postby mjr » 12 Aug 2013, 10:56pm

Pete Owens wrote:At least as a road they are considerably less likely to install "helpful" features such as locked gates, it will be well surfaced, it will maintain priority over side roads.
If you are "taking cycling seriously" then you you need to be campaigning about conditions for cycling on the road itself rather than letting them brush you off with off-road alternatives.

You may notice that the Take Cycling Seriously manifesto doesn't really distinguish. A route is either good enough or not, whether on-road or off-road: of course, a far higher proportion of the off-road ones to date are rubbish, so it's vital to make sure the roads are rideable too.

If the road goes ahead, then I will push for it to be 20mph as in the manifesto and have whatever other features are appropriate for the obvious desire line of the cycle route, but at the moment, this section is basically a road open only to people walking and cycling, with no gates, well-surfaced (until the last few months - I suspect we're being punished), with equal priority with the only side road it crosses.

So this is no second-class off-road space. It's proper continental and I really feel that it should be defended as a non-motorised corridor and the existing parallel roads used for motor vehicle access instead.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Pete Owens
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Re: Conversion of major cycleway to a road.

Postby Pete Owens » 13 Aug 2013, 12:55am

mjr wrote:but at the moment, this section is basically a road open only to people walking and cycling,

And unless they plan to prohibit it then it still will be open to people walking and cycling with the added bonus of sufficient width to pass each other.
with no gates,

Then what on earth is this thread about:
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=76492
well-surfaced (until the last few months - I suspect we're being punished), with equal priority with the only side road it crosses.

Really?
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=King's ... 1,,0,23.13
and I bet those nasty looking posts won't feature in the replacement road either.

Nor will the next junction north consist of a fence:
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=King's ... .74,,2,3.7
So this is no second-class off-road space.

Judging from the photo the width looks to be about 2.5m - slightly wider than the pavement it is crossing - and unlit. This is (just) wide enough for 2 cyclists to pass each other with care but nowhere near enough for a 2-way shared use facility. It may just about scrape through the absolute minimum width that the crap UK standards permit. It may be adequate for daytime recreational use so long as it fails to attract any significant volume of pedestrian or cycle traffic. But as serious transport infrastructure it is a joke.

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Re: Conversion of major cycleway to a road.

Postby mjr » 13 Aug 2013, 4:13pm

Pete Owens wrote:
mjr wrote:but at the moment, this section is basically a road open only to people walking and cycling,

And unless they plan to prohibit it then it still will be open to people walking and cycling with the added bonus of sufficient width to pass each other.

And the major added drawback of motor vehicles and a parallel cycle track that will encourage drivers to shout "get off the road".
with no gates,

Then what on earth is this thread about:
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=76492

That's further south down NCN1.
well-surfaced (until the last few months - I suspect we're being punished), with equal priority with the only side road it crosses.

Really?
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=King's ... 1,,0,23.13
and I bet those nasty looking posts won't feature in the replacement road either.

I don't know what you're looking at on Google Maps - that link shows me a map of the Spenser Road crossing with a big red F on the crossing.

I bet there will be posts in the replacement track and the crossings will have lots of metal fences on the approach to "encourage" riders to use the track and to obstruct turning movements between road and track, which is what's been built elsewhere in the town.

Nor will the next junction north consist of a fence:
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=King's ... .74,,2,3.7

The current plan shows that next junction north still being quite well to the east of the north end of the track, so I'd expect that fence to remain unless something changes.

So this is no second-class off-road space.

Judging from the photo the width looks to be about 2.5m - slightly wider than the pavement it is crossing - and unlit. This is (just) wide enough for 2 cyclists to pass each other with care but nowhere near enough for a 2-way shared use facility. It may just about scrape through the absolute minimum width that the crap UK standards permit. It may be adequate for daytime recreational use so long as it fails to attract any significant volume of pedestrian or cycle traffic. But as serious transport infrastructure it is a joke.

Which photo? The one on my page shows cycles 2 abreast easily passing a line of pedestrians. There's a few lights along it, which aren't the greatest.

I'll try to remember to measure the different sections next time I'm there, but based on group rides, the threatened section is just about 3 cycles wide. It does need widening because of the volume of traffic it handles, but that could still be done without the hedgerow removal that a road would need.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Rob Archer
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Re: Conversion of major cycleway to a road.

Postby Rob Archer » 13 Aug 2013, 9:13pm

Sandringham path 1.JPG
The route was built 3m wide. Over the years vegetation has encroached but it is still 2.5 - 2.8m for most of it's length. With a bit of maintenance, lighting improvements and the conversion of the Spenser Road crossing to cyclist-priority this would be a Dutch-quality route.

Our main point we are trying to make to the blinkered borough and county councils is that all the benefits of the new road could be achieved by re-using a disused bus link 100 metres to the south (visible on Google). It would cost a fraction of the new road and could be open in months rather than years and would have little impact on NCN1. The reason given for not doing it is that it would be 'unattractive'!
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Sandringham path 2.JPG

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Re: Conversion of major cycleway to a road.

Postby mjr » 14 Aug 2013, 1:57pm

Reports from a ride: the Spenser Road crossing currently has Give Way markings on all arms except from Hamburg Way. The cycle track is level across it with ramps down to the road each side, red-coloured and fairly busy and most vehicles on Spenser Road seem to give way, contrary to the road markings.

There is a maybe 30cm square wooden post with reflectors in the middle of the track a little way south of the crossing which seems to serve no useful purpose.

Rob's memory seems consistent with the measurements I took: it's 3m width, with 1m of vegetation cut down to about 20-30cm high either side, but vegetation has been allowed to encroach 10cm or so onto the path in places. Lights are a bit sparse but at least they're in the verge, not the path. In a couple of places, it seems to narrow to 2.8m for a while, but on the other hand, it widens to 4m as it enters the Lynnsport leisure centre grounds. The only obstructions beside the path are fences level with the wooden post and a fence on the entry to Lynnsport, so the full 3m is often available, unlike most paths. I think it could probably be widened to 4m almost throughout without any loss of wildlife habitat.

If you want to talk about jokes instead of serious transport infrastructure, consider the proposed diversion, which would be a new drainbank path. I've attached a photo of a nearby typical drainbank path. The one pictured is beside a retail park - the proposed one is alongside an industrial estate, so I expect it to be similar. 1.8m built width most of the time (most drainbank tracks are just wide enough for the mini-diggers that scoop stuff out of the drains), lampposts inside that, undulating (the land here settles, and more so by drains), tight between a retaining wall and often a fence to catch your pedals and help you down the slope into the water, with copious vegetation sprouting from every possible crack (it's very well-nourished by the drain) and even concealing the wall in this example. You can't even pass a single pedestrian unless they're feeling very co-operative.

Of course, there will a road, but I expect provision of the drainbank path will be used as a reason not to cater for on-road cycling, arguing that bikes have a ghetto and shouldn't be encouraged to hold up cars on a straight drag strip.
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drainbank-s.jpg
Drain bank
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stork
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Re: Conversion of major cycleway to a road.

Postby stork » 14 Aug 2013, 7:30pm

Pete Owens wrote:...it could be a vastly over-engineered large roundabout with multiple lanes.


Do you mean like this one in King's Lynn:

http://binged.it/125fHI8

Which used to look like this (handy that Google's got an older version than Bing):

https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&ll ... 5&t=h&z=19

This 'improvement' was the result of Norfolk County Council bidding for a significant amount of Government money (Community Infrastructure Fund), partly on the promise of 'improvements' for cycling. After the funding was granted, most of the 'improvements' (some of which would actually have been improvements, like a cycle contraflow on Norfolk Street) were withdrawn. The remaining 'improvements', including this roundabout, made things worse for cycling.

I think what you're saying, Pete, is that a road would be better than the current cycleway. I ride around here regularly and I disagree, even though I understand the shortcomings of the various types of off-road facility. This particular cycleway is of adequate width, although it could usefully be widened to at least 4m as MJR says. There are a few side paths, over which the main cycleway has de facto priority, and only one road crossing (where the road currently has priority, but where many motor vehicle drivers give way to cyclists and pedestrians). The surface is generally good, although some recent resurfacing patches are substandards. Lighting is adequate near Lynnsport and non-existent further north, but there are no lighting columns or other obstructions encroaching on the path. The cycleway is suitable for all types of cyclist, from young children through to road cyclists, BMX riders going to the indoor skate park, commuters and tourists. It does get congested sometimes and there is sometimes some conflict between cyclists and pedestrians (and dogs), but it's generally pretty good.

Whilst I am confident and competent to ride on roads, and I often do so in preference to a parallel shared-use footway, many are not, including my two young children (4 and 7) with whom I ride along here. The proposed route is bad for all the reasons MJR and Rob point out, and it's also unnecessary because of the acceptable alternative. The only thing which is preventing the use of the alternative is the arrogance and intransigence of both local authorities here, neither of whom take cycling seriously as a mode of transport.


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