We had this interesting response to the article A Modest Proposal #4: Clanage Road Roundabout and the Festival Way. It goes to the heart of the main dilemma of cycle campaigning.
Do we press for what’s achievable and encourage/enforce use of less desirable routes and facilities?
Or should we always insist on full Triple A standards (All Ages and Abiltities) providing proper Space for Cycling?
I have read the proposals for the proposed improvements around Clanage Road and Ashton Park School and thought I would give my opinion on this.
I attended Ashton Park School and so walked this way for many years and now often ride it to reach Festival Way.
There is, as mentioned briefly in the proposals, an under-path and bridge which lead right from the school gates and avoid the roundabout altogether. This route offers the school kids a perfect route from the school without the hassle and danger of crossing a busy road. The reason hardly any of them (and I include myself when I was at school there) use it is simply because it is considered uncool. As we stood waiting for a chance to cross I would sometimes ask why we bothered going that way when there was a better alternative only to be told that “only losers go the bridge way”. While the attitude of teenagers can’t be tackled easily it is borderline irresponsible of the school to allow this to happen and the only reason they don’t put teachers or prefects outside the gate to make students use the path instead of the road is that no one has died while crossing the road…yet. If someone did they would make a big effort to stop their pupils from taking the more dangerous route but if no one is getting hurt there is no call to make the effort.
Now that I use this route to cycle I always use the bridge. This route is relatively narrow, though I have passed other cyclists and pedestrians on here with plenty of room to spare. It isn’t really much narrower than some sections of the railway path or the dreadful shared use path on Coronation Road. It does however have pretty bad joins over the road bridge and at either end of the path bridge that make it tricky for road bikes. There are also two slopes to go up that require either effort or a small gear. Some TLC and signage would make this a very usable path for cyclists especially if the numbers using it were not massively high as they are on the Railway Path but I guess the problem of too many cyclists would be a secondary problem to tackle later on. This path can be reached via Paxton Drive or Greville Smythe Park. The link from Paxton to Brunel way isn’t very good for cycling and the Greville Smythe route requires riding on the grass as the path does not connect up from the underpaths at either end. Paving section of the park would surely be a much easier option than replacing the slope and putting safety barriers along Brunel way.
The proposal you have made in connection with the people you have consulted with would cost far more time and money and doesn’t seem very achievable. It still encourages children to cross a road when they don’t need too. Zebra crossings are not fool proof and if anything give a false sense of security. The main problem with the proposal though is the segregated cycle path which is shown going from the roundabout towards Ashton Court. As this currently only has two narrow-ish road lanes and a very narrow footpath on it I can only assume you plan to take land from the allotments in order to fit this in. I can only wish you luck in trying to take land from allotment owners as I can’t imagine they will be very receptive to that.