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Southmead Quietway – Cairns Road & Wellington Hill West Crossings

The Southmead Quietway is part of the £19m Cycling Ambition Fund to upgrade walking and cycling routes across the city. It links one of the busiest cycle routes in the city, Gloucester Road, through residential areas with high levels of cycle use, to the Southmead Hospital and north Bristol. It is identified as important ‘local link’ in the neighbourhood plans of Bishopston, Cotham and RedlandStoke Bishop, Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze, and Horfield and Lockleaze.  Here’s our view on the two consultations for crossings on this route BCyCResponsetoSouthmeadQuietway-CairnsRoad.

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Our overall position on this consultation is: Support

Space for Cycling Does this measure provide for 1) Protected space on main roads; 2) Remove through motor traffic; 3) Safe routes to school; 4) Cycle friendly town centres; 5) Cycle routes in green spaces; 6) 20mph speed limits? Amber – overall neutral
Road Danger Reduction Does this measure seek a genuine reduction in danger for all road users by identifying and controlling the principal sources of threat? Amber – overall neutral
Triple A Quality (All Ages and Abilities) Will this measure be attractive to all ages and abilities using all kinds of cycles? Amber – overall neutral
Strategic Cycling Network How does this measure contribute to the development of Bristol Council’s planned integrated and coherent strategic cycle network? Green – overall benefit
Cycle-proofing How far does this measure provide for Triple A Space for Cycling in the future? Amber – overall neutral

Bristol Cycling Campaign has the following specific comments on this consultation, in three areas: Route; Cairns Road crossing; Wellington Hill West crossing:

Route and General Points

  1. The Southmead Quietway is a useful route linking one of the busiest cycle routes in the city, Gloucester Road, through residential areas with high levels of cycle use, to the Southmead Hospital and north Bristol. It is identified as important ‘local link’ in the neighbourhood plans of Bishopston, Cotham and Redland, Stoke Bishop, Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze, and Horfield and Lockleaze.
  2. We are however concerned that the entire quietway concept of using quiet roads in built-up areas will only make a marginal contribution to encouraging large numbers of people to cycle in Bristol. We feel that they demonstrate little real ambition for cycling in the way that must surely be intended for Cycle Ambition Fund projects.
  3. Parallel zebras are a new concept and a number of concerns were raised in national discussion of the concept (http://content.tfl.gov.uk/cyclists-use-of-zebra-crossings.pdf, http://content.tfl.gov.uk/shared-zebra-crossing-study.pdf). These included possible enhanced risk for mounted as opposed to dismounted cyclists, continental models for vertical give way signing, and using stripes for the whole width (http://www.cyclinguk.org/sites/default/files/tsrgd1406_plingwood_tsrgd2015_response.pdf and as used at Wade Street on the Frome Greenway). The design inserted in circular TSGRD 2016 does not appear to include either the vertical signing or the overall stripe concept (http://tsrgd.co.uk/pdf/tsrgd/tsrgd2016-circular-01-2016.pdf). The enhanced risk arises from the greater approach speed for cyclists compared to pedestrians, combined with driver unfamiliarity. The parallel crossing is basically an attempt to create a crossroads without marking it as such.The underlying, existing, contradiction in all this comes from the divergence between the law (on zebra crossings, ‘Every pedestrian, …., before any part of a vehicle has entered those limits, shall have precedence’, and practical official advice: ‘cyclists will be urged to slow down’ (Hackney) ‘Zebra crossings. Give traffic plenty of time to see you and to stop before you start to cross.’ (Highway Code, rule 19). The contradiction will become worse in situations where drivers will see someone who is not a pedestrian, acting as though they will be treated as a pedestrian, but moving much faster, and unlike a pedestrian, not able to jump backwards if they misjudge drivers’ intentions.
  4. The crossing designs are particularly inconvenient. The parallel zebra concept is designed for parallel dual foot-cycle crossings. It becomes complicated and difficult to design when the crossing is actually triple: foot-cycle-car. This is the case at both the Southmead Quietway crossings. In contrast the first in the country, in Hackney, provides a straight foot and cycle crossing only, for both directions. (https://consultation.hackney.gov.uk/streetscene/richmond-road-pedestrian-and-cycle- improvements/supporting_documents/Richmond%20Road%20pedestrian%20cycle%20improvements.pdf, and http://road.cc/content/news/151591-hackney-council-adds-dual-zebra-crossing-intended-both-pedestrians- and-cyclists)
  5. Entrance to Southmead Hospital grounds from Kendon Drive. This is a most unwelcoming entrance for pedestrians and cyclists.There is a locked dilapidated gate, and a driveway normally occupied by two parked cars, leaving a narrow way in through a side gate. This is the responsibility of Southmead Hospital,  The Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator at Southmead Hospital tells us that “With regards to Kendon Way, the Trust are aware of the issue with this entrance and have development plans to improve it once funding becomes available (in the new financial year at the earliest). This entrance is part of our Path to Wellbeing walks at the hospital so we are really keen to make it more accessible, as well as look a lot nicer.”   The highway immediately outside could be improved as well.  Is the CAF team liaising with Southmead Hospital about a joint approach to improving the entrance?

Cairns Road Crossing

  1. We welcome measures to control motor vehicle speed on Kellaway Avenue / Coldharbour Road. We are however concerned that this measure does nothing to improve the situation for those cycling on this well used route. In fact the narrowing may make the situation worse in the short term and do little to ‘cycle proof’ for future measures. Note that this is a key part of the proposed ‘Universities Link’ as set out on the Stoke Bishop, Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze page of our website (“Linking Bristol’s Universities through the heart of residential student-land. From Bristol Uni Queens Road to the Railway Path in Fishponds via the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Downs and UWE Frenchay, Glenside and St Matts”).
  2. The proposals are likely to be confusing for cyclists to use due to the complex layout and interaction with pedestrians when hopping on and off pavements. We also have concerns about ambiguity and conflict with pedestrians.
  3. There should be cycle exemptions on the right turn bans into Cairns Road, and onto Coldharbour Road.
  4. We wonder whether the real need would be best served by a simple arrangement placing a conventional zebra so that its boundary lines up with the Cairns Road kerb, with a contraflow allowing straight across cycle movement, and the zebra available for walking across by less experienced cyclists, or at very busy times. There are similar situations at two crossings of Falcondale Road (Great Brockeridge – Westbury Road, and Abbey Road – Lampeter Road).
  5. In order to have a clearer and more direct cycleway, which is more welcoming and useable by all ages and abilities, then there is a case for a parallel crossing, but it should be moved NE to have the cycle part on the desire line, straight across from Cairns Road. For comparison, Lambeth Council claim to have installed the first parallel zebra, across what appears to be a road with less traffic, and this crossing carries the cycle route straight from one side to the other, for both directions. See links above and https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Parallel%20zebra-2-Paxton-Gipsy.pdf

Wellington Hill West Crossing

  1. It is unclear how as a cyclist you get from the pavement on to the road after crossing Wellington Hill West.  In particular, going north, parked cars will block the view of motorists travelling south down Kendon Drive of a cyclist crossing on to the road.
  2. The nature of the route signing will be important as many cyclists may prefer the direct Cherington Road crossing
  3. The parallel zebra is intended to serve low usage situations, with unanswered questions about safety. The range between usage too low to justify a crossing and too high for the crossing to be safe is probably small.
  4. It is not clear who the target users are. The natural gently curving cycle routes are blocked by build-outs creating dog legs, and the dog legs may also hinder sightlines by making part of the SE approach to the crossing oblique.
  5. The pavement routing for cycles, which does not appear to be marked as such, will produce conflict with pedestrians that would not raise from a road routing.

A Modest Proposal #6; Eight to Eighty cycling on Gloucester Road

Did you know that Gloucester Road was one of Bristol’s busiest cycle routes (Building on success – lessons from Gloucester Road)? What’s more, the number of people cycling has doubled in the last ten years whereas motor vehicle numbers have dropped by a fifth. These facts can be seen from Department for Transport Traffic Counts.

So what does this tell us? Bristol’s Cycling City money has been well spent? Not quite. Significant Cycling City money was not spent on Gloucester Road infrastructure as the end of project report makes clear. In fact people on bikes are using this route despite, not because of, its facilities for them.

As anyone who has cycled into, or out of, the City on Gloucester Road knows the only “cycling infrastructure” is, essentially, paint and bus lanes. And bus lanes are for both a human on a bike (100 kilos) and a double decker (15 tons) – hardly fair or equal!

Gloucester Road is popular because it goes where people on bikes want to go; travelling, often commuting, in and out of the City Centre from the

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