Shared Use vs Bike Lanes

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sallyhinch
Shared Use vs Bike Lanes

This is something that came up in discussions with the council up here in Dumfries. 

We actually have very few on-road bike lanes in Dumfries. Almost all the bike infrastructure that has been put in has been shared-use pavements, apart from a few ASLs. Some of it's a bit rubbish, some of it is excellent (old railway line paths that are wide enough for everyone) but most of it is somewhere in the middle - ok given low cycling levels and low foot traffic, but the more popular routes (e.g. along our river front) are now getting quite congested in the summer. I should say that the dominant mode of cycling in the town is on the pavement whether it's shared use or not and on the whole nobody seems to mind that much as long as people are polite. I personally use the shared footpaths where they make sense - shared traffic free bridges, for instance, or along really busy roads. 

Obviously as a campaigner, I'm asking for curb-separated tracks wherever possible, although so far without much success. At the moment the council spends almost nothing on cycling (despite having been a 'smarter choices town') unless there's external funding available and even then the lack of money for match funding is a constraint. So we're looking mostly at filtered permeability schemes, and shared footpaths. We've been consulted about the design so we can get something that is at least useful.

My question is, if you can only have compromise solution, are shared use pavements worse or better than narrow on-road lanes? Given the high levels of on-road parking (and parking is the third rail in local politics, you touch it at your peril) at least the pavements are always clear. For the fast commuting cyclist they're obviously not much good, but we don't really have many of those, and they're not all that keen on bike lanes anyway. And if we are (with caveats) supporting these schemes, what are the things to ask for to make them better for everyone? Priority at side roads, separation from pedestrians, different surfaces? At the moment they're mostly just marked with roundels and bikes and people have to mix it up as they can

wildnorthlands

Hi Sally, 

Sounds like Hobson's choice to me. On the one hand, shared use pavements will annoy pedestrians and will increase danger for cyclists especially when crossing side roads. On the other, narrow bike lanes in my experience are only of use when cyclists have to pass queueing traffic.  Neither will have much effect IMO unless you can add in some other intervention, e.g. 20mph limits or less, or perhaps adopt the Naked Streets or Home Zone approach, where the motorist is treated as a guest on the street rather than the Master. Either way, good luck! 

sallyhinch

Unfortunately the council is very conservative in its approach (we don't even have any zebra crossings...) so it's baby steps. TBH the bulk of people just cycle on the pavement so re-designating them as shared use won't make much difference, if anything it improves things for the pedestrians as they get some warning! And this way we get some toucan crossings and filtered permeability, making the bike a bit more convenient. 

AKA TownMouse

tombaileytyne
If you are going down the road of shared use then 20mph becomes very important. You will never get any sort of pedestrian / cyclist priority at junctions without lower speeds. Get 20mph and put in some junction tables and it could look quite civilised. The no zebras is a worry though, if they can't even do those.... There's a lot to be said for filtered permiability, "go hackney". Shared use can be dodgy but a lot of Dutch infrastructure with low pedestrian footfall is shared use and is great (although theirs looks like a cycle track with no pavement). In the UK trying to separate peds and cyclists rarely works without 4-5m or more of width, if you can't get that don't bother trying. Probably the only way you will get the town to innovate is by bringing in some external funding that forces them to. Is there some cycling Scotland cash they can bid for that comes with technical advice and strings attached?
sallyhinch

They do widen the pavements when they go for shared use so they are taking space away from cars (which is a big step forward for Dumfries!) - I'll raise the point about table junctions. I'm not sure about the proposed width, it's less than 4 m but they do have a minimum width of pavement before they will consider shared use.

We're also pushing filtered permeability but they're uncomfortable with the idea of contraflow cycling on one way streets unless they're very lightly trafficked, so it will only happen with partial road closures (which in fairness they're happy to consider). At the moment the police are very anti 20mph so that's another front to fight on... Ah the life of local cycle campaigning!

AKA TownMouse

pete owens

I am reminded of the scene from The Tudors where a poisoner is about to be boiled alive:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjDIrjg1M9s

The executioner offers him the choice "head first or feet first".

It suits highway engineers to pretend to be consulting cyclists, by offering "choices" of how they intend to marginalise us. (parents use the same technique with toddlers) If you are not careful you will then get drawn into endless discussion about all the design flaws of the tokenistic provision they are proposing - in order to ensure that you don't under any circumstances start to talk about trhe things that really make a difference, but might inconvenience cars.

The best approach is simply to oppose the rubbish on the grounds that it will make conditions worse for cyclists - and use the time to advocate the things you do want to see. If you express a preference they will treat this as endorsing whatever they want to do - and if a cyclist complains about it they will even have the cheek to deflect the blame onto you for asking for it. 

sallyhinch

In fairness they have picked up two of our suggestions and put them forward (both filtered permeability ideas) so it's not a sham exercise in 'consultation', or maybe I'm just being naive. I genuinely don't feel that the people we're dealing with are not cynically manipulating the process - they're exploring what is possible in a town where cycling is not the norm and where I'll bet 90% of the average councillor's postbag is about the need for more parking. We're trying to be another voice but it's an uphill task.

We've always come out and said 'we want to see X, we don't want to see Y, we're not enthralled with Z but it's better than nothing'. It's always a tough call when you're offered something that's better than nothing but not great, how far you endorse it.  There's some things we haven't supported, something's we've given lukewarm endorsement to and some we've enthusiastically signed up to. If you look at where people - and especially where families - cycle in the town, they're on the shared use paths, especially the better ones (built by Sustrans in the main). So that's got to be our starting point, really

AKA TownMouse

pete owens

The title on the thread implied they were suggesting shared use pavements or narrow cycle lanes - both of these are worse than nothing as their function is to reallocate space away from vulnerable road users for the coinvenience of motorists. This is pretty much the thinking of every transport authority in the country. Their auto-centric world view is so entrenched, that they probably genuinely believe that they are helping us with this kind of rubbish. That view will only be reinforced if you endorse it - and from their pespective "we're not enthralled with Z but it's better than nothing" counts as a ringing endorsement. If you tell them they can improve contitions for a small minority group for the cost of a pot of paint splashed onto a surplus bit of the carriageway or by taking space away from pedestrians who come even lower down in their pecking order there really is no hope of persuading them that anything more is needed.

You are right that it is an uphill task politically. We are challenging the status quo and motorists take their priviliged status for granted and will cry blue murder at any move designed to restore the balance - indeed if a proposed measure fails to generate controversy among the local motorists it almost certainly of no benefit to cyclists.

However, while motorists are very vocal they don't actually constitute a majority of the population.  Councilors postbags are actually full of concerns about the volume and speed of traffic using local roads - motor traffic doesn't only concern us cyclists, but also residents wanting a quiet, and safe neighborhood. Things sych as speed limit reductions, filtered permiabilty, and traffic calming are all politically popular as they benefit the whole community rather than just cyclists.

 

 

tombaileytyne

Go for it on 20mph , even the police are politically vulnerable right now on cycle safety.  Then try and get a sustrans funded urban scheme so local council can learn a few tricks.

sallyhinch

I think I'll do that.

We actually have a Sustrans urban scheme in consultation at the moment, so hopefully some of the lessons will get through...

AKA TownMouse

tombaileytyne
Unfortunately lesson I have learned is that often higher speeds provide an easy veto by engineers for some of the better things that sustrans ask for. The ideal is get 20 in place in or around a cycling scheme before it gets into design stage e.g on side roads that an arterial route may need to cross.
andy_gla

I've just received some sample plans for A82 Great Western Road in Glasgow. This is a main arterial road which becomes dual carriageway of 2, later 3 lanes each way. There are 4 options presented as follows:

1) regular on-road advisory cycle lanes http://t.co/E69znUkLSI

2) shared-use footways with in-line side-road crossings http://t.co/XSgkMX3wNF

3) shared-use footways but reverting to on-road cycle lanes at junctions http://t.co/6tAxTEvRau

4) central reservation cycle track http://t.co/Xp1wKWRfGu

So, which would you prefer, or how should it be done better?

Andy.

pete owens

Looking at the 4 options it does look to be another case of "where can we paint a few cycle symbols without in any way compromising motor vehicle capacity". All would be worse than doing nothing at all.

This road is crying out for properly segregated cycle tracks and as others have pointed out there is a huge amount of space. But it is all in the wrong place to be useful without completely rebuilding the road which makes coming up with a workable solution more tricky than it would appear.

While the pavements are slighly wider than the absolute minimum needed for pedestrians there certainly isn't enough to convert to shared use.

Although 3 lanes are maked in each direction, only 2 are used for through traffic. The kerbside lane is used for bus stops and on street parking. It would be very difficult to reallocate this as most of the houses do not have private drives - and they would object like fury if they were prohibited from parking outside their own houses. Even if it was turned into a cycle facility they would contiunue to park on it unless it was very actively policed. 

So of the 4 options:

1. A lethal door-zone cycle lane - could be made slightly better if it used the entire width of the existing lane and provided a hatched buffer zone besides the car doors - but it would effectively become a linear car park.

2. The other door-zone. We shouldn't even be contemplating reallocating pedestrian space. This crosses so many side roads and drives that it would be usatisfactory even if there was the space. The priority at side roads will not survive a cycle audit - even though there are humps there isn't the space to set them back so drivers approaching would not be able to see the main road from the give way marking. It would end up with cyclists giving way and having to stop at every junction. And simply putting cycle signs on two-stage pedestran crossings does not make and adequate crossing for cyclists.

3. Is a marginally better arrangement. This would be much safer through the junctions, but would still involve reallocating pedestrian space and cycling in the door-zone.

4. As currently set out is rubbish; too narrow and giving way at every possible opportunity. However, this is probably the only one that could be made to work. It is the only example where there is sufficient available space and has fewest conflicts with other road users. So:

a) Increase the width to at least 3.5m (a bit wider than the current traffic lanes) to allow sufficient room for 2 way cycle traffic.

b) Provide a signal phase for the cycle track at the traffic lights. This would be green at the same time as that for the main carriageway so you would need to allocate right-hand filter signals and filter lanes on the main carriageway - where there is a lane to spare.

c) Block the gaps for side road crossings. Motor vehicles would only be able to turn left in or out of those junctions. Those wishing to turn right would either join at a different junction or turn left then perform a U turn at the next se of lights (the central resevation is wide enough for this not to be a problem)

helenvecht

4 crappy suggestions! As David Hembrow would say, we aren't asking for enough and are accepting substandard solutions.

The A82 is a busy, hostile road on which I commuted for two years (admittedly over 20 years ago).

Kerb-separated mandatory cycle lanes with priority at junctionsand strict enforcement of parking prohibition is the only way to go.

Mrs. Vole,
Edgware

sallyhinch

If they're asking, at least get them to consider the proper provision rather than opt for the least worst.  You may still get the least worst, but maybe an upgraded version. I wonder if we could mock something up?

AKA TownMouse

schrodingers_cat
schrodingers_cat's picture

It looks like so much wooly thinking to me. Does this road need three lanes or two? Because they don't seem to know. 

The most offensive thing is comparing options 1 and 2 -- in option 2 there's three full-width car lanes, and in option 1 one of the car lanes has been removed in order to put a bike lane there. But the bike lane is the standard narrow bike lane -- the inside car lane has grown wider! They could at least have drawn in a painted buffer, to take up the whole inside car-lane.

It looks like there's plenty of room for two general lanes, a separate bike path and the parallel parking spaces. I'd be happy to have a go at redrawing this if you think it would help.

At least they're thinking about it though, which is more than I can say for most councils! 

 

The Alternative Department for Transport - http://departmentfortransport.wordpress.com/

sallyhinch

A redrawn version would be excellent

Andy - are these drawings OK for wider circulation / blogging? 

AKA TownMouse

schrodingers_cat
schrodingers_cat's picture

Just noticed -- what's that red-lined parking bay in the top-right corner? I notice that the only option which avoids this is the on-path version.

Do they not have the money for earthworks? Is this a paint-only solution?

 

The Alternative Department for Transport - http://departmentfortransport.wordpress.com/

andy_gla

The red outline I think is a bus stop.

Lane 1 is used for parking in between the actual parking bays. http://goo.gl/maps/c6XaZ is similar to what has been shown in these plans.

Andy

schrodingers_cat
schrodingers_cat's picture

Sigh. There's so much space here! But are the council willing to spend the money on doing it right?

The bus stop should be of the island type, with the bus stopping in what is currently lane 2 of 3 (but will be lane 1 of 2, if the bike path was installed correctly) and the bike path curving round the rear of the bus stop island, with a crossing for pedestrians to reach the bus stop.

 

 

The Alternative Department for Transport - http://departmentfortransport.wordpress.com/

andy_gla

Judging by the amount they spent upgrading this bus stop http://t.co/gb7pm11WeK I doubt they are willing to spend serious money on the cycle facilities. The parallel canal path isn't even tarmacked. Whenever I'm out that way, I tend to use Archerhill Road and then join the canal at Kelso St where it is a bit smoother. There will also be political pressure not to cut down the trees (Great Western Road is known locally as The Boulevard).

The neighbouring West Dunbartonshire Council is also planning to promote a cycle route along it's part of Great Western Road, but it is a simple shared use footway. This section is 50mph with few properties fronting directly onto the road. http://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/transport-and-streets/road-safety/road-...

Andy

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