Access to Headington (3)
ACCESS TO HEADINGTON – DRAFT TRAFFIC REGULATION ORDER – OTHER OPTIONS
“The latest proposals, perhaps the first test of the commitment of the County Council to delivery of the stated objectives of LTP4, fail to live up to those objectives, or to conform to the specifications of the designated route classification, and thus they appear to represent an immediate abandonment of one of the fundamental principles of the Plan.”
Our earlier comments on Access to Headington are here[link] (August 2015) and here[link] (March 2016).
The County’s Transport Strategy LTP4 and its application to Oxford City recognises it is essential to find ways of encouraging people to shift away from journeys by private car and onto public transport and active modes, i.e. cycling and walking. In adopting LTP4 the County has decided to implement a network of Super and Premium cycle routes in the City. The aspirations of the County Council to effect a significant mode-shift to cycling is dependent upon the provision of cycle routes which are safe, convenient, continuous, consistent in design, and, above all, safe, and perceived as safe.
In LTP4 Headley Way and Windmill Road are designated as Super Cycle Routes. These are defined therein as being continuous, segregated as much as absolutely possible, with priority at side junctions and of “a minimum width of 1.5m, with 2m the default for the busiest sections”. Oxford Civic Society broadly welcomed the original proposals, while regretting the lack of supporting data and analysis which would allow costs and benefits to be evaluated.
The latest proposals, perhaps the first test of the commitment of the County Council to delivery of the stated objectives of LTP4, fail to live up to those objectives, or to conform to the specifications of the designated route classification, and thus they appear to represent an immediate abandonment of one of the fundamental principles of the Plan.
In Headley Way where the cycle lanes pass parking spaces the width drops to 1.25m “with 0.75m buffer”. Particularly in view of the increased speeds at which cyclists are likely to be travelling downhill, any narrowing is potentially hazardous and introducing pinch points of only 1.25m allows them absolutely no margin. It is assumed that the “buffer” is intended to offer protection from injudiciously-opened car doors and emerging occupants, but this is clearly unsatisfactory in achieving safety. There is also a high probability that the already-narrowed cycleway will be overrun by motor vehicles, as a consequence of its varying position relative to th carriageway edge. Furthermore, the proposals for ‘half-on, half-off’ the pavement parking on Headley way would result in obstruction for pedestrians and users of mobility aids.
In Windmill Road there seems to be no “buffer” shown, but cycle lanes generally 1.5m wide expand to 1.8m around the parking spaces; no explanation is given for the different treatment at the different locations, but the issue of risk of overrunning by motor vehicles remains.
The proposals would thus result in incoherent and inconsistent cycle routes that are unnecessarily difficult to navigate, and which, crucially, are patently not safe, as well as, in Headley Way, an obstructed footway for pedestrian traffic.
The inherent danger to cyclists of parked cars is well recognised: doors can be opened unexpectedly and cars may pull out without proper checks for approaching traffic – including cycles.
The current compromise proposals are a retrograde step in terms of the encouragement of a shift to active travel modes, and the provision of attractive, continuous, consistent, and, above all, safe cycling routes, as well as in terms of the implementation of the adopted Local Transport Plan. They demonstrably fail to comply with the policies of the plan and the particular specifications therein for the route classifications to which these proposals apply.
Apart from safety issues, these routes will be less attractive to the potential new cyclists whom the County recognises need to be persuaded to give up their cars, and so less successful in achieving reduced congestion pollution on routes into and around Headington. At the same time, and by proposing deliberate obstruction of footways by parked cars, they represent an impediment to pedestrians, and most particularly to the disabled and users of mobility scooters.
It is recognised that the convenience to householders of close-proximity parking is desirable, but it is clearly unacceptable to set this against the lives of the very people whose travel behaviour is supposedly being encouraged, as well as the many benefactors of the consequent reduction in traffic, air pollution and parking congestion.
We urge the County Council to put the interests and safety of the wider public – current cycle travellers, future, and potential future cycle travellers, pedestrians and the less able, and all the residents of areas of Headington and the city which will benefit from reductions in traffic and air pollution – ahead of those of the minority whose convenience may, regrettably, be adversely affected by the proposals. We would therefore urge adherence to the earlier proposals.
If, however, this recommendation were to be rejected, we would suggest that more serious consideration be given to the safety of cyclists, by adoption of the recommendations of Transport for London’s draft Cycling Design Standards of 2014 Sections 3.2.20, which reads as follows:
“3.2.20 Continuous separation between cycles and motorised vehicles can be achieved through positioning the cycle lane/track between parking or loading bays and the kerb. When compared to marking lanes on the offside of parking, this method requires little additional space, is unlikely to lead to any overall loss of parking and represent a higher level of service for cyclists in terms of safety and comfort. It could be used for any suitably wide street with parking, but is most appropriate for street types that justify higher levels of separation, such as connectors and high roads.”
This is illustrated thus:
parking and cycle lanes
Peter Thompson, Chairman, Oxford Civic Society