Thursday, 26 February 2015

Street Furniture obsession in Swansea - part two

My previous post started with a line of bollards; here's a line of benches

It's important to have seats but the reason for the alignment (beyond mirroring a decorative track) isn't clear to me - it's not a particularly social 'sit and chat with your mates' set up

 To the left of the benches in the top picture there are more benches, mirroring the track as it winds its way up the road

Here's the view coming the other way. The track has swerved away from the road to allow a waiting space for a car that has turned off the road.
The track then sweeps back towards the road, past the bollards protecting the flush kerb, before sweeping away again to avoid a loading bay. Note the on-road cycle lane.

At the bottom of the road the track sweeps to the left, swinging on the pavement blindly around the corner, and to the right crosses the side road

though without the priority the adjoining main road enjoys.
It isn't until the next road that I saw something to make it clear that cycling is allowed on the track
Enough about the track - I saw it being used and, while it's got some  flaws, it's way better than many I've seen.

Back to the benches - they've got lights in them

They're not svelte benches and I wonder how they'll age. Was the bench below considered stylish when installed?

Talking about dated stuff; how's this for an object lesson in how not to provide cycle parking?

 Along the coast at Mumbles, we found a bench with a view

Don't you love it when an urban realm composition comes together

Also in Mumbles, I was delighted, having just suggested a road train as a more cycle-friendly replacement to the RV1 bus along Belvedere Road and Upper Ground in London, to find an actual example (albeit summer only, sadly)

Back in Swansea, I spotted a prohibition sign I haven't seen before

Don't attempt horizontal climbing? Don't sleep across the protruding metal bits? Madonna not allowed? I'm flummoxed - can any readers help?

Finally, here are a few other photos that might also entice you to pay a visit to Swansea (and prove that I didn't spend all the time looking at street furniture).

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Street furniture obsession in Swansea - part one

It all started as we walked from the station and saw an enormous semi-circle of street furniture - the photo below shows about a third of it

Here's a further section
An awesome wall of bollards, benches, boxes, bins, bicycle stands and trees.

Bicycle stands like no other - these are chunky and enormous cycle stands. Cycle stands that stand out.
But mainly it was the bollards that caught my eye - so many of them. Just look at this line prohibiting access to the pedestrianised section of town
Once you're in the pedestrianised section the bollards don't go away but now are spaced gloriously far apart to allow cars and vans to fit between them. 
On occasion bollard storage spaces are provided to house the bollards that can be removed from the highway to permit access
 The ones in the middle of the road below, for example, can be removed (but not the one that has been knocked into) 
Admire the way that each piece of street furniture has its designated role. The signpost is not a bollard, it's a signpost, so sits away from the space where a bollard is needed. It's the same with the CCTV camera posts, and the bin. 
The retailers have done their part too, adding advertising boards to the cacophony of clutter.

Then, just as you think that there can be no possible addition of any further bollards, you stumble upon the shop below
I take my hat off to the bollard salesperson of the century.

Post Script bollard bonus:
We're not quite done yet. Check out the warning sign (by the 'No Vehicles'. not even bicycles, sign) - 'Bolardiau awtomatig ar waith'
And here it is, a fine retractable bollard (and by chance the photo shows how reasonable it is to prohibit cycling on this narrow, crowded, street with the merest apology of a pavement).

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Towards child-friendly cycling in north Lambeth

The following is my submission in response to the consultation by TfL on the Quietway junction of Stamford Street and The Cut.

These are blue-skyish thoughts of mine on ways to meet Lambeth Council's Cycling Strategy on the South Bank

Lambeth wants to encourage more cycling and believes that the only way to do this is to make cycling safe and attractive for a broader cross section of people. Anyone who wants to cycle should be able to – women, children, parents, older people – as happens in Denmark and the Netherlands. Our vision therefore is that:

Lambeth will be the most cycle-friendly borough in London where 1 - 100 year olds feel safe enough to cycle.

To get a child friendly cycling (and walking) environment in the South Bank area there will, in my view, need to be some impact on the immediate convenience pf some other road users .

How can the South Bank be made child cycle-friendly while also allowing deliveries of goods and building materials, taxis to drop off theatre-goers, and people with blue badges or an aversion to public transport to drive to the area?

I've put some starting thoughts on a map. They are moderately large changes, which I think are what is needed to achieve the goal; there will certainly need to be refinements, but I think these could be the bones of a child-cyclist friendly area. They're not based on any existing plans and I welcome comments and suggestions.

Key points with regard to the Belvedere Road / Upper Ground spine are:
  • Improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists through cutting out as much motor traffic as possible
  • Stop traffic rat-running along Belvedere Road / Upper Ground spine through bollarded closures that allow pedestrians and cyclists through. 
  • Use raising bollards in some places to enable access by residents and for business deliveries
  • Have taxi drop off, pick up and turning points by the London Eye and the Southbank Centre / Royal National Theatre - but no option for taxis to travel along the spine.
  • Replace the huge RV1 bus with a free, child-cycle friendly, easy pick-up and drop-off Fun Land Train (priority to the elderly and infirm; with wheelchair access) - or have the RV1 run along York Road and Stamford Street, supplemented as needed on the spine with electric mobility shuttles as used in airports

It may be worth checking out the Swansea/Mumbles land train / cycle route 

  • Retain access to purpose built car parks; especially maintain blue badge parking.
  • Have a family and tourist friendly two-way, smooth, segregated cycle track along the Belvedere Road / Upper Ground Spine that links to the North-South Superhighway and then turns to continue to Tate Modern and beyond. Going west it can continue to Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea allowing children to follow the river along to the South Bank and Tate Modern.
  • Alongside the segregated cycle track, have a two-way single lane road with passing places for the few vehicles that are entering and leaving the South Bank area.
  • Bring the two parts of Bernie Spain Gardens closer together, with a pedestrian footpath and cycle/fun train track passing through rather than a constant flow of taxis, vans, lorries and minicabs. 
  • Nurture a motor-reduction culture in local businesses - consolidated deliveries; air driers not paper towels etc. 
  • Cornwall Road north of Stamford Street to be a No Through Road, Except Cycles - access to Doon Street, for properties and to the public car park is retained. No loading or parking in this stretch of Cornwall Road (use Doon Street). The layout of the road making it visually predominantly a cycle track while still having access/egress by motor vehicles.
  • Bollards at Cornwall Road south of Stamford Street; access and exit for motor vehicles to the area via Exton and Alaska Streets. Again Cornwall Road appearance as a cycle track, with 'guest vehicles' and the minimum of parking/loading.
  • In the bigger picture, the Elizabeth House etc. redevelopment allows for opportunities such as a segregated cycle track on Waterloo Road for fast commuters using Waterloo Bridge.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Road Pricing, from 'Research on Road Traffic' 1965 HMSO

"Where significant expenditure is required an economic decision has to be made, namely, whether the expenditure is worthwhile. But there is also the problem of allocation: who is going to enjoy the use of the facilities which have been provided? Who is to use the roads, for which purposes, under what conditions? There are innumerable possibilities, which will produce different distributions of benefit and loss throughout the entire affected population. Can a way be devised of using the road system so as to maximize the net benefits to the community?

One of the most important means of influencing the distribution of goods and services is through the price system. At the present time no prices are charged for the use of the roads, but there are taxes, namely fuel tax, annual vehicle tax and the purchase tax on vehicles. In 1962, a panel was set up by the Ministry of Transport to study the technical feasibility of various methods for improving the pricing system relating to the use of the roads, and relevant economic considerations. The Panel's report was published in June 1964.

In its conclusions the Panel pointed out deficiencies of present taxation methods as a way of employing the price system, notably their inability to restrain people from making journeys which impose high costs on other people, and they suggested that road charges could usefully take more account than they do of the large differences that exist in congestion costs between one journey and another.

The Panel examined a number of possible charging methods, including new methods of charging directly for movement on the roads. They found little advantage in two measures sometimes proposed: the differential fuel tax, which could not be related at all closely to congestion costs, and the poll tax on employees in congested areas, which - whatever its merit in other fields - would have little effect on road congestion.

They concluded that parking taxes could bring significant benefits, in spite of their 'inequitable results' and their undesirable effects in encouraging non-parking traffic and penalizing local traffic. They thought that a system of daily licences might be preferable to parking taxes, since it would embrace all traffic in the areas concerned; but it would give rise to difficult boundary problems.

Whatever the merits of parking taxes and daily licences, the Panel concluded that considerably superior results were potentially available from direct pricing systems. by charging more when costs are high and less when costs are low, it was estimated that a practicable system in urban areas could yield economic benefits of £100 to £150 million a year under present traffic conditions; and this estimate excluded some important items which could not be measured.

The Panel examined a number of proposals for direct charging methods, and described six meter systems - two manual and four automatic - which, with development, they thought could be made effective. Their main conclusion, was that there was every possibility that at least one of these proposals could be developed into an efficient charging system and could yield substantial benefit on congested roads."

Thursday, 18 December 2014

TfL's consultation on Stamford Street / Cornwall Rd Junction - Quietway 1

TfL have just opened a consultation about a Lambeth junction, where Cornwall Road crosses Stamford Street, on the Quietway which will run between Waterloo and Greenwich. Subject to the outcome of this consultation, TfL plan to start construction work in early 2015. The consultation runs until 9th February.

TfL's consultation page doesn't include a map to show where the route in Lambeth will run, but the SE1 website put up a piece on Tuesday stating that, "In SE1, the Quietway route will run from the South Bank via Cornwall Road and Webber Street to Great Suffolk Street and Trinity Street".

Unlike Southwark, Lambeth has not yet published, and consulted on, the proposals they have for the Quietway on their streets. Without knowing the wider plan in Lambeth there are limited comments one can make on an individual junction. So, while I urge people to comment, it may be worth waiting a while for the borough's plans to be published.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Last chance to respond to CS5 consultation

Please take one moment tonight to complete a TfL consultation survey  giving your views, even if a one line 'I support TfL's plans', on the proposed Cycling Superhighway 5 route (blue below). 

I'd also strongly suggest that you also ask TfL to REJECT the plan in red below, submitted in a letter by the Chair of the board of the Kennington, Oval, Vauxhall Forum, which proposes that CS5 diggles around the back of the Oval, along the Inner Ring Road (Kennington Lane), across the road and behind the Royal Vauxhall Tavern then over the bridge.

The full letter to TfL from the Chair of the KOV Forum board is below

Re: CS5 consultation on Harleyford Road
Further to our earlier correspondence, I would like to raise a number of points, many of
which were brought out at our Public Meeting you so kindly attended.

As you are aware, the Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum (KOV) is a volunteer
organization supported by a small grant from Lambeth Council. It has several objectives
including Neighbourhood Planning and helping to deliver local consultation by using
local networks (whether Friends of Parks, Libraries, Residents and Tenants
Associations etc.) to increase the reach and deliver rounded feedback. We have
accumulated a database of some 500 email addresses. We also work closely with
businesses in the area, having on our governing Board, two members that represent
Vauxhall One, the Business Improvement District for our area.

This letter has been prepared with the input of a number of people and local groups we
represent and has been possible as a result of significant work by many in the area
thinking through the consequences of the proposals.

We acknowledge that TfL has done a lot to improve the scheme since the original
consultation. However, having listened to the feedback of our members and others
locally, KOV does not support the current approach to CS5 along Harleyford Road for
the following reasons:

• Increased journey times for all road users (except cyclists) and pedestrians
In particular, an adverse impact on thousands of bus users heading from Oval towards
Vauxhall and beyond The section of road from the Oval to Vauxhall (Harleyford
Street/Kennington Oval/Harleyford Road has a bus lane servicing bus numbers 185, 36
and 436. At peak times, 21 buses per hour take advantage of the bus lane – say up to
2,000 passengers per hour. The current CS5 proposal will effectively make the 21
buses per hour heading for Vauxhall join a stream of relatively slow moving traffic. Not
only would the buses be significantly slowed so too would other traffic.

• Increased C02 emissions and reduced air quality resulting from the traffic
sitting idle for longer periods of time.
Stationary traffic, e.g. cars with engines idling at lights, contribute approximately 1.2g
per minute CO2. The removal of the bus lane will result in increased congestion and
delays on most journeys thus increasing carbon emissions.

• Adverse economic impact
TfL has a responsibility to deliver the most efficient and effective usage of the roads
under its jurisdiction to allow the safest and most economic travel for all. With the use of
additional fuel consumption as a result of vehicles going longer distances and sitting idle
as well as loss of time for everyone other than cyclists, this is not an efficient solution for
the London economy.

• Increased risk of accidents and congestion on other local roads
Rat-runs are likely to increase, particularly Fentiman Road, for cars trying to avoid
Harleyford Road.

• Severe problems outside the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT)
In this latest design, we recognise that TfL has made efforts to mitigate the risk of
conflict between pedestrians and cyclists at the RVT junction but the design still falls
short of what is needed. For example, cyclists wishing to stay on the left hand side of
Vauxhall Bridge will continue to cut through the pedestrian tunnel on the station side.
Had CS5 continued on the other side of the road under the viaduct before crossing over,
more cyclists would have the option to avoid the pedestrian tunnel. A further limitation
of the design is the one-way routes on the CS5 around the viaduct. These do not reflect
how cyclists will behave and are at odds with proposed two way working. We would
expect the majority of cyclists currently going under the viaduct to turn right into South
Lambeth Road. Only a minority will use the pedestrian tunnel on the RVT side.
It is a feature of CS5 that cyclists will be able to reach relatively high speed along the
Harleyford Road stretch of the superhighway heading towards the RVT junction. In spite
of the mitigation measures, we would expect cyclist/pedestrian collisions to be
inevitable. At best, it will create severe conflicts. We believe that the design can be
improved significantly by taking into account some of the ideas put forward by the
community. A more modest cycle lane provision that does not encourage high speed
cycling would help.

Furthermore, the consultation has highlighted some severe inconsistencies:

1. CS5 does not address the concerns of most local cyclists when
approaching the Vauxhall Gyratory. 
A majority of cyclists use the gyratory as an interchange with South Lambeth Road
rather than Harleyford Street. My fellow KOV Board Member, Michael Keane was kind
enough to run a brief survey on Friday 12th December to record travel and his results are
appended to this letter showing the need for a better link between the Gyratory and
South Lambeth Road. This evidence is further supported, in that sadly, the most recent
cyclist deaths, related to problems with South Lambeth Road where it meets the
Gyratory at Parry Street.

2. CS5 is being introduced out of sequence with other changes proposed to
the Vauxhall Gyratory
The current proposal does not take adequate account of the proposals to reverse the
mini Gyratory suggested as part of the ‘Transforming Vauxhall’ consultation. If the
proposals for the Gyratory were implemented, the CS5 suggestion to relocate a bus stop
to Durham Street becomes problematic, and the investment in a floating bus stop no
longer makes sense on Harleyford Road.

3. Inadequacies of the consultation process
As a forum, we naturally take consultation very seriously. We are concerned to note that
our area seems to be given less choice than other local consultations and insufficient
evidence to justify the benefits or otherwise of the proposal. Key differences between
the CS5 consultation and others we know of is explained here:
• TfL’s consultation for Stockwell Cross helpfully provides additional information on
the traffic impacts that the scheme might have – when the hyperlink is viewed it
shows pedestrians crossing the area, bus journey times and car journey times at
peak flow in the morning and the evening. Yet this data is not supplied by TfL to
show the likely impacts of CS5.
• During the earlier consultation on CS5, residents of Belgravia were given a
choice of routes to consider. The residents in Oval have not been given a choice
– other than which side of Harleyford Road it could travel.

4. An alternative route proposed by residents merits further consideration
and consultation
As you are aware the residents of Harleyford Road have prepared an extensive critique
of the CS5 proposals and the disadvantage it puts on local residents, particularly the
restriction on receiving deliveries or any other emergency needs. The residents have
also outlined their concerns over HGV transport at the interchange with Durham Street
as a result of reduced road widths.
Additionally, the residents of Ashmole Estate have made representations about the
spacing of bus stops and the removal of one on Harleyford Road and placing it on
Durham Street. For the elderly and infirm coming from the Estate every pace makes a
significant difference to their travel time.
There is an alternative proposal to put the Cycle Superhighway around the back of
Kennington Oval and through Vauxhall Street, which is a very quiet road where there is
already a segregated cycle lane, and onto Kennington Lane. Although not suggested by
residents, there is the potential then to allow the cycle lane to run along the edge of
Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens towards the river (behind the RVT). This proposal merits
serious further consideration if CS5 must be delivered.

Additionally, KOV as you are aware has produced a proposal for the Vauxhall Gyratory
which was presented at our meeting on 9th December. This proposes closing off South
Lambeth Road to through traffic. This road closure would make this a much safer route
for the majority of cycle journeys.

We welcome better provision for cyclists in our area and trust you will consider these
alternatives as a more cost-effective and improved offer.
Yours sincerely,
The Chair of the KOV Forum

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A few Small Business Saturday inducements

Here's a little trawl from a Google search on Small Business Saturday (this weekend).

Lots of free parking this Saturday, and the occasional bus offer. No mention of a more frequent bus service, inducements to cycle etc. My guess is that quite a few of the free parking spaces will be fully occupied by staff of the small businesses.
Free on-street parking and £2 bus journeys across Gloucestershire next Saturday

Parking in Taunton’s 19 town centre car parks will be free from 2pm for the rest of the afternoon on Saturday, December 6.
The park and ride service operating at Taunton Gateway and Silk Mills, is offering a shoppers special on Saturdays leading up to Christmas with a discounted ticket of £1.50 for up to five people travelling together.

THERE will be a free parking bonanza in Poole and the New Forest in the lead up to Christmas. Borough of Poole will be running a free park and ride service from Creekmoor to the town centre every Saturday from November 29. There will also be free parking in all town centre car parks every Sunday between 10am and 6pm from November 23 to December 21 and Thursday nights between 6pm and 9pm from November 27 until December 18

Parking in Haringey's pay and display bays and council-run car parks will be free on December 6 as the borough celebrates Small Business

Weymouth & Portland Borough Council is offering free parking for Weymouth Victorian Shownight and Small Business Saturday

SELECTED car parks run by Portsmouth City Council will be free on Small Business Saturday

Shoppers across Ashfield can take advantage of free parking across the whole district as the council supports Small Business Saturday

Shoppers and visitors to Oakham and Uppingham can enjoy free parking after 10am on Saturday, December 6, as part of Small Business Saturday.

East Lindsey District Council car parks will be free to use on December 6, in a council drive to help support local businesses.

PARKING in Bishop's Stortford will be free all day next Saturday (December 6) to celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Free festive parking will come into effect next month, as Mendip District Council’s Cabinet has agreed to support Small Business Saturday by providing free all day car parking at the following car parks on December 6.

Free festive parking will come into effect next month, as Mendip District Council’s Cabinet has agreed to support Small Business Saturday.