Wheatfield Way Response 14.7.16

Summary

  • Need cycle tracks separated from both motor traffic and pedestrians
  • Cycle tracks need to be continuous from College roundabout to the station
  • Too much unnecessary shared space in the proposals creating conflict between people on bikes and on foot, particularly at junctions
  • Need safe protected link to Castle Street
  • Welcome 20mph limit and raising of carriageway but speed limit must be enforced
  • Welcome improved crossings of ring road for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Potentially a vital route which we support but design needs to be clarified and improved

Detailed comments

College roundabout

There needs to be safe and convenient access at College roundabout from Kingston Hall Road to the bi-directional cycle track on the east side of Wheatfield Way. At present this is unclear. Obviously the protected cycle route will need to be continued up Penryhn Rd to link up with the proposed Surbiton cycle routes and Surbiton station. Kingston station to Surbiton station is the key axis in the Royal Borough of Kingston. There also needs to be a link to the Portsmouth Rd segregated cycle track currently under construction.

Brook Street

Need to reduce shared space and make segregated cycle track on east side of Wheatfield Way continuous. Perhaps raise cycle track where pedestrians crossing the ring road will cross ? This crossing needs to comply with the London Cycle Design Standards (LCDS) 5.2.10; a large shared space area does not comply with LCDS.

Presumably this crossing will continue to be signalised as at present, this must be clarified? We welcome a wider area for crossing and waiting, and separate crossings for cyclists and pedestrians.  We welcome the proposed banning of the left turn out of Brook Street. We welcome the raised carriageway.

Orchard Road

Need to reduce shared space and make segregated cycle track on east side of Wheatfield Way continuous. Perhaps raise cycle track where pedestrians crossing the ring road will cross ? This crossing needs to comply with the London Cycle Design Standards (LCDS) 5.2.10; a large shared space area does not comply with LCDS.

The left turn into Orchard Road needs to be signalised or there will be a risk of left hooks to cyclists by motor vehicles. Why is the crossing from Orchard Road to Ashdown Road staggered ? There appears to be no crossing for bikes: is this correct ? We suggest a crossing parallel to the pedestrian crossing.

We welcome the raised carriageway but the design should prevent SUVs crashing over at higher speeds. Will the raised table encompass Orchard Road (not apparent from the plan)? We suggest it should.

Library and Museum

Need to reduce shared space, of which there is too much here, and make the segregated cycle track on the east side of Wheatfield Way continuous. The main crossing of the ring road is also shared by pedestrians and bikes. There needs to be a separate crossing for each, perhaps the cycle crossing should be south of the pedestrians enabling access between Lady Booth Road and Fairfield Road.

There needs to be a cycle and pedestrian crossing of Fairfield Road, there appears to be none in the proposals, the crossings should be separate and parallel. There is a danger of left hooks of cycles by vehicles turning off the ring road into Fairfield Road. This must be eliminated. Consideration should be given to banning the left turn retaining only the left turn into Orchard Road. This would have public realm benefits for the area outside the Museum and Library and would reduce conflict.

Fairfield North

No detail is supplied. The segregated cycle track on the east side of Wheatfield Way needs to be continuous and protected by a signalised crossing across this very busy and intimidating junction. There should be a straightforward route across, anything complicated or confusing will involve danger. For safety reasons cyclists and pedestrians must have a long enough signal phase to cross both arms of this junction in one movement.

There needs to be a safe refuge in the island in the middle for any cyclists and pedestrians who are caught by changing signal phases. There need to be parallel crossings for both cyclists and pedestrians to avoid conflict which could be very dangerous here. All designs must comply with the LCDS. There is a grave lack of detail in the consultation brochure on this dangerous junction.

Clarence Street/ Old London Road

There needs to be a protected cycle route from Old London Road to Castle Street. There does not appear to be one in these proposals. This is a major defect. Can nothing be done about the loading bays (eg time restrictions) to create space ? It is only a short distance, there are wide pavements and a road little used by motors except for buses and access to car parks, which will be heaviest at certain times. One innovative and intelligent solution, which should be considered, would be to make this short section of Clarence Street one way alternately for motors, including buses, by signalisation, so space could be created for good quality protected cycle tracks.

Again shared space needs to be reduced at the junction of Clarence Street and Old London Road. We are baffled as to why there is so much shared use space in these proposals which simply produces conflict. The segregated cycle track on the east side of Wheatfield Way must be made continuous; such a route is only as good as its weakest section.

We welcome the improved, widened and segregated pedestrian and cycle crossings. Contrary to the inaccurate drawing on page 9 of the proposal brochure the cycle route needs to run south of the “Collapsing telephone boxes” art work on the non motor part of Old London Road. This route needs to link up with the track along Wheatfield Way and be segregated, not shared use, in character.

Shared space

As there is so much shared use space in the proposal we must comment on it in some detail. Shared use space is generally not satisfactory from the point of view of either cyclists or pedestrians. It is not favoured in the LCDS except in Parks or along watersides. It should be kept to a minimum; used only where it is unavoidable to provide a link in a route. We quote the LCDS 4.5.12:

“Away from parks and towpaths, shared use facilities may also be considered for public spaces or short links where cyclists are catered for in spaces otherwise dedicated to pedestrians. The best level of service for cyclists and pedestrians would be to avoid such scenarios by providing high quality facilities on-carriageway. Cyclists are not best served by routes that shift them from one type of provision to another where different priorities apply, and dedicated space is preferable for pedestrians.

However, where a space provides an important link in the cycle network, and excluding cyclists from it would lead to longer, less comfortable cycle trips and more exposure to risk, designers should seek ways of accommodating both users while minimising conflict. The preference is to provide a dedicated cycle track, separated physically or by level, as described above. On short, narrower links with low flows of both user, sharing the space may be the most practical option.”

It is preferable that a town centre route along busy “A” roads such as this be wholly segregated and not shared use. There is no reason of constraints of space for any part of this route not to be fully segregated with one possible exception. In light of that fact it is surprising, and unnecessary, that the proposals have as many as five areas of shared space. This will create unnecessary conflict, is contrary to the LCDS and needs to be changed.

The one exception is on Clarence Street outside Wilkinsons. If a decision is taken that motor traffic flow must be prioritised here above everything else then shared space will be unavoidable to make the cycle route continuous. That should, however, be the only section of shared space. In all other places it is avoidable with no, or negligible, effect on motors.

We note the original bid envisaged taking a traffic lane out at the Wilkinsons “pinch point” and we would welcome that proposal being reinstated. We accept that may have some effect on motor flows but the heavens will not collapse. Highway authorities have prioritised motor traffic over other forms of transport for 80 years or more and have produced congestion, gridlock, deeply unpleasant and alienating urban environments, pollution and appalling air quality. Only if such changes are made will any significant shift from motor transport to cycle transport, or any improvement in air quality, be achieved.

General

What are the dimensions of the bidirectional segregated cycle track, this is not apparent ? Will it be 3 metres wide throughout as per the LCDS ? The segregated track needs to be continuous with minimal shared space provided this is achieved we believe this scheme will contribute something (how much depends on it being part of a network, it will achieve little on its own) to increasing the number of people who cycle and how often people cycle. Taking space away from motor traffic and reallocating it to cycling and walking, as envisaged in Kingston’s original bid document, would do more, however.

We broadly welcome the public realm improvements.

We welcome the reduction in speed limit to 20mph. Wheatfield Way at present looks rather like an urban motorway. We hope these proposals, including more and better crossings, the cycle track and the public realm elements will make it look a little less like that. We would ask this reconfiguration be taken as far as possible, partly for aesthetic reasons but also to reduce motor speeds.

Reducing the speed limit alone will only go some way to reducing actual speeds. Other measures such as enforcement and design need to supplement this. We welcome the raised tables. We suggest installing speed cameras and taking out the central reservation (a measure proved to slow traffic speeds) should also be considered.

Conclusion

Provided the points made in this submission are taken on board we believe this scheme is of a sufficient standard to be worth building and we will support it. It is disappointing to us that it is not bolder and little or no space is reallocated from motors to bikes and people. As realists, however, we will still support the proposal provided the cycle track is continuous and protected, of sufficient width and quality, complies with the LCDS and the only significant shared space is at the Wilkinsons pinch point.

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