Response to Wolverhampton City Centre Metro Extension Consultation

More details of the consultation can be found here :

WoW broadly supports the plans for the extension of the Midland Metro and any related policies to reduce the use of cars and to encourage more sustainable forms of transport.

Centro has an important role in the development of cycling in Wolverhampton and when Centro’s Cycling Charter is released, any proposals within this should be considered within this and future schemes.

With Centro being an "Integrated Transport Authority", we were surprised to see not one single mention of cycling regarding this proposal, cycle facilities in the mock views, or details of cycle crossings / paths on the map (although kerb lines are shown), indicating that road use has only been thought of in terms of cars / taxi's / bus / tram.

According to Centro's "Moving Ahead: A Green Transport Charter for the West Midlands Action Plan 2012 – 2013", Smarter Choice and Behavioural Change & Behaviour Change SCBC-2, "include development of Station Travel Plans (STP), enhancing access to and promoting sustainable modes of travelling to and from rail stations and Metro stops", and "Promote the active travel agenda ensuring that cycling and walking is integrated into the public transport offer". The West Midlands Local Transport Plan 3 has a target to increase the numbers of people walking and cycling. This is not evident within the consultation

In the extension there are several opportunities to develop new facilities for cyclists alongside the tram line, and safe crossings of the tram tracks.
The value of these will be that much greater if these new routes improve connections to existing and planned routes in the area, ie the canal tow-paths and contraflow cycle lanes being planned as part of the public realm enhancements.

Sustrans NCN81 runs across Railway Drive. The National Cycle Network routes intend to link destinations, with the railway station being a key location. Within the scheme is potential for improved cycling access to the railway station between Westbound and Southbound tow-paths on NCN81. Could the proposed turn back tramway have a cycle lane at the side for better access to/from the canal?

At the same time we wish to emphasise our very serious concerns about the impact on cyclists’ safety and convenience of the proposals.

We have particular anxieties about the dangers on both Railway Drive and Pipers Row with tram tracks where there is little or no room for cycle paths or cycle lanes alongside and also no reasonably practical alternative routes in the vicinity without taking cyclists far out of the way from their desire lines.

Given the very understandable levels of public concern about cycling on pavements, it is very important to avoid detailed layout solutions that could be considered as effectively encouraging this behaviour which is of often particular concern, we are well aware, to very young and elderly pedestrians, and their carers, as well as those with disabilities.

With this in mind, there is certainly an argument for one side of the 2 pavements on Railway Drive to be considered for 100% cycle segregation. The north side of the bridge would be preferable for easier access to NCN81.

It is important to consider the needs of the cyclists passing through the junction of Pipers Row / Lichfield Street, in all directions, to discourage dangerous acute-angled crossings of the tram tracks.

Within the development there is a direct conflict with a 560 space multi-story car park ( 2nd largest in Wolverhampton), and a long term need to reduce cars crossing the bridge (otherwise the metro will be at gridlock during peak times, discouraging use of the new network).

Traffic management during construction phase : High risk of increased illegal use of Pipers row restricted traffic zone.

Possibility of using Railway Street car park as a drop off zone? In rainy periods, pedestrians would be put off, resolved with covered walkway?

Pipers Row / bus station interchange :
The mock-up photo on Pipers Row show a number of cars using the road-space, although not a single bicycle!

There is surely road width on Pipers Row (when the bus stops are removed), to allow for an enhanced wide segregated cycle route along this stretch. 2-way cycling along Pipers Row must also be maintained, with separated cycle lane, and proper crossing points over the tracks for cyclists.

Track Levels
The rails in Sheffield are checked to ensure that they are never more than 3mm above the road - although not dimensioned this is clearly the intended measurement on ORR drawing. This goes back to Roe vs Sheffield Supertram & others where a motorist lost control of his car when the raised rail heads lifted the tyres off the road.

We would strongly urge you to consider use of of the the Strail system :

This system makes crossing tramlines much safer with no large gaps when crossing the rails.

Of particular importance is making sure that there are adequate escape routes for cycles at tram stops where the nearside road disappears.

The tram stops should have cycle lockers, well-sited, well-signed and generally publicised, well-managed and well-maintained with charges set at rates to encourage long-term regular use and security and responsible use encouraged through maintaining a careful record of users.

To be a true integrated transport interchange, surely this should be the opportunity to investigate a low-cost bike hire scheme, 12 bikes at railway station, 12 outside civic centre, Brompton Docks anyone?

We would also encourage :

  • Positive PR campaign in Cyclist education of how to cross tracks
  • Any alternative cycle routes to be installed at the start of the construction works, not at the end.
  • Suggest temporary diversion of NCN81 via Broad St.
  • Data on numbers of cyclists crossing bridge before, during construction, and after scheme implementation.  ( Good evidence base for future route extensions and evidence of cycle / rail integration ).
  • The urban / landscape design should be of a height to minimise conflict with pedestrians and all other road users.
  • Tree or bush landscaping to not block view of cycle parking / cycle routes.

We would strongly oppose any attempt to permanently re-route NCN81 via the bottom of Broad Street, and not provision for cyclists from the Station to City Centre.  This would in practice be regarded as rather too much of a detour to be acceptable to many cyclists, given their preference for direct and convenient routes.

We would welcome the opportunity to comment further ( ideally prior to ) the detailed design stage. What markings/signs for cyclists will be used to guide cyclists across the junction (and possibly others)?
Any idea what the details of signs and markings will be?
Robust plan for cyclist / pedestrian movements in the area in the Interim period before / during construction of new railway station -

We would also welcome any developments in allowing cycles on the Midland Metro ( perhaps starting as unpublicised off-peak trial? ).
This would be especially welcomed when normal service is disrupted on the all-stations Wolverhampton to Birmingham heavy rail line.

We would also appreciate a Centro representative to attend the Wolverhampton Cycle Forum ( held quarterly ), to discuss the proposals as they mature.

Recommended reading :

The Strail system fills the flangeway, enabling a much safer crossingpoint :

Black Country Cycle City Ambition Fund :
Improved links to Wolverhampton Rail Station - Appendix K

WoW visit to Nottingham :
WoW Nottingham Tramway Visit 2004

Nottingham Metro Cycle Evidence :

Idiots guide to tram safety :

Advice from :

Pedals in Nottingham :

TRAM lines in Edinburgh have caused injuries to more than 70 cyclists who are now demanded more over £1m in compensation.

Dutch style cycle plans ( how to route a cycle lane behind a tram stop)

Cycle Route Design Resources

Recommended course for designing cycling infrastructure

BromptonDock Cycle Hire

Wolverhampton Cycle Forum
(nb website link will change, the page also needs updating, phone / email address details are current. )

Compiled by Stephen Young

Wolves on Wheels Cycle Campaign