Wolves on Wheels Cycle Campaign is concerned for cyclists' safety with the proposals being taken forward by Centro in the Wolverhampton City Centre Metro Loop. A public consultation is in full swing from 8 - 18 July at the Queens Building, City Show and Wulfrun Centre - see Centro's website for details. WoW Members and cyclists need to get their views across to Centro.
On the one hand Midlands Metro is positive for cycling as it is an attractive alternative to the private car, reduces motor traffic and the scheme will give improved connections and convenience for public transport users. The other side of the story is cycles and tramways are a poor mixture. The A41 section shows this well today. Few riders tackle the route, the cycling-specific provision is poor [acute angle crossings, no escape routes, non-working cyclist detectors at lights etc] and much of the remaining cycling is done on the footway .
The new on-street running sections use some key cycling streets including Princess, Market and Garrick Streets which form the only north south route through the city centre. National Cycle Network Route 81 on Lichfield Street is affected too by the tramway. Cyclists will have to cross any of the four sharp tramway curves that make up the loop without falling off.
The present 20 MPH city centre is fairly welcoming to riders and a cycle trip to the centre is highly convenient but the prospects of falling off when your tyres slip on the wet rails will make people think again about riding to the city centre.
Key points to make when meeting CENTRO or writing to them are :-
- Continuation of two-way cycling on all streets affected by the street-running tramway. Don't ban cycling because you're frightened of being sued each time a rider's bike slips. Instead design in safer cycling from the outset!
- Cyclists shall only cross a set of tram rails at 90 degrees. Falls occur when people make acute angle crossings. The sharp tram curves make delivering this key design principle a challenge. Jug-handled turns for riders in each direction will need laying out as advisory cycle lanes at each junctions. Innovative advanced stop line designs at signalised junctions may be necessary.
- Deliver the design for cycling integration at the Transport Interchange agreed between WoWcc, WCC and the interchange partners. Tramway crossings at 90°, two way cycling on Piper's Row and routes around the tram stops were all being planned in to the scheme inn 2008.
- Design safe passage around tram stops. Tram stops jut into the road to meet the tram. The portion of carriageway in which you're likely to be rideing then disappears! The Princess Street stop is a real tough piece of design - can riders go around the back of the stop past the Old Still Inn.
- Low tram speeds so there's no relative speed to cyclists. If they get this then we can ride between the rails and miss the tram stops.
- Escape routes - sufficient drop curves for riders to get in and out of the tramway sections.
- Avoiding routes. Best practice is to provide cycling routes to avoid slippery tram rails. WCC should deliver off-peak cycling on Dudley Street so riders can avoid the wet rails especially in the early morning between Queen Square and Bilston Street. Similarly a signed route between W'ton and Bilston via East Park to bypass the A41 tramway is long overdue.
- End rat-running through the city centre. Something has to give if trams are added to the mix. Able bodied people's cars should not have access to Market street.
- Guarantee that all cycling provision will get delivered and not forgotten because of opening day deadlines as happened for Nottingham NET line one.
- A pedal cycle is not just a bicycle. Tricycles and trailers have an important role to play and the design must include allowances for them.
Fellow campaigners Nottingham Pedals have been through this many times with the Nottingham NET. Elsewhere on this website is slide show resulting from our trip to Nottingham NET a few years. Look out for designs of tram stops and special signs, pictures of avoiding routes and think how you would cycle across the sharp tram curve in Wilkinson street.