1. Purpose of Report
To appraise Members of the development of cycling initiatives following the report on cycling to 26 June Regenerating Wolverhampton Cabinet Team.
Development Panel: REGENERATING WOLVERHAMPTON
Originating Department: REGENERATION AND TRANSPORTATION
Panel Contact Officer: MALCOLM READ (EXT. 5700)
2. Report Background
At the Cabinet Team meeting a report was approved to deliver part of the cycle programme for this year. The Scrutiny Panel requested further information on the development of cycling initiatives in Wolverhampton. In particular information was requested on :-
a) the principle of cycle routes and how they are constituted;
b) comparison of different cycle routes and how to make them effective; and
c) the implications of obstruction of a cycle route by a parked vehicle.
2.2 Cycling Strategy:
Wolverhampton’s Cycle Strategy was approved by the Highways and Transportation Committee at its meeting in January 1995. The principal aims of the strategy are to:-
• improve facilities for cyclists in Wolverhampton and through this, to increase mobility for people without access to a car;
• improve safety for cyclists in Wolverhampton;
• encourage a transfer of journeys from private cars to cycles in co-ordination with other traffic and transportation measures.
Included as part of this strategy was the establishment of an initial cycle route network. This network has formed the basis for consultations and implementation of cycle routes across the Borough. A copy of the 1995 strategy is appended to this report together with a plan showing the network already achieved and links which still need to be developed.
The existing strategy and network was developed and is reviewed in close consultation with local cycle groups through regular quarterly cycling forum meetings. The local cycle groups include members of Friends of the Earth, Cycling Tourists Club, Transport 2000, Sustrans and the Pedestrian Association. Whilst the Cycle Forum continues to be supportive of the development of the cycle network and infrastructure within Wolverhampton, they are keen always to see a greater allocation for cycling infrastructure. The next meeting of the forum is planned for late October.
Since the initial preparation of the cycling strategy in 1995, there have been national and regional initiatives to promote cycling including the development of the Millennium national cycle network. These developments together with our promotion of Local Agenda 21 and the setting of national and West Midlands targets for cycling now need to be incorporated in an expanded strategy.
Future development of the strategy will therefore need to build on the progress to date, but also will need to focus on the following :-
• the connection of the existing cycle links to provide continuous routes;
• tackle difficult locations to help provide continuity ;
• provide more orbital routes and links to the local centres;
• expansion of the provision of cycle parking facilities: and
• expand publicity to improve public awareness and encourage increased use of the cycle for short journeys.
2.7 Development of the Cycle network:
The initial network provided radial routes to link the Town Centre with local centres together with connecting orbital routes. The first routes to be developed have been along corridors away from the heavily trafficked main routes and advantage has been taken to promote the canal towing paths and other opportunities to provide off road routes such as the route to Low Hill through Fowlers Playing Fields.
However, due to the urbanised nature of the Borough most other routes have to be developed along highway corridors. Where possible cyclists should be encouraged to use lightly trafficked residential roads and signing initiatives have been tried on a route from Goldthorn Park. Where volumes of either cyclists or pedestrians are low and the footways wide enough then consideration can be given to shared-use routes such as along the Stafford Road north of Five Ways. On main radial roads, again where width is available highly visible cycle lanes are desirable such as have been promoted on the A41 Tettenhall Road.
2.9 Recent cycling provision has included:-
• Town Centre to Valley Park - new Toucan crossing of the Ring Road and segregated cycle lane along Great Brickkiln Street.
• Willenhall Road – Deans Road to Neachells Lane resurfaced footpath to provide access to Deansfield High School and as part of link through to Walsall
• Stafford Road - segregated cycle route under the Railway Bridges to Bushbury Lane
• Wednesfield Way cycle routes and Tocan crossings as part of the relief road development
• Wednesfield Road use of the bus lanes and a new cycle lane adjacent to the segregated bus lane.
Ideally any proposed cycle route which is to be attractive and to encourage less experienced cyclists would avoid conflict with general traffic, be quick, direct and convenient to use. The cycle network should provide links to key locations within the Borough where short local journeys by cycle could genuinely be expected to replace those currently made by car. These trips include journeys to:-
• Local Shopping Centres
• Secondary Schools (as Part of the Safer Routes to Schools project)
• Greenways and Public Open Spaces (leisure cycling)
• Connections to the Canal Towpaths and other off road routes
• Residential areas and
• Large employment sites
Work is continuing in consultation with the cycling forum to develop the network in this way. The different types of cycle route that can be provided are discussed in the following section.
3. Report Detail
3.1 Cycle Route Design Options:
In the design of cycle routes the Council makes use of 'best practice' publications 'Cycle-friendly Infrastructure', Guidelines for Planning and Design published by the Cyclist's Touring Club and The National Cycle Network 'Guidelines and Practical Details' published by Sustrans. Both of these publications provide extensive information and details of measures which can be implemented for cyclists based on practical experience on schemes already introduced in other parts of the country.
In the design guidance, it is made clear that the design of cycle schemes is dictated by local conditions and the measures have to be engineered to fit the local requirements. In determining provision of cycling infrastructure the following are taken into account:-
• Desire lines in respect to Borough highway network
• Potential cycle flows
• Accident records
• Continuity of route, both on and off highway
• Links to residential/employment areas
• Cost / land requirements
Table 1 sets out an overview of the different types of cycle lane provision available and where they are best introduced, together with current examples of their use in Wolverhampton. Experience is being gained in the effectiveness of each type of provision relative to their costs. For instance, the signing of lightly trafficked routes, which has to be an key tool in providing continuous cycle routes, such as First Avenue and Goldthorn Hill may need additional route identification to make them more conspicuous as part of the continuing network development. Work in other towns is being studied to see how this can be done. The vision is that by linking the most appropriate types of provision together, then a series of continuous cycle routes can be achieved across the Borough.
3.4 Obstruction of Cycle lanes by parked Vehicles:
In previous discussions Members were concerned about parked vehicles blocking the cycle lanes provided as this can pose difficulties to cyclists who have to move out of the lanes to pass an obstruction. Members will appreciate Mandatory cycle lanes require a Traffic Regulation Order. Such lanes, when provided by the roadside would prevent parking as well prohibiting all other traffic from using the lanes. In streets where there are residential and business frontages who require on-street access it would be difficult to justify this level of prohibition. Therefore, in consultation with the cycling groups, approval was sought for advisory cycle lanes. which do not require Traffic Regulation Orders. Consultations with the frontage’s have raised little adverse comment, as it was seen as not being too restrictive to their access. However, in operation the cycle lanes have been effective in highlighting the possible presence of cyclists. This is of general benefit to road safety along the routes affected.
Whilst it is acknowledged that there is a risk in cyclists having to leave the marked lane in order to overtake a parked vehicle, this is no different to what was occurring before. Although there has been 3 accidents involving cyclists along the Tettenhall Road in the two years since the lanes were introduced. These have all occurred at junctions and none has been attributable to vehicles parked across the cycle lanes. Experience from Oxford City Council where advisory cycle lanes similar to those on the A41 indicate cycle accidents have been in place for a much longer period of time have shown significant reductions in cycle accidents along such routes.
The provision of advisory cycle lanes have also achieved the benefit of alerting motorists to the presence of cyclists and encouraging drivers to give cyclists more space on the carriageway. The provision of cycle lanes has also effectively narrowed the carriageway for general traffic, this in turn has lead to a measurable reduction in general vehicle speeds along the route. The effects of the provision of cycle lanes will continue to be monitored.
4 Equal Opportunities
This report has implications for the Council's Equal Opportunities Policy as provision for cycles increases peoples choice of transport and can provide a healthy activity for an individual at very little cost.
5 Environmental Implications
Encouraging increased use of the bicycle, particularly for short urban journeys has a positive environmental benefit by providing an acceptable alternative to the motor car.
nb, See PDF Download for full document + 1995 Wolverhampton Cycling Strategy