DRAFT RESPONSE TO WESTSIDE LINK PROPOSAL
If you have suggestions for improvements to this then please send them to me using chair AT wolvesonwheels.co.uk ASAP as I will need to send it off first thing on Thursday morning.
(This response is made on the basis of the information contained on the CoWC and Invest websites, in the Westside Link booklet, display boards in the Civic Centre, and that presented to the Wolverhampton Cycle Forum meeting on 18/10/18).
Wolves on Wheels welcome:
The maintenance of cycle access to Victoria St, this is an important route into the city centre for those approaching from the south-west.
Introduction of a contraflow lane in Darlington St to allow continuing two way cycle traffic along National Cycle Network Route 81 once this section becomes one way for motorised traffic.
The plans for additional cycle parking throughout and more secure cycle parking in the form of lockers or restricted entry 'cages'. We feel these will be particularly by those wishing to travel into Wolverhampton in the evening.
The stated desire is to have a surface free of differentiated levels (e.g. no kerbs) for the benefit of those who find them problematic. This makes it difficult to have any sort of segregated lane for cyclists that will be universally observed by both them and pedestrians – painted lanes alone on pavements does not seem to work, at least in Wolverhampton.
We do have some concerns, based on experiences elsewhere, about how well pedestrians and cyclists will mingle in the more crowded 'single surface' sections of Queen Sq. Most cyclists behave responsibly, and most pedestrians maintain an awareness of what is going on around them and a 'shared space' such as this can be made to work if everyone has time to get used to it.
To give it the best possible chance we would make the following recommendations:
The signage at the entry points to the single surface sections (principally Victoria St. and Queen Sq.) should inform in the sense of letting cyclists know that they do not have to dismount and remind pedestrians that they should expect cycling; but also actively promote the concept of 'share with care'.
There will be those cyclists who, for legitimate reasons, would wish to cycle faster than would be responsible through Queen Sq. as proposed. This would include those simply wishing to make better progress as well as those using 'non-standard' bikes. Cargo bikes, bikes towing trailers or child 'tag-alongs or just with well loaded panniers are less easy to balance and manoeuvre at the low speed that will sometimes be necessary in a mixed pedestrian/cyclist environment.
We would recommend that viable, well signed routes to bypass the single surface sections are available. The readily apparent ones are:
Cleveland St. - Garrick St. - Market St – Princess St. This would require the creation of a contraflow lane in Cleveland St. to allow two-way cycling (this is an obvious continuation of the one in Princess St. etc and was part of the proposals in the 'Public Realm' concept put forward a few years ago).
School St. - Darlington St. - Red Lion St. - Paternoster Row - Wulfruna St. This would require an exemption for cyclists to the current 'No Right Turn' from School St. to Darlington St. and an upgrading of the on-pavement section of North St.
Some 'policing/education' during the time after the completion works would, we feel, be welcomed by the majority of pedestrians and law abiding cyclists. It would be unrealistic to expect a constant presence by police but regular appearances by very visible staff pointedly videoing any irresponsible behaviour should have a calming influence.