Friday 29 May 2015

Bears Way: Not for Everyone

As you may have already read on my blog, East Dunbartonshire Council are in the process of putting in a segregated cycle lane on my commute. Yippeeee.....oh wait, not all is right as my previous blog suggests. That letter (go on, have a wee read of it) was sent and I have now received a reply.

I'm not going to post the reply in full, as I know the person who responded and there is some general chat in their to. The chap is decent and to be fair to him, he is listening. The reality of some of what he said though is definitely worth sharing. Here is the important section of the e-mail:

 ....the design is to provide for the following target user as provided by Sustrans.

Target user: design should be attractive and comfortable for the less confident cyclist a sensible 12 year old or novice adult who is trained to National Standards / Bikeability Level 2 ? but should aim to provide for the more confident cyclist as well. Where more confident cyclists choose not to use any facilities provided their needs should also be addressed with separate provision where appropriate; they should not be compromised by the design;

For the more confident cyclist the carriageway is being changed to be a uniform 3m wide (lining) therefore the cyclists who choose to remain on the carriageway can do so at a width promoted for a carriageway width in Cycling by Design. In your case this will mean you are taking the centre of the lane. (Reviewing your videos you seem to cycle 1.2 to 1.5m from the carriageway edge as I do)

Cyclists travelling north (B8030) have three options.
On activating the Toucan crossing they can then use the carriageway to travel towards the roundabout and proceed along the B8030 joining up with the advisory cycle lane.  The second option is to use the segregated cycle lane and enter the carriageway at the roundabout using the minor road.
Third option is to carry on using the shared footway and enter the advisory cycle lanes using the dropped kerbs or activating the signals and enter the advisory cycle lanes travelling north.

Cyclists travelling north on the (A81) Glasgow Road.
Although we would love to have changed the whole of EDC overnight, the scheme implemented at this time has a start and an end point.  Due to the current road conditions of Glasgow Road it was viewed that the carriageway would be used by competent cyclists and therefore the design allows them to continue to use the carriageway to undertake this journey.  They can enter the carriageway at the Toucan crossing and as vehicles will then be stopped they can make a manoeuvre to take the lane and undertake the roundabout.
The second option is to use the minor road to enter the roundabout and proceed to the A81. If people do not wish to cycle around the roundabout then there is an option of using the shared footway and then the signalised crossing before using the footway to access the A81.  However before you shout No!!!!, the design is constrained by this being the start/end point and the Waitrose design (roundabout and signal crossing) having been completed prior to the segregated cycle route design. I like you wish one day not to be constrained but this is the reality of cycle route design. I am aware this is providing an option which requires users to cross traffic either once or twice depending on which way you cross the roundabout roads but it does provide an option for less competent and less confident cyclists.

The signs that have been located on the bollards are a TSRGD 522 - Two Way Traffic - It is a warning sign to cyclists that there is two-way vehicle movement ahead and they should proceed with caution. The road lining will show that it is for vehicles to give way.

We are also happy with the 'floating bus stop' design. The hierarchy of users clearly indicates we should prioritise our design for pedestrians.
Cyclists will have to proceed with caution through the floating bus stop area and the design acts as a traffic calming measure for cyclists. The second floating bus stop design is placed on a gradient which acts as a calming measure and therefore the angle is not used on the uphill but used on the downhill.

Now I could pick at a few things here, but there are three fundamental issues. Here is the bulk of what I wrote back:

There are a few things that strike me reading your reply. Firstly I'm really disappointed to hear that this development is effectively part of a dual network, that is, it has not been designed for everyone. I really was looking forward to this section of infrastructure, as everything I had heard about it previously suggested that, whilst it wasn't going to be perfect,  that it was going to be a big step in the right direction. I didn't know though that there was such a restrictive target user as designated by Sustrans. I understand your suggestion that I and other users could still use the carriageway, however the reality is that this is actually going to be very difficult. On a number of occasions in the past I have had abuse from drivers for not using the very poor facilities that were there previously, including 'professional' drivers (see these two videos for examples and I can imagine the abuse I will now get on this new reduced width carriageway will be significantly worse when they see the segregated lane at the side of the road. Despite what some commentators suggest, I don't go looking for trouble so I will probably feel forced to use the new lanes despite what I might think of them.
You also mention Cycling By Design. I (and many others) have been trying to highlight for a good few years now that this document is outdated. I've seen this borne out recently when in discussions with Glasgow Council. They have been designing infrastructure that just meets the minimum standards set out in CBD. It's quite frankly rubbish. My heart sunk when you mentioned it here as once again it is suggesting a solution that, rather than making conditions better for cycling for everyone, will improve conditions for some whilst making it worse for others. Of course, you and everyone else in this project aren't to blame for CBD, but by being guided by it we are ending up with a compromised project that may solve issues for some, but will cause problems for others. I must admit I don't know the answer to this but, are you bound by the design principles of CBD or are you free to go beyond them?

With regards to the floating bus stops, I totally understand that there is a need to slow cyclists approaching the floating bus stops. However, I can't understand why a table couldn't be used instead of the zig-zag. I've had a quick ride on it, and it is quite tight, and will be way too tight for two way traffic. Why could a raised table not be used there instead?

Lastly, I'm concerned that, as far as I am currently aware, there is no physical effort to stop drivers pulling out onto the cycle lane at junctions. On the continent they often use raised tables at the junctions along with markings to encourage drivers to slow and stop. I'm concerned that road markings alone are not going to have the desired effect. Will there be anything to supplement the road markings?

Since I've written that, I've came across two further issues that are best demonstrated with pictures.

 The first shows an island that has been placed in the middle of the cycle lane. This looks like it will contain a bollard. This is obviously there to 'traffic calm' the cyclists, but there are much more elegant ways to do that. Instead we have an obstacle in the middle of the path, that, as was pointed out to me on Twitter, will stop road sweeper access.

The second shows the lane fading into a shared use path on approach to a junction. Why? Seriously, Why? This will almost certainly mean that cyclists will not have priority at this junction, and will conflict with pedestrians. Yes, at the moment there aren't many pedestrians that use this path, but that will change when the new housing development there gets the go ahead.

I got chatting with another cyclist today just along from here. He too was looking forward to this, and he too is dismayed at what he has seen. All of the issues I have highlighted could have been avoided quite easily, but once again we are getting a very poor compromise.

I really am quite disappointed about this.


  1. Yesif this ends up the way you say, I am really disappointed too. How did the imperfect but hopeful plans we saw a few months back morph into this? Am particularly alarmed by the villages, as this will likely prevent access to the facility by people on trikes, hand cycles and those towing trailers. Totally unnecessary. I suspect someone got nervous about the innovation of the floating busstop and felt the need to put in an extra barrier without thinking it through.

  2. Not sure how Bollards got mangled by auto correct into villages.... Also, there always was a problem at the southern end finishing up nowhere but I thought they might put in something to make rejoining the carriageway safer... Shared use was not on the plans iirc

  3. "are you bound by the design principles of CBD or are you free to go beyond them? "

    From CDB:
    Transport Scotland requires consultants and
    contractors working on trunk road projects to follow
    the guidance within Cycling by Design.
    It is commended to local authorities and others
    developing cycling infrastructure in Scotland.

    So meeting at least the minimum is a requirement for trunk road schemes.
    Non trunk road schemes don't have to meet CBD, or follow it at all, but following (sensibly) it is an easy way to show you've covered your designers responsibilities.
    CDB itself wouldn't limit higher standard designs, although there may be other legislation/guidance to comply with too.

  4. Hi all, as someone who only properly took up cycling to work regularly about 3 months ago, I am dismayed at the cycle lane "improvements" from burnbrae to hill foot. How many people are going to "park and ride" their bikes at the bus stop opposite the burnbrae? I'm not against the new lane, far from it, I just wonder who thought it was a good idea to have cyclists crossing at the pedestrian lights at McDonald's, then joining a roundabout then having to come in and out of traffic before milngavie police station? Did no one actually think, what about the cycle lane when waitrose were told to upgrade the surrounding streets?
    Dr Brennan, you have inspired me, as someone who uses the same route as yourself to get to the other side of the Clyde, I agree it is risky and I now intend to take the council, in particular Glasgow to task. Do you have any idea how long it took me to find both enterances to the Clyde tunnel for cyclists........... No signage whatsoever, unless you know where your going, your going to give up. IG

  5. Thanks guys fir the comments, especially IG for the kind words. You're correct about the tunnel. Ok if you knew where you are going. Infrastructure is a shambles in Glasgow.

  6. Think of composing a nice email to EDC/Glasgow roads dept and anyone you can think of that may be interested. I did once get my roadway relayed within 6 weeks of emailing (in EDC) by sending a little funny email about the conditions of the road....... I was thinking that EDC should carry on the lane to the boundary with Glasgow(there is plenty of central reservations particularly on the switchback that could make way for a new lane(ie, move the southbound traffic over a little), similarly, the very wide and rarely used pavements could be squeezed up to get us through to anniesland cross and again, give up on some central reservations and move traffic lanes over a little to make way for a new cycle lane, im thinking of suggesting lottery or EU funding if anyone can point me to any precedent of EU giving funding for sustainable transport??? I will add a litle humour, like asking Glasgow if they could ask some local schoolchildren to make up some signs for the clyde tunnel entrances and have them show council officials where to locate them. Any thoughts for what to include is greatly appreciated. IG

  7. I have also worked out how not to be anon..... i could get a job with the council being that quick......

  8. I'm glad to see this discussion. I'm still not sure how this is going to work but suspect that I will only use whatever track doesn't require switching road sides and only if the path doesn't become a magnet for the inevitable humorously positioned broken bottles. I also hope no cyclists are seriously injured this summer during construction. It has changed from being a pleasant and relatively safe run on wide road to become a stressful segment that's absolutely unpleasant to ride along. Motorists are increasingly impatient and more reckless as time goes on. I was nearly wasted on one of the really wet days last week. Car sitting on my wheel at about 25 mph, then pushed past me and almost immediately turned left across me and up a side street.

  9. See also (not my blog) :
    for photos including islands in the middle of a two-way cycle lane.
    Each bus-stop is different !
    Awkward mix of shared pavement, segregated pavement and segregated lane on road.
    It looks like an experiment where they've tried a bit of everything, instead of something clear and simple that just works - like NL.

    EDC : "The signs that have been located on the bollards are a TSRGD 522 - Two Way Traffic - It is a warning sign to cyclists that there is two-way vehicle movement ahead and they should proceed with caution. The road lining will show that it is for vehicles to give way."

    It all looks a bit vaguely 'shared space' - tables and sharks-teeth - to me !
    Needs more give-way lines across roads.

    The last could use re-painting give way lines across the side-road, and note they have used TSRGD 544.1 'Pedestrians on road' not TSRGD 544 'Pedestrian Crossing' in a few places.

    Some double-yellow lines break unnecessarily at points where cyclists emerge - could encourage parking.
    Entrances have wide radii encouraging fast driving ;(

    These look good, though !

    I note
    mentions a Phase 2 - lengthening
    and the Herald mentions a Phase 3 - could be 'both sides unidirectional' ?

    The Acid test - Herald commenters who cycle aren't using it and the blog photos above show a couple of cyclists on the road !
    Typical UK half-cock approach. Does David Hembrow still comment on these things? Can you encourage your EDC contact to take a working visit to him in NL ?