A consultation on a short section of cycleway in Moseley Centre is open until 30th September. Please take a few minutes to respond to it, even if all you say is that you support the comments made by Push Bikes.
We are broadly welcoming of the proposal, but we feel there are some serious issues that need addressing.
- The section of shared use footpath between the toucan crossing is lengthy, and therefore undesirable. Shared use in busy areas like Moseley centre is unpopular with both pedestrians and people on bikes, as it results in conflict and makes cycling slow. There is enough space here for a protected cycleway, so that is what there should be. There is a significant amount of pavement clutter here, and perhaps the opportunity could be taken to (re)move some of this, to make this section less of an obstacle course.
- Toucan crossings are not a great solution, as they tend to be slow and cause conflict in busy areas. Section 10.4.21 of LTN 1/20 describes a much better solution, the sparrow crossing, which is already being used in Stockport. We would encourage Birmingham to move on from toucan crossings and take advantage of the benefits of sparrow crossings.
- The cycleway should not close every time there is a farmers' market, because people on bikes will still need to make journeys on those days, and this design offers no alternative.
- The design of the cycleway is indicative of "route planning", not "network planning". The cycleway seems to be being built on the assumption that all cyclists will be turning into St Mary's Row. How do people go straight on? There are two lanes provided for car drivers to go straight on, one of which will be very short under the proposed plan, so why not close one of them and add a protected cycle lane? People on bikes could be allowed to make the left turn (from the protected lane), dealing with the farmers' market issue, and it would make it easier for people on bikes to make a right turn into Salisbury Road on the carriageway (fewer lanes to deal with). In practice many people will likely opt to make use of the pedestrian crossings to make such turns, so why not formalise this with a junction redesign?
- We believe the route being planned here is to link up with Kings Heath via Oxford Road, but for many people this will represent a substantial detour compared with the Alcester Road. Section 4.2.7 of LTN 1/20 explains the importance of directness. If cycle routes are slow and indirect, people will not be persuaded to switch from their cars to cycling. This plan to direct cyclists all round the Wrekin rather than making use of the substantial width of the direct route (the Alcester Road) needs to be rethought. On the positive side, if continued at a later date along St Mary's Row, it will at least link with the new station in Moseley.
- St Mary's Row suffers from substantial motor traffic, so we are concerned about the way the cycleway connects with it. The connection at the St Mary’s Row access point is poor and does not appear to comply with LTN1/20 due to the access to the cycle lane requiring people cycling to negotiate mixed traffic before waiting in a small central island to turn right against the flow of motor traffic heading East on St Mary’s Row (from both the main junction and slip road). Similar issues arise exiting the cycle lane at the same point as it involves abruptly joining mixed motor traffic coming from both the main road and slip road. For drivers it creates a complex traffic situation, with too many points of conflict to be considered before moving off. Such junctions generally result in high numbers of collisions, in which, of course, vulnerable road users come off worst. In the proposed design, drivers will have to consider two-way traffic on the main road, one-way motor traffic exiting the slip road, and two-way cycle traffic entering and exiting the slip road. Indeed drivers exiting the slip road will need to look simultaneously over their shoulder for general traffic and forwards for cyclists emerging from the cycle lane. It doesn't take much thought to realise that both emerging drivers and emerging cyclists will make their move at the same time, with a high risk that the vehicle with the greater acceleration will run straight into the emerging cyclist.
To end on a positive note, we would like to commend the proposals for King Edward Road, which clearly gives people on cycles actual and visual priority. Rather strangely, Birmingham seems to sometimes get this right, and sometimes get this completely wrong, with no rhyme nor reason.