The following text was written by the Bristol Cycling Campaign and was first published on-line by them in May 2013 I have republished it here with their kind permission.
Stop Pinching Bikes
20 of Bristol’s cycling pinch points
In celebrating the successes of the two and a half years of the Greater Bristol Cycling City project (2008-2011) it was suggested that one achievement had been to bring cycling to the centre of council policy. Bristol Cycling Campaign’s experience of changes to the highway network (on-road and off-road) over the last 5 years has been that the needs of cyclists are still being regularly overlooked in highway scheme design and implementation.
In this document we are making a renewed call to Bristol City Council to review its quality assurance processes for signing off highway scheme designs. We do this for two reasons:
1. to ensure that negative design features are avoided;
2. to make sure that all opportunities for improvement are fully exploited.
We are offering a collection of 20 examples of places where cycling has been pushed aside, restricted or otherwise left out of the plans (what we call pinch points). These examples illustrate the range of problems being ignored or inadvertently created by the council on a regular basis.
The wider Bristol Cycling Campaign’s Freedom to Ride Strategy includes a call for a comprehensive network of main road cycling freeways. The ongoing erosion of conditions for cyclists on the existing road system is working against this aspiration. We believe that there should now be a concerted effort to do things better.
The 20 pinch points
Bottom of Park Street kerb build out
The narrow traffic lane approach to this new build out results in cyclists being pinched and having to deal with additional conflicts. This was introduced as part of GBBN in late 2012.
Pinch point at the top of Jacob’s Wells Road/Berkeley Place
Near the end of the long haul up Jacob’s Wells Road and Berkeley Place there was, until recently, sufficient width on the approach to the give way lines to allow momentum to be maintained. This valuable bit of breathing space has recently been removed and cyclists are squeezed into sharing a narrow traffic lane.
Anchor Road merging with Jacob’s Wells Road roundabout
The set up here simultaneously gives a green light to outbound buses joining Hotwell Road and to traffic coming from the roundabout. Cyclists coming from the roundabout would expect to merge into the bus lane and cycle lane on Hotwell Road. They are, however at risk of being hit by buses that also assume a right of way. We are aware of at least one serious cyclist injury that occurred here. The two pictures show the situation and movement for a cyclist and then for a bus under an identical phase of the traffic lights.
Clanage Road, badly engineered and dangerously positioned cyclists’ dropped kerb
The original dropped kerb was positioned further away from the give way markings and operated well for many years. It was relocated to the shown location to accommodate a bus shelter in 2011. Cyclists now have to cross in front of the give way markings to use it. Further, water now collects (As shown in the picture) and freezes over in the winter adding to the hazard.
Bath Road, Brislington Park and Ride
Works for the Greater Bristol Bus Network amended the layout at the Hicks Gate junction and removed a dropped kerb from the cycle track. This dropped kerb had allowed cyclists to merge into the carriageway well in advance of the signals heading westbound. With the dropped kerb removed, cyclists either have to join the traffic earlier and thereby get squeezed in a narrow traffic lane, or they have to bump down the full kerb from the cycle track into the carriageway
Northumberland Road, Easton pinch point
Northumberland Road (part of Concorde Way at this point) has been narrowed to allow pedestrians to cross between the M32 footbridge and the Sports Centre. A short cycle lane marking has been placed to one side of the narrow gap. The gap, however, is not wide enough to allow a car and a bicycle to go safely through at the same time. A cyclist needs to take the centre of the lane, or pull over and wait for vehicles to pass.
Restrictive permeability between Bristol and South Gloucestershire on Wordsworth Road
As Bristol gives way to South Gloucestershire at the end of Wordsworth Road there is a barrier between the end of Wordsworth Road and the start of Eighth Avenue. There is a raised kerb, offset railings and large grey concrete bollards to prevent motor vehicles passing through and only a narrow passage either side of one bollard for cyclists to ride through. Tricycles, cargo bikes, or trailers need be to be lifted over the raised kerb. In dusk or darkness neither the bollards nor the kerb are easy to see. This non-standard design does not comply with Department for Transport guidance.
Unsatisfactory Dighton Street cycle lane (and enforcement)
The arrangement at the beginning of this cycle lane in Dighton Street is part of a well-used natural route from east to west near the city centre. The short illustrated stretch unhelpfully draws cyclists to a poor road position where forward visibility is reduced and a radical pinch point is encountered. Uncertainty over waiting and loading restrictions encourages vehicles to enter and stop on the mandatory cycle lane. Large waste containers also block the cycle lane from time to time.
Unsuitable and narrow cycle lane on junction of Woodland Road and Park Row in Bristol
Cyclists travelling south west along Woodland Road and intending to turn left into Park Row are offered a continuous (advisory) cycle lane that is less than 1.2 metres wide and paved with cobbles for half of its width. Given the need to avoid conflict with left-turning motor vehicles a cyclist should be further from the kerb and not at risk of being unbalanced by such an uneven surface.
Advisory cycle lane onto Queens Road
A twenty metre stretch of advisory cycle lane at the end of Whiteladies Road, from a zebra crossing to its junction with Queens Road, encourages cyclists to take a position near to the kerb as they enter and leave the junction. This puts them exposed to frequent buses turning immediately left into Queens Avenue and in a vulnerable position from which to continue a journey south west towards Park Street or Park Row.
Coronation Road cycle path
There is uncertainty among users of Coronation Road as to why cyclists use or don’t use the shared cycle path on its northern side.
Cycling on the road or on the shared path are both legitimate, but people may not know the path is available or where to cycle or walk on it. It needs clear delineation and a smoother surface. The picture shows how the current state of markings makes uncertainty (and subsequent conflict) inevitable.
Bus stop build out, Whiteladies Road
A number of these have been built as part of Greater Bristol Bus Network. Cyclists get bunched in the queuing/overtaking traffic caught behind buses and this is risky and intimidating. Less confident cyclists are encouraged by the scheme to take evasive action such as bailing out of the problem onto the footway.
Cycling stakeholders made strong representations to the GBBN project to clearly warn cyclists of these buildouts both during the project, when nothing was done, and for several months afterwards – when this woefully short “ladder” was added. Warning markings such as these need to identify the line that cyclists should be expected to take, in this case starting several metres further back, rather than having toswerve out at the last minute.
Merchants Road bridge cycle route crossing point
A new cycle track from the Portway/Cumberland Basin Road brings cyclists to a poorly designed junction with very limited visibility of traffic arriving from the right. A substantial amount of work was carried out to the general road layout in this area and with careful design the opportunity could have been taken to position the cycle track further forward, which would have provided better visibility.
Cumberland Basin Road right turn towards Hotwells
This is a tricky movement requiring positioning between fast moving westbound and right turning traffic. Until recently this movement was protected by a right turning lane for cyclists, the remains of which can be seen in the photo. It was obliterated when scheme 12 was installed, apparently without thought for cyclists turning right. No dropped kerb from the cycle track has been provided
Anchor Road crossing
Large numbers of cyclists and pedestrians are held for significant periods of time here so that priority can be given to motorised traffic. Once pedestrians and cyclists get their short slot, there is usually a certain amount of mayhem. In between times people cross in spite of red lights The council have widened the crossing in recent years, without success, simply because the delay (one and a half minutes) feels so long that it has become widely ignored.
Clift House Road cycle track approach to Ashton Avenue Bridge
A very fast and wide approach has been provided to join an existing fast section of route, at a point of very limited visibility without any warning signs to users.
Portwall Lane shared use
A common complaint from pedestrians and cyclists is lack of legibility on shared use paths/areas. This problem has been reproduced at Portwall Lane and was highlighted as an issue in a recent survey of cyclists and potential cyclists at Temple Quay (see https://sites.google.com/site/cyclingtotemplequaystudy/).
A further issue on this path is the lack of priority where it crosses Phippen Street, a site of two cyclist injuries in recent years.
M shed to Gaol Ferry Bridge link (proposed) through the Umberslade development site
This link has been anticipated for a number of years. However Bristol City Council has given consent for a layout which is fundamentally flawed at its southern end. The layout brings cyclists to an unsafe location away from the existing Cumberland Road crossing, where they will interact with pedestrians using a narrow footway. At least one person made a written comment on this problem at the consultation stage although it appears that this was ignored.
As this link has not yet been built, there is time to address this will the layout shown on the plan below.
Winterstoke Road shared cycle/pedestrian path-enlarged access into new Imperial Tobacco offices
This junction was quite difficult under the old layout as the user had to look behind to anticipate left turning traffic from Winterstoke Road. However the access has recently been substantially widened, making the problem worse. The opportunity to improve the layout with a flat top ramp or central island has been lost. There is also the oddity of just one line of studs rather than the normal two.
Clanage Road/Kennel Lodge Road crossings
The signal controlled crossing on A369 Clanage Road is welcome. However, people heading towards Ashton Court have to make a second crossing over Kennel Lodge Road against a variety of motor vehicle turning movements. Very little has been done in the design to assist this.