Further discussion, Cyclox response and concerns

4th December 2014
To [Planning, Oxfordshire County Council]
 
Thank you for your time last week.  I am writing to summarise our discussions, and in particular to get the continuing concerns of Cyclox on the record.
 
You asked for our opinions on size of dropped kerbs, use of bollards, etc, and we explained what we felt were fundamental flaws in the scheme.  We felt it would have been of value to  have discussion as well on moving the areas of shared pedestrian and bicycle use where such changes would improve the safety and convenience of pedestrians and cyclists and motor vehicle users but you felt this was not appropriate.
 
Modelling
You said that you’ve “been modelling the kerbs ad infinitum’ but this is actually for motor vehicles, or more likely buses.  No modelling yet demonstrated to Cyclox includes any plausible cycling, or walking movements.  How can it be that the Square has been modeled if you exclude the majority of users? In previous meetings, we have been shown the software in action, and bicycle movements have definitely not been feasible.
 
Entry and Exit
As we discussed, our primary concerns remain with the arrangements for cyclists to get into and out of the space shared with pedestrians in the square.  You suggested that ‘it would be a step too far to allow [people cycling] to cross at the crossings’.  This facility is imminently to be allowed by TSRGD  and is increasingly to be seen as acceptable.  London Cycling Design Standards foresees the provision.  Instead you suggest that a cyclist should get-off to walk across the advisory crossings.  This is the opposite of ‘enabling’ people to choose to cycle.  You suggested that New Inn Hall St was alright, but this is not evidently true as problems continually occur there, across Bonn Square and in St Ebbes St.  The Highways Authority’s persistent belief that cycling is a kind of walking and does not need specific physical indications is problematic.
 
Ramps
You explained that gradients would not be steep, be more like 1:12, and path width likely to be 3.5m to 4.00m, which is good.
 
1)      At the eastern end, the arrangements for cyclists to re-join Hythe Bridge Street will throw cyclists into moving traffic.  This should be protected from traffic.  There are no plans to warn drivers to expect bikes to be entering the roadway.  Drivers may well be looking to check that traffic is not coming out of Rewley Road at the time.    It is not adequate just to rely on cyclists having to give way.
 
2)      At the western end, there is no way for cyclists safely to get onto the space shared with pedestrians in front of the Business School. The dropped kerb here should be in the alignment used by people cycling and not pitched off-line on the chance that a car will block the access.  This is clearly a location where a median treatment, as used in other entrances onto the roundabout, would be really helpful to people crossing this road.  You exclude it because buses would overrun it.  This is not an acceptable excuse and flies in the face of the road user ‘hierarchy of provision’ stated in Manual for Streets, 3.6.8, and design process in MfS2. 
 
In particular, cyclists coming up the hill from the west will be expected to negotiate the roundabout, turn left towards the station, get into the right hand side of the lane, and cross over moving traffic emerging from the station forecourt. It is unreasonable to think that this can happen safely.  It is almost more incredible to believe that this is meant to be in conformity with Oxfordshire County Council’s commitment to increase cycling levels in the city.  
 
If the station Masterplan goes ahead, this problem will be changed because there will be substantially fewer motor vehicles in front of the existing station and because there should be cycle lanes leading directly into the space in the square designated for cycling  – however, the arrangements you are making will have to last for an extended period.   In addition, it appears from the plans that the creation of the new bus-station in Becket Street will move problems to the south side of the square as the number of large vehicles negotiating the roundabout will increase.  We note that there is no safe cycle provision in Beckett St.  Yet more people will be cyclists here, on completion of the station extension.
 
We note also that there is likely to be a conflict between people rejoining the main westbound carriageway at Becket Street and users of Becket Street, even before the new bus station.  We would expect a high proportion of drivers in Becket Street to be looking at the motor vehicles approaching the roundabout, and not at the cyclists also approaching from the right.
 
Until the new station is built, the Frideswide layout will be unsafe, unacceptable, and will lead to casualties.  You mentioned that you thought the scheme would work fine for the odd cyclist making the manoeuvre – even if that were true, which we dispute, there should be large numbers of cyclists at many times, not odd ones.
 
Pedestrian and Bicycle interaction outside the designated zones.
You acknowledge that the cycle routes do not follow desire lines for cyclists, and that it is very likely that bicycles will be ridden other than in the marked areas.  There will be complaints from some pedestrians, who have been led to believe that there would be shared cycling and pedestrian use only in limited areas.  You mentioned that ‘you were calm’ that the plans would encourage such behaviours.  Cyclox would points out that an infrastructure project which encourages and, to a large extent relies on, being used unlawfully is unsound.
 
We would like to be consulted about the design of the experimental coned-off arrangement at the start of the project.
The plans remain unsafe.  By their failure to enable safe and coherent cycling they remain a deterrent to increasing the attractiveness of the mode.  
 
Regards
 
Dan Levy
For Cyclox