Saturday, 19 October 2013

Suggestions for strategic additions to South Tyneside cycle network

Once you start looking South Tyneside like many places has a half decent network of routes available for cycling. There are some large gaps though, and a lot of the routes are incomplete and unsigned. Also several of the advisory routes are unsealed and of poor quality.

The suggestions summarized below are not just a personal wish list or a complete list of all ideas, but based on where I see people riding bikes in the area and where I think strategic links could work
between areas and enable cycling across the borough. I may tackle some of these individually in more detail in future posts.

Separated cycle route along the A194 from Whitemare pool to Tyne Dock

The A194 is one of the main and direct routes out of South Tyneside, and is currently a busy 70mph busy urban dual carriageway with virtually no cycling provision along it's length. This is a popular route for commuters in and out of the borough travelling to and from the industrial estates of South Shields, south Hebburn and Felling, and passes several large housing estates such as Fellgate and Lukes Lane as well which currently have little provision for anything other than motor vehicles. Implementing a quality seperated route along this road would open up and enable cycling along this corridor, and encourage people living and working along this transport corridor to use bicycles more.

"Quietway" from Brockley Whins Metro to Tyne Dock

This would connect from the Metro station at Brockley Whins with the NCN14 route from Tyne Dock into the town centre and also the Westway cycle route. At Brockley Whins it could also connect to routes to the shopping and leisure complex, residential and industrial areas at Boldon Colliery. 
This route exists on the ground but is a mishmash of roads and some footpaths which are often narrow. Sign it up, improve some of road closures, the footpath links and, and you have a route.

Protected cycleways along Dean Road and Stanhope Road

Adding protected cycle lanes along Dean road from Tyne Dock up to Westoe and along Stanhope road would act as main cycling corridors for the dense terraced residential areas both sides of these roads, and would link up to other existing and proposed routes.

Cycle route from Tyne Tunnel along A19 to Brockley Whins Metro

There is a need for a quality north south link along the A19 corridor.
The current advisory cycling route following the A19 from the southern tunnel interchange involves a flight of steps, and a footbridge where cycling is prohibited. There is an alternative route along bumpy narrow shared paths though Primrose following the River Don. This route could again link though the 20mph Brockley Whins estate or along Hedworth lane to Boldon Colliery. It could then link to the segregated route along Abingdon way and then the off-road cycling link from the A184 to the A1290 junction and on to Sunderland and Nissan.

Direct east/west route from coast to Shields ferry

Currently the cycle routes between the river and the coast avoid the Town centre like the plague. A direct east west route along Ocean road, and though the town centre would provide a short flat link. It would also have the bonus of guiding people on bikes though and past the main shopping area and the numerous restaurants etc along Ocean road. I appreciate that there is some potential for conflict concern in the main pedestrianised area. The route could link along Keppel street and Church way, although that is heavily dedicated to busses currently.

2 way cycle route beside shops at the Nook

The Nook is a popular and busy row of local shops along Prince Edward Road, but has busy free car parking both opposite and alongside the shops, along with one way systems designed for car use. I would like to see the parallel parking spaces alongside the shops replaced with a 2 way protected cycle lane. Place cycle parking stands at frequent intervals along the row, and this would foster and encourage the idea of using cycling for shopping from the nearby dense residential areas. Cycle lanes (especially protected) along the feeder roads (Sunderland road, Centenary avenue and Prince Edward road) would help immensely as well.

John Reid Road Cycleway

The John Reid road is a typical 60's (built 1963) urban dual carriageway in South Shields linking the A194 in the west of the town to the A1018 Sunderland road. It's a popular route to the coast, and forms part of the Great north Run. 

Although it has housing  estates along each side, it used to be a 70 mph limit, but has steadily been reduced to 50, then to the now 40 mph limit. That hasn't made it any safer to cycle along. So the schemes to include cycle facilities along the road was welcomed as it is the direct link up to shopping area at the Nook, and to Marsden and the coast.

The last part of the scheme was completed about 9 months ago, which was the section between Perth Avenue in the west to Galsworthy road. This is a shared facility for people on foot and bikes along the eastbound carriageway. Even though the DC then runs for about another 1/2 mile the cycleway ends at the crossing over the bus only exit at Perth Avenue. It should be noted that the light controlled crossing across the DC at this point is pedestrian only and cyclist are expected to dismount. Also cycles are not permitted though the bus only exit at the lights.
Looking North from the end of the cycleway.

The way is largely resurfaced footway with plenty of street furniture

Approaching the Galsworthy rd junction where you
need to use a Toucan to cross as the cycleway crosses
carriageways to continue 
polite sign asking cyclists to give
pedestrians priority on the  rail bridge
Once across, the cycleway continues along the
westbound carriageway

I've clipped the shot above from Gmaps. The JR cycleway runs along the westbound (bottom carriageway). The West Harton cycleway which runs from Boldon lane shops to New Road in Boldon Colliery can be seen running under the old rail bridge. It's a shame that ramps have not been installed to directly connect the 2 cycleways. Connections are left largely to informal desire lines.
The cycleway does dip down to join the separate underpass under the John Reid, but this does not link up to anywhere once north of the DC, and does not formally link to the Harton route either.

Once across Boldon lane, either via the refuge adajcent to the roundabout, or the toucan crossing a few metres down, there is a barriered entry on to the shared path across Temple Park. I really personally detest barriers like these. The LA has not bothered to fence either side, so illegal motorcycles are not prevented from getting onto the path. In my opinion all that is needed is one or two posts which are ideally lockable/removable to allow for maintenance access.  

one of the signed junctions on the
Temple Park section
The barriers at the Temple park path junction
with Boldon lane

The path is quite wide, well lit for night use, and has signed links to the Hospital, Fire station, Leisure centre, and to the housing estates and schools to the south of the park.

Once past the fire station the path starts to run along the side of the road again, where there is a toucan crossing over to the hospital etc. All links are helpfully signed.

Rejoining the path along the road.
More unnecessary barriers though
Roadside path crosses access road into
Temple Park Centre. 

There is another toucan crossing over the road to link to the Westway shared path (pavement) route to Tyne Dock, and also to the on road cycle lanes up King George road to Westoe and onto the Town Centre.

For cycling east to the coast, the route just ends at the large roundabout, so you will need to be able to mix it with traffic from that point.

It is a very useful link from the housing estates in west Shields across to the popular local shopping area at the Nook, and also for people travelling to the schools linked by it, and workplaces such as the Hospital.

Overall it is a good route, but It could be improved by
  • Completion down to and cross the A194 to Low Simonside.
  • Installation of a Toucan crossing at Perth avenue, and allow cycles though the bus exit.
  • Make both sides of the road shared use to eliminate unnecessary crossing of the road
  • Proper formal links to the West Harton cycleway
  • Remove the unnecessary barriers (replace with bollards if desired)

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

8 reasons to be grateful to cyclists

In my last post I asked 7 questions why britain as a whole often seems to hate cyclists and cycling.

Here are 8 reasons then why Britain should be grateful and thank people who ride bikes...

1. People riding bikes reduces traffic congestion

Every person who rides a bike is using a lot less road space than a person in a car, so the traffic jam you  sit in every day is shorter by a few metres for every cyclist that passes you.

2. People riding bikes saves car parking spaces

When you drive to work or the shops, and moan about the struggle to park, look at the bicycles and remember that each one is not using a valuable car parking space

3. People riding bikes saves everyone taxes

Bicycles don't wear out the roads like cars do, or break signs by crashing into them, so roads cost less of your taxes to maintain. New cycle facilities are a lot cheaper to build than new roads as well.

4. People riding bikes reduces the burden on the NHS

People who ride bikes are generally healthier and fitter, so need fewer visits to the Doctors and Hospitals. This saves a lot of money, and frees up time and resources for the people that really need healthcare.

5. People riding bikes reduces air pollution

Bicycles don't emit pollution, so by riding a bike instead of driving, every cyclist makes the world a little less polluted. This in turn reduces climate change, and saves the planet.

5. People riding bikes conserves petrol so you can drive more

Petrol and diesel are both fossil fuels and are finite. By riding bikes people cycling are saving fuel so the people who want to drive will be able to for longer.

6. People riding bikes saves space

Bikes take up a lot less space than cars to park and ride, so save valuable space for people to enjoy

7. People riding bikes are mostly better, calmer people

Most people who ride bikes are better and calmer. On the road they are more observant and careful as they do not have airbags and crumple zones to protect them. this also makes the ones that also drive better drivers. Cycling is also stress relieving, unlike driving which is often stress inducing.

8. People riding bikes keep local shops and businesses going

People riding bikes to shops etc generally shop more locally and thus keep local businesses trading, rather than make one trip to the large out of town shed. Cyclists also make more trips, and cos they spend less on motoring have more money to spend at these shops.