20mph & will it make a difference?

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Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/edinburghgreens/

 

 

I had intended to write this blog post a while back, after requesting some data from South Wales Police.  Since then it has been announced that the 20mph speed limit is going to be extended to more areas of Cardiff:

Wales Online link

This follows a trial of a 20 mph speed limit in Cathys & Roath. Now there is lots of data to show that by slowing down cars from 30mph to 20mph reduces the severity of injury- the Guardian covers this in detail here

The problem, however, is that lots of drivers don’t change their behaviour within these 20mph limits. In fact, on 30 mph roads in built-up areas, 45% of car drivers exceed 30 mph and 15% exceed 35 mph. (Source).

So, surely, if we want to reduce injury- we need to enforce these 20mph zones, especially as they are in the most vulnerable locations (near schools, housing estates, parks) where people will be walking. Well, I asked South Wales police using a freedom of information request:

 

Please advise for each year over the past 3, the number of offences recorded where a vehicle has been given a FPN (or other penalty) for speeding within a 20mph zone

Their response?

There have been 0 tickets issued by Police Officers in the last 3 years*

Oh, well, looks like the police aren’t enforcing, what I would say, is the most important speed limit of all. If they aren’t going to police this speed limit- do they bother enforcing any of the others? What does this tell drivers? I’m very concerned that, although I totally support the roll out of more 20mph zones, when we look at the statistics in a few years time showing the same level (or even increase) in injury in these zones, critics will point to 20mph zones making no difference.

 

*there have been 537 tickets issued by speed cameras from Jan 2015 – Aug 2015.

Taff Tail barriers, Caerphilly <> Taffs Well

I originally logged this idea with RCT council back in May by sending the following email:

I am writing to request that the barriers marked in the attached map be removed:
barriers
These barriers are both physical & psychological barriers to use of the Taff Trail by all users. On 3 of the marked 5 barriers it is almost impossible to get a wheelchair through due to the nature of these barriers.

Cardiff Design guide contains the following (I am unsure if there is an RCT document?):

“Access barriers on off-road routes should not be installed unless there is proven need”
I logged a FOI request with South Wales Police to find this “proven need”, using the postcodes covered by the 5 locations that I have marked on the map attached. They have advised that there have been just 5 incidents in 5 years (2010-2014) in these area’s in regards to off road motorbikes/scramblers. Please see attached response 245 15.pdf for detailed information.
Design guide also says the following:”Access barriers should only be installed with the agreement of the Council’s Equalities team.”

Could you advise if this is the case? I would like to see the reasoning behind their agreement- as it seems that these barriers would block numerous disabled cycles. See attached document for some examples of disabled cycles that users would be prevented from using.
Finally, I am unsure if you are aware that another cyclist has started a petition to have all of the barriers you have installed removed here:
https://www.change.org/p/rhondda-cynon-taff-council-remove-all-access-barriers
I didn’t get a reply on this item for months & months- & finally I raised this as a formal complaint. I ended up meeting Ray Edwards (RCT), Jessica White (RCT – Road Safety) & Gwyn Smith (Sustrans)  on 30th July to discuss what could be done. At that meeting it was discussed that at least 1 of the barriers could be removed (closet to Taffs Well) as this served no purpose. The other barriers would be consider after the drainage (See blog post here).
Hope to post an update on this soon!

Forest Farm Road – Update #2 – complete

It’s been a little while since I last wrote about this issue here  & then again here, but I have good news!

IMG_20151013_074335

The council have finally fixed this issue. Although it isn’t tarmac- & rather a loose gravel for now at least it means that you can cycle around the gate without being forced off. More importantly- it means that disabled users can actually use this route! Many thanks to Cardiff Council for (finally) fixing this.

Forest Farm Road – Update!

Please read this blog post first

Finally, after much chasing, have an update from the council on this issue:

 

Thank you for your correspondence dated 19th May 2015 and my receipt dated 14th July

2015 in connection with the above. I have attached a plan for reference of the location of

the barrier where you have requested the surrounding area to be improved.

The barrier gate off Forest Farm Road is for maintenance vehicle access and therefore

the area around the gate has become increasingly muddy and difficult to navigate due to

tree roots, mud and stone. From the recent inspection it has been assessed and included

as part of the programme for 2015/2016 to receive resurfacing treatment during this

financial year.

On behalf of Highways, we apologise for the delayed response to your query and on this

occassion we are pleased to inform you we will be able to improve the surfacing around

the barrier for users.

Map:  Doc1238239

20 years of Sustrans NCN- what’s next?

Sustrans are celebrating 20 years of the National Cycle Network (NCN). Whilst what they have achieved should be celebrated, what is next for Sustrans? Sustrans boost on their website that there is a total of 14,000miles- unfortunately it seems some of this isn’t of the highest standard:

IMG_20150703_093235 IMG_20150703_152857

So, this is my opinion, of what Sustrans should do next:

  • Remove parts of the NCN that do not meet nationally set standards
  • Remove ridiculous barriers that are supposed to prevent motorbikes/motor vehicles. In the picture above, we had to remove our panniers & squeeze through. How would a disabled user manage this- again see above, they didn’t & required our assistance.
  • Add/fix the links in the NCN- don’t assume that roads/pavements can be used, even if they are only 100m long. This can be very off-putting for the average cyclist- or new cyclist that has only just started
  • Stop promoting/supporting councils that put in “useless/dangerous/joke” infrastructure like Cardiff. Like this piece of infrastructure (here), supposed by National Director (here)
  • Put a plan in place to get cities/villages linked by cycle routes- there isn’t even a route between Cardiff <> Newport yet!
  • Listen to users of your network, I reported a number of issues over 2 years ago- although I had a response, nothing has changed since. If there are issues- why not have a section on your website listing these, so users are aware- rather than have them reported multiple times.

Sustrans news article here

 

Forest Farm Road – onto National Cycle Route

After you cycle down Forest Farm road (recently re-surfaced here) you turn off to the right & are faced with this gate:

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Attempt to go around this and you will see that hundreds/thousands have already tried to:

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This is a National Cycle Route. I am lucky to be able bodied, so can maneuver my bike around this gate without too much difficulty (& avoid the mud). Disabled/wheelchair users? They wouldn’t stand a chance. So, Cardiff Council- I ask you to either open this gate, or tarmac the side to enable a full width wheelchair/tricycle/tandem to be able to use this path safely.

 

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Location here and marked below:

forestfarm

 

 

Request for better cycling infrastructure #update

Original post here

The council wrote back to me as follows:

“Thank you for your e-mail of the 15th January in which you have highlighted the need for cycle improvements between Taffs Well and Tongwynlais. I would draw your attention ot the fact that the section of the cycle route half way along Cardiff Road does become the responsibility of Cardiff Council and you would therefore need to contact them directly in order to seek their views on the concerns that you have raised. In response to the points that you have raised related to RCT’s area I can provide the following information.

It is acknowledged that sections of the cycle route between the southern end of Taffs Well Industrial Estate and Tongwynlais are not completely off road and segregated from vehicular traffic. Unfortunately due to the constraints of the highway network in this area it is not possible to construct a completely off road route. Despite this the Council has taken steps to assist cyclists continuing with their journey when on the road by providing a cycle lane and advanced stop lane in advance of the traffic signals. The concerns that you have raised that drivers ignore the ASL are noted, however the Council has no powers of enforcement with regards to moving traffic offences and I would therefore advise you to raise these concerns with the South Wales Police directly. I can inform you that there are plans for this junction to be re-surfaced in the near future, which will include relaying the road markings. This will help to raise driver awareness of the need to keep the area clear for cyclists.

With regards to the concerns that you have raised about the problems that the 90 degree barrier poses it is considered that this feature has been implement to ensure that cyclists reduce their speed to an appropriate level when leaving the road and merging with the shared use footway. However your concerns have been noted and should funding become avaiable in the future this can be investigated.

As you may be aware the Welsh Government recently passed the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013. The Act places a duty on local authorities to map existing cycle facilities, identify missing links and prepare proposals to improve the walking and cycling network. As part of this process there will be a full consultation period which will enable the public to have their say on the existing and future proposals. This will give you the further opportunity to raise the issues you have regarding this route.

I trust this information is of assistance

Jessica White”

 

My reply:

Dear Jessica,

Many thanks for your reply & information contained in your letter. I will write to Cardiff Council to bring the parts of this cycle route that they are responsible for to their attention shortly.

I afraid I cannot agree that the “due to constraints of the highway network in this area it is not possible to construct a completely off road route”.

narrowroad1

Where the “cycle lane” has been provided here leading to the ASL is approx 50cm wide. I don’t think that this fits any specification for a cycle lane I have ever heard of. Sustrans say that “cycle lanes should be a minimum of 1.5m wide, continuous and not abandon cyclists where roads become narrow” (Source) .

narrowroad2

Again, the carriageway here is wide enough to support a cycle lane segrated from traffic- there is a pavement on the right which just ends with no access. The green area could also be used- there is no lack of width here

narrowroad3

Again, on either side there is additional width not currently used by carriageway that could be re-assigned for cycling

TaffsWell3

” it is considered that this feature has been implement to ensure that cyclists reduce their speed to an appropriate level when leaving the road and merging with the shared use footway”

Then why is the layout here putting pedestrians in conflict with cyclists? There is again ample space to accommodate cyclists within the main carriageway (but segregated), instead we are forcing cyclists to share minimal space with pedestrians.

narrowroad4

 

The lead-up to this roundabout is the worse example of road share on this stretch. The shared pavement in this section narrows to approx 1m, & yet there is enough road space for 2 lanes either side (& center refuge as well)- even though the road is not marked in this way. Suggest that this could be reduced to a single lane in either direction & extend the area for cyclists.

Finally- whilst the Active Travel Act 2013 sounds like it could be great for promoting walking/cycling, it is my belief that currently councils are using it to hide behind any improvements to their existing infrastructure. I hope that RCT does not intend to do this- as this is only 1 of many poor pieces of cycle infrastructure within the council area.

Thanks,

 

Poor cycle path #update

If you quickly read this first, this is an update to that post.

I have emailed Cardiff Council & Highways numerous times about this defect. I finally got this reply:

“The site has been visited at least four times by an inspector. Unless we are missing something in an area which has not been looked at, the area has been deemed safe under our intervention  criteria for repair.”

I can only assume that I hadn’t quite been clear enough about what needed to be changed/fixed at this location. From a cycling point of view I thought it was obvious- the sudden change of angle whilst cycling down/up this slope meant a obvious jolt.

Below is a very simple diagram I drew for the council- black shows the current angle of the path- red shows how it could be improved.

SuggestedImprovement

 

Apparently this has been passed onto another member of Cardiff Council- who will be in touch to “advise of any actions”

 

Progress? I hope so.