Archive | September, 2013

Route Review 2: Auckland Drive and Windward Way

27 Sep

This is a review of the new cycling route along Auckland Drive and Windward Way, in North Solihull. This route is part of the North Solihull Cycle Network, which aims to create a ‘connected network of high quality cycle routes for the benefit of residents and local employers in the area‘. While there are a few good points to the route, it still falls short of what is needed for a cycling revolution.

The entirety of this route is made up of shared use pavements. To quote myself on shared use pavements: ‘Shared use pavements are NOT a solution in any but the most lightly traveled areas. They merely cause similar friction to that experienced between cars and cyclists.’

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Although the pavements are of a decent width, the width is not great enough to deal with anything less than extremely low numbers of pedestrians and cyclists. Any cyclists that use this route on a regular basis will often find themselves reduced to walking pace by large numbers of pedestrians (particularly during school rush hours).  And on the flip side of the argument, pedestrians often feel intimidated by being passed by cyclists at any speed above walking pace. Which does little to endear those who ride a bicycle, to the general population. Unfortunately not all sections of the route have this minimum amount of space:
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As you can see, even when you have passed this pointless pinchpoint the path does not widen out to the regular three meters seen throughout the rest of the route. This highlights perfectly the non-standardised provision that cyclists have come to expect from cycling infrastructure across the country.

However the largest design flaw with this new route, is an all too common flaw regarding priority.  This particular area is peppered with dead end roads, many of which are little more than large driveways (see below), and cyclists are forced to give way at every single one of these liberal crossings. This makes for a very time consuming and inefficient ride and can put cyclists at risk from turning and emerging vehicles.

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While at first glance, the route looks like a meaningless loop, there is a connected route at the southern end which leads to Chelmsley Wood center and the route encompasses four schools, a nursery and the Solihull College Woodlands campus. Which I would argue is a pretty ideal location to encourage general cycling.

Although the pavements are for the most part wide and pretty well surfaced. The idea of shared use pavements being anything more than a stop gap measure is flawed.  With priority given to motor cars at every point, this development does nothing but effectively legalise pavement riding and reinforce cycling’s place as the underdog of road planning. In conclusion; this falls far short of ‘high quality’ cycle infrastructure, does very little to encourage cycling as a viable form of transport and is no substitute for high quality fully segregated infrastructure.