First rule, if in any doubt, ask! Just contact us
Please note that this page is a live document. It is aimed at council engineers and anyone designing cycle infrastructure in and around Newcastle, Tyne and Wear. It is our experience with council officers that has helped us put together this webpage. Watch out for policies that will result from this informal page. Our policies, once developed and agreed, will be listed here.
Principally speaking, we are in agreement with UK design guidance CID LTN 2/08 and would like design engineers and planners to use it to a much better effect. We have noticed however that it can be misinterpreted and misunderstood, so we make an attempt at outlining some principles below. We also suggest that traffic and highway engineers and transport planners familiarise themselves with the Dutch CROW manual for ideas and inspiration. In addition it is essential that engineers draw up a list of items that are currently barriers to designing inclusively for cycling – and discuss those with the Department for Transport to allow exceptions and trials.
Cycle–friendly infrastructure means infrastructure that is user–friendly for people on bikes by meeting their needs. We also ask council to take another look at their approach to road safety and making it long-term sustainable, and not just short-term preventative (ie stopping people to walk or cycle and possibly default back to using the car). For our city this means re-balancing the road environment from car traffic towards bicycle traffic, using these key cycleway design principles
• direct / convenient
• continuous / connected
• safe / comfortable
• easy to use / attractive
• one network for all types of cycling (speed, age and gender)
If in any doubt, ask! Contact us
1. ROADSPACE REALLOCATION AWAY FROM THE CAR
Re-purposing road space towards more benign forms of transport is Tyne & Wear LTP3 stated objective, and rightly so. Because Newcastle’s bike modal share percentages will not get into double-figures without providing space for cycling. We hear that city bike share is on the up, which would make it timely, and somewhat urgent, to provide safe conditions. It is the direct, continuous, safe and attractive cycling infrastructure that makes cycling into a real choice and sensible transport alternative – ultimately “getting people out of their cars” – a policy Newcastle has had for decades. In alignment with city policy we therefore ask for space for cycling to be set aside from the carriageway – not the pavement. The prevailing road environment (speed, volume, vehicle mix) determines the necessary degree of protection required between car and bike users.
In support of 1: Dublin city removed a row of parking to create a two-way cycleway on Herbert Place:
2. CLEARER ROAD AND SPACE CLASSIFICATION
We would like to see a clearer classification system for city roads so no-one is in doubt what these are for when you use them. Whether roads are for “expedient flow of vehicle traffic” or whether the purpose is for people to go about their local business, better visual clues and designs are required – also the space should be fairly allocated to the desired modal share to allow for future growth. The transition between vehicular routes and people streets could be done, for example, by using ‘gateway features’ upon entering into neighborhood / residential areas to clarify the purpose. Traffic calming and routing should be used too (see Principle 3, below). Signs are not enough. For example, we support identifying rat-runs and through-routes and closing these down or limiting access to non-residents. It is about giving walking and cycling a clear advantage, and priority.
In support of 2: clear space definition:
3. TRAFFIC CALMING AND ROUTING MEASURES
We prefer a strategic approach to transport using community-wide measures like filtered permeability. This requires a city-wide holistic look to supersede the current ‘spot improvement’ process. If traffic calming is used it should be designed in a bike-inclusive way, for example using sinusoidal road humps, and pinchpoints should by first default have a cycle bypass etc. Sometimes measures may also feel counter-intuitive to the engineering designer at first: under certain conditions removal of the road centre line and installation of advisory cycle lanes can help re-balance the road environment. We ask the engineers to keep an open mind and for them to question their usual works practices.
In support of 2 and 3: Groningen, Newcastle’s twinned town, zoning (go to 2:10):
4. SAFE AND CONVENIENT CROSSINGS
Especially on roads with purpose “expedient flow of vehicle traffic” good crossing designs and layouts are of particular importance for the obvious reasons of safety. There are many ways safe and convenient crossings can be achieved, from using elephant footprints to guide bike users across the often cast areas of tarmac, to using special light phasing (permanent green arrow, cycle head-start, cycle-walk phase, scramble phase). We do not favour multiple-stage crossings. We ask highway engineers to have an open mind and apply more often to the Department for Transport for exceptions to discuss and test special designs.
In support of 4: protected junction designs.
More on Protected Intersections
5. SPEED REDUCTION
We generally support any speed reduction as it reduces road risk, damage and injury. We acknowledge Newcastle is a 20mph city, but this conversion is far from complete. Overall we’d like to see an even more pragmatic approach to speed zoning (blanket 20mph) with design-led solutions (not just signs). Council may like to think whether communities could get involved through speed watch initiatives or similar. Rat-runs should be identified and prevented.
6. INFORMATION CAMPAIGNS
We only support information and ‘behavioural change’ promotion campaigns if these are coupled with physical infrastructure improvements (points 1 to 5 listed above). The reason for this decision is that we believe that our transport system is at ‘breaking point’ and want to see safe infrastructure providing safe conditions before promoting a specific route. We are therefore skeptical of the benefits of adult cycle training without plans for safe and sensible cycleways. It is paramount that children learn to ride a bike – yet we think road conditions, environment and layouts must change drastically on many routes to school so that children together with their parents can enjoy the commute to school. We do support creating a city cycling culture and strong advocacy for a liveable, green and healthy city.
Questions and clarifications
This section is based on our experience with the council’s traffic order consultation system since November 2011. To date, November 2013, we have replied to over forty orders, and we can summarise our requests as follows. We would like to see improved communication including more sharing of information prior to consultation and effective community involvement at all stages as well as better data capture to provide a more robust basis for decision-making. Moreover, we feel that the reasons for a traffic order should be stated more clearly than at present. On the technical side we would like to see planners and engineers adopting cycle-friendly design principles leading to safer road layouts by design.
A) ROAD ENVIRONMENT / DATA
The road environment (traffic volume and prevailing speeds, mix of vehicles) is a crucial factor in making decisions about cycle safety. We need to see the data on traffic speed and volume in order to make informed technical comments on any proposal. Please note that according to guidelines dedicated cycle space is very likely to be necessary on any urban 30mph road. We would also like road safety audit / review documentation commissioned and shared more readily as is currently the case.
B) REASON FOR TRAFFIC ORDER
It would be useful to know the origin of a traffic order. What problems are you trying to solve? Who requested you to look at this? How did you reach your proposed solution? What are the policies that enable you to propose these changes? To avoid spot-improvements to happen in isolation, is there a holistic city-wide plan?
C) SPECIAL / PRIORITY ROUTES
It is vital to provide a safe cycling environment and a calm public realm on routes to schools and other special routes such as the Strategic Cycle Routes, as a start. A well-designed school route reassures parents that alternative travel choices such as walking and cycling are viable options. It ensures that the council is seen to prioritise walking and cycling, not hinder it (like many so-called ‘road safety’ initiatives do). In particular, have viable cycle routes – and necessary physical improvements – been worked out for the whole school catchment as part of the travel plan effort?
We would like to make you aware that the new road design can act as a pinchpoint, which is ‘hazardous’ to cycling (Cycle Infrastructure Design, LTN2/08). Cycle bypasses should always be provided to eliminate conflicts between drivers and cyclists at existing or future pinchpoints created by traffic islands, built-outs, parking bays or any other constricting features, irrespective of any speed limit. Sporadically parked cars can act as pinchpoints. See E, below. We also support removal of central islands to convert these to zebra crossing.
Example. Excerpt from LTN2/08:
E) LONG STRETCHES OF UNBROKEN ON-STREET CAR PARKING
Along a stretch of road where cars have been parked intermittently cyclists may be forced to ride in the parking bays and find it difficult to re-enter the carriageway.
F) NECKING DOWN
Side road(s) may benefit from ‘necking-down’ (tightening corner radii) to prevent excessive turning speeds, improve pedestrian and cyclists experience by acting as traffic-calming feature.
Example showing reducing the corner radii (necking-down). This example also includes cycle infrastructure (on-carriageway cycle lane) and a zebra crossing for pedestrians, and should be combined with a speed table.
G) CAR PARKING RESTRICTIONS
We generally support double yellow lines (DYL), particularly when these improve visibility, for example at corners. However the installation of DYLs requires some form of effective enforcement (by police or the local authority) to discourage inconsiderate and dangerous parking. It is often unclear who will carry out that enforcement. Will communities be asked to get involved? (Many corner DYLs in residential areas are too short for effective visibility splays hence legitimising dangerous corner parking – we do not support this approach. Building out corners, necking-down and breaking up car parking can be good solutions (more above). However, beware of creating pinch points. Providing a clear and tidy ‘carriage line’ is the key, see below.)
H) CLEARER CARRIAGEWAY DEFINITION
Many of our city’s roads have untidy kerblines, jutting in and out, varying the road width. This is not conducive to cycling. Specially on roads with a 30mph speed limit, we ask engineers to design outside-in starting at providing for pedestrians, then cycling space, then look at the space that is left. We do not support the “free flow of vehicular traffic” model. This may well be something the engineers should bring up with the Department for Transport as a barrier to designing for cycling and walking. We do not support extensive traffic modelling, as it traditionally does not take into account the desired modal shift.
Example. Using different surfaces to clarify space
I) CONTRAFLOW CYCLING
This provides mode-filtered permeability. We want one-way streets to be open to cycling unless there is a sensible alternative route. Please note that one option for roadspace reallocation is turning a street into a one-way system with a cycle contraflow.
J) ADVANCED STOP LINES
Whilst better road design would largely remove the necessity for ASLs, in the meantime ASLs (or: cycle reservoirs, or bike boxes at traffic lights) are often not deep enough to be useful to cyclists. We are of the understanding that Newcastle City Council bases their cycle design on the DfT code Cycle Infrastructure Design which asks for an ASL’s length between 4 and 5 metres. If ASLs are currently not present please consider their installation (if no other infrastructure is planned). ASLs are only useful coupled with enforcement. The Cycling Embassy describes more about ASLs and their use and problems here
K) ROAD CLOSURES
We support temporary road closures to motorised traffic for festivals and community activities. We would also support any consultation of making this permanent because it gives space back to people by improving and calming the public realm, and creates liveable residential areas and thriving retail environments.
L) BIKE FRIENDLY TRAFFIC LIGHTS
Using head-starts, countdowns, and linking traffic lights at 12 mph speed.
M) BIKES AND BUSES
We do not think that shared bus lanes, whilst offering some protection, will attract new people to the prospect of cycling. Here are the basic design principles we’d like to see applied:
In general it is important to provide space clarity and route continuity to users and address user needs through design, and particularly so at bus stops. It is vital that pedestrians are given sufficient space to wait, board and alight the bus and that cycle continuity is kept. Mixed space use of pedestrian and cyclists near bus stops is not advisable. And equally, mixing cycle traffic with bus traffic is not a good solution and will not get new people cycling which should be the ultimate aim of every design.
If the above is not deemed possible further discussion must be held and parameters considered (bus patronage and service frequency, road traffic mix, speed and volume) so that a safe compromise can be found. We currently await results on Camden’s Royal College Street where the cycleway runs between passengers and the bus. Please note that we consider CID document inadequate for good design of bus stops. Only Fig 6.4 on page 34 showing a cycle bypass with pedestrian island is an acceptable example and mirrors recent designs build and tested in London.
N) DURING CONSTRUCTION
Safe cycle access / routes should be retained throughout construction.
If in any doubt, ask! Contact us