Our response to the latest consultation for the changes to Great North Road between Broadway and Brunton Lane.
We generally support the proposal for the Great North Road. We do have some comments about the scheme, that we urge the council to consider before the scheme is finalised.
When the scheme was presented at the engagement stage, the drawing showed where the cycleway would be at least 2m wide. The drawings now state a minimum of 1.5m. For single direction cycleways a clear width of 2m is recommended, with at least 2.5m clear width for busier routes, to allow for safe overtaking and to allow people to ride side by side (such as a parent and child, a non-standard wider cycle, box bike or trike, or simply a trailer). 1.5m is the minimum clear width that must be provided. On the drawings, it should be clear which sections of the route meet the different recommended clear widths, rather than use a single style as has been done for all on these drawings. Stating the minimum of 1.5m gives the impression that the council is only trying to provide the absolute minimum width for the cycleways rather than a comfortable and practical width of the cycleways. Providing an obvious difference in the markings between the widths being planned will also make it easier for us to spot where compromises have been made and allow us to understand why this has happened and if possible provide possible alternatives. Short sections of minimum width may be acceptable, perhaps at bus stops, but should generally be avoided in design.
Crossing Places To Bridge Community Severance
There are still large sections along this route where it is not possible to safely cross to the other side of the Great North Road. This does limit how accessible certain areas along this route are, and could lead to people using the cycle infrastructure in unpredictable ways. The provision of two way sections does improve this in the areas where this has been done. For example the southern section for over 600 metres has no crossing points for cyclists or people who cannot use the bridge by the Three Mile Inn. The Great North Road need many more crossing points that let pedestrians and cyclists safely cross the road. Now is the right time to plan those additional and much needed cross-connections.
We understand the council’s desire to take a more strategic view on speed limits along the entire length of the Great North Road and that this has led to the removal of the speed limit changes for this scheme, but it is a shame the opportunity was not taken to reduce the speed limit to a speed that is more suitable for an urban area ahead of the strategic review. This will impact on the liveability of the area which could be further improved by lowering speeds. and we do not hesitate to point out that with higher speeds more protection must be afforded to the cycleways.
Consistent design concept
Along a road with vehicles travelling at 30mph, a physical buffer must be provided between the carriageway and cycleway so that the cycleway is and feels comfortable for people of all ages and abilities. It is good to see that this has been provided in places, though a shame in other areas where protection has not been included, as would be in accordance with the speed, volume and vehicle mix encountered on the Great North Road. Consistency and clarity in the design approach is needed to make the cycleway attractive, universally usable and convenient.
It is not clear how the cycleway will be separated from the footway which ultimately must to provide space clarity for well-structured walk/cycle interaction. While these plans are not detailed, it would be useful to know at this point what is planned, so that we could provide feedback, before more time is spent on detailed work.
The road humps/speed cushions/raised tables that are provided should be built to ensure that drivers slow down sufficiently when travelling over them, to significantly lower the risk they pose to pedestrians and cyclists.