space4cycling (2/6) clearer road classification and space clarity

You can discuss this article below. What do you think? Give us your local example and what changes you’d like to see.

This story is part of our space4cycling series.

There are different kind of roads. The fast A167, Great North Road, Scotswood Road and Coast Road are very different to slower neighbourhood streets. We would like to see a much clearer classification system in city road design 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 road designs are required to achieve that. As outlined in space4cycling episode 1 of 6, whatever a road, the space should be fairly allocated to the desired modal share (and to allow for future growth and modal shift).

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. We do not support extensive traffic modelling, as it traditionally does not take into account the desired modal shift. This may well be something the city engineers could bring to the Department for Transport’s attention as a barrier to designing for cycling and walking.

Many of our city’s roads have untidy kerblines, jutting in and out, varying the ‘available’ road width. This is not conducive to cycling. The purpose of the roads must be clear, and so should be its design including car parking.

Along a stretch of on-street car parking where cars can be parked intermittently, cyclists are being forced to ride in the parking bays and may find it difficult to re-enter the carriageway. We therefore prefer short stretches of parking bays to long uninterrupted on-street car parking. We would like to see a different road surface for parking bays to give clearer indication of the road’s edge.

Here is some clear space definition.

This one even got a bike path alongside it:

parking bays

Example of using different road surfaces to clarify space and delineate parking space:

space definition

The transition between vehicular routes and people streets could be done, for example, by using ‘gateway features’ upon entering into neighbourhood / residential areas to clarify the purpose and traffic calming and routing should be used too (see episode 3 of 6, next week). To simply rely on road signage is not enough. For example, we support identifying vehicle through-routes (rat-runs) and closing these down or giving preferred access to residents. It is about giving walking and cycling clear advantage and priority and designing streets for local people and giving them ownership over them. Side roads may benefit from ‘necking-down’ (tightening corner radii) to prevent excessive turning speeds, thereby acting as traffic-calming feature and improving pedestrian and cyclists experience.

We generally support double yellow lines (DYL), particularly when these improve visibility, for example at corners (however would prefer necking-down as that space is then clearly allocated, illegal car parking can not occur and walking and cycling safety improved). The installation of DYLs however does require 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. Maybe the community could be asked to get involved in neighbourhood speed watch initiatives to increase street control and ownership.

So. As a starting point for the discussion on road classification we can take a look at the Ordnance Survey Map 1:50:000 (below), and have a specific look at the coloured roads. All these require dedicated cycle space to be build on them (or declassification and, if prone, cutting through-routes for vehicles). The white roads are neighbourhood streets and either by making a one-way street with cycle contraflow or by using filtered permeability to cut out rat-runs.

All this will help to create a liveable city that puts people at its heart.