TAKE ACTION: have your say on the Windsor Road / Oxford Road junction

A mother with a child in a bike seat cycle along the Windsor Road passageway

At the end of last year, we discovered that the popular route incorporating Oxford Road and the Windsor Road/Warwick Road passageway was under threat from a plan which would introduce additional conflict for people cycling and walking, along with new 90-degree turns and barriers which would make it difficult for those riding larger cycles to use it. Thanks to your support, the changes were put on hold. Now we need your help again to stop a slightly-revised version of the original plan going ahead at a cost of nearly £300,000 of public funding.

TAKE ACTION!
Please write to Cllr Catherine Rae by Friday 11 March
, calling for a revised design based on the ‘possible layout’ she has circulated in her recent leaflet, with full and easy accessibility for disabled cyclists as well as families using cargo cycles or cycle trailers.
Read on for more information and advice on topics to include.

Why is it important that I email now?

Cllr Rae, who is the local county councillor, has produced and distributed a flyer requesting comments by Friday 11 March. It discusses a ‘proposed layout’ that has minor and insufficient changes to the complicated and inaccessible ‘pants’ junction (as one member dubbed it) that we raised the alarm about back in November.

annotations on new drawing
An annotated version of the new drawing with the changes since November shown in blue, and the problems (old and new) shown in red.
'possible layout' description
‘Possible Layout’ as shown in Cllr Rae’s flyer (with some small clarifications)

However, it also includes a concept drawing of a much simpler and more sensible ‘possible layout’, which effectively keeps things as they are but with some small improvements, including a fix to lack of visibility problem at the driveway of 36 Windsor Road. We recommend pursuing a refined design based on this ‘possible layout’, with full accessibility for disabled cyclists and families with cargo cycles or cycle trailers.

We need you to write in support of a safe, accessible route as soon as you can.

You could share your own experiences of this route, particularly if you believe your access would be affected by the proposed design with additional barriers, and we suggest that you include some of the following topics:

  • You favour a design based on the ‘possible layout’ with full and easy accessibility for disabled cyclists as well as families using cargo cycles or cycle trailers.
  • You are opposed to the county’s current ‘proposed layout’ because according to the safety audit it creates an increased risk of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists due to insufficient cycle provision. (See more information on this below.)
  • You could also note that, in particular, the ‘proposed layout’ creates a new blind corner meaning that cyclists won’t be able to see children walking or cycling around the corner in the passageway.
  • You believe that people walking and cycling should be given higher priority, in line with the new Highway Code and the government’s Gear Change policy. They should be able to use infrastructure that is safe, direct, accessible and comfortable for all, in compliance with Local Transport Note 1/20.
  • You want stronger consideration given to a modal filter that ensures residents have full access to their properties but prevents motorised traffic from using these streets as a rat-run.
The existing narrowing on Windsor Road could be the location for a modal filter (blocking access to rat-running traffic while creating a safer route for people walking and cycling). Full driver access to residents’ properties would be maintained.

We recommend addressing your email in support of a better solution for Windsor Road to Cllr Rae, along with Cllrs Shailer and Beckett who are on the council’s Highways and Transport Committee. We appreciate it if you copy us in as well.

Can you tell me more about the county’s £300,000 proposals?

Last month, the county council quietly rolled out a new drawing for the Windsor Road / Oxford Road junction. The junction is a key link in the designated cycle route that runs along Gilbert Road and Warwick Road, past the Mayfield Primary School, through a passageway and continues via Oxford Road to Huntingdon Road. The new design still contains the seeds of conflict between pedestrians and cyclists, crunching them together at a blind corner in a fenced-off narrow space. The use of such fencing is known to increase driver speeds:

Guard rails have served the purpose of channelling pedestrians in many ways, ostensibly protecting them from traffic but in reality allowing faster vehicle flow.”

Furthermore, the new design fails to respond to the problems raised by the safety audit in the autumn, in particular, the increased risk of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists due to insufficient cycle provision.

Let’s look at the differences between the November version and this new one:

comparison of previous proposal and current proposal
The county’s ‘proposed layout’ versions from November and February. We have highlighted where the county has proposed fences (in dark blue) and where there remains the existing fence (in pale brown). The red arrows show how pedestrians and cyclists would be forced into awkward movements and conflict in both versions of the plans.
  • The dropped kerb on the passageway-side (top) has been widened.
    But it is still in the wrong location, shunted far off to the left side of the drawing, which means cyclists will be forced to enter the roadway at a strange location that will startle drivers on Windsor Road.
  • Another inconsistency is that the corresponding dropped kerb on the Oxford Road side has not been widened. This means that the tactile paving is mismatched on either side, a possible hazard for visually-impaired pedestrians.
  • The corner of the green patch has been rounded, but passing through here on foot or cycle still requires taking a very indirect and staggered route, which is a massive overcomplication of what should be a simple arrangement. Cargo cyclists approaching from opposing directions at the same time are more likely to collide at the pinch point, due to lack of visibility, and children walking or cycling in the passageway will be harder for other cyclists to see as they come around the corner from behind the fence.
  • For some reason the School Zone markings have disappeared. Does this mean they are now going to let car drivers block up the area?
  • More highway-priority markings have been added to Oxford Road. This gives the junction the feeling of a high-speed road, rather than a place for people, especially along Windsor Road.

Remaining problems:

  • The junction design prioritises motor traffic along Windsor Road. All of the design elements push in this direction: additional fencing to trap pedestrians and cyclists, as well as maintaining carriageway width giving motorists more than enough space to drive rapidly, and setting up the priority of the junction so that Windsor Road motorists have a straight shot while everyone else has to wait.
  • This is a design inspired by the car-centric attitudes of the 20th century. It treats pedestrians and cyclists as annoyances to push aside, fence off and inhibit. It creates conflict between pedestrians and cyclists by tangling their paths through a twisty staggered route.  If this ‘proposed layout’ design is used, pedestrians will complain about cyclists, cyclists will complain about pedestrians, and neither will realise that the problem was engineered into existence by bad design to the detriment of both. Meanwhile, drivers will be given all the space they could possibly want and more.
With more fencing installed, pedestrians and cyclists would be forced together through a twisty, staggered route.
  • Cyclists coming from the passageway will be forced to join the carriageway on the wrong side of the junction, which will lead to possible collisions and further complaints from drivers about cyclists ‘appearing out of nowhere’.
  • The county’s design is massively overcomplicated for what should be a simple residential street junction. It is overengineering. Some may claim that this is about ‘safety’ but that is false. This type of design is about convenience for drivers, giving them ‘safety from having to think’ how other people might be trying to cross here. That’s one of the main reasons why fencing was used on streets in the past, and it is also why fencing is now officially discouraged. The DfT Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 6 states that: ‘Where a site is being upgraded or refurbished, the opportunity should be taken to consider if any guardrailing is necessary and remove whatever is redundant. It is entirely inappropriate in a residential neighbourhood.
  • Accessibility is still very poor. It may be technically possible for a disabled cyclist on a recumbent handcycle to squeeze through here, although we have yet to see a tracking diagram for that. However, when this passageway is busy there will be people travelling in both directions and they won’t be able to see each other very well. The pinch point will become a conflict zone. Parents with children in trailers or cargo cycles will be getting caught up at the pinch point with people walking or cycling in the other direction. This is bad design.

What do the safety auditors say?

We requested a copy of the safety audit for the project and it confirmed our fears:

the safety audit recommends that the design is modified to safely accommodate cycle access

The safety auditor has noted the same problem that we have: by removing the dropped kerb and replacing it with verge, the scheme increases the risk of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists. They also note the problem of the existing road clutter, the waste bins and the existing fencing/guardrailing, all of which contribute to increased risk of collisions.

Please email the county council today!

This scheme is not going to deliver ‘traffic calming’ if it goes through as proposed.

It prioritises driving at the expense of walking and cycling.

It does not live up to the county’s own policies nor the government’s policy, Gear Change and LTN 1/20.

It is not a good way to spend nearly £300,000 of public funding.

Please write to the following councillors and let them know how you feel:

We appreciate it if you copy us in too: <contact@camcycle.org.uk>.