Newmarket Road

The County Council has proposed changes to Newmarket Road near the Park & Ride site. They propose to

  • expand the Park & Ride site to provide 368 extra car parking spaces and some additional cycle parking
  • provide a route through the Park & Ride car park to connect with the proposed Marshall’s Millennium Cycleway recreational route to Stourbridge Common and the city centre
  • widen Newmarket Road between the Airport Way roundabout and the Park & Ride site entrance, to provide a dedicated lane for cars intending to turn right into the Park & Ride site
  • remove the left-turn-only lane on the eastbound approach to the Park & Ride site entrance
  • build a new Toucan (pedestrian and cycle) crossing across Newmarket Road just west of the Park & Ride site entrance
  • extend the existing westbound bus and cycle lane that commences to the west of the Park & Ride site to the Marshall’s car showroom entrance. There will be traffic signals and a separate phase for buses and cycles.
  • improve the existing shared-use cycle/pedestrian paths on both sides of Newmarket Road between the Park & Ride site entrance and the pedestrian crossing west of Marshall’s showroom

Impact on cyclists

These changes are all intended to make life easier for motorists using the Park & Ride site. The impact on cyclists will be mixed:

The ‘improved’ cycle/pedestrian paths will inevitably be constructed to the usual poor standard.

  • Squeezing an extra lane into a long section of Newmarket Road will result in narrow lane widths and several new pinch points.
  • The new signals at the Marshall’s entrance will mean long waits for westbound cyclists, since the bus and cycle lane will typically show a red light whilst cars whiz by in their own lane – much as happens at present at the nearby Ditton Lane junction.
  • The ‘improved’ cycle/pedestrian paths will inevitably be constructed to the usual poor standard. It looks as if raised crossings will be provided across several side roads, but cyclists will not have priority. At the Shell garage, there will not even be raised crossings, and cyclists will have to fend for themselves as they cross its wide entrance and exit.

We have told the County Council that the eastbound cycle path will be of little value to cyclists. There are just too many busy side roads and entrances for cyclists to cross – especially at Marshall’s and at the Shell garage. This is why hardly any cyclists use the existing shared-use pavement, despite the main carriageway being narrow and busy.

We have asked the County Council to give cyclists using the eastbound cycle path the same priority over side roads and entrances that they would have had if they remained on the main carriageway. Cycle tracks in Holland and Denmark (see the article in this issue) always have this priority. We have sent the council a photograph of a typical Danish cycle track to give an idea of what we have in mind.

The westbound cycle path will, on the other hand, be much more useful. It allows cyclists to avoid two sets of traffic signals and the side roads are not as busy.

Nigel Deakin