Portsmouth Road: Second time round

TL;DR

The revised proposals for the first mini-Holland scheme are now online here. While these aren’t a fully Dutch solution, they are a significant improvement over the initial proposals.

I applaud Kingston’s willingness to listen to feedback from constituents and revise these plans. I do still have some reservations; these are detailed below.

What Was Said

The consultation feedback is available here. There was a significant response, with 701 individual responses and further responses from special interest groups (e.g. disability groups and cycling campaigners). This has been described as a very high level, which is hopefully indicative of latent demand.

Looking at the goals of the scheme, the majority of respondents claimed that they would ride and walk more in the area following the proposals. This is significant; if this scheme doesn’t encourage cycling take-up, it has not met its goals.

Respondents place great importance on the quality of the segregation

The segregated aspects of the proposal gained a high level of support, although concern was justifiably expressed about provision for pedestrians with pushchairs. Interestingly, concern was expressed about provision for mobility scooters; this is somewhat surprising as segregated cycle lanes typically provide a better environment than pavements which are often uneven and clogged with street furniture.

Where the proposals were for a painted separation, concern was expressed by “over 150” respondents. There is a clear desire to have a safe cycling environment away from traffic. This is highlighted by the question below:

Portsmouth Road Consultation Report.pdf
People want Segregated Cycling. Source: Royal Borough of Kingston

There were some concerns raised:

  • Would this impact emergency vehicles? Interestingly, David Hembrow noted that high quality cycle infrastructure provides an ideal route for emergency vehicles to bypass traffic!
How Emergency Vehicles use Cycle Lanes
How Emergency Vehicles use Cycle Lanes
  • Both the Kingston and Richmond cycling campaigns provided comprehensive feedback, calling out the proposals for not meeting the stated goals of the project.
  • Significant amongst the responses was Ravens Ait, complaining that coaches would not have access to their venue. Of course, any coach currently parking for the venue will be sitting on the non-mandatory bike lane, causing inconvenience and danger to cyclists. This highlights why such a scheme is necessary. Perhaps they could come to an agreement with Harts Boatyard to use their large parking area?

As a side-note, there appears to be a misunderstanding of the term “mandatory cycle lane” by some respondents. It’s not mandatory for cyclists to use this; it’s mandatory for motor vehicles to stay out of it!

mandatory cycle
Wrong definition… Source: Royal Borough of Kingston

What’s Good in the Revised Proposals

So, the new proposals. There is much to celebrate here and the council has created a segregated route for the entire length of the journey. This includes bus bypasses, removing the dangerous game of leapfrog that occurs when cyclists and buses are forced into the same space.

bus bypasses
Yay – bus bypasses. Source: Royal Borough of Kingston

The northern end of the scheme is now kerb separated with a bi-directional cycle path, while the southern part now has light segregation. However, the segregation is more than the original white paint, so this is an improvement.

Most pleasing about this is that the council now seems to understand what this is all about. They’ve listened to the survey responses and we can look forward to high levels of engagement and good infrastructure going forward.

What’s Not So Good

There remain some questions. I am personally unconvinced by the separation using armadillos. Unless these are particularly large, they will not discourage the determined van / Range Rover / Ravens Ait coach driver from parking out of the way of motor traffic in the cycle lane. Should this occur, I trust that the council will consider a more robust infrastructure measure, coupled with punitive fines for transgressors.

Of equal concern with the armadillos is that they may not provide subjective safety. It would perhaps be useful for the council to follow up with a survey once these are in place to gauge thoughts on this.

armadillo
Why 4x4s have big wheels. Source: Royal Borough of Kingston

The treatment of side roads is also unclear from the revised proposals. When the scheme is implemented, these need some markings to remind drivers that they must give way to both cyclists and pedestrians when they wish to make a turn.

What should come next

Obviously, there’s a pressing need to connect this route to the town centre and extend it south too. However, the river roads should also be considered. Is there a need to prevent Maple Road being a through road for traffic, in effect making the River Roads access only?

river roads
Phase 2: Reduce through traffic. Source: Google Maps

Such a development drives motor traffic onto the main roads, making side streets more pleasant for residents and safer for cyclists. Yes, it creates a slightly longer for motor traffic, but at the gain of removing rat runs down one’s street. Part of the mini-Holland legacy should be the removal of through traffic from streets for living.

Conclusion

Overall, this is hugely positive for cycling in Kingston. It’s a good first step that should encourage people out of their cars for short journeys. The results will be watched very closely.

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Author: Stuff Rich Writes

Cyclist and Product Manager. I blog about both.

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