Having reviewed the Fountain’s Roundabout and Wheatfield Way proposals yesterday, here’s my take on the remaining two schemes: Kingston Station area and Surbiton to Kingston.
Kingston Station Area
Kingston Station presently has a cycle path to the side of it, which peters out at the shared space plaza. There’s a direct route through the pedestrians into Fife Street, or along Wood Street on either the wide pavement or legally in the parts where this is called Shared Space.
The proposals enhance cycle parking at the station and provide an obvious link to the town centre and Kingston Bridge. And perhaps surprisingly, they’re not awful. There’s still shared space outside the station, which causes conflict and annoyance. And the bridge over Wood Street is ambiguous in provision. But on the whole, these appear to upgrade crappy shared space and offer genuine utility.
- Better cycle provision is welcome
- The shared space plaza outside the station remains unwelcome. It is unclear where cycles may travel and pedestrians frequently block the cycle route across the junction
- The Wheatfield Way segregated space should join the existing cycle route under the railway bridge without being forced into conflict with pedestrians
- The bridge across Wood Street needs to have clearly segregated lanes for two way cycling and pedestrians
- The two way segregated route south of Wood Street is welcome. This route should have priority over Dolphin Street, but this is unclear from the plans (see good examples here).
- The route around John Lewis needs to be looked at. A cycle path along Horse Fair toward the station should be provided through the underpass (to save crossing the road twice). And a safe, segregated route must be provided on the Clarence Street part to remove existing conflict with buses and taxis
- The 20mph zone is unlikely to be observed without significant rework to the road environment such that 20mph appears appropriate to most drivers.
Surbiton to Kingston
This scheme is just weird. A mish-mash of roads serving entirely different proposals where Something Has Decided To Be Done. So let’s look at each point in turn.
This is apparently a Quiet Road, that requires road humps. No explanation is given what a “quiet road” is; however, this is open at both ends to motor traffic and is therefore open as a rat run. Clearly there is some problem with speed as traffic humps are to be installed. With the planned closure of the end of Surbiton Crescent, this could easily become a rat run.
Now, I hate traffic humps as a cyclist. They’re crap. Either full width, which means you have to go over something intended to be felt in a 1700kg git-panzer, or the nasty split hump which forces cyclists in the gutter or middle of the road. Humps are crap on a hybrid, crap on a road bike and I imagine particularly unpleasant on the kind of utility bike we wish to see pootling. In short, they’re a sign of failure. The road either has low volume, low speed, traffic suitable to mix with cyclists. Or fast traffic which requires humps and a separated cycle route.
To top it all, there are some signs on the road showing that bikes might be using the road. That’ll guarantee safety.
This makes some sense. The segregated route is appropriate for the volume of traffic. However, the treatment at the junction with Maple Road is rubbish. Back to sharing with pedestrians. This is not mini-Holland.
The segregated route is also poor at the bus stand where cyclists and pedestrians are again forced to share space – at a point along a straight path where some cyclists may have picked up reasonable speed. Either the bus stand should be relocated, or a small amount of space reallocated from Claremont Gardens. Looking at the plans it seems appropriate to reallocate space from the gardens to the pavement along the length of the cycle path; it is not fair to expect pedestrians to take a circuitous route.
At the far end of Claremont Road, cyclists heading toward the station are guided to cross the road and then…? The cycle provision simply disappears. So the route takes cyclists almost to the station, then leaves them to battle alone past buses and taxis.
St Mark’s Hill
Space constraints mean that there’s only a segregated route up the hill. This is better than nothing and no doubt the cycle markings on the pavement down the hill will reassure cyclists of their safety. The unanswered question, of course, is whether this road is really wide enough for two-way motor traffic?
Again, the provision disappears before the junction. Back on the pavement, then.
As with Princes Road, what on earth is a Quiet Road? At least this doesn’t have hateful humps down it.
My main thoughts from these schemes is wondering who the council are providing provision for? I wouldn’t bother using these schemes on my road bike; the shared space is slow and I don’t like the conflict with pedestrians. And I wouldn’t let my child use any of these schemes either: many of them still involve conflict with traffic at junctions. A good scheme can easily cater for both types of rider – this is exactly what happens in the Netherlands.
However, not one of these consultations provide something that would be acceptable in the Netherlands. Some are better than others: Kingston Station and Wheatfield Way will be viable with some tweaks as will parts of the Surbiton to Kingston route. Fountains Roundabout is simply crap.
Overall, this is an opportunity missed. If this is anything like the Portsmouth Road scheme, the council will now take more time and spend more money to come up with something obvious from the start.
In particular, the Surbiton to Kingston section is wide of the mark. Removal of through traffic is key to making a pleasant place for residents, pedestrians and cyclists. The designated quiet roads should be made impermeable to motor traffic – ie. open at one end only. This is entirely appropriate for roads intended for residents – here the Dutch road classification concept would be most welcome (See section 1 here).
I’ll put up some sample responses over the next few days. Overall, this is a “Must Try Harder” for Kingston Council.