Kingston Go Cycle: Kingston to Tolworth

The third route from Kingston in the Go Cycle Autumn Consultations is from Kingston to Tolworth. This follows a busy route to the A3, passing along two shopping high streets.

route

You’ll notice there’s a massive gap in the middle: more on this later.

As before, here are the links to fill in the consultation. It’s vital that Kingston council receive as many responses as possible.

Link to consultation

Link to PDF  of the route (copied and scribbled on in this post)

Summary of Responses

My responses to the consultation are below. A more detailed view of the proposal follows.

 

In Depth Comments

The scheme continues from Wheatfield Way, past the university on Penrhyn Road.

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This scheme is largely sound, but some areas require thought. The continuous footways we saw across junctions on the Kingston Vale route are missing here. The crossing to the university should also be made available to cyclists as it is likely that this will be heavily used once cycling is made more subjectively safe.

The scheme avoids Surbiton Hill Road, which makes sense. This is a narrow hill with an unsighted bend and a 20mph limit that many drivers view as advisory. However, details on the actual route for cyclists are scant: Surbiton Crescent is presently undergoing a trial closure to through traffic, while Avenue Elmers is a designated “quiet road” yet there are no provisions to ensure the road is quiet. This will be of particular concern at school times; we should be aiming to encourage school children to ride to school rather than retaining the status quo.

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Once onto Ewell Road, the scheme is largely sensible. The cycle route is sensibly positioned behind parking spaces. There isn’t any note of cycle parking provision; this should be investigated.

And again, continuous footways are required. These are vital for pedestrian welfare; it means that people pushing buggies or those in wheelchairs don’t have to negotiate awkwardly placed drop kerbs or constantly cede priority to motorists.

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Further down the road there are two staggered traffic islands. No doubt these will have railings, giving the effect of caging in pedestrians and cyclists. Care should be taken to ensure that cargo bikes and bikes with trailers can easily negotiate these islands – this is not the case with the current island.

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The route ends at Tolworth, with a curious centre cycle lane that is presumably designed to link up with the existing green centre space on Tolworth Broadway.

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There is a gap from the shared crossing over Ewell Road to the single-width lane towards Kingston. A continuous footway over Lenelby Road would resolve this. And yet again, continuous footways are needed throughout the scheme.

Here’s where the route ends up.

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The plans indicate that cycles will be routed down the green island in the middle of the road. The island is presently used as a safe haven by pedestrians attempting to safely use the advisory crossings. It is to be hoped that formal crossings will be put in place to allow cyclists and pedestrians to cross safely.

A far better solution would be to continue the single carriageway cycle lanes on the pavement side of the parking, put in some proper crossings, and remove the centre island. Forcing the traffic closer is known to have a calming effect on speed and would help ensure that the 20mph limit is observed (the photo above suggests that Google’s car wasn’t…). Given that this area was recently renovated, I suspect that won’t be an option.

Conclusion

Again, a reasonable route but this definitely needs more work in places. The gap between Surbiton Road and Ewell Road needs addressing, as does the lack of continuous footways.

Road crossings need particular attention, especially where a two stage crossing is used, to ensure that they’re suitable for all types of cycle as well as less able pedestrians.

Link to consultation

 

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Kingston Go Cycle: Kingston to New Malden

Following yesterday’s post on the Kingston to Kingston Vale route, here’s the second of Kingston’s Autumn Go Cycle consultations.

new-malden-route

Do fill in the consultation: it’s vital that the council receives as many positive responses as possible.

Link to Consultation

Link to PDF of the route (which I’ve again scrawled on here).

Summary of Reponses

My responses to the survey are below. A more detailed examination follows.

 

In Depth Comments

This route is somewhat more straightforward than we’ve seen previously. There’s a junction at one end and a pretty much continuous route to New Malden at the other. More controversially, this route removes a bus lane. Current modelling suggests that this is feasible.

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The route begins with the London Road / Cambridge Road junction from the Kingston Vale scheme and continues down Cambridge Road. As indicated above, a bus stop bypass would be preferable to unloading passengers into the space for the bike route.

Of more concern is the design in box B. The shared footway here is poor, requiring cyclists to cross two light-controlled junctions to join the two-way route. It is surely likely that this nuisance will cause many cyclists to continue along the road and simply attempt to join the cycle route later, negating the point of the infrastructure.

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The Gloucester Road junction above is busy, providing a route to the hospital. The sharper turn and wider footpaths are welcome. As noted above, the cycle lanes must be clear to ensure drivers don’t simply pull out across them.

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The remainder of the route contains some new zebra crossings and several side roads with continuous footpaths. The junction with Elm Road is interesting, containing a shared space running next to the cycle path. This appears to be so that cyclists can easily travel to Westbury Road. But then why not make this a cycle only space, rather than an ambiguous shared space? It appears that there is room here.

The parking spaces would ideally be to the road side of the cycle route; however, that may add unnecessary bends to the route. One hopes that the council monitors whether the cycle route is obstructed by the parking and alterations made if required.

Conclusion

Another decent route from Kingston Council. Compared to the first proposals for Portsmouth Road this is a huge leap forward. Once again, this needs some tweaking but the intent is good.

Please do remember to fill out the consultation. This is open until 17 November.

 

 

Kingston Go Cycle: Kingston to Kingston Vale

Kingston Council have published their latest Go Cycle proposals for consultation. Here’s a look at the first of those, Kingston town centre to Kingston Vale, shown below in green.

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Note the complete absence of routes in North Kingston. This route provides some duplication for routes in Richmond Park but has the advantage of being permanently open.

Link to consultation

Link to PDF of route (substantially scrawled on in this post)

 

 

Summary of responses

My responses to the survey are below. Further comments on the Kingston Council publication follow.

 

In Depth Comments

The route starts at the station, using an existing cycle route that passes under the railway bridge. Right now this becomes a complete bodge at the traffic lights, with the cycle route blocked by the traffic light.

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The route passes two crossings, making this an “always-stop” junction for pedestrians and cyclists. This should be revised; it’s not reasonable to expect those on foot or cycle to always wait while warm, dry, motorists are given priority.

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Once onto Canbury Park Road, this quietway is OK. It’s not suitable as a main route – the lack of protection from traffic is a problem – but as a feeder route for main cycling routes it’s good. It would be useful to see some clarification around how cyclists will be protected at the busy end near Wickes and Big Yellow Storage.

Onto the main route. This starts at the Wheatfield Way end of Old London Road. I criticised this when the detailed plans were published and I’ve since heard that the foot / pedal shared space will be redesigned. However, this won’t involve a reallocation of space from the three lane urban motorway.

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Even without the Shared Space merging, space will be extremely tight. There is barely sufficient space for pedestrians to cross the road already; putting three cycle routes through this seems optimistic.

Nonetheless, this shows a much improved junction from London Road to Old London Road and a proper segregated junction onto the New Malden Route:

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This still requires a two-stage crossing for pedestrians – it would be good if this could be revised.

On to the next section and this part is largely good, with the exception of the railway bridge. This manages to fit a bus lane in, which is being removed. Surely there is therefore room to continue the bike lane here?

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The continued pavements are welcome, especially on the entrance to Asda which presently has no pedestrian phase on the traffic lights.

I’ve also marked that Birkenhead Avenue should be made one-way. This is presently a rat-run, with traffic avoiding the one-way system using this residential road. Making this one-way back into the one-way would avoid this behaviour, with the bonus of removing an always-stop pedestrian light at the other end.

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Continuing past the railway bridge, we reach Manorgate Roundabout. It’s clear that the council have attempted a Dutch style roundabout in the limited space available. On the good side, there is a zebra crossing on every arm of the roundabout – a big improvement on the present situation. On the downside, this incorporates pedal / foot shared space, which is unhelpful for cyclists and dangerous for pedestrians, particularly those with disabilities. I’d be very interested to hear of alternative designs.

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This is a busy roundabout, with many buses and HGVs using it. The likelihood of these blocking at least the cycle crossings, if not the zebra crossings, is extremely high if current behaviour continues.

Progressing up Kingston Hill, the road narrows and we’re forced back into shared space.

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As noted, there needs to be space for cyclists to overtake downhill. In reality, I suspect many road cyclists will continue to use the road to avoid conflict with slower riders.

Note also the need for a pedestrian crossing from the Albert to the downhill bus stop. Without this, there’s a scramble to cross the road or a lengthy detour.

The remainder of the route has a mixture of some shared pedal / foot space where the road narrows excessively and continuous footways over side roads. While not ideal, I can see why the shared space is employed. I’m most concerned about the shared space employed around the shops at Kingston Vale; there must be a better solution available here:

 

Conclusion

Overall, this is far better than earlier Mini-Holland proposals, although operating on different roads to those seen in the summer consultations. It is encouraging that the Shared Space at Wheatfield Way / Old London Road will be reconsidered. With a few tweaks and the question of Manorgate Roundabout notwithstanding, this is a good scheme. Looking forward to spades in the ground.

Facts don’t matter

Working in tech at this present moment is refreshing. For several years there has been a movement towards acknowledging that those closest to a problem are best placed to fix it, and that the role of a manager is best placed to define desirable outcomes within which solutions may be freely found.

There are a number of reasons why this appeals. It removes the much of the political gameplay and focuses on getting results. It means that opinion is viewed as hypothesis that should be tested. And it views a failure as a learning opportunity. Opinions are allowed to change as learning is acquired.

However, this can make the rest of the world difficult. To a techie – and many who aren’t – the facts are clear and available so why don’t people use them? Why do they stick to an argument even when it apparently makes no sense?

Humans and the Cost of Change

There are many reasons for this. In fact, it’s only human to stick hard to a viewpoint once formed. Matthew Syed notes this in his book Black Box Thinking.


Festinger predicted that when the world didn’t end as a cult predicted, the cult’s belief would be strengthened rather than diminished. And this happened. Contrary evidence was presented and yet, far from changing their mind, the cult only reinforced their views.

This is due to the personal cost of change being high. In tech, things change every couple of years and learning is embraced. As things are going to change, you might as well get used to this and create environments which decide winners on the basis of evidence and deliberately make the personal cost of change low. This isn’t the case in the rest of the world.

Changing a viewpoint is expensive. Kate Gray and Chris Young have looked at how to manage change in an organisation: they note that there is no point targetting the extreme opposition simply because of the effort needed to change their mind. Far better to target the floating voters who are not entrenched and therefore will have a lower personal cost of change. (If you’re unfamiliar with their work, take a look here for a discussion on how they went about winning hearts and minds during a Change programme).

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Gray / Young Electoral Politics Model

So the task of winning people is less than we might think: we don’t need to persuade everyone. But how can we change peoples minds at scale when facts seem to be ignored or wilfully discarded?

It is instructive to look at some examples of why people might make decisions.

Brexit

To me the Brexit debate seemed clear as a simple question of risk. On the one side was a known entity, however flawed. On the other was complete uncertainty with no limit on the downside. What was always stated by the EU was that freedom of movement was the price for single market access. The Leave side seemed confident that this would not be the case (as my son often is when he demands ice cream without eating his dinner first) and made several promises that were not backed up by previous voting records of the politicians.

Despite this, they won

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Everyday man doing everyday things

. Some of this was a clear dislike for the government, but much of this support seemed to have been built over the years by Nigel Farage. Love him or loath him, people appear to identify with him. And yet he is a public-school educated multi-millionaire who has little in common with many of those who voted for him. What they appear to have identified with is the persona of Farage: the man who refuses to obey the norms of politics and who stirs the hornets’ nest with controversial statements. He is clearly positioned as different to most politicians and thus stands out.

Cycling Provision

Our towns often suffer from dreadful pollution and the population is increasingly unhealthy. The Netherlands has shown that many short journeys can be made by cycle instead of car if good infrastructure is put in place: this is relatively inexpensive and has been shown to have positive outcomes on public health. It is also notable that motor traffic flows well here, taking advantage of what is almost a permanent end-of-term effect.

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Lycra Lout?

However, discussion around cycling tends not to focus on this, but on a persona of the cyclist as a law-breaking uninsured hooligan, intent on doing everything they can to cause crashes, annoy pedestrians and increase pollution in towns. Small wonder that the person typically making these connections cannot imagine themselves cycling short journeys in everyday clothes in safety away from motor traffic. Essentially, their persona is somebody who travels by car and there is no readily available persona of the family who travel by bike.

Positive Personas

My hypothesis is that in both these situations, people seem to have identified with a persona that affirms their views and reinforces their conclusions. This is sometimes built around a person, but may simply be a concept (the parent who drives a 4×4; the lycra lout cyclist). A factual argument will simply bounce off this persona; indeed, it may even reinforce the strength of opposition.

Remember that at this point we only wish to target the undecided voter. While it’s tremendous fun to troll those who have an aversion to fact, it’s ultimately taking time away from more effective means of gaining support. Instead, would a fact-based story around a persona be more effective? That persona would identify with the concerns of the undecided voter but address them with the fact we’re attempting to portray.

We don’t wish to create another Be Like Bill character that is a patronising figure of fun. But when attempting to win over that vital undecided vote, we cannot simply deliver dry facts. Instead, we could represent the debate with believable personas that directly address the concerns voiced, rationalising the desired behaviour and ostracising the undesirable outcome. For the cycling discussion, give a platform to a disabled person who finds their bike gives them freedom and who needs good infrastructure. For the Remain Brexit discussion, give a voice to those who have concerns about immigration but believe the solution is to work with, rather than against, the EU.

At this stage, this is simply a clumsily-written hypothesis. I’d love to hear whether this has legs and, if so, could be developed further. Or, if this is established practice and I simply need to read more.