Monday, 21 August 2017

Wick Road: Round Two

Just over two years ago Hackney Council revealed plans to turn Wick Road into a two way road, as part of their commitment to remove the Victoria Park one way system. Wick Road is wide, with wide pavements and has only a handful of side roads and shops along it. However, there were no plans in the original consultation to introduce protected space for cycling, even though the road is already used by a high number of buses, lorries and other motor vehicles and making it two way would only increase that number. There was even a plan to remove the well used bidirectional cycle track located on the north side of the road and force parents and children who currently use it onto the road instead! Since the consultation closed there has been no mention of this scheme from the council and no consultation report was produced, with just the odd hint that the scheme had been shelved from those close to key people within Hackney Council. Earlier this year Phillip Glanville, the Mayor of Hackney, confirmed that new plans for Wick Road were on the way with "clear space for cycling" and so now Hackney Council are consulting on Wick Road again.

Firstly I want to say how pleased I am to see that Hackney Council listened to the hundreds of local residents who responded to the original consultation to express that these plans were just not good enough. Not only have the council revealed that they now plan for cycle tracks to be built on both sides of the road, they will also retain the popular bidirectional track which forms part of London Cycle Network 8, providing a popular cut through from Homerton towards Victoria Park and Well Street Common. They've also proposed to remove all of the car parking from this road, apart from some footway parking which is to be retained. After a number of poor street schemes in recent years it is really exciting to see these plans from the council and to think that later this year they could be reconstructing Wick Road with cycle tracks, allowing anyone, no matter what their age or ability, to cycle along here.

Whilst the main consultation page promises "cycle tracks" here, the PDF plan of works linked to from there describes them as "proposed footway cycle lanes". It is important not to think of this as a scheme where people are "cycling on the pavement" and so the Council need to make clear throughout that these are cycle tracks, not pavement cycle lanes.

A cycle track, located between a pavement and a roadway. They are three different things. 
There were also no details of how wide the cycle tracks were planned to be until the council confirmed on twitter that they would be 1.5 metres wide on both sides of the road. This information was then added on to this page, along with some additional information that was not contained in the consultation. Thankfully this confirmed that the footway and cycle track would be distinct and separated from each other.

The dedicated cycle paths on both sides of Wick Road be segregated from the pedestrian footway with some form of infrastructure or delineation in place.  The footway and cycle way could be separated by:
  • a raised delineator
  • a stepped kerb
  • a painted white line.
The Council is considering the option that would be the most effective for pedestrians, particularly for the benefit of blind and partially sighted people.

A raised delineator, along CS2 in Whitechapel

A stepped kerb, along St Pancras Road in Camden (picture via Mark Treasure)

a painted cycle lane, via the Alternative department for transport

Great news that the Council are considering the needs of pedestrians and recognise the need to reduce the risk of conflict between those walking and cycling.

A "cycle track" recently built in Chatsworth Road in Hackney. Difficult to distinguish from the pavement. I very much hope that anything like this isn't built on Wick Road

If a stepped kerb is to be introduced (and this would be my preferred option) than low angled kerbs should be used to maximise the width of the cycle track, allowing cyclists to travel closer to them without the risk of catching their pedals on the kerb. It is important to also consider what is effective for cyclists, not just pedestrians.

The cycle track should be a contrasting colour, ideally using red asphalt, to ensure it is visually different from the pavement and roadway. A good surface quality of the cycle track is also important, both for the comfort and safety of people cycling. A smooth, machine laid surface is essential; the consultation states that the road will also be resurfaced as part of this scheme so this should be possible

A recently built cycle track in Barking Riverside, about six miles from Wick Road, as smooth as any cycle track I have cycled on in the Netherlands. We can do it! 

Disappointing though to read the cycle tracks are planned to be 1.5 metres all the way along the road. Whilst this may be necessary in some areas due to space constraints, the pavements on Wick Road are very wide in places and therefore the tracks should be a minimum of 2 metres wherever this is possible

CS2 in Stratford, where it narrows from 2 metres down to 1.5 metres, impossible to ride side by side and difficult for cargo bikes to navigate, especially with those high, straight kerbs
When cycle tracks are 2 metres wide, with forgiving kerbs, it's possible for people to ride side by side and to overtake slower cyclists.

No detailed drawings or plans for the tracks are included as part of the consultation documents and this is the only visualisation of the scheme:

Quite a cute kiddie picture but lets hope we don't end up with a road that wide, buses careering into cyclists and trees in the cycle track like we have on the CS1 cycle track in Shoreditch!

The westbound cycle track begins just before the bus stop and directs people cycling round the back of it, but then pauses as it becomes a "proposed shared space"

Cut that vegetation back and there is actually a fair bit of space between the bus stop and the wall, I got my tape measure out and measured it as just over 4 metres, enough room for both a pavement and a cycle track to create a floating bus stop

Whilst it is essential that cycles and buses are kept apart on Wick Road I think shared space areas behind the bus stops is a poor compromise and floating bus stops, which work very well on CS2 nearby, should be in place here. Once past the bus stop the cycle track resumes and travels alongside the road, between the trees and the roadway, with the pavement on the other side of the trees

I've measured the space between the trees and the roadway and it is 3 metres wide. Therefore the cycle track here could be 2 metres wide with a 0.5m buffer either side of it

We then come to a major issue with this scheme. As we approach the Doctors' surgery the pavement narrows considerably and so the plan here is for the narrow pavement to become shared space

This is obviously far from ideal, mixing people cycling and walking in such a narrow space. Is it not possible to remove the grass so the cycle track continues past the Doctors surgery? Surely the NHS would want more people cycling to their appointments? Once past the surgery we come to one of the few side roads that lead off Wick Road; Hedger's Grove. The pavement remains shared space either side of this junction, with the road cutting through the pavement with a"raised junction table". This is where the carriageway on both Wick Road and Hedger's Grove is planned to be raised up to pavement level

Some street schemes from Hackney Council that have been built recently include raised tables at junctions, as proposed here, but the issue with this design is that it continues to appear as though motor traffic turning into or out of the side road have priority over people walking (or cycling on the shared pavement, in this case) and it is they who must give way. I'm also not convinced they work that well at slowing traffic down.

A "raised junction table" completed this year by Hackney Council on Millfields Road in Lower Clapton 
A much better solution is for the pavement and cycle track to continue past the side road, making it clear that pedestrians and cyclists have priority over turning traffic

The current Wick Road / Hedger's Grove junction
Could something like this example from Amsterdam be constructed here instead?

This is a much better solution as the tight corners and impression that people walking and cycling have priority really do slow down traffic coming into or out of the side road. As I stood here last week quite a few vehicles did a left turn into Hedger's Grove, including a lorry at one point, so perhaps filtering of roads in the cell between Wick Road, Cassland Road and Kenton Road should also be proposed to ensure all the roads here are access only for residents with no through traffic? This could also be achieved by opposing one way systems, such as by making Hedger's Grove one way here for motor traffic but two way for people walking and cycling, further reducing the risk of any collisions at this junction.

Continuous footway and cycle track past a residential road which in no entry for motor vehicles but two way for bikes
The cycle track resumes again after Hedgers' Grove but this is the section where the footway parking remains and so the pavement and cycle track will both run behind the trees. I measured this section and it is about 4 metres wide from wall to tree so there is space for 2m cycle track and 2m footway, which should be adequate. 

This elderly gentleman is cycling away from the Doctors Surgery, the correct way but still using the footpath rather than the road, as many people do already on Wick Road. 
Could something like this be achieved along this section of the road (although with a slightly reduced footway?) This example is from the Netherlands but I have flipped the image horizontally so it looks like a British street
This layout continues for the next 200m or so, including behind the bus stop, giving us our only floating bus stop in the proposed scheme, so I'm a little unsure of why the cycle track will continue behind this bus stop but not behind any of the others

Plenty of space here for a cycle track where the girl is cycling, along with a repaved pavement alongside
I've measured the distance between the trees and the wall, it is around 4.5 metres wide. As there are no obstructions along this 200m section both the cycle track and pavement could remain straight and direct

As we approach the only set of traffic lights, the cycle track veers to the left towards the wall and then the entire pavement becomes shared space at the Barnabas Road T junction

An ASL remains on the road at the traffic lights but there should be no ASL here. Instead the cycle track should simply continue and seamlessly connect to the existing bidirectional cycle track, which is to remain

A single direction cycle track in Breda, the Netherlands, becomes two way. This is exactly the type of treatment that is needed at Barnabas Road junction. (Again, I've flipped the image horizontally so you can visualise how it would work in a UK format)

This would allow people cycling in either direction to cross into Barnabas Road from the cycle track (meaning no need for the ASL) as well as a more formal crossing for people cycling from Barnabas Road onto Wick Road eastbound or from Wick Road westbound into Barnabas Road, without the risk of getting to an ASL blocked by a lorry

A mother and her child cross from Barnabas Road onto Wick Road, with her other child on a scooter using the Pedestrian crossing slightly further south. There could be a formal cycle crossing directly in front of Barnabas Road, leading onto he dropped kerb opposite
The pavement either side of Bradstock Road is planned to be shared space with Bradstock Road cutting through the footway. As with Hedger's Grove a much better arrangement is for a continuous footway and cycle track past here, as it become single direction again.

Car parking is to be removed west of this junction, it is difficult to tell from the document but it does look like the footway and cycle track area is to be widened slightly. The current space between the tree and the beginning of the parking is 3.5 metres.

The cycle track is planned to run along the edge of the paved area but there should be enough room for a small buffer of 0.5m or so between the edge and the carriageway. The consultation states that the footways will all be upgraded as well which is good to see, they are in a terrible state along this section
Heading past an estate road it appears as though the footway and cycle track continue but with kerbs cutting into them

This estate roads leads to a locked gate with half a dozen garages and a few car parking spaces behind. Rarely to be used, the cycle track and footway should be continuous with no kerbs running through them

Access into a public car park over the footway and cycle track in Eindhoven. As a cyclist or pedestrian you can hardly notice it is even there.

Towards the end of Wick Road the proposal is for more shared space at the bus stop, easily the space here for a cycle track running behind a floating bus stop, if the shelter is moved slightly closer to the road

Followed by another estate road that only leads to six garages, one of which has been converted to a cycle store. At the end of the road the cycle track veers back to the road to become a cycle lane leading into an ASL. In my view the cycle track should continue to the end and then cross over Kenton Road alongside the pedestrian crossing. If contraflow cycling could be allowed on Well Street then the options could be to continue into Well Street or turn right onto Morning Lane, without having to worry about left turning motor traffic, with no need for an ASL.

The pedestrian refuge island is to be removed to make way for a lane of eastbound traffic entering Wick Road once it returns to two way. The lane that is currently for traffic turning right into Morning Lane is to be replaced by an extended pavement

I really don't understand the reason behind this at all. The pavement is already wide enough and there is a large grassed area behind it. Why not use some of this space to create a left turning cycle track from Morning Lane into Wick Road that bypasses the traffic lights?

People cycling are expected to cycle up the inside of buses and lorries to reach an ASL at the traffic lights, risking their life to do so, whilst an extended pavement is built to the left. 
Once Wick Road becomes two way it is very quickly going to become a very popular route for lorries travelling from Hackney Central, Dalston and beyond to quickly reach the A12. Mixing cycles and left turning lorries at these traffic lights could result in fatalities. As this junction is being completely remodelled there really is no excuse not to have a cycle bypass.

A cycle bypass of the traffic lights at the other end of Wick Road, removed by Hackney Council in 2012.
Travelling East from this end of Wick Road there is just a cycle symbol on the road past Flanders Way. If a cycle bypass were to be built at the traffic lights then it might be possible to run a cycle track past Flanders Way, set back from the carriageway. Alternatively perhaps Flanders Way could be closed at Wick Road as it can still be accessed from Morning Lane nearby? This would certainly make the road safer for local children travelling to Berger Primary school and I also worry that once Wick Road turns two way Flanders Way may be used as a shortcut from Morning Lane to Wick Road, by motor traffic bypassing the traffic lights.

The cycle track begins shortly after Flanders Way located where the car parking currently is

I've measured the space from the tree to the edge of the car parking and it is 4 metres, easily the space for a cycle track of between 2 and 3 metres with a buffer either side
the plan is for more shared space at a bus stop to be located here:

Where the car parking is will become an extended shared space footway. There is ample room for a floating bus stop, cycle track and pavement

The cycle track will then continue for around the next 120m, between the tree and the edge of the removed car parking:

it then ends opposite Bradstock Road to become a painted cycle lane where the parking currently is (but will be removed)

I've seen cars parked on the double yellow lines numerous times so no reason why they would not do so in the cycle lane also. The cycle track should continue all the way up to the Barnabas Road junction in the distance. A small gap in the kerb can be created for anyone turning right from the cycle track into Bradstock Road 
At the Barnabas Road junction the cycle lane ends and becomes an ASL.

No ASL is needed here as cars will be prohibited from turning left so the cycle track should just continue past here, adjacent to the pedestrian crossing
A painted cycle lane will continue past the betting shop, pub and gated entrance leading to a small number of garages and car parking spaces

The cycle lane will be roughly where that van is parked on double yellow lines. A cycle track and continuous footway past the garages would be a much better treatment
A cycle track returns (for a very short distance) until the second eastbound bus stop, which will be located here, with the bus stopping where the car parking currently is and the pavement becoming shared space:

Could some of the grassed area be cut back to create a floating bus stop, cycle track and footway?
The cycle track resumes after the bus stop, to run where the car parking currently is, between the footway and the carriageway

Perhaps a good opportunity to spruce up the grassed area with additional plants and perhaps some cycle parking?

Some cycle parking I saw recently on a similar grassed area in Veenendaal, the Netherlands

The cycle track continues for the next 115m or so until it briefly becomes a painted cycle lane as it passes a bin store and the entrance to St Dominic's Primary School

Again I think a continuous cycle track and footway should be built here, especially as the consultation states that they want Wick Road to be "More pleasant for people to walk and cycle, including pupils, parents and teachers at St Dominic’s Primary School". 

A recently built continuous footway past a bin store on Pitfield Street, constructed as part of cycle superhighway 1. Can similar treatment be applied to Wick Road? (although ideally the slope should be from the road up to the footway, rather than the footway dipping down!)

The cycle track then resumes before becoming a shared space area at a bus stop directly before these three garages

where it then turns back to a painted cycle lane past the garage entrances and onto the end of Wick Road  with a "proposed loading bay" within the cycle lane. Here the bus stop cannot be in the carriageway as traffic will back up into the junction behind and so there isn't the space for two vehicle lanes, one bus stop, one loading bay, two pavements and two cycle tracks.

However placing the loading bay in the cycle track is a bad idea as it will force cyclists to swerve into the carriageway to get past. I would argue that there is no need for a loading bay here at all, there is just one pub and a Chinese takeaway here. There is a loading bay on Wick Road on the other side of the junction, less than 40 metres away, which could be used instead. This is the loading bay the shops on Kenworthy Road have to use due to a narrow carriageway and they are further away from it than the two commercial premises here.

There is also the issue that the cycle track simply stops here and forces you out onto one of the busiest and most unpleasant roads in all of Hackney, the section of Wick Road that is a wide and fast dual carriageway, filled with traffic coming on and off the A12. This is under the control of Transport for London so not much that Hackney Council can do here but they can do better than just give up. Personally I would prefer to see a toucan crossing at the end so people cycling can go into Brookfield Road to access Victoria Park. A longer term plan would be for TFL to construct a bidirectional cycle track from Brookfield Road to Chapman Road along the southern side of Wick Road where signalled pedestrian crossings already exist across the A12 slip roads. The pavement here is heavily used by cyclists already, for obvious reasons. 

Meanwhile in this consultation I'm also a little disappointed in the provision for pedestrians as only uncontrolled pedestrian crossings are proposed, when zebra crossings should ideally be in place. 

A zebra crossing on a road and cycle track in Nijmegen I used this summer. I had used this road almost exactly a year earlier and it was very unpleasant, with narrow painted cycle lanes in the door zone of car parking. This gives me hope that by next summer Wick Road can be a great road to walk and cycle on, if the reconstruction is as good as this. 
I'm also a little concerned that not enough is being done to tackle speeding on Wick Road. The council state that in a recent traffic survey the average speed of traffic here was 28mph, despite the huge "20" signs painted onto the carriageway. Indeed whilst I was walking along this road to take photographs some cars were going significantly faster than that. 

Many roads in the Netherlands employ this central strip in the carriageway to keep traffic speeds down, could this treatment be possible on Wick Road? 
This consultation closes on August 31st. Please respond here and ask for cycle tracks to be retained, and all on carriageway car parking to be removed, as planned. Here are some more ideas you may, or may not, want to submit:

  • Ensure the cycle track is machine laid with smooth asphalt, of a contrasting colour, and a minimum of 2 metres wide wherever this is possible.
  • Stepped, low angled kerbs should be used at the edge of the cycle track
  • The footways and cycle tracks should be continuous past the side roads, estate roads leading to car parking and the entrance to St. Dominic's Primary School. 
  • All bus stops should be floating bus stops, with continuous cycle tracks and no shared space areas
  • Toucan crossings should be built at both ends of Wick Road to ensure cyclists can continue their journey in safe conditions
  • Entry to Wick Road by bicycle should be via a cycle track from Morning Lane which bypasses the traffic lights, with Flanders Way closed to vehicular traffic at the junction of Wick Road
  • The grassed area outside Wick Health Centre should be removed to create space for a footway and cycle track
  • Zebra Crossings should be installed, instead of uncontrolled pedestrian crossings
  • The cycle track should be continuous and not become a painted cycle lane at any point. ASLs should not be installed on the roadway
  • There should be no obstructions on the cycle track. If it is decided that speed bumps are needed (such as at the bus stops) then they should be as smooth as they would be on the carriageway alongside.
  • More residential roads in the surrounding areas should be filtered to reduce motor traffic and encourage people to walk or cycle instead. This also ensures children living on streets nearby could access Wick Road safely by bike.
Rachel Aldred has also written about this scheme here, here and here

1 comment:

  1. An excellent review. Although the proposal is better than the previous, dispicable presciption, the amount of shared space included here still suggests an underlying belief that non-carriageway cycling is for children. And the scheme simply collapses at the junctions where cycle lanes and ASLs are proposed - junction design is where we see the Council's true colours;I still think a change of personnel in Hackney's highways department is required. Contraflow cycling in Well Street would really see this scheme take off, but only if it is significantly improved along the lines suggested above. Andy Clarke.