Thursday, 9 February 2017

Defining and Signing Southampton City Cycle Route 2

There are a number of potentially useful cycle routes shown within Southampton City on Open Cycle Map.  These routes are primarily on road, using quieter roads. There is currently no signage for these routes.

Southampton Cycle Route 2

The City Council have asked The Southampton Cycling Campaign for help on approving these routes and suggesting signage, starting with Southampton City Cycle Route 2, which departs from NCR 236 just to the West of the Central Station and takes you to the Fours Horseshoes at Nursling at the point where the M271 joins the M27.   At this point the route is outside the city boundary, but the cycle route continues to westward from here to join the NCR 246 (Station Road/Lee Lane) and north to join the Southampton Road into Romsey. The full route is shown in Map1 in dashed blue, going parallel to Shirley Road to Shirley, then through Wimpson and parallel to the M271 to Nursling.

Map 1:  Southampton City Cycle Route 2 from Open Cycle Map
As it happens this is a route @suukii and I use very frequently to go from Southampton to Romsey, so we volunteered to make the initial suggestions for signage. However, it soon became apparent that other member of SCC had views about better routes.  This document therefore looks at which route would be best to sign.

What makes good signage?

We were told to expect that the signage would be applied as stickers on lampposts, similar to those used by the National Cycle Network (see Fig 1)

Fig 1: National Cycle Route Lamppost stickers

 There has been some discussion within the Cycle Campaign about what makes good signage, and some members feel that the only correct answer is proper "finger signs" but the reality is that we won't get the more expensive signs until there are well established routes - and the routes will not be well established unless signed, mapped and advertised.

What makes a good "Quiet Route"?

On road cycle routes should ideally meet the following conditions:
  1. Directness - they should go where they are going with as direct a route as possible
  2. Not busy, and no HGVs (Various cycle route design manuals define what this means in terms of cars/hour)
  3. Traffic Not fast. a 20 speed limit is massively preferred.
  4. Space exists to ride outside the door reach of parked cars
  5. Crossings/Junctions with major roads should be managed in a way appropriate to the traffic load and speed on the major road. Again, cycle path design manuals, such as Interim Advice Note 195/16 - Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network, define the appropriate managements for different traffic density on the main road.
  6. Reasonable road quality.
  7. No unreasonable obstacles restrictions in the road that make it unsafe for bikes (e.g pedestrian traffic islands, on-road bus stops etc)
  8. Suitable for an appropriately trained 11 year old secondary school child to ride unaccompanied. If this is not the case then it isn't really a cycle route.
Map 2:N236 to Oakley Road / Regents Park Road junction
from Open Cycle Map

Comments on Map 2:

The Park Road cross over Paynes Road (Green Circle) can be problematic. Paynes Road can be quite busy, although it is calmed by the traffic lights where it meets Shirley Road at Foyes Corner.

The proposed route from Randolf Street to Henry Road uses a alley way at the end of Randolf Street Red Circle). There are issues with mounting pavements, parked cars across the ends, and it is not marked for shared use.

In practice most people who do this route prefer to turn down Nelson Street and join Foundry Lane earlier (red line).  Nelson Road has many parked and is narrow, but is very quiet.

Foundry lane itself is too fast, and has a school on it - cars behave particularly unpredictably at School gate times. Occasional HGVs.

Crossing Regents Road from the top of Foundry Lane to Oakley Road (Blue Circle) is a difficult junction, particularly when coming South.  It needs some attention for cyclists.  There are pedestrian lights nearby but they are useless if going on to/coming from Oakley Road.

Is is safe for an 11 year old?
Probably.  It would benefit from a general speed restriction of 20 mph, exclusion of HGVs and some support for cyclists at the two major road crossings.

Map 3: Oakley Road / Regents Park Road junction to Mansel Park

Comments on Map 3:
Oakley Road is not much loved by cyclists.  The traffic is too fast, too frequent and there are occasional HGVs. There are too many parked cars at critical points that push cyclists out into the road.

In particular the traffic around the Treboura Way crossing (Red Circle)is not suitable for the faint hearted.  The Crossing itself has traffic lights, but a green cycle lane is needed across the road and up the sides of the hill either side.

Mansell Road East has too much erratic traffic around school times, is narrow between parked cars and the road surface is disgraceful - difficult for bikes. It is used as a rat run and there is frequently intolerant traffic.

The entrance to Mansel Park(Green Circle) has been made deliberately difficult for bikes to negotiate - particularly when leaving the park coming SE.

Is is safe for an 11 year old? 
Marginal.  Serious consideration of the traffic conditions (and calming them) on Oakley Road and support for cyclists at the Treboura Way crossing should be made.

Pavements might be used in places by the faint hearted, but of course that is illegal, and if legalised makes it difficult for commuter cyclists who start getting driven off the road by some cars who believe bikes should use the cycle path.

Alternative Route Suggested by Some:
(This route is shown in red)

The difficulties at the crossing of Regents Park Road into Oakley Road (Blue Circle) have already been discussed above. A better alternative is to use the pedestrian lights to cross into St Edmunds road.

The route then joins Romsey Road for a short bit to cross Winchester Road/Treboura Way. (Shown in thick red line).  This bit is completely unacceptable for anyone but the strong and confident. There is quite a steep hill on the South side of the main road.  There is almost always a queue for the traffic lights, and Romsey Road is too narrow here to allow cars to pass bikes safely, yet there is rarely any opportunity for them to overtake as there is always oncoming traffic.

Redbridge Hill and right up to Windermere Avenue, on the other hand is a wide piece of road, with a real opportunity for building e.g. an on road cycle lane protected by armadillos. Resident parrking is needed, but there is plenty of space to provide this off road.

Would it be safe for an 11 year old?  
It would be good, if only a solution could be found for the Romsey Road bit.

Map 4: Mansel Park to Hillyfields
Comments on Map 4:
There are a few changes to this route (in Blue lines).  After Mansel Park the official route suggests going on a footpath, This is narrow and unmaintained and quite unsuitable for shared use - and very difficult to access when heading South. We suggest keeping to the road.  At the Brownhill Way roundabout there are big changes and the old path across a field is now built over. Instead there is a new off road shared cycle path of high quality as shown.

However the crossing of Brownhill way (red circle) is completely unsuitable, and seriously unsafe.
  1. The traffic on Brownhill way (the east-going of which has just come off the M271) is a constant stream and fast in both directions, and in the wrong frame of mind for making gaps to allow bikes or pedestrians to make it across the road.
  2. There are no traffic signals.
  3. Someone has constructed chicaned barriers in a way calculated to make it as difficult as possible for a bike to get in position to cross, and to make it impossible for a few bikes to get into position at the same time.
This crossing would contravene every rule in the book if it was subject to Highways England regulations - which it presumably narrowly misses by dint of being a few the otherside of the roundabout from the motorway.  Given that the rest of the new cycle route is so good - this is a big #FAIL.

Is is safe for an 11 year old?  
Only if the Brownhill Way Crossing can be mended.

Alternative Route (contin)
At the top of Windemere avenue it would be possible to join back with the oficial route (green line)
However, to avoid the catastrophic  Brownhill junction, the red line continues another way.  

This part of the alternative route is all in 20 mph calmed traffic area.

Th crossing of Brownhill Way (Green Circle) is at traffic lights.  It is a bit complex for a bike coming up from Lower Brownhill Road and could certainly be improved with some road paint and signage.

Is is safe for an 11 year old?  

Map 5: Hillyfileds to Nursling and to NCR 246 (Lee Lane)

Comments on Map 5:

The final bit of the route passes the Ordinance Survey on a wide and smooth dedicated cycle path on a wide pavement and then joins a dedicated path through the fields and up to Nursling.

Here ends Southampton (we think?). But we presume that the signage will be continued until the path joins the NCR246 (Lee Lane).

A further View on the Whole route.

The following commentary was submitted by another senior and experienced member of SCC. Although there might be some disagreement about what the official route was intended to be (there have been many maps issued and they are not consistent at the detail level) we can see that this member takes quite a different view of the earlier part of the route (which I suggest is largely OK) - for example suggesting that using Shirley Road would be preferable to the options discussed here.

Of course, Shirley Road/ High Street is the direct route. Given the width available, it would appear to be the obvious route. The failure of the council to provide decent cycle infrastructure when the road was completely re-fashioned in quite recent years is held up in Campaign History as the most obvious example of the Council's anti-cycling attitude.

However, with the road in the state it is in now I cannot agree with the author that Shirley Road is suitable for cycling by any one other than the most confident cyclists. It fails on every one of the points for a good quiet cycle route, except road surface.

But the commentary below does show us, as we know, that cyclists come in all shapes and sizes, and in all levels of confidence and ability.


I think in defining these quiet on-road routes we need to strike a careful balance between what is suitable for the unconfident or young cyclist and what is the fastest route from A - B. But I think we will do people the most favours be selecting the safest route. Commuters who make the journey regularly can refine the route as they see fit for their own level of skill and confidence.

At present I cannot recommend *any* of the routes as really suitable, but either would be adequate (and the alternative preferred) if we could cure either the Romsey Road crossing of Winchester Road/Treboura Way or the Cycle lane crossing of Brownhill way.

Another Member's Comments:  Cycle Route Station-Nursling

Station - Paynes Road

Poor surface, busy commercial traffic in Millbrook Road and when crossing Waterloo Road. The crossing of Paynes Road is difficult and potentially dangerous; Park Road here is usually narrowed by parked cars so that cyclists are often head-on to motorists. When travelling northbound it would be safer and more pleasant to divert east to Shirley Road and cross Paynes Road at the traffic lights.

Paynes Road - Regents Park Road

Richmond Road is usually busy. A much quieter and slightly shorter route is Firgrove Rd - Nelson Road. Either route leads to the poorly surfaced Foundry Lane, which is quite busy with motor traffic which is often fast. A safer alternative to this section is Shirley Road, which is much better surfaced, with few parked vehicles and is also easier to navigate for those not familiar with the area. The only disadvantage is the presence of pinch points, though these could be improved by the provision of adequately wide advisory cycle lanes.

Regents Park Road - Mansel Road West

Oakley Road is busy and fast with parked vehicles. Although it crosses Tebourba Way at traffic lights this junction is unpleasant, particularly since the cyclist (in either direction) has to climb a hill with a stream of overtaking traffic. North of Tebourba Way the route is tortuous and goes through residential streets where the cyclist will encounter motorists moving off or parking, sometimes on the "wrong" side of the road.

The entry into the Mansel Park is very narrow, while at the north end the cyclist has to cross two streams of traffic.

A safer, more direct route, which is also far better surfaced and easier to follow is from Shirley High St to the "Old Thatch" lights and then via Redbridge Hill to Windermere Avenue. The only disadvantages to this route are the double mini-roundabout at Wimpson Lane and, southbound, emerging from Redbridge Hill onto Romsey Road. The latter could be circumvented by taking the route onto the service road to the S of Redbridge Hill and then providing crossing points at the Tebourba Way crossroads; this route is already used by many cyclists. The route could be further improved by a "crawler" on-road cycle lane up the hill from Tebourba Way into Shirley.

Mansel Road West - Brownhill Way

Mansel Road West has a poor surface and is very busy when children are drived to and from the school. Colne Road, though busy, might be an alternative.

The southern access to the new shared use path is a very tight "wheelbarrow turn", particularly since the road is narrowed at this point, so that cyclists are forced to use the whole width of the road. The barriers at the end of the path should be modified (moved away from the road &/or the gap widened) so that cyclists travelling in either direction have more leeway to manoeuvre safely.

1 comment:

  1. Not shown on your map is route linking onto this route from east - The Common, avoiding Oakley rd. At the top of Shirley rd, my children and I cycle along Sydney rd (parallel to top of Shirley rd) then right and immediately left on Cecil Ave (then right, left onto King Ed Ave)- usually the traffic has a break on Shirley rd as there are traffic lights both ways (if not we would go on pavement up to toucan crossing, but don't think we have ever NOT had a gap). Coming back is better, along Kind Edwards Ave then there is a toucan crossing, you go on the road a short way (the traffic is still waiting at the toucan lights) then Sydney road. :)