Thursday 26 February 2015

Street Furniture obsession in Swansea - part two

My previous post started with a line of bollards; here's a line of benches

It's important to have seats but the reason for the alignment (beyond mirroring a decorative track) isn't clear to me - it's not a particularly social 'sit and chat with your mates' set up

 To the left of the benches in the top picture there are more benches, mirroring the track as it winds its way up the road

Here's the view coming the other way. The track has swerved away from the road to allow a waiting space for a car that has turned off the road.
The track then sweeps back towards the road, past the bollards protecting the flush kerb, before sweeping away again to avoid a loading bay. Note the on-road cycle lane.

At the bottom of the road the track sweeps to the left, swinging on the pavement blindly around the corner, and to the right crosses the side road

though without the priority the adjoining main road enjoys.
It isn't until the next road that I saw something to make it clear that cycling is allowed on the track
Enough about the track - I saw it being used and, while it's got some  flaws, it's way better than many I've seen.

Back to the benches - they've got lights in them

They're not svelte benches and I wonder how they'll age. Was the bench below considered stylish when installed?

Talking about dated stuff; how's this for an object lesson in how not to provide cycle parking?

 Along the coast at Mumbles, we found a bench with a view

Don't you love it when an urban realm composition comes together

Also in Mumbles, I was delighted, having just suggested a road train as a more cycle-friendly replacement to the RV1 bus along Belvedere Road and Upper Ground in London, to find an actual example (albeit summer only, sadly)

Back in Swansea, I spotted a prohibition sign I haven't seen before

Don't attempt horizontal climbing? Don't sleep across the protruding metal bits? Madonna not allowed? I'm flummoxed - can any readers help?

Finally, here are a few other photos that might also entice you to pay a visit to Swansea (and prove that I didn't spend all the time looking at street furniture).

Sunday 22 February 2015

Street furniture obsession in Swansea - part one

It all started as we walked from the station and saw an enormous semi-circle of street furniture - the photo below shows about a third of it

Here's a further section
An awesome wall of bollards, benches, boxes, bins, bicycle stands and trees.

Bicycle stands like no other - these are chunky and enormous cycle stands. Cycle stands that stand out.
But mainly it was the bollards that caught my eye - so many of them. Just look at this line prohibiting access to the pedestrianised section of town
Once you're in the pedestrianised section the bollards don't go away but now are spaced gloriously far apart to allow cars and vans to fit between them. 
On occasion bollard storage spaces are provided to house the bollards that can be removed from the highway to permit access
 The ones in the middle of the road below, for example, can be removed (but not the one that has been knocked into) 
Admire the way that each piece of street furniture has its designated role. The signpost is not a bollard, it's a signpost, so sits away from the space where a bollard is needed. It's the same with the CCTV camera posts, and the bin. 
The retailers have done their part too, adding advertising boards to the cacophony of clutter.

Then, just as you think that there can be no possible addition of any further bollards, you stumble upon the shop below
I take my hat off to the bollard salesperson of the century.

Post Script bollard bonus:
We're not quite done yet. Check out the warning sign (by the 'No Vehicles'. not even bicycles, sign) - 'Bolardiau awtomatig ar waith'
And here it is, a fine retractable bollard (and by chance the photo shows how reasonable it is to prohibit cycling on this narrow, crowded, street with the merest apology of a pavement).

Sunday 8 February 2015

Towards child-friendly cycling in north Lambeth

The following is my submission in response to the consultation by TfL on the Quietway junction of Cornwall Road and Stamford Street

These are blue-skyish thoughts of mine on ways to meet Lambeth Council's Cycling Strategy on the South Bank

Lambeth wants to encourage more cycling and believes that the only way to do this is to make cycling safe and attractive for a broader cross section of people. Anyone who wants to cycle should be able to – women, children, parents, older people – as happens in Denmark and the Netherlands. Our vision therefore is that:

Lambeth will be the most cycle-friendly borough in London where 1 - 100 year olds feel safe enough to cycle.

To get a child friendly cycling (and walking) environment in the South Bank area there will, in my view, need to be some impact on the immediate convenience pf some other road users .

How can the South Bank be made child cycle-friendly while also allowing deliveries of goods and building materials, taxis to drop off theatre-goers, and people with blue badges or an aversion to public transport to drive to the area?

I've put some starting thoughts on a map. They are moderately large changes, which I think are what is needed to achieve the goal; there will certainly need to be refinements, but I think these could be the bones of a child-cyclist friendly area. They're not based on any existing plans and I welcome comments and suggestions.

Key points with regard to the Belvedere Road / Upper Ground spine are:
  • Improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists through cutting out as much motor traffic as possible
  • Stop traffic rat-running along Belvedere Road / Upper Ground spine through bollarded closures that allow pedestrians and cyclists through. 
  • Use raising bollards in some places to enable access by residents and for business deliveries
  • Have taxi drop off, pick up and turning points by the London Eye and the Southbank Centre / Royal National Theatre - but no option for taxis to travel along the spine.
  • Replace the huge RV1 bus with a free, child-cycle friendly, easy pick-up and drop-off Fun Land Train (priority to the elderly and infirm; with wheelchair access) - or have the RV1 run along York Road and Stamford Street, supplemented as needed on the spine with electric mobility shuttles as used in airports

It may be worth checking out the Swansea/Mumbles land train / cycle route 

  • Retain access to purpose built car parks; especially maintain blue badge parking.
  • Have a family and tourist friendly two-way, smooth, segregated cycle track along the Belvedere Road / Upper Ground Spine that links to the North-South Superhighway and then turns to continue to Tate Modern and beyond. Going west it can continue to Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea allowing children to follow the river along to the South Bank and Tate Modern.
  • Alongside the segregated cycle track, have a two-way single lane road with passing places for the few vehicles that are entering and leaving the South Bank area.
  • Bring the two parts of Bernie Spain Gardens closer together, with a pedestrian footpath and cycle/fun train track passing through rather than a constant flow of taxis, vans, lorries and minicabs. 
  • Nurture a motor-reduction culture in local businesses - consolidated deliveries; air driers not paper towels etc. 
  • Cornwall Road north of Stamford Street to be a No Through Road, Except Cycles - access to Doon Street, for properties and to the public car park is retained. No loading or parking in this stretch of Cornwall Road (use Doon Street). The layout of the road making it visually predominantly a cycle track while still having access/egress by motor vehicles.
  • Bollards at Cornwall Road south of Stamford Street; access and exit for motor vehicles to the area via Exton and Alaska Streets. Again Cornwall Road appearance as a cycle track, with 'guest vehicles' and the minimum of parking/loading.
  • In the bigger picture, the Elizabeth House etc. redevelopment allows for opportunities such as a segregated cycle track on Waterloo Road for fast commuters using Waterloo Bridge.

Sunday 1 February 2015

Road Pricing, from 'Research on Road Traffic' 1965 HMSO

"Where significant expenditure is required an economic decision has to be made, namely, whether the expenditure is worthwhile. But there is also the problem of allocation: who is going to enjoy the use of the facilities which have been provided? Who is to use the roads, for which purposes, under what conditions? There are innumerable possibilities, which will produce different distributions of benefit and loss throughout the entire affected population. Can a way be devised of using the road system so as to maximize the net benefits to the community?

One of the most important means of influencing the distribution of goods and services is through the price system. At the present time no prices are charged for the use of the roads, but there are taxes, namely fuel tax, annual vehicle tax and the purchase tax on vehicles. In 1962, a panel was set up by the Ministry of Transport to study the technical feasibility of various methods for improving the pricing system relating to the use of the roads, and relevant economic considerations. The Panel's report was published in June 1964.

In its conclusions the Panel pointed out deficiencies of present taxation methods as a way of employing the price system, notably their inability to restrain people from making journeys which impose high costs on other people, and they suggested that road charges could usefully take more account than they do of the large differences that exist in congestion costs between one journey and another.

The Panel examined a number of possible charging methods, including new methods of charging directly for movement on the roads. They found little advantage in two measures sometimes proposed: the differential fuel tax, which could not be related at all closely to congestion costs, and the poll tax on employees in congested areas, which - whatever its merit in other fields - would have little effect on road congestion.

They concluded that parking taxes could bring significant benefits, in spite of their 'inequitable results' and their undesirable effects in encouraging non-parking traffic and penalizing local traffic. They thought that a system of daily licences might be preferable to parking taxes, since it would embrace all traffic in the areas concerned; but it would give rise to difficult boundary problems.

Whatever the merits of parking taxes and daily licences, the Panel concluded that considerably superior results were potentially available from direct pricing systems. by charging more when costs are high and less when costs are low, it was estimated that a practicable system in urban areas could yield economic benefits of £100 to £150 million a year under present traffic conditions; and this estimate excluded some important items which could not be measured.

The Panel examined a number of proposals for direct charging methods, and described six meter systems - two manual and four automatic - which, with development, they thought could be made effective. Their main conclusion, was that there was every possibility that at least one of these proposals could be developed into an efficient charging system and could yield substantial benefit on congested roads."