CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum » Infrastructure

Chicanes, rumble strips, and 'SLOW' paint.

(30 posts)

  1. Duncan
    Member

    If there's one thing that makes me want to hurl my bike into the hedge in despair, it's road design intended to make cycling slower. Slower? Cycling is already a very slow form of transport. The paltry speeds most cyclists achieve are powered by nothing more than breakfast and a pair of legs. The thought that there are planners out there intent on turning my hard-won momentum into brake heat is depressing.

    Like the new chicane fence at the end of Barnton Avenue, where the road joins the newly resurfaced path. Why? What's the point? And at the far end of the path, several groups of rumble strips. Again, why? Or those gates and bumps along the canal towpath at Polwarth. Why, oh why?

    These design features seem to reflect a suspicion that cyclists don't know how to ride safely; that they can't modify their behaviour according to whether a path is empty, or has three children and six dogs on it. Or, maybe these things are there to pacify the concerns of local pedestrians who fear that cyclists won't be courteous and ride safely. Like the 'SLOW' signs painted on one of the widest shared paths in Edinburgh - through Murrayfield Park. Has any research been done to find out whether these things actually work? Rumble strips don't slow me down; they simply invite me to let go of the handlebars, to avoid wrist damage. I can't brake at the same time.

    Then there's the environmental impact. Lovely leafy paths that once had a 'forgotten' feel, acquire a 'suburban park' look when paths are over-managed in this way. That's true at the foot of Barnton Avenue where a great shiny metal fence draws an ugly line under the end of the path, as if it's a spelling mistake. And it's true of those (sorry) ridiculous fences on the tow path.

    Asking cyclists to go more slowly is absurd, especially when you compare the injury rate between pedestrians colliding with cars and pedestrians colliding with bikes. I wonder if some of the people who lobby for these 'improvements' are the drivers who sometimes treat the narrow streets around me as a rat run, passing cyclists by a whisker at speed. No one is making them slow down to 10mph.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. Dave
    Member

    See also here.

    Someone made an interesting point recently that the railway beside the Water of Leith has been deliberately kept as mud despite the money being available on more than one occasion to surface it properly.

    Although we live about 100m from that path, and we shop mainly at Sainsburys Longstone about 50m from the end of the path, we *always* drive, adding to the traffic problems on Lanark Rd and closer into town.

    The other day we went to eat in Colinton next to the WoL and took the car, even though the total distance cycling on road was about 100 feet.

    If that path was tarmacked and lit, numbers cycling on it would explode. Unfortunately the "cost" of making a cycle facility which lots of people cycle on is that it becomes considerably less good for pedestrians, as we can see looking at any of the actual cycle routes being discussed elsewhere.

    I'm not sure what the balance of public good is - I do know when I'm driving through Barnton in rush hour that I'm glad for even the small number of people who are cycling through the golf courses instead.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. barnton-to-town
    Member

    A cyclist brushing by a pedestrian at 20mph on a shared space route doesn't feel like a brush with a slow moving vehicle.

    Make driving in town wholly unattractive; that congestion charge was a fantastic, but misunderstood, misrepresented (in the glorious EEN, at least) proposal, thus freeing up road space for safer cycling.

    Then remove the shared space routes; it doesn't work, and will never work, while people see them as a belt along as fast as you can pedal, (motorised)traffic-free cycle route.

    They're not; they're for pedestrians and more vulnerable, less road-confident, or just those out for a meander, cyclists.

    If you want a "hard-going" (quote from the barnton path thread) route into town at maximum pace, use a road. Not a shared space. It doesn't work, and causes unnecessary animosity.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. JohnS
    Member

    I'd be interested if someone knows what's the legal status of Edinburgh's cycle paths. Are they officially roads/ public highways? If so what are the implications of the speed reducing measures in relation to accidents between cyclists & pedestians and adopting the Highway Code. On public highways a bike is classified as a vehicle on the road (I was told this by the police one day on Ravelston Dykes). So, if a cyclist collides with a pedestrian and he was going too fast what are the implications and liabilities?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. chdot
    Admin

    Some simple answers -

    Some paths are roads - eg MMW.

    Bicycle ride riders can't be done for speeding (even on roads).

    The Highway Code isn't the "law".

    Whether 'hitting a pedestrian' is legally different on or 'off' road is an interesting question that I don't know the answer to!

    I'm sure there is no question that it's 'legal'!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. twq
    Member

    I don't buy the argument that if you want to go fast, use the road. Shared use does work as long as vulnerable users get right of way. With a bit of patience, and care, you can do 20mph on shared use. Just slow down around people & dogs and blind corners.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. bax
    Member

    Just slow down around people & dogs

    don't forget the squirrels and cats

    foxes however, can look out for themselves

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. PS
    Member

    As with most things, shared use "works" if everyone shows due consideration to others.

    But how do you define it "working"? People not running into each other? Or people being able to make progress along the path at a reasonable pace? Or being sufficiently attractive on a range of qualitative measures (safety, convenience, overall journey time, joined-upedness, cleanliness, lack of aggro...) that it will attract more people out of their cars/off the buses and onto bikes?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. Nelly
    Member

    "As with most things, shared use "works" if everyone shows due consideration to others"

    Yes, this 100%. I hate being told what to do as much as the next anarchist, but...............

    I rarely use the canal to get to Edinburgh Park, but did this morning.

    I was doing 12/13 mph - well past the speed limit i believe - but compared to most I was riding like my grannie.

    There were people doing (IMO) 20mph, many with no bells - and this at the stretch with lots of bridges.

    The section past WHEC is treated like a racetrack by some of these guys.

    I am a very competent, confident rider, and I also appreciate it is not a weekend, but the time I was travelling there were a lot of kids using the canal to go to school (or perhaps skip school!) - a bike hitting a child at speed we can all do without, imagine the EEN feedback?

    So - to get back OT - while many of these measures are annoying and seem pointless, unfortunately they are pandering to the lowest common denominator - same as speed limiting measures to slow cars on roads - because 'the masses' cant always be trusted to drive/cycle in an appropriate manner.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. Uberuce
    Member

    Numpties gotta nump. If the engineering means their numptation can't hurt anyone else, then it's good works, but I'm far from convinced that rumblechic does.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. tk
    Member

    I'd like to see some signs recommending responsible shared use along these paths. Something along the lines of

    Cyclists
    - slow down around pedestrians and animals
    - use your bell
    - give plenty clearance overtaking
    - keep left and ride single file if necessary

    Pedestrians
    - Be aware of cyclists
    - Keep left
    - Stay alert (e.g. keep headphones turned down)

    Animal owners
    - keep dogs on leads

    Looking at the Meadows, other than the tactiles I think the shared use is excellent - people keep to the bits of paths they are meant to and you can ride fast if you are prepared to give way at junctions. The Innocent path is practically a cycle highway and rarely has a pedestrian at commuter times so riding fast isn't an issue if you are prepared to slow down when appropriate. Portobello prom needs some careful slow cycling but people are used to the bikes and it seems to work (incidentally the council decided against a cycle lane as too many people would be crossing it)

    The path I see most issue with is the NEPN from the Red Bridge to Seafield. Lots of dog owners with loose animals that like to run after bikes, pedestrians with headphones who step out without looking, groups of nursery age children being taken for walks etc. Whilst I always slow down along this path, I feel its the trickiest to navigate due to the unpredictability of other users being much higher. It's like the bikes aren't expected and people take less care. The dog owners in particular are a problem, especially the ones who cycle with their dogs off a lead as the dog can be 100s of metres behind the owner and has a tendency to want to chase bikes. I've witnessed two accidents caused by uncontrolled dogs recently, luckily both at very low speeds, but speed wasn't the issue.

    I'd be tempted to say some of these paths should be split in such a way that there is a dedicated cycle road as part of them and pedestrians are on a higher pavement type area. That way crossings could be marked, proper give way etc and the cyclists would have priority on the road side. There are plenty of places this would be feasible as there is enough width to accomodate a better path. Then we would have fast, safe cycle routes, out of the way of motorised traffic and out the way of pedestrians

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. neddie
    Member

    I'd like to see some signs recommending responsible shared use along these paths

    Why do people feel there is a need for these signs on paths? We don't see signs like the one below repeated along every road:

    Motorists
    - slow down around pedestrians and cyclists
    - use your mirrors & indicators before turning
    - give plenty clearance overtaking
    - don't text while driving

    Cyclists
    - Be aware lorries have blind spots
    - Keep in primary to discourage poor overtaking
    - Stay alert

    Pedestrians
    - Do what you want as long as it is predictable

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. holisticglint
    Member

    All of these "features" are a result of the misguided idea of shared infrastructure.

    I think it is fairly important to protect the freedom of anyone to go for a walk without having to watch where they are going as much as possible.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  14. ianfieldhouse
    Member

    These design features seem to reflect a suspicion that cyclists don't know how to ride safely; that they can't modify their behaviour according to whether a path is empty, or has three children and six dogs on it

    Unfortunately, from my experience of commuting along the canal towpath, there is a sizeable minority of cyclists who can't. This is commuting after 9am so the worst of the rush/congestion is over by then too. I hate to think what it's like prior to 9am.

    This morning, for example, I was coming up behind a pedestrian pushing a pram (him on the right hand side, me on the left) and a cyclist coming the other way on the pedestrian's side of the path just barged his way between the pedestrian and myself whilst I was passing him. No consideration for other path users and left me almost in the bushes and making an a apology to the pedestrian on the other cyclist's behalf. Incidents similar to this happen everyday. I'm getting to the point where I'm just going to use the roads as I can't be bothered with the hassle -- the towpath isn't wide enough for shared use.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  15. stiltskin
    Member

    I think it is fairly important to protect the freedom of anyone to go for a walk without having to watch where they are going as much as possible.

    Sorry, but I couldn't disagree more, for a number of reasons. Firstly, safety is everyone's consideration, if you are sharing a path with other users the idea that one party can expect to pay no attention at all to other users is asking for an accident. Both cyclists and walkers need to pay attention. I accept that there are places, like Porty prom or Inverleith Park which are essentially public recreation space where you are allowed to ride a bike where I would expect people not to look out for bikes, but the NEPN is a traffic corridor for the non-motorised. As the signs say: show consideration for other users, and that means everyone. Shared use is just that: Shared. While pedestrians have priority it does not mean that they have the right to be oblivious to other people (whether on bikes or not)
    Apart from anything else I find it immensely depressing when people react to the presence of a bike on a cycle path with such surprise. What are they going to be like when they get in their cars?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  16. Dave
    Member

    >ianfieldhouse relates tale of dastardly canal riding

    But it's no secret that incidents like that happen on the road every few seconds. (Every second time I drive to work I capture something on my headcam, mounted on the dash, that would make your toes curl).

    For me the question is trying to understand why people expect such high standards. It's like we think that people magically get a personality transplant when they choose to cycle to work instead of drive (or walk) - they obviously don't.

    Sure, the advantage of putting such people on bikes is that you have roughly one pedestrian fatality every two years instead of hundreds and hundreds, but that's a product of the physics and not much to do with behaviour IMO.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  17. steveo
    Member

    I guess the difference for pedestrians is they are fairly well segregated from cars.

    It is frustrating that cycle users are held to a higher standard than drivers. The expectation that we can share space with pedestrians despite a pretty high speed differential. In fact the speed differential is probably greater most of the time in the city in commuter times.

    Your average pedestrian is ambling along at 3-4 mph the fastest cyclist is going ~20mph probably more like 15mph on average and the city driver will be lucky to average more than that on their commute.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. holisticglint
    Member

    @stiltskin - I was not saying that peds should not be responsible on shared use paths.

    I meant that peds should not be obliged to look out for other traffic while ambling along. Shared use paths restrict this freedom and this is one of the many reasons why they are a bad thing.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  19. Dave
    Member

    It depends entirely on perspective.

    NEPN is an old railbed which has been tarmacked but isn't open to cars.

    WAR is an old railbed which has been tarmacked and is open to cars.

    Let's imagine the West Approach Road TRO was flipped around, so it was open to bikes but not motorised traffic - it would be just like NEPN. How does this *disadvantage* pedestrians?

    Only a starting position that old railways should be made into paths for pedestrians allows the statement that freedom is restricted when some of those pedestrians decide to hop on a bike. We could as well say that letting pedestrians use the hypothetical cyclepath-WAR is a restriction on cyclists' freedom, right?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  20. neddie
    Member

    Let us not forget who constructed with their bare hands (and latterly campaigned for the upgrade of) the NEPN to what it is today.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  21. Duncan
    Member

    edd1e_h's point above about the fact we don't ply motorists with similar signs is spot on.

    btw the signs at the craigleith junction of roseburn path have had babies - it's like reading a newspaper on stilts...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  22. tk
    Member

    Never seen any signs on the NEPN. Will need to take a look. As for motorists, we do have signs - on lots of the variable message displays they tell you to buckle your seatbelt, don't text and drive, don't drink/drug drive, take breaks if tired etc. And we all get the carefulnow tram signs, dog owners get warnings about fouling penalties. The key thing is these paths are shared and all users need to remember that. Unfortunately some members of each camp forget

    Posted 4 years ago #
  23. fimm
    Member

    Oh yes, I have a photo of those Craigleith junction signs. You don't need the chocolate fireguard map any more...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  24. neddie
    Member

    I for one find it objectionable that they are spending millions on 'electronic variable signs' above motorways just to tell drivers the blinking obvious like check your fuel.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  25. steveo
    Member

    I for one find it objectionable that they are spending millions on 'electronic variable signs' above motorways just to tell drivers the blinking obvious like check your fuel.

    Not sure if serious...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  26. wingpig
    Member

    There's one just as you're leaving Glasgow which almost always says CHECK YOUR FUEL but until the relatively recent addition of the Morrison's fuelarium at the Fort it was never obvious where the next nearest available fuel supplies would be, had your check revealed fuel too limited to have reached Harthill.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  27. Colonies_Chris
    Member

    Yes, the number of signs there now is ridiculous - they seemed to have decided that every corner of that small junction needs to have the full complement of signs for every possible destination. And the positioning is misleading - coming along from Roseburn and wanting to go towards Leith, the sign appears to be pointing you out the gate at Craigleith. That's because they've used a sign that's shaped as a right-pointing arrow; if it was turned to point in the correct direction wouldn't be visible on approach. They've tried to fudge it by turning that sign not quite so much to the right as the Craigleith-pointing one, but it's a subtlety that's likely to escape most users. A much better solution would be just one signpost in the middle of the junction.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  28. chdot
    Admin

    "A much better solution would be just one signpost in the middle of the junction."

    You mean like a Sustrans finger post??

    Posted 4 years ago #
  29. Colonies_Chris
    Member

    That old Sustrans finger post was only useful if you actually stopped and looked closely at it. The blue signs can be read on the hoof, so to speak - definitely an improvement in that respect.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  30. chdot
    Admin

    "That old Sustrans finger post was only useful if you actually stopped and looked closely at it."

    I'm sure there is a vast amount of research on 'appropriate signage' and the 'psychology of signs'.

    On roads it's often the case that the most direct route is not signed to reduce traffic through (some) residential areas.

    For cyclists direct routes are preferable except (particularly on places like the NEPN) where the alternative is much less pleasant due to traffic, poor junctions etc.

    Route signage is (presumably) more important for 'first timers' or at least irregular users. So regulars/commuters may be less bothered/more annoyed by 'too many signs'.

    One good thing about much of the signage in recent years is that it points to 'useful' places -schools etc. making walkers and cyclists more away of where they are and how close (or not) facilities are from cycle paths/routes.

    There have been discussions about having (average) time instead of distance, to encourage people, but this has never really taken off.

    Posted 4 years ago #

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