Forest Road & Markhouse Road consultations – WFCC response

Further to the recent mini-Holland consultations on Forest Road and Markhouse Road, Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign’s responses to the council are published below (sent 18/03/2016, consultations now closed):

Forest Road Consultation

Blackhorse Rd to Palmerston Road

We welcome the introduction of a 20mph speed limit and the Copenhagen crossings of side roads, which will benefit all vulnerable & active travel mode users.

We support the proposed crossing improvements adjacent to Pretoria Avenue, and assume this will be a Toucan (as opposed to a Tiger). However we request that the westbound track runs up to the actual crossing point ie the same as the eastbound track.

Furthermore we recommend that the westbound cycle track outside the parade of shops with forecourt parking just east of the Pretoria Ave junction is indented from the carriageway slightly to allow a ramp up to the track which will then offer a level surface for cyclists and a better indication for motorists that they are crossing over the track. Otherwise the cycle track would be on a slope and be the ramp for vehicles to access the forecourt which is undesirable.

We believe there is a left hook risk for westbound cycles from vehicles entering Pretoria Avenue from Forest Road. The consultation plan indicates a wide junction geometry and thus high speeds by motor vehicles entering Pretoria Avenue – we strongly recommend that this junction mouth is narrowed and tightened with some sort of vertical measures such as planters, trees or bollards.

Similarly we have concerns about the geometry for other Copenhagen crossings.

Wellington Rd & Chatham Rd are of particular concern due to the proposed 1 way flows, which will encourage motorists to drive into them at high speeds. To counteract this we recommend narrowing the junctions to a single lane width, and using vertical measures to maintain tight junction geometries. This would create opportunities for much needed tree planting and or cycle parking.

A further concern for the Copenhagen crossings on the north side of Forest Road is that they link to rat runs into Blackhorse Lane and Higham Hill Road in order to avoid signal controlled crossings (one example is through traffic from Blackhorse Lane travelling via Blenheim Road and Farnborough Road, due to the left turn ban into Forest Rd).
We therefore strongly recommend that modal filters are considered in order to remove the risk of pedestrian and cycle casualties from the dangerous mix of Copenhagen crossings and poorer through traffic motorist behaviour (which we have seen seen in partially implemented Villagisation schemes when crossings go in before the filters).

Bollards or some other type of physical barrier is required for the south side of Forest Road running east from Wellington Road in order to prevent cars crossing the track and footway to park in the shop forecourts. We assume the current extensive practice of driving over the footway is not legal as there are no dropped kerbs.

We see an opportunity for a tree or small planter just to the west of the Pretoria Avenue junction.

We do have concerns about the potential for conflict between cycles and pedestrians on the shared space sections, but appreciate that there is not the width for any other solution offering protected space for people on cycles.

Similarly we are concerned about the potential for conflict at bus boarders, but don’t see much opportunity for alternative protected space solutions.

We appreciate the bus stop island design at the westbound bus stop outside Tesco due to the volume of footway traffic.

Wetlands

We appreciate the removal of a section of bus lane to allow the creation of high quality segregated cycle tracks and the toucan crossing in the vicinity of the Wetlands entrances.

Once detailed designs for the Wetlands entrances have been worked up, we would like to review them with officers in case we are able to offer ideas for minimising pedestrian cycle conflict.

London Buses’s requirement for retaining the bus lane alongside Maynard Reservoir means there is no scope for physical protection for westbound cyclists along this section, and that for eastbound there is insufficient space for a separate footway & track.
We urge the council to seek some way of at the very least offering protected space for westbound people on bikes, as we believe this gap in provision will have a huge impact on the attractiveness of the scheme for people who would like to cycle but do not currently, thus only delivering very small increases in cycle journeys along this route.

Markhouse Road Consultation

This is highly impressive proposal, and we appreciate the extent to which the council has gone to create physical protection along this route which is currently an extremely hostile environment for those on foot or cycle.

Our key concern is the shared space sections, and the risk of pedestrian/cycle conflict:

  • We are worried by the southbound bus stop boarder outside the Kelmscott Leisure Centre, due to the potential for large numbers of bus passengers waiting, boarding & alighting here. We suggest there is potential to negotiate a small amount of land from the Leisure Centre for a bus stop bypass or island.
  • We request that southbound bus stop opposite Markhouse Avenue utilise an ‘island’ or bypass design similar to those on Lea Bridge Road as there appears to be some extra footway space here.
  • We believe that the shared space extends too far south on the southbound side at Ashford Close, and that the shared space should be little more than on the opposite side of the road at that point. Whilst Ashford Close is a stub road for access only the track should resume and elephant feet markings installed across the entrance as with all other junctions.
  • We recommend a small realignment of the carriageway opposite St Saviours (alongside the linear park) to create enough space for separate footway and cycle track for the section of shared space on the west side of the road immediately outside the church.

We greatly appreciate the 2 way cycle tracks along both sides of South Grove – this is a very welcome piece of infrastructure and especially valuable given the substantial amount of residential units being built in the area.

We do have some concerns that pedestrian provision may not be sufficiently wide or of high enough quality, with the attendant risk that pedestrians will prefer to use the cycle track.

We are concerned by the reversal of the South Grove cycle track/footway alignments (with the footway alongside the road); we recommend reverting to the Mini Holland standard with the track alongside the carriageway to provide a more consistent borough wide experience for pedestrians & cyclists.

The new zebra on the roundabout is a welcome improvement for pedestrian accessibility & safety.

We assume the intention is to facilitate cyclists using the shared space route under the bridge, but we recommend the kink in the track on the approach to Gosport Rd is straightened so it aligns with the track under the bridge.

We fully support the extensive use of Copenhagen Crossings, to reduce hazards from motor vehicles as they enter and exit side roads. However we believe that much more needs to be done to reduce hazards from motor traffic, especially when entering into the side road at speed. Tighter geometry is required, with the distance between the dropped kerbs reduced, and as frequently observed, vertical measures such as bollards or trees are required to reduce motor vehicle overrun onto the track and footway.

Due to the volume of traffic movements across the Queens Road/Markhouse Road/Downsfield Road junction and the aggressive behaviours seen from some motor vehicle drivers at this location, we believe the design of footway, cycle track and Copenhagen crossing here is absolutely key to ensure optimal compliance & safety. WFCC would therefore like to view and discuss the detailed design.

We are not convinced that making Theydon Street one way for motor vehicles will improve safety for cycles. In fact we are concerned it may increase motorist vehicle speeds and hence road dangers for active travel users, so we are keen to explore the reasoning for this proposal with officers. It could be argued that there is potential for a modal filter somewhere along Theydon St..

We welcome improvements to the linear public space up to the Boundary Rd junction. We recommend considering aligning the cycle track alongside the road (with a bus stop bypass). This would allow pedestrians a more pleasant leafy route away from traffic, and would maintain the Mini Holland standard design of having the track alongside the carriageway.

If the cycle track is not rerouted alongside the road, we suggest moving the pedestrian crossing outside no.208 Markhouse Road to the south of the location of the proposed cycle crossing. This should lead to less cycles conflicting with those waiting at the pedestrian crossing.

We would like to explore the opportunity for further pedestrian improvements.
For example use section 106 funding to realign Brunner Rd to allow tiger crossing of the St James St arm of the roundabout. Or at least a Copenhagen crossing of Brunner Road.

We also wonder if there is potential to capitalise on the public realm improvements and work with the council’s regeneration team to improve the Markhouse Road shop fronts in the vicinity of Ringwood Road Queens Rd.

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