Sixhills Street Superhighway!

Actually, I intensely dislike the term ‘Cycle Superhighway’. It’s so over the top when all you need is to call them is Cycleways (if indeed they’re actually properly designed and separated from traffic, which many so-called Cycle Supehighways are not!)

Sixhills Street is part of the councils so-called Humberston Pedalway, their designated route from Humberston into Grimsby centre for cyclists. Taking this route to cycle into Grimsby town centre, it takes you along Humberston Rd, across Durban Rd and left down Julian St. You have to give way at Weelsby St and Ladysmith Rd, then follow Sixhills St, giving way at Convamore Rd, Heneage Rd and again at Hainton Ave, finally arriving in the town centre via Pasture St rail crossing.

Facing north up Sixhills Street: the junction with Heneage Rd and a traffic-calming bump in the background.

Facing east up Sixhills Street: the junction with Heneage Rd and a traffic-calming bump in the background. (click on picture to enlarge)

At the moment, Sixhills Street is not very cycle friendly. Even though it’s a narrow road it is shared with two-way through traffic and it’s very uncomfortable to ride on due to traffic-calming bumps.

Heading into Grimsby town centre: the junction with Hainton Ave.

Heading into Grimsby town centre: the junction with Hainton Ave.

Continuing into Grimsby town centre along Sixhills Street.

Continuing into Grimsby town centre along Sixhills Street.

However, Sixhills Street presents a perfect opportunity to create something very good. If it’s NE Lincs council’s preferred cycle route into town, then make it something special, something people will want to cycle on. As it is, it’s not a very pleasant experience!

  • Make it closed to vehicular through-traffic, using bollards to allow vehicular access for residents. These would prevent through-traffic for cars and trucks but would allow cyclists a through-route.
  • Make traffic access one way and use the road space freed-up to create a separated two-way cycle lane.
  • These measures would then allow the traffic-calming bumps to be removed, allowing for a smooth, comfortable surface on the cycleway.
  • Put in crossings at Ladysmith Rd and Hainton Ave, and give Sixhills St priority over Weelsby St and Heneage Rd.

These modest measures would allow someone cycling into town on the Humberston Pedalway a degree of continuity, making it feel a bit more like a fully-fledged cycling route, and they would be another step to prioritising cycling.

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Prioritising cycling: roundabouts

As the penny slowly drops and the various benefits of cycling begin to be recognised at national government and local authority level, there are simple ways in which cycling can begin to be prioritised in NE Lincs. It’s not rocket science and by progressively improving the cycling infrastructure the message that cycling is being taken seriously will come across and more people will feel it’s safe to cycle.
The crossing at Hewitts Circus on Taylors Ave.

The crossing at Hewitts Circus on Taylors Ave.

Look at roundabouts. This is a photo of Hewitt’s Circus near Tesco’s, on the Humberston Pedalway. The pedalway (actually a shared walkway and cycleway) meets the roundabout with a pair of painted broken lines. What do these mean? Who has right of way? It’s not clear. The usual practise is they are ignored by motorists, and cyclists and pedestrians have to wait for a gap and take their chance to cross. The car has priority and everyone else has to wait.

These are dangerous places for cyclists and pedestrians, as the tragic death of Lynne Dring, who was killed at this very roundabout whilst trying to cross in January this year, so sadly demonstrates. These crossings are examples of bad design and it’s past time they were changed!
Bad design creates unnecessary danger.

Bad design creates unnecessary danger.

My suggestion therefore is this:
  • Make these clearly inadequate painted lines a raised crossing, at the same height as the pedalway that leads to and away from them. This would effectively make it a ‘sleeping policeman’,  a speed hump, forcing the approaching motor traffic to slow down;
  • Give priority to cyclists and pedestrians by making the approaching motor traffic give way on these crossings;
  • Make the speed limit on larger roundabouts 20mph, and on smaller roundabouts such as Hewitts Circus a maximum 15mph.

These simple measures will help to save lives, reduce casulaties and make cycling on the pedalway safer, smoother and quicker. It will also send the message that people walking and cycling (ie. those who are vunerable to being injured or killed when hit by a vehicle) take priority over cars and trucks.

I’ve used Hewitts Circus as the example, but this can be applied to all roundabouts where there is a cycle lane. Toll Bar roundabout between Waltham and New Waltham is another prime example. Have you tried getting across there on your bike? It’s extremely busy and dangerous. Replace the painted broken lines with raised crossings prioritised for cyclists and pedestrians, and slow the traffic. Please. It won’t cost much but it will speak volumes and make a huge difference!

No doubt some will object: “You can’t do that, it will slow the traffic and have cars backing up around the roundabout!” Well, what is so bad about that? Drivers driving more slowly at busy junctions? Sounds like a safer situation to me! I’m sure the delay would be minimal, and as these changes become more widespread and familiar, they would simply be accepted, accommodated, and I believe, appreciated for the benefits they bring!

Update: To see how the world leaders in cycling infrastructure do roundabouts, click here!

Shared path on the Ploggers

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The area between Love Lane Corner to Humberstone Rd in Grimsby (commonly known as Ploggers) has a very thin single path along its entire length. It forms part of the Pedalway from Humberston into the centre of Grimsby, yet it’s only approximately 1.5m wide. It is also meant to be shared by pedestrians and cyclists.

Whilst it’s good there is a path there, it’s clearly not wide enough, as this photo shows. It’s clear from this photo there’s a need for a separate, wider cycle path alongside the existing path (you can see the way the grass has been compacted by cyclists on the left of the path). There’s plenty of space to accommodate it and it would greatly improve the experience of the people who use this path.

This situation is symptomatic of many paths in our area. It’s not great that so many are shared between cyclists and pedestrians, and many cycle paths or lanes are far too narrow for their purpose.
Useable space reduced by overgrown bushes not trimmed back in summertime.

Useable space reduced by overgrown bushes not trimmed back in summertime.

It would also be good to trim the over-growing bushes back so that they don’t further reduce the available space of the existing path!

Problem: A shared pedestrian and cycle path that’s nowhere near wide enough to accommodate the people who use it, creating hazards for the young children from the nearby school from passing cyclists and in turn requiring cyclists to leave the path and cycle on the grass in in to pass pedestrians.

Solution: Build a dedicated smooth-surfaced cycle path alongside the existing path, one that is wide enough (at least along most of its length) to enable two cyclists to ride side by side. There’s plenty of space here to do this and it would greatly improve the experience and safety of those who use it. It’s existence may also encourage people to use the Pedalway into town more.

Footnote: As if to emphasize the point, today whilst riding on the grass to avoid a dog-walker, I suffered my first puncture in three years!
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