Monday, 12 September 2016

Bearsway Design

Twitter does not provide enough space to explain why many residents, even those who are pro cycling, are annoyed about Bearsway.

I will outline the design flaws that have personally affected my travel on this route.

I have yet to cycle it, but I have a couple of good friends who commute on it.
I have walked it, driven on it and travelled by bus on it.

It could have been so much better !

It appeared to be driven through with little consultation of the public and from what I have heard any suggestions which were made were ignored.

OK, starting at the Milngavie end ...

Cyclists are expected to take the following route around a roundabout to enter the Bearsway path. Now, this roundabout is usually very very busy, often with dumper trucks and it is hair raising enough in a car let along a bicycle. If you came from where I live in Milngavie, you would have to take the route I have marked in red to enter the bearsway,., across 3/4 lanes of waiting traffic.

The obvious solution for the cyclists would have been to have had a single track cycle way on both sides here, with the Glasgow bound one then joining up with the Kelvin Timber stretch.

Now the next bit is a more minor complaint but if you are driving from the Burnbrae Roundabout and driving towards Glasgow, as you come on to the road from the roundabout you are faced with three lanes - now it could confuse someone as how are you to know that its two lanes coming towards you and not two on your side of the road ?!?  And you are so close to that oncoming and heavy traffic -often with lorries etc. Remember this is an A Road - its the main road from Glasgow to Stirlingshire - it has heavy traffic and no central gap or barrier. And possible confusion over lanes...
OK so a few metres further on and the lane coming towards you is now one lane and there is some parking for the houses which you see high on the right - this is their main parking - across a cycle lane - but its also possibly used by the leisure club who now cant park on the main road - however its not obvious in this photo but if people come out the drivers door of the parked car they are basically going to be standing in the course of the traffic - there is no leeway or extra space.

OK drive on about 40metres past Kelvin Timber entrance and you find the next design flaw. This is to do with the cycle path - I have photographed it looking back towards Milngavie to show you what the problem is. Now at the pedestrian/cycle crossing here, the path actually crosses across the main road. The following photograph shows what you will encounter if happily cycling out from Glasgow on the track : 
If you are cycling to Milngavie the fact that you now need to cross at the pedestrian crossing is indicated by the tiny wee arrow pointing to the left - can you see it ?!?  now imagine you assume you are on a nice cycle path ... or you are in a group eg with young kids cycling up front - do you think they will notice this ? ... because if they fail to notice it the next thing is you could be cycling right off the pavement and into the path of that oncoming traffic ... There is a bit of a bollard that has latterly been put in - but again a black bollard with a white circle - what does that mean to you ? Hopefully it makes you think STOP!! 

The next issue is a few metres further on. Because of the cycle track and the extra pavement in the middle plus the chevrons protecting a right turn into some houses, the well used pavement on the right hand side now has heavy traffic right close next to it. This is a pavement that is well used between Bearsden and Milngavie and by people using the Sports Centre. There is also a bus stop there on the right that you cant see in this photo. But I find this is now quite a hair raising pavement to walk along. Yet the wide pavement all the way along Kilmardinny, that you can see on the left of the photograph, has not been incorporated in any way into the design. This pavement is rarely used and perhaps only by a few people coming from the Sports centre, the bulk of whom are eventually going to cross the road anyway, so it could easily have been halfed in size. I presume it was a matter of budgeting that it would have added to the cost to do this ! But surely the best and safest design should have been used ?

You may have noticed in some of the pictures that there is a large CALA development on the left. Another concern of people is that we are not sure where the exit road from this development is going to be. If they are going to join the people trying to get out of the Allander Sports Centre car park road then good luck to them ! Its bad enough doing this once a week for my exercise class ! But people have been held up here for up to 15 mins regularly. And the Bearsway appears to have made it worse. In my opinion, and maybe its also a good thing ... but because the traffic has been slowed slightly to deal with all the twists and turns, it is now more of a constant heavy stream rather than shorter bursts of traffic with gaps. But it does make it extra tricky to come out of the sports centre road. We will now examine that junction as there are other issues too ! The junction is just coming up on the left in the photo above or to look more closely have a look at the photo below :
So if you are coming from Milngavie (to the left of the pic) and turning left into the Allander, you may or may not have to sit behind a car who may be giving way to people on the cycle track. If you have waited a while then the people on the cycle track may be entirely different to what you viewed while driving along. However to now see who is on the track you would need to look over both your right and left shoulders as the track is behind you while you wait at that give way sign. Now its not impossible - but it not ideal and if you have cyclists who fully assume they have right of way and some of whom could be travelling at 30 mph then again it could be a little bit of a recipe for disaster. Also on a minor point the crossing here is marked as a give way for cyclists but not indicated for pedestrians ...

OK so that is me maybe 200 to 300 metres along the Bearsway - I will highlight the issue with the Reid Avenue turning later and also a particularly tricky bit to drive on where oncoming headlights are facing right into you. Also the fact the pavement is so high there is literally nowhere to go to get out of the way on oncoming lorries etc on your side of the road. Also the fact that if a bus stops everything has to stop. This did not used to happen as it was previously a nice wide road.

I will do all that later as I need to go out now !

And the Hillfoot end is still a mystery as it moves into Bearsway 2 in theory at that stage, even though £300,000 was recently spent upgrading the pavement at the shops there over a 3 month period with great disruption to shops businesses and traffic ! The current entrance to Bearsway at the Hillfoot end is highly dangerous and you do see some young teenage cyclists etc trying this - and I hate to say but they tend to wear black as do a number of commuters on this route - with inadequate lighting of their bikes ....

And further design problems exist in my opinion with the sequencing or lack of sequencing of the lights on the not-very staggered new pedestrian crossing at the bottom of Nethermains Road.  This is not part of Bearsway 1 but part of the whole redevelopment of the Burnbrae / Waitrose roundabout at entrance to Bearsway 1.
Confusion could easily arise if people exit-ing Nethermains Road assume that if they see red lights on the far side and were to assume this meant the lights on their side of the road were also sitting at red when they can in fact be green, as the lights operate separately.

Now this crossing, although separate, is not obviously staggered, so its not obvious. And considering that one street along at the foot of Keystone Quadrant you have a complete pedestrian crossing then you can maybe see where the confusion could arise. Now even myself last night I noticed I had assumed the lights on one side would be the same as the other ... I then quickly realised it wouldn't be ... but it only would take one person in even 1000 or 10,000 to get this wrong with awful consequences. Confusion could also arise in the same way for people turning right into Nethermains Road.
Does anyone know more about how these should have been designed ? link ?