22/01/2016

My views of the work to be carried out on the A12 between Witham & Marks Tey

Beginning of this year I got an email out of the blue in regards to work being carried out to 'improve cycling' along the A12 between Witham & Marks Tey, it was to start in 10 days at the time of the email & now should be started.

I asked for drawings to see what they're doing & eventually I got them despite claims they had sent them to me last year in November. So here's my views of what I have seen by looking over drawings, I will observe it in the stages they have drawn them but some comments are the same throughout the whole plan of works. There was no consultation with those who use or like to use it.

East Witham

The shared path on the slip road onto the A12 already exists, the work is to carry out small bit of widening of this path & a few signs. But due to existing lamposts this path will vary in width as no plans to move the posts.

 

Now to get on or off this path you have to navigate a busy junction & nothing has been done to improve this. Especially for those heading into Witham where you have to join a side road & then use the junction to rejoin the busy road heading into Witham, mixing with HGV's is a major concern.

 

A12 between Witham & Kelvedon

Not much being done here to improve the narrow shared path other than a bit of resurfacing & signs. Hardly an improvement to make it quality walking/cycling infra & below recommended width.

Main concerns are the junctions off the A12, there are no signs to warn drivers people cross here whether its walking or cycling & the speed the drivers be leaving the A12 on these junctions, there be no time to stop. This is the same for all junctions I've seen along A12 on these drawings too.

 
 

West Kelvedon

Again lack of widening, resurfacing of narrow shared path with a few more signs. And like East Witham, the shared paths stop as you head into Kelvedon & want you to join the busy heavy traffic going at speed as they're coming off the A12. Then we start to see paint cycle logos on the road & continues having them on the road into town, unfortunately as any cyclist can tell you they make no difference in the safety to those cycling. What makes them worse is they're going to paint them by the curb, so enforcing the false belief of drivers that cyclists meant to cycle in the gutter.

 

As the road head into Kelvedon, it narrows so cyclists will be given no room to cycle if they do so in the gutter as drivers will not give space when passing & definitely will not move over with traffic coming the other way. Cyclists are allowed to use the whole lane for safer cycling & the logos should reflect this as they are done in other places i.e. Colchester St John's St & Priory St.


There is a new section of path being added, this is to help those leaving Kelvedon to get onto shared path & head to Witham. Problem is you have to turn right onto this path as drivers behind are trying to get past especially if cyclists are made to cycle in the gutter & also the drivers would be picking up speed to match the speed of the A12 thus poorly designed & dangerous. Would've been better to put in an access point to the left to get off the road & prepare to cross it if traffic is bad, not ideal design but better than what been given here.

Kelvedon Town Centre

Unfortunately it looks like Highway England still wants all those using the path along the A12 have to get off at every town & rejoin on the other side of town, again this is poor forward thinking or should I say none at all.

So what are they going to do to make it safer to cycle through these narrow historical streets that were the original route of the A12 & as I know is still used like it was. Well it is yet more gutter cycle logos, that's it & I've already explained this dangerous design.

 
 
 

 And just to prove the cycle logos be even more useless, how would you see them under all the parked cars? Is Highway England really expecting cyclists to cycle along the curb & go around parked cars? This was taken this week on a normal week day on the bus I was on & the bus drivers has problems with drivers giving way to them, so what hope drivers will be safe around cyclists?


This video just proves the mentality of drivers when going through these towns & their narrow historical streets.



East Kelvedon / Feering

Same as through Kelvedon, more painted cycle logos by the curb. Even in Feering on a pinch point they expect you to cycle in the gutter, sorry but this is where you need to take the whole lane if you're brave enough.

 

East Kelvedon

Again we see more painted logos by the curb & where you rejoin the narrow shared path the only improvements are resurfacing & a few signs. Nothing to make it safe to use the infra & have you mix with the heavy fast flowing traffic like it does on West Kelvedon & East Witham.

 

A12 Kelvedon - Marks Tey

This section is getting next to nothing to improve it, a few signs & barely any surface work. Sure haven't made it safer to use as I'll explain, starting with the lay-by for drivers to stop. You have a narrow path right by it, as I'll show in the next pictures its often blocked by those drivers parking on it so others can get onto the lay-by.

 

 
 

Then as you approach Marks Tey, you've got to get onto the Old London Road & again you see those painted logos by the curb. But this road is a single lane so why not paint them in the middle of the road as cars will be parked on the logos & unsafe on this road to cycle in the gutter, often seen HGV's on this road. Even better if we saw actual cycling infra on the grass verge on the right to take you to end of the road & over the bridge to Marks Tey on other side of A12.


 
 

I mean would you like to cycle on this part of the road where even motorcyclists have to mount the path to avoid HGV's?

 

Marks Tey

Finally at the end & you're thrown onto the very busy fast moving traffic filled with HGV's, buses, vans & cars all fighting for space to get where they are going on the A120. Getting out of this junction is practically impossible by bike.

 

Just love the insult of the 'End of route' sign that's meant to be for cycle & shared paths. Obviously proves there is no space for cycling on the adjoining road & good luck in surviving it when you try cycle from here.

Would you honestly like to cycle on the A120 & towards Colchester in this traffic?

 

Conclusion

Well I sure am not impressed, I see nothing here that says Highway England are building forward thinking 21st Century 'Dutch quality' cycling AND walking infrastructure. Again Highway England are proving they prioritise motor traffic against walking & cycling, again they prove it's about funding minimum as possible when it comes to cycling & walking & not bother with functionality.

I've not seen anything to make cycling easy & convenient along the A12, forcing cyclists & walkers to get off at every town & use the narrow historical roads that aren't suitable than have infrastructure along the A12 to go around these historical towns as they add the 3rd lane for motor vehicles. Definitely not suitable for all ages & abilities to cycle on that is for sure! Definitely not suitable for inclusive access & cycling for the disabled! Definitely NOT 'Dutch quality' infrastructure! Would you allow an 8yr old cycle/walk this route? If not then it's not fit for purpose. Again Highway England is showing that they see cycling as a hobby, a leisure time event & not a form of transport.


They sure did not listen or pay attention to my blog I handed to them last year. "Widening of the A12 & the knock on effects to non-drivers" & the whole plan doesn't meet the so called proposed Essex Cycling Strategy. I see the 2 million allocated for this & the other side from Witham to Chelmsford is going to be completely wasted, I sure am not looking forward to seeing how Hatfield Perevel road to Boreham going to be as it's bloody terrible as it is. A narrow road with National speed limit in places & drivers passing far too close, especially the HGV & Bus ones.

One phrase comes to mind in this job & I feel many others Highway England are botching up in the UK & I feel is appropriate, "no matter how much you polish a turd, it is still a turd".

29/12/2015

Looks like the redevelopment of Tollgate could be a good thing for cycling...

Ever since I moved into Stanway area of Colchester, one of the local shopping areas I have within walking/cycling distance is Tollgate & ideal if you have mobility issues & don't drive. Problem I found with it it is not a good environment for walking or cycling due to lack of safe crossing point & main road through it is a fast rat run for drivers going to & from A12.

As for cycling other than the busy fast paced road with impatient drivers, the lack of parking facilities was a big deterrent. The main one for the shopping complex was at one end of the shops, tucked away & so often missed. I didn't know it was there for over a year after shopping at Tollgate.


The other is for McDonald's customers only, so no good unless you go there & fight your way thru oncoming traffic of the Drive-thru & if room amongst the mopeds parked there.


All this & fact Sainsburys relocated out of Tollgate, it wasn't a good place to cycle & shop despite within the area for me to & thus rarely did. Not an inclusive access area to shop that's for sure.

But for the past year or so there's been stirrings of redevelopment of the shopping complex & I know a fair few feel it's not needed as it will 'kill the town centre', I hate to say it the town centre is dying already as its at bursting point with shops & more shops wont help it as the roads are already at bursting point & going to get worse. So I for one am all for the redevelopment as I am a local resident & having more shops here would be beneficial to those like me who avoid the town centre already.


I don't fully agree with the plans tho, I sure don't agree with removal of the only safe crossing point for shared space on a rat run road. We need more safe crossing points & stop it being a rat run by making it for car park access & buses only. This would make it far slower pace on the road & safer for pedestrians & cyclists.

So where am I going with this? Well despite the battle to get planning for the buildings, the car park is already being refurbished ready for the redevelopment. At first I saw the only cycle parking disappearing behind hoardings & had a foreboding feeling of there being nothing for cycle parking, to the point I was taking the bike into the shop with me as no cycle parking...


But it looks like the Tollgate Partnership have seen there is a severe lack of cycle parking & been putting in new ones & in many locations along the shopping complex & all well lite at night too. Many Thanks to them for this!

 

 

Its only the South car park that's been done so far & almost complete, I guess North side is soon once they know the outcome of the planning permission. But I do hope it follows the same trend as this as it definitely means I can cycle there & shop knowing I can park my bike right near the shop I want where it feels safe to for me & the bike day & night.

As for the old location of the only cycle parking? Well its a building & with public toilets...


Definitely a win win for shoppers so far tho I feel some signs are needed to let cyclists know there's new cycle parking.


The plans aren't perfect & I await to see the final redevelopment but so far it is heading in the right direction & perhaps with some advice from cycling organisations we can make it better & not diss the plans too much.