The Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign has today submitted a formal response to the first stage of the consultation to change the road network around Junction 10 in preparation for the new housing development and Golden Valley Cyber Central development. You can read our full response below.
Key areas we highlighted include;
- Introduction of major roundabouts without segregated cycle facilities will greatly increase risk to the most vulnerable users around the new junctions. This is particularly important given the high vehicle speeds, and the increase number of people in this area with the new housing development. We highlighted the recommendations of the Department for Transport that ‘grade separation’ is the recommended level of protection on these routes.
- We welcomed the proposal to signal control the junction with The Green/Moat Lane.
- We highlighted that the loss of some right turns by the creation of the dual carriageway, whilst not used by many drivers, would result in significant disruption of routes for cycle users wanting to access quieter roads.
- We identified that options for Coombe Hill included those which introduce dangerous conflict to cycle users from left turning traffic, and that this kind of filter is no longer recommended.
- We highlighted the importance of safe cycling facilities along the north/south link road between the housing development and the new Golden Valley economic area, where no alternative route exists, and residents would either need to cycle along a dual carriageway or be forced to drive less than a mile to work if no facility is provided.
- We noted the very significant increase in traffic volumes that the new roads will enable, and the consequent impact on the climate change commitment of the council.
We continue to have ongoing discussions with Gloucestershire County Council and Atkins as the scheme develops and will be closely monitoring the responses to the issues raised.
M5 Junction 10 and related schemes
I refer to your consultation on changes to the road network at M5 Junction 10, Coombe Hill and along the A4019. This response is on behalf of Cheltenham & Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign, whose members live and cycle throughout the area affected by the proposals.
Overall impact of schemes on cycling
The schemes include three major new roundabouts at M5 Junction 10 and at either end of the proposed new link road.
Roundabouts on major roads are exceptionally hostile places for cycling and a major deterrent to cycle use. Roundabouts are well known to be less safe for cyclists than for the drivers of motor vehicles. Where vehicle speeds are high and where the circulating space is large (as is the case in these proposals), roundabouts are a particular problem. Each year in Gloucestershire, roundabouts are where more injuries happen to cyclists than at any other type of location and injuries are more likely than average to be serious or fatal.
This aspect of the proposals makes it inevitable that the scheme will create new barriers to cycling and reduce levels of cycling in the area to below that at present. There will be no prospect of meeting Government, Gloucestershire or climate change targets to increase cycle use.
Apart from grade separation, there is no cycle facility answer to the barriers caused by roundabouts. The use of cycle underpasses is recommended by the Department for Transport and Highways England where vehicle flows and speeds are high and we would welcome this, especially at Junction 10. Otherwise, however, we object most strongly to the use of roundabouts at the junctions.
I must particularly emphasise that shared footways and at-grade unprotected cycle/pedestrian crossings are not at all an acceptable approach. Facilities such as these have been incorporated recently along the A419 near Stonehouse and at Cross Keys on the A38. As commonly the case elsewhere, they have proved to be unacceptable to most people and cycle use at these places has gone down as a result. The cost of grade separation should be regarded as a necessary consequence of the changes to benefit motor traffic. For cyclists and other vulnerable road users, the scheme creates nothing but disadvantages. If underpasses cannot be provided, then different junction designs must be used.
It is lamentable that cycling is not mentioned at all in the Junction 10 TAR.
We welcome the proposal to signal control the junction with The Green / Moat Lane. We are concerned, however, about the prohibition of right turns across the dual carriageway from adjacent premises. The alternative routes are not at all trivial diversions for cycles and nor are the roundabouts suitable places for changing direction. These proposals would prejudice mode choice for people living in or visiting premises along the road. Arrangements should be in place for at least cyclists and pedestrians to make direct journeys.
The restriction of access to/from Cook Lane / Withybridge Lane is also a problem. Cyclists make use of this road to/from Main Road and Coombe Hill and access for this needs to be retained. The proposed cycle track along the A4019 could be useful for some people, depending upon the adjacent new development proposals. It is unlikely, however, that it would be useful to people cycling to beyond the M5 (involving twice crossing the road and loss of priority at intermediate junctions) and probably not in the reverse direction either. The track needs to be seen as primarily a local facility, especially as it has no links to the west or south.
It is important, however, that the cycle track is built to a high standard. In particular it should be at carriageway height, not footway height, with a kerb between it and the verge. This is important for arresting overrun errors, especially at night, and encouraging cyclists to keep left. The proposed verge width in option 1 of 1.5 metres should be regarded as the minimum for riding so close to a fast road (cyclists riding west will be closer to oncoming motor traffic than is hardly ever the case when riding on a road); a greater width should be provided wherever possible.
Intermediate junction designs give some concern insofar as the detail is discernible. Cyclists should not have to look behind to see the intentions of potentially turning vehicles. Sightlines, as set out in LTN1/20, should be met, as should the recommended minimum radius of 4 metres for cycle tracks at the approach to all junctions to ensure visibility and stability.
The principal concerns here involve the turning lane from north to east, where proposed (options 1 and 2). Access to the slip lane from the north should require vehicles to make a conscious left turn out of the ahead lane rather than for the approach lane to split. This helps to enforce priority for cyclists going ahead; they are otherwise vulnerable to left-hooks from turning traffic.
While the exit from the turning lane is satisfactory in option 2 (with a give-way within the junction), the longer free-flow exit in option 1 would be unsafe for cyclists who would neither have priority to regain the left side of the road nor be easily able to see traffic behind in order to manoeuvre safely. This type of filter is dangerous. All-in-all, our preference is first option 3, then option 2.
It is understood that this road will, in due course, give access to new development. Consideration should therefore be given from the outset as to how cycle access is to be provided. A cycle track parallel to (but not immediately adjacent to) the new road could be useful for many people; at the least passive provision should be made in the design of the major structures along the road, such as the viaduct and bridge.
The guidelines set out in Local Transport Note 1/20 should be regarded as the minimum requirements for the scheme with respect to accommodating cyclists. In its present form, the design does not meet those requirements. It must be recognised, however, that cyclists are not a homogenous group but cover the widest cross-section of society. Cyclists differ greatly in terms of experience, competence, aspirations, attitudes to risk and optimum speed (the latter being closely related a cyclist’s physique and has implications for the effort required to cycle). No one option is likely to satisfy all cyclists but the scheme should seek to accommodate as many people as possible. For everyone, however, the ability to ride at their personal optimum cadence and to maintain momentum are very import considerations.
The proposals are not compatible with climate change strategy which seeks to reduce motor vehicle miles while encouraging sustainable alternatives. This scheme will almost certainly do the opposite. Nor are the proposals compatible with air pollution and health strategies, which have similar objectives.
We believe that the scheme promoters should show compromise to ensure that it is not only a scheme for motor vehicles but that it accommodates all road users, and in more than a tokenistic way. The adoption of safer and less hostile junctions are primary requirements for achieving this.
Photograph that accompanies this article: M5 Junction 10, photographed by Bob Embleton CC2.0 (Geography)