Trafford Council have opened a consultation on their latest proposals for the Bee Network. The Talbot Road/White City Way improvements were first proposed way back in 2018. Originally the scheme was designed to add protection to the narrow cycle lanes around this area, however it appears over the years of development it has evolved to be more of a junction improvement, taking the innovative CYCLOPS design developed in the meantime on board.
The council’s proposals can be seen on the consultation page, and below. Be sure to respond to the consultation by 13 March 2022!
The differences with the existing situation can be seen easily:
Motorists lose a left turn slip lane onto White City Way in the proposed redesign, and pedestrian crossings are vastly simplified and added across all arms. This is a large improvement: currently only two arms have pedestrian crossings, meaning a detour and lots of waiting for pedestrians.
Cyclists have been moved from unprotected carriageway lanes onto dedicated cycling tracks and cycling crossings throughout the junction, and cycles now have dedicated space and crossings on every arm.
While it is not stated on these plans, it is safe to assume that the CYCLOPS will operate very similarly to those already installed on Chorlton Road at Royce Road and Stretford Road junctions. This means that both directions of cars will be given green lights in turn, while all pedestrian and cycle crossings are held on a red light. Then, all cars will be stopped and all pedestrians and cycles can go. A video of this operation can be seen here:
This has significant safety benefits because it means all cycle/car, pedestrian/car, and pedestrian/cycle conflicts are safely managed, however it can lead to delays for walking and cycling because their green lights are relatively infrequent to keep cars flowing.
Regardless, this design should be supported as an improvement on the current situation, but requests should be made to improve journey times for pedestrians and cycles in some way.
The simplest possible way to improve the proposed design for pedestrians and cyclists is to double the number of green lights they get. So for example, traffic on Talbot Road would run, then a ped/cycle green, then traffic on White City Way, then a ped/cycle green, and repeat. Trafford Council have expressed a desire to reduce (and at one point even remove!) through traffic along Talbot Road, so this is an easy solution that does exactly this.
Another way would be to tweak the junction slightly to allow pedestrians and cyclists to proceed through the junction at the same time as motor traffic, making it more convenient for everyone! Currently this can’t be done as there’s a chance of a driver turning left/right over the crossings, so when drivers have a green, peds/cycles must have a red. By cleverly removing and separating driver turning movements, we can maximise the amount of green time for active travel. Below is a sketch I produced showing a possible layout:
The eastbound approach has been changed to a left only lane and an ahead only lane. The westbound approach has been changed to an ahead only lane and a right only lane. Right turn pockets wouldn’t be needed as motorists turning into White City Way would never have to wait in the junction: their dedicated stage would ensure no oncoming traffic. The small (and currently disused) car park at the bottom of the image would be accessed only from White City Way: the very few cars who need to use it would have to make a minor diversion but this is well worth it for the increased efficiency of this layout:
The signal staging diagram shown on the sketch above shows an example of how it could work to maximise ped/cycle green time while allowing good throughput for motorists too. Black arrows represent movements motor vehicles have a green light for, black lines with a horizontal tip represent motor vehicles held on a red light, green arrows represent movements that pedestrians and cycles have a green light for.
The sketch also includes examples from London of these two signal layouts, showing how they could look. An example of the “hold the left” London layout can be seen on my video here which shows how the ahead filter arrow works to allow motorists, peds, and cyclists to proceed while left turning motors are temporarily held:
I think this tweaked layout would provide a much higher level of service for walking and cycling while maintaining access and high capacity for motorists (if that’s important to a council who’s declared a climate emergency).
Be sure to respond to the consultation above, at least supporting the council’s proposals, but perhaps making some of the above suggestions, or suggestions of your own!