Trafford’s Talbot Road/White City Way Junction Improvement | Consultation Response

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.

Analysis

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.

Improvements?

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:

Diversions cars would have to make from both directions to access the small car park (marked as “Old Trafford” on this map)

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!

Salford Chapel Street/New Bailey Gateway | Junction Improvement Consultation Response

As the Bee Network progresses, more schemes are coming up for consultation. One that’s recently been put up for consultation is the New Bailey Gateway, i.e. a junction improvement in the Salford City Centre at the junction of Chapel Street and New Bailey Street.

Consultation Response Template

If you just wish to respond to the consultation and want a template for some suggestions, please see below. Please change the wording to have the most effect as duplicated emails are often ignored:

I am writing to support Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) 2387 (New Bailey Gateway Phase 2). I support the proposed turn bans, one way restriction, and parking/loading restrictions to carry out the highway safety scheme proposed at the junctions of Chapel Street, Bloom Street, and New Bailey Street. The restrictions will make walking and cycling safer, and further discourage motor vehicle traffic in the city centre, as per the city’s transport strategy.

This can be sent to phlegal@manchester.gov.uk before 25th March 2022 to support the proposals.

Analysis

The current plans can be seen on the Salford Council website (click “New Bailey Gateway Phase 2”) or in the image below. The light blue lines are where the new kerbs will be: i.e. this design represents a significant extension of the footways and tightening of the road. This will improve the pedestrian experience and slow motorists.

These proposals represent a large improvement over the current layout which can be seen below:

Some followers may be disappointed that this junction is not of the CYCLOPS style that Greater Manchester is pioneering with dedicated walking and cycling crossings, however I believe that the design is still a very positive one and provides a very good level of service for walking and cycling.

We can see that there are several turn bans:

  • No left turn from Chapel Street Eastbound into Bloom Street Northbound
  • No right turn from Gore Street into New Bailey Street
  • No right turn from Chapel Street Eastbound into Spaw Street

These turn bans help to eliminate some of the conflicts cyclists could face, especially the banned left turn which prevents cyclists going eastbound on Chapel Street from coming into conflict with cars turning left across them into Bloom Street. Keeping cyclists integrated with traffic also means that cyclists are likely to benefit from longer/more frequent green lights than if they had to wait for their own signal phase as with a CYCLOPS junction.

In the westbound direction along Chapel Street, there is what is known as a “Cycle Gate“.

Cycle Gate Transport for London

This is a feature that separates all directions of motors and cycles entirely, so when cycling westbound, there is no interaction with cars at all at this junction. The linked article explains it in more detail but it essentially works as a signalised Advance Stop Line with an early release for cycles. It also cleverly integrates the Spaw Street junction to prevent any left hooks here. While it isn’t confirmed or denied on the plan above, the Eastbound cycle lane on Chapel Street could receive an early-release green light when the Cycle Gate gets a green light, to assist cyclists with motor-free movements even more!

Bloom Street is a short cul-de-sac so there is likely to be little issue with not having any specific cycling provision exiting this arm as traffic levels should be very low.

Similarly while the New Bailey Street arm is relatively busy at the moment, there will soon be a Bus Gate on the bridge from Manchester, vastly reducing the amount of traffic emerging from this arm, so it might well be much more comfortable for cycling too.

Improvements?

I believe the design should incorporate two stage right turn markings. With the current proposal, turning right on any arm except from Chapel Street to Bloom Street (thanks to the cycle gate) will be quite difficult and intimidating. You will be required to move into the centre of the road and wait there while traffic passes on both sides at speed. A two stage right turn will give cyclists a safe place to wait.

My sketch above shows in purple where the right turn boxes could be located, and the blue arrow shows the path that a right turning cyclist would take from New Bailey Street onto Chapel Street: they would wait for the green light on New Bailey Street, then proceed into the right turn box on their left. Here, they would wait for the Chapel Street signal to go green and then proceed ahead safely. There is some additional delay in waiting for the second signal, but the perceived safety is increased.

To make this uncommon movement clearer, signage could be installed on all arms as TfL have frequently done, explaining how to use this infrastructure:

The scheme represents a significant improvement on cycling provision in the city centre and requires your support!

Cycling in a Winter Wonderland: Cycling through snowy conditions

There are plenty of good reasons to stay on your bike when the weather gets chilly. For local journeys, you probably could be at your destination by the time you’ve defrosted the car! Public transport may not be running on time, or even at all, and will likely be busier.

Depending on the sort of weather you’re planning to ride in, there are different considerations to take into account:

Time of journey

If your journey is not time specific, consider making it later in the day. In the UK, the snow and ice will likely have at least started to melt, meaning you can pretty much ride whatever bike you want.

If you stick to main roads and set off later, the traffic will have melted most of the snow and ice.

If you stick to main roads and local feeder roads, you should be OK with your regular bike, although take care on shared pavements, cycle tracks, and cycle lanes, which may still be icy. Also, local roads may still have a lot of ice or slush on, so take extra care here.

Clothing

Clothing is going to depend a lot on the length of your ride. If you’re just nipping to the shops, regular winter clothing and some gloves will likely be enough. For longer rides, layers are the name of the game. A typical outfit might be: padded cycling shorts, running/cycling leggings, waterproof overtrousers, cycling jersey/T-Shirt, tracksuit jacket, waterproof/padded jacket. You may also want to wear a balaclava if you think your nose and ears might get cold, an extra pair of socks, or cycling overshoes to keep feet warm, and glove liners to provide an extra layer on your hands. All of the above can be found very cheaply from Decathlon, Go Outdoors, or even eBay/Amazon, you don’t have to break the bank.

Bike choice

As mentioned above, if you choose your route and time of journey wisely, most bikes will fare OK. However, if you intend to go off the beaten path, or need to travel early before the council have been out salting the road, something more substantial will likely be needed. The two main options are to fit your existing bike with Winter tyres, or to use a mountain bike:

Winter tyres have 2 or 4 rows of metal studs embedded in the tread that can grip better on icy surfaces. Mountain bikes have much wider, balloon-y tyres with nubs that dig into snow and mud for better grip.

Winter tyres can be quite pricey and difficult to fit, but do provide excellent grip on icy roads. The main downside is that they’re extremely heavy and have a lot of drag, so on days without ice, you will be much slower and more exhausted. For this reason, they are better fitted to a second bike (or second pair of wheels) if you have one, so they can be swapped on or off at a moment’s notice.

A mountain bike is much more suited to deeper snow and slush. It will not fare well on sheet ice. Mountain bikes also generally have lower gearing, which allows you to slowly and steadily spin the back wheel which provides a more stable ride through slippery conditions.

Disc brakes are also very advantageous if possible as they are much less susceptible to slush coating the braking surface and pads.

Your hardiness will be rewarded with views like this.

Riding Tips

Perhaps most important is the manner of riding. You can still make almost all the journeys you’re used to, but they will likely be a bit slower than usual. Some important tips:

  • Pedal slowly and steadily. Try to keep your rear wheel spinning at a constant rate.
  • Brake at a consistent and slow rate too. Anticipate where you might have to stop (e.g. T junctions) and slow well in advance.
  • Only cross tram tracks at a 90 degree angle. Try to indicate to motorists behind to stay back while you perform this manouvere.
  • Avoid cambered surfaces, or crossing over surfaces with a vertical upstand (i.e. a non-flush kerb). Easy to lose control here.
  • When on main roads, consider claiming the lane as the centre of the lane or the left tyre track will likely be less slippery, and it discourages unsafe overtaking.

Finally, when you get home, try to rinse off as much of the slush as possible. This might have road salt mixed in, which can start to eat away at your components.

Conclusion

Cycling in the snow and ice isn’t that difficult. It can be done with regular winter clothing and your regular bike, if some considerations are taken into account! And of course, there’s no shame in being a fair-weather cyclist and taking the car that day! And if you do choose to do it, you’re likely to be rewarded with magical views.