Sunday, 25 September 2016

Map Signs Are Useful

OK, this post is a bit niche, but let's pause for a minute and think about how we can multi-purpose the humble traffic direction sign and make things (a little bit) better.

My industry is often accused of ruining our towns, cities and rural places with traffic sign clutter. This is often true, but there will be a need to warn, inform and regulate for the foreseeable, so signs are here to stay!

A good principle to work with is that everything we place on our streets has to do a job (a real job, mind) and things that do more than one job are even better. Map signs are one such thing which do more than one job. On the face of it, they give directional information but they can also show us what the road ahead looks like. Here's an example from Basildon;

The sign in the top right corner is placed well in advance of the roundabout so a decision can be taken early on which direction to take. Not only does the sign actually tell the driver there is a roundabout coming up, it tells us that there is a left turn slip road (there is is on the main image), gives us the destination information to local places and gives a rough idea of how the roundabout is laid out. How about this bit of super-madness at Hemel Hempstead;

The map sign certainly shows the horror ahead, which is a roundabout with six mini-roundabouts around it (yes, you can go both ways around the main roundabout!). And here is one final roundabout in Dagenham which has been created by merging two;

The common thing with those three examples is that the signs explain the road layout quite clearly, but the layouts need explaining as they are unusual and less than intuitive for those unfamiliar with them and to a certain extent, a way of adding motor capacity to existing junctions. Map signs can also be used at T-junctions, like this example near Epping where the junction has a skew;

Here's one more in Lambeth which is designed to stop drivers taking a wrong turn before they get to this side road;

Here's another in Havering-atte-Bower which shows a sharp on the main road bend to the right, a side road to the left, destinations and the start of as weight limit.

Map signs are not rocket science to be sure, but they are a helpful little tool in the highway engineer's toolbox. When they are well-designed they not only provide important destination information, but they show what the road ahead looks like and what restrictions might be coming.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

200th Blog Post : London Kidical Massive 2016

Yesterday was the 2016 international Kidical Massive ride Here in London, a group of families from all over the Capital gathered together to celebrate to simple pleasure of getting about under their own steam.

My family attended last year's ride around Regent's Park which was immense fun and it was where the cargobike bug bit me, the only problem was that there was no protection from motor traffic. 

This year, we took to London's new and protected CS3 route from the Tower of London to St. James's Park where we stopped for a picnic. Here are some photos from the ride which I think is a wonderful thing for my 200th post!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Every Day Is Cycle To Work Day

Today was the annual cycle to work day which celebrates getting to work by pedal-power (no surprise there!)

I posted a little set of photos from cycle to work in 2014 and this year I thought I'd do it again. Not that much has changed sadly, but it's a snapshot of the hotch potch of provision in Outer London (pretty typical I'd imagine). At least this year, there was some nice new stuff to use.

So, I'm onto the shared path next to the trunk road which is
better than mixing with high speed lorries!

There's a pinch point between a line of trees in the park
and some guardrail where there is always people walking.

One of several side roads where you have to slow down
look behind you and cross away from the desire line.

As usual, drivers pile off the main road without checking
their exit is clear and with no green man (or bike!) it's hard to cross.

The usual two lanes of slow moving traffic. The shared track
is not bad and this section doesn't have many people
walking. The surface is far from smooth though.

I think you'd be mad to be on the road here, but depending
on the time I travel, I normally see one chap sticking to the road.

This side road has a two-stage staggered toucan crossing,
but going to work, I rarely use the inset crossing as it's tight
on the bike. I cross on the road in two halves.

An old attempt to provide separation, but people walking and
cycling prefer to be away from traffic, so we have conflict.

A quick short cut through the retail park because it is better
than the shared use track which is cluttered with massive signs
an assortment of posts.

Here is a two stage non-staggered toucan with nearside
(puffin style) signals. I generally take a gap in traffic because
it normally takes a minute or more to get a green man on each
half. It's terrible and needs to be changed.

Off the big road onto a local, but still main road. There's
not enough space for all here, but normally we all cope and
it's still better than the road which I used to use until recently.

I don't use the road anymore as after the bus stop, this
new layout has recently been constructed.

The shared use track gives way to separate walking and
cycling space in the form of a parallel crossing. There is
even an idea imported from across the North Sea to avoid
having to step onto the ground at the stop line.

An "all green" comes in for people crossing the side road and
the main road via the toucan crossing to photos up (running
off to the right, and connecting a cycle track on the other side
of the road).

On the far side of the junction, a separate cycle track rises
from carriageway level and directs people cycling towards town.

Space is tight to start with and so the track runs next to the
footway, but with a 35mm step up provided by a forgiving kerb.
On the carriageway side, we have a general 60mm high kerb
which gently rises and falls to 25mm at vehicle crossings. Some
additional visual priority is provided by the double yellow lines.

There is a compromise in that the track and verge would
have been better swapped here, but many trees and utilities
made this cost prohibitive. In any case, the money ran out here
and the track slopes down into an advisory cycle lane. The
double yellow lines help show people cycling that there is
a bit of a squeeze ahead.

Then it's back to business as usual, but there is a tantalising
view of the space from which the cycle track was won.

Picking up traffic, not helped by a delivery to a pub.

A perfect morning for cycling and I'm left wondering where
all the cars have gone as it's not usual so quiet.

Off the main road into a side street which is largely quiet,
but would be an ideal place for a bit of filtering as local
drivers use it as a cut through to avoid the main road
(as I am doing!)

There must be something in the air as this person gave
me loads of space.

Wonderful - I'm turning right and this PLAC has blocked
the view.

I'm nearly at the office, just this roundabout to turn right at.

Onto a narrow Medieval street.

And finally, the cycle parking compound which is pretty busy
today. With all of the fuss in Central London, people forget that
the Capital is far bigger and far worse. Perhaps with little oases of
infrastructure here and there!