Thursday, 4 February 2016

A tale of hope

On the eatern edge of Plymouth a new town is being built. It's called Sherford, and eventually it will contain 7 000 new houses, a few schools, shops and more. Naturally this will generate a rather large volume of new traffic and various bits of road around the area are being upgraded or changed.

This includes the junction of Stanborough Road and Haye Road with Elburton Road, where the roundabout is being removed and being replaced with a traffic-light controlled junction.

When work started, the cycle lanes on Elberton Road were suspended, and the despised "Cyclist dismount" signs were put up. This happened despite the DfT's guidelines clearly stating that those signs should NOT be used where motor vehicles are still allowed through (excepting motorways, of course).

Elburton Road is a 40mph road, and that junction is on a hill top, meaning regardless from which side you approach it (excepting Stanborough Road) you'll be cycling uphill. You will then be faced with the stupid suggestion of dismounting and walking your bike through the roadworks, or taking your life in your own hands by trying to merge with a 40mph traffic stream consisting of drivers who get aggressive at being held up because they saw the "Cyclist dismount" signs.

That was predictably a stupid situation and the mind boggles at why supposed educated people couldn't foresee the trouble that would cause.

I objected loudly to that situation, and various other cyclists joined in. And then Plymouth Cycling Campaign waded in, too.

Now the work on Sherford is being jointly coordinated between South HAms District Council and Plymouth City Council, and sadly (though unsurprisingly) the response from Plymouth City Council (PCC) was, well, pretty much non-existent.
Given that the road works were taking place inside the city of Plymouth, you'd have thought that PCC's cycling offiver, who sits in on Plymouth Cycling Campaign (PCyC) meetings and has had heavy involvement with the Sherford project would've foreseen this issue, and have acted sooner to avoid it. You'd be wrong if you thought that. His silence was deafening.

A sub-group within PCyC sent a strongly-worded email to the contact at South Hams District Council (SHDC), asking if they should request the Health and Safety Executive for input, and the response from SHDC was quick: they arranged for PCyC to meet the project manager on-site the next day.

Within days, the "Cyclists dismount" signs were removed. In their place, new signs appeared, saying "Do not overtake cyclists" and "Allow cyclists to merge". Additionally, the speed limit was dropped to 30mph through the roadworks.

The contractor doing the work also does a great deal of other work in and around Plymouth. We can only hope that they've finally seen the light with regards to keeping cyclists safer through roadworks, and with just a bit of luck the changes implemented here they'll start doinmg as standard elsewhere. Time will tell, but there definitely is hope.

As for Plymouth City Council? Well, we're STILL waiting for them to respond.