Thursday, 1 March 2012

Convert car lanes to bus-and-cycle lanes, says Jo Walters Masterplan for Brighton's traffic blackspot

1 March 2011. An independent study has called for car lanes to be converted to bus-and-cycle-lanes in Brighton's Lewes Road traffic black spot, and for an immediate end to mixed 2-way cycle-pedestrian traffic along the kerb of the A270/A27 merge slip road where Jo Walters died.

On Friday last week (24 Feb) the Jo Walters Trust released a "Cycling Masterplan" for the A27/A270 Falmer Interchange, where newly qualified school teacher, Jo Walters, lost her life in an accident in 2010.

The Masterplan, authored by traffic planning expert Paul Mynors, recommends "converting the inner (left hand) lane of the A270 in each direction into a wide bus/cycle lane. Within these wide lanes, cycle lanes would be provided where the width is sufficient (4.5m or more). Elsewhere, cyclists would share the inner lane with buses".

This would have the effect of extending on-road cycle lanes coming out of Brighton on the A270 to the east, where at present, cyclists in some places have to share pavements with pedestrians and other cyclists going in the opposite direction.

For those not familiar with the area, the A270, also known as the Lewes Road, is the main link between Brighton and the universities of Brighton and Sussex, the Amex Sports stadium, the city of Lewes and it is a designated Regional cycle route, D90.

The Masterplan says:
"A check on traffic flows showed that in principle this [reduction from 2 lanes of car traffic to one lane] should be possible, now that the A27 Brighton bypass has opened and removed long distance traffic from the area. Between junctions, the flows on the A270 are no longer such as to require two lanes in each direction for general traffic. In 2007 the two-way weekday peak hour flow on the A270 northeast of Coldean Lane was slightly under 1,600."
At the time Paul Mynors started consultations on this project, in May 2011, Brighton and Hove City Council won a £4m grant from the Department of Transport's Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) to make improvements to the Lewes Road, aka A270. The council has been refining these proposals, and invited the public to contribute. One of the new ideas (not included in the original Lewes Road LSTF scheme) was to convert the inner (left hand) lane of the A270 in each direction into a wide bus/cycle lane.  

Plans for Lewes Road will be the subject of detailed public consultation in 2012, following initial consultations undertaken in November / December 2011.

Jo's family started the Jo Walters Trust, which funds diverse community projects, and employed transport consultants to make cycling safer. Transport planner Peter Mynors developed the Masterplan following local consultations that started with a meeting at Brighton and Hove Council offices on 24 May 2011. 

Community cycle groups Bike Train & Lewes Road for Clean Air (LRCA) worked with the Trust and transport planner Peter Mynors in developing this plan.

LRCA spokesperson Duncan Blinkhorn said on Friday 25 February: "Jo was a Brighton University student who was killed in an accident while cycling along the cycle track by the Lewes Road at Falmer in July 2010. A tragic accident due in part to the inadequate width of the shared two-way cycle track at the A270/A27 interchange outside Sussex University."

Mr Blinkhorn added: "The plan has also informed the City Council's developing vision for The Lewes Road which will go out for consultation from 16th April. We look forward to doing more to help turn these ideas into a reality of improved cycling conditions during the coming months and years."

At the spot where Jo Walters was killed the cycle lane runs on the pavement alongside the A270 as it feeds onto the A27. Here, the Masterplan makes a call for immediate action: east and westbound cycle traffic should be separated by signage - east-bound (uphill) cycle traffic only should use the pavement alongside the A270. Westbound, downhill traffic should use the quieter, parallel Stoney Mere Road. If the Masterplan was fully implemented, so far as I can see, the left hand lane of the A270 will be converted to a bus and cycle lane as far as the actual merge with the A27 - and then it will leave the A27 and join Stoney Mere Road.

In addition, the Masterplan details secondary cycle  lanes around the area, and champions a 'nodal' system of cycle lane sign posting, a system which reportedly works well in the Netherlands. In a complex network of cycle routes, cyclists need more than route numbers to guide them.

For a copy of the Masterplan, please visit the Jo Walters Trust

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