27 September 2018

Three Rivers Green Party success in improving cycle route proposal
 
In response to our comments and to wider public consultation, Herts County Council has decided to amend the Rickmansworth Ebury Roundabout Cycle Route Improvement Scheme:  
 
* By replacing the guard railing with new Visi-Rail guard railing which will improve the inter-visibility between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle drivers.
* By adding ‘Keep Clear’ road marking to the design at the entry to Nightingale Road
* Have confirmed that the kerbs will be built out and the road markings have been designed to narrow the approach to the Uxbridge arm to one lane and that all dropped kerbs are cycle friendly flush kerbs 0-6mm. 
 
We have now asked the council to make the detailed plans for the amended proposal publicly available for further appraisal.
 
Read below to see our comments in detail and the council's response.
 
Our consultation comments

In general, we support the proposals in principle because they could provide a missing link in the existing route between Rickmansworth and Maple Cross and a step towards making this route safe for young or inexperienced cyclists who have only reached Level 2 of Bikeability training. The proposals could also provide a safe and convenient alternative route around the dangerous roundabout for more experienced cyclists who normally use main roads. 
 
The amended proposals support the Green Party's aim to:
* Make walking, cycling, and public transport the main forms of urban transport.
* Reduce the need for private car usage and the air pollution it causes.
* Improve people’s health by creating more opportunities for physical activity in everyday journeys, such as walking and cycling.
* Make streets safe and friendly places where people choose to spend time.    

However, we have concerns that:
* The proposed crossings of the roundabout exit roads are not as safe as they should be.
* The new route is not fully accessible to experienced cyclists, so many will continue to use the dangerous roundabout itself.

2.1 Crossing Roundabout Exit Roads
Cyclists approach parallel crossings faster than pedestrians, but drivers need to give way to both. So, compared with a zebra crossing, drivers need to clearly see a longer distance of the cyclists' approach path. We, therefore, support the removal of the existing guard rails but feel that more needs to be done to improve visibility. The latest accident remedial scheme for the Ebury Roundabout tried to improve the visibility of pedestrians approaching the existing zebra crossings by reducing the Riverside Drive and Uxbridge Road roundabout exits to just one lane. However the scheme just changed the hatching/white lines and added red tarmac, and so did not have the desired effect. But the new road markings do increase the safety of the roundabout entry points - they improve sight-lines by introducing a gap between the give way lines and the circulating traffic.
 
2.1.1 Exit from Roundabout onto Riverside Drive
* The roundabout exit onto Riverside Drive was originally designed to be used at 40mph. The speed limit of the roundabout itself and the first part of Riverside Drive was reduced to 30mph as part of an early accident remedial scheme, but without changing the geometry of the exit road.
* The exit road narrows from two lanes into one on a bend, so drivers who are unfamiliar with the road may not be aware of the need to merge into one lane until the last minute.
* Motorists create an extra overtaking lane on the roundabout and the roundabout exit. They merge with the main running lane as close to the crossing as they can, very close to the parallel crossing. This distracts drivers in the main running lane and encourages speeding when approaching the crossing.
Suggestions:
Build out the roundabout side of the Riverside Drive traffic island near the roundabout exit, but leave the part near the roundabout entrance unchanged, keeping part of the existing cross-hatching. (So that the roundabout entrance give-way line does not need to be moved and so keeping the gap between the give way lines and the circulating traffic).
Build out one or other side of the roundabout exit (or both) to reduce its width to one lane before and after the crossing.

2.1.2 Exit from Roundabout onto Uxbridge Road
* "Keep Clear" road markings do not keep the entry to Nightingale Road clear, only the exit from it. So not all of the right turn lane can be used. So the right-turning traffic creates an extended right-turn lane on the approach to the parallel crossing. i.e. it becomes two lanes wide and encourages extra traffic to use Nightingale Road southbound, helping to make it a rat-run. The entry to Nightingale Road is mainly used by residents, not rat-runners.
* When there is no right-turning traffic, some motorists use this extended right-turn lane as an overtaking lane and merge with main running lane after the crossing. This distracts drivers in the main running lane and encourages speeding when approaching the crossing.
Suggestions:
* Build out the roundabout side of the Uxbridge Road traffic island near the roundabout exit, but leave the part near the roundabout entrance unchanged, keeping part of the existing cross hatching. (So that the roundabout entrance give-way line does not need to be moved and so keeping the gap between the give way lines and the circulating traffic).
* Move the "Keep Clear" road markings so that they keep the entry to Nightingale Road clear, not the exit.
* Build out one or other side of the roundabout exit (or both) to reduce its width to one lane before the crossing, but widen it again after the crossing to give a right-turn lane and a main running lane.

2.2 Experienced Cyclists
Often, the only way for an experienced cyclist to get from the main road onto the proposed shared-use path is to stop and lift their cycle up the kerb from the carriageway onto the path. 
Suggestions
The proposals would benefit from dropped kerbs (flush with the carriageway and with metal bollards to deter pavement parking) to help with jug-handle manoeuvres from the carriageway onto parallel crossings, at these positions:
* On the Uxbridge Road approach to the roundabout, before the parallel crossing.
* On the Riverside Drive approach to the roundabout, before the parallel crossing.
* On the roundabout exit to Riverside Drive, before the parallel crossing.
Sometimes, because of missing dropped kerbs, the best way for an experienced cyclist to turn from the cyclists' part of a parallel crossing onto the main road is by cycling across the zebra part of the crossing. This could cause conflict with pedestrians. The proposals would benefit from flush dropped kerbs (with metal bollards to deter pavement parking) from the
shared use path to help with jug-handle manoeuvres from parallel crossings onto the main carriageway, at these positions:
* On the Uxbridge Road exit from the roundabout, after the parallel crossing.
* On the Riverside Drive exit from the roundabout, after the parallel crossing.

2.3 Timing of works and school engagement
We hope that the scheme will be amended to deal with our concerns and will be completed, over the summer holidays, as soon as possible. (This would minimise disruption to traffic and give drivers time to become used to the new road layout before school pupils start to use the parallel crossings).
We hope that during the summer term the County Council will vigorously publicise the whole Rickmansworth and Maple Cross cycle route (and this improvement) to pupils of the two secondary schools on the route: The Reach Free School (which is moving to Mill End in September) and St Joan of Arc School, Rickmansworth. (This would change some trips to school by car into trips by cycle and so would help to mitigate the extra congestion and air pollution on the roundabout that will be caused by the move of The Reach Free School).


Reply from Engineer of Integrated Transport Projects at Herts County Council:

Thank you for your email regarding the Councils road safety improvement proposals for the A412 Ebury Roundabout. The improvement works are scheduled to take place October/November 2018.

2.1 
* The majority of the guard railing will be retained for pedestrian guidance. 
* The shared footway will now be widened onto the existing verge to allow for adequate space for pedestrians and cyclists to pass more safely. 
*The guard railing will be replaced with new Visi-Rail guard railing which will improve the inter-visibility between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle drivers.
 
2.1.1
Road markings for the entire Ebury Roundabout have been included in the design of this scheme: 
* The kerb has been built out and the road marking has been designed to narrow the approach to the Uxbridge arm to one lane. It widens again after the crossing to give a right-turn lane and main running lane
 
2.1.2
‘Keep Clear’ road marking has been added to the design at the entry to Nightingale Road.

2.2
* All dropped kerbs are cycle friendly flush kerbs 0-6mm. 
* Bollards can contribute to street clutter and cause difficulties to other footway users, but we will keep your comments in mind when reviewing the scheme following completion.
 
2.3 
We will do our best to engage with the schools to publicise the improved facilities and encourage sustainable journeys to school.