A Quick Guide to Gear Change

In July this year, the Department for Transport released it’s policy paper Gear Change setting out the Government’s plans for cycling and walking in England.

The document recognises not only that there are huge benefits that increased levels of walking and cycling can bring to the country, but that there are also some sizeable hurdles to overcome to get to those increased levels.

At the time of its release the document was broadly welcomed by campaign groups and notable figures in active travel such as Dame Sarah Storey and Chris Boardman. Even the head of the AA who commented that “getting road space balance for all forms of travel is essential so that deliveries, emergency services, disabled drivers, shoppers and buses are not hindered from conducting their crucial roles as well as promoting active travel.”

Four Themes

The policy sets out numerous proposals to tackle issues that are well known to be detractors to people walking and cycling.

1. Better streets for cycling and people.

With support for measures such as low traffic neighborhoods, school streets, a commitment to fund three non-London mini-Hollands, and the introduction of higher standards for cycle design through the LTN 1/20 (which we cover in this post).

It also poses the introduction of at least one ‘zero-emission city’ which they say will have ‘extensive bike lanes, an all electric (or zero-emission) bus fleet, and a ban on nearly all petrol and diesel vehicles in the city centre, with deliveries made to consolidation hubs and the last mile being done by cargo bike or electric van.’ 

2. Putting cycling and walking at the heart of transport, place-making, and health policy.

Which commits to more funding, improved integration with trains and buses, and investment in cycle freight – with the intention to ‘identify one or two small historic city centres with narrow and crowded streets, [where they] will pilot compulsory freight consolidation schemes’, The majority of deliveries would be consolidated at a location outside of the city centre and taken to their final destination in a far smaller number of clean vehicles, using cargo bikes wherever possible. 

3. Empowering and encouraging local authorities.

Giving them more funding, assistance and powers to make improvements and enforce against offences such as entering mandatory cycle lanes.

But there will also be an element of stick to go with the carrot; with funding only given for schemes that meet standards, time limits on works being delivered, and the introduction of Active Travel England – new commissioning body that will act as Ofsted do for schools. 

4. [Enabling] people to cycle and protect them when they cycle.

Through measures such as encouraging GPs to ‘prescribe’ cycling, doing more to combat cycle theft, doing more for vulnerable road users through law and updating the Highway Code.

Twenty Key Principles

Gear Change also sets out 22 points that summarise the key principles to achieving high quality cycle infrastructure, they are:

  1. Cycle infrastructure should be accessible to everyone from 8 to 80 and beyond: it should be planned and designed for everyone. The opportunity to cycle in our towns and cities should be universal.
  2. Cycles must be treated as vehicles and not as pedestrians. On urban streets, cyclists must be physically separated from pedestrians and should not share space with pedestrians. Where cycle routes cross pavements, a physically segregated track should always be provided. At crossings and junctions, cyclists should not share the space used by pedestrians but should be provided with a separate parallel route. 
  3. Cyclists must be physically separated and protected from high volume motor traffic, both at junctions and on the stretches of road between them.
More of facilities like this segregated cycle track in Bradford.
Photo c/o R. Ainsley
  1. Side street routes, if closed to through traffic to avoid rat running, can be an alternative to segregated facilities or closures on main roads – but only if they are truly direct. 
  2. Cycle infrastructure should be designed for significant numbers of cyclists, and for non-standard cycles. Our aim is that thousands of cyclists a day will use many of these schemes. 
  3. Consideration of the opportunities to improve provision for cycling will be an expectation of any future local highway schemes funded by the Government.
  4. Largely cosmetic interventions which bring few or no benefits for cycling or walking will not be funded from any cycling or walking budget. 
  5. Cycle infrastructure must join together, or join other facilities together by taking a holistic, connected network approach which recognises the importance of nodes, links and areas that are good for cycling.
  6. Cycle parking must be included in substantial schemes, particularly in city centres, trip generators and (securely) in areas with flats where people cannot store their bikes at home. Parking should be provided in sufficient amounts at the places where people actually want to go.
  7. Schemes must be legible and understandable. 
  8. Schemes must be clearly and comprehensively signposted and labelled.
  9. Major ‘iconic’ items, such as overbridges must form part of wider, properly thought-through schemes.
  10. As important as building a route itself is maintaining it properly afterwards.
  11. Surfaces must be hard, smooth, level, durable, permeable and safe in all weathers.
  12. Trials can help achieve change and ensure a permanent scheme is right the first time. This will avoid spending time, money and effort modifying a scheme that does not perform as anticipated.
  13. Access control measures, such as chicane barriers and dismount signs, should not be used.
Inaccessible barriers such as the infamous Hob Moor A-frames are a no-no.
  1. The simplest, cheapest interventions can be the most effective.
  2. Cycle routes must flow, feeling direct and logical.
  3. Schemes must be easy and comfortable to ride.
  4. All designers of cycle schemes must experience the roads as a cyclist. 
  5. Schemes must be consistent. 
  6. In rare cases, where it is absolutely unavoidable, a short stretch of less good provision rather than jettisoning an entire route which is otherwise good will be appropriate. But in most instances it is not absolutely unavoidable and exceptions will be rare.

Engagement

Gear Change also makes a strong case that all schemes should involve the public before they’re delivered to increase acceptance and ensure that the end user’s needs are dealt with.

Since it’s rebirth York Cycle Campaign has actively engaged on many schemes, even seeking out engagement when it hasn’t necessarily been offered, and will continue to do so making strong reference to Gear Change and the accompanying documents. We believe in having such as clear document as direct Government policy the case for safe, convenient and accessible cycle infrastructure in York is as strong as ever. If you’d like to be a part of this and aren’t already, then please do join the Campaign.

A Quick Guide to LTN 1/20

Earlier this year the DfT published a new Local Transport Note, LTN 1/20, which sets out a comprehensive national standard for design of cycle infrastructure. The release coincided with with the release of the policy paper Gear Change which set out a vision for increasing walking and cycling – more on that paper this post.

You can access the full Local Transport Note 1/20 from the DfT here.

What’s it for?

Good implementation of the standards set by the LTN will be a major factor in schemes where funding is coming from central sources. Gear Change explicitly states that ‘to receive Government funding for local highways investment where the main element is not cycling or walking, there will be a presumption that schemes must deliver or improve cycling infrastructure to the standards in the Local Transport Note’.

New schemes going through the planning process will also need to pay attention to the recommendations within the LTN, a scheme in Cambridge has already been refused planning approval with failure to provide quality infrastructure as set out in the LTN being listed as a reason for the refusal.

The LTN doesn’t replace the requirement for local authorities such as City of York Council to set their own design standards, but provides a recommended based for them to develop their own standards from. It can be expected that the LTN will therefore feed significantly into the upcoming revision of the city’s Local Transport Plan.

Key Terms
  • Cycle‘/’cyclists‘ as opposed to ‘bicycle‘/’bicyclist‘ to reflect the diversity of machines and users out there.
  • Cycle track‘ are defined as routes for cycling along the highway physically segregated from both motor traffic and pedestrians.
  • Cycle path‘, ‘greenway‘, ‘towpath‘ are routes away from a highway.
  • Cycle lane‘ is part of the carriageway dedicated to cycle for use by cyclists.

5 Core PRINCIPLES

Coherent

Cycle routes should allow people to reach day to day destinations easily in a way that is easy to navigate, avoiding arrangements that are unintuitive or taking cyclists away from the obvious route.

Direct

Cycle routes should be as direct, if not more direct, than the routes available to motor vehicles. Designs which require lots of stop/starting, giving way at side roads, or diversion away from the direct route aren’t considered adequate.

Safe

As well as being safe, emphasis is given to the need for infrastructure to feel safe. Long standing excuses for safety such as narrow advisory cycle lanes are pointedly dismissed as unacceptable.

Comfortable

Quality maintained surfaces, proper widths and favourable gradients are all seen as being crucial to comfort, as is reducing conflict between road user types.

Attractive

Cycle infrastructure should contribute positively to the urban realm, and naturally be attractive to use, whilst the over use of signs and markings should be avoided as they produce clutter – and usually indicate the infrastructure is unintuitive.

Contents

The LTN is broken down into chapter covering different aspects of infrastructure design, along with some introductory chapters setting the scene the LTN covers:

  • Principles for including cycling within masterplanning,
  • Basic design principles,
  • Geometric requirements for cycles (minimum widths, turning circles, gradients etc.),
  • Requirements for three key provision types,
  • Junctions and crossings,
  • Cycle parking,
  • Planning for commercial cyclings,
  • Traffic signs and wayfinding,
  • Construction and maintenance of cycle infrastructure.

This Autumn YCC organised a webinar from Phil Jones, of transport consultancy Phil Jones Associates, for CoYC Councillors. As one of the authors of the guidance, Phil was able to cover in greater detail some of the guidance covered in the document. A recording of the webinar is available to watch on the York Cycle Campaign Youtube channel or below.

Assessment Tools

LTN document also contains two assessment tools for scoring schemes against the document’s standards – Cycle Level of Service (CLOS) and Junction Assessment Tool (JAT). The tools were originally developed for the London Cycle Design standards, and have been adapted for use with the new LTN document.

CLOS scores the overall scheme on a number of factors under the themes of cohesion, directness, safety, comfort, and attractiveness. Scores of 0-2 are awarded against twenty five criteria in order to determine an overall percentage mark for the scheme. A percentage score of 70% is expected in order for schemes to be eligible for funding. For some criteria there are critical fails, such as cycle lanes less than 1.5m wide, if a scheme gets any of these they fail altogether.

JAT assesses junctions against generic criteria and junction specific criteria, scoring each specific movement between 0-2. Again a  percentage score of 70% is expected in order for schemes to be eligible for funding, as well as not scoring 0 on any movement.

The Campaign has developed an interactive spreadsheet to make scoring of schemes against CLOS and JAT easier for campaigns when commenting on proposals. We’ll be making the spreadsheet available for all campaign groups to download and use in the coming weeks.

York Central Access

On the 12th of November, CoYC planning committee approved the reserved matters application for the access road into the York Central development north of the station. York Cycle Campaign spoke at the meeting to welcome the changes that had been made to the design for cycling and walking, but also highlight some remaining concerns about parts of the design. Below is a copy of the statement the Campaign delivered, and you can watch the committee meeting in full on the Council’s Youtube page.


York Cycle Campaign welcomes that York Central access proposals have been revisited to improve their provision against the new LTN 1/20 guidance that came out earlier this year. We believe that the outcome is a generally better scheme more suitable for sustainable travel to and through the site

The Campaign has tested the proposals against the Cycling Level of Service Tool and Junction Assessment Tool provided in the LTN. We have calculated a score for the scheme as a whole as 76%, with some sections such as Millenium Green to Park Street scoring 93% due to the near textbook implementation of the guidance. The DfT pass mark is 70%

There are however, other parts of the scheme which only just meet minimum requirements.

Severus Bridge features a shared pedestrian and cycle path, which the LTN guidance recommends against, except in low speed and low traffic environments. Anyone who stands on Water Lane in the evening rush hour will know that even now this is a popular cross city cycle route. The high parapets of the bridge mean the effective width of this shared path is at its absolute minimum, leading to discomfort of all users.

Concerns have also been raised by Campaign members of the personal security of bridge users, on both this bridge and the East Coast Mainline bridge. The high parapets prevent any natural surveillance from the surroundings – members have already said that they would avoid the route at night due to the concerns.

As conditions 3 and 4 require further design details of both bridges; we would ask that appropriate segregation along Severus Bridge is revisited, and personal security of users for both bridges is considered as part of these conditions.

The plaza area in front of the National Railway Museum has also scored comparatively poorly, only just meeting the pass threshold. This is due to the sudden termination of cycle tracks into a high use pedestrian plaza. This will undoubtedly cause issues. The route through York Central will become a primary city centre to northwest cycle route, and this is being asked to contend with pedestrian access to one of the city’s major tourist attractions. 

We ask that under proposed condition 2; proper and legible segregation of cycle traffic from pedestrian users is considered and implemented around the National Railway Museum for the safety of all.

We support the adoption of option 2 for segregated cycle provision through the Leeman Road Tunnel, as this is the only option of the three proposals to meet LTN guidance. But ask the applicants to improve provision for connections to the rest of the cycle network, particularly in the area outside the Royal Mail Depot.

Finally, whilst we recognise that they are not included within this particular application, we would like to see a commitment to  the principles of the new LTN 1/20 guidance being applied to other aspects of York Central, such as the Wilton Rise access and connection through to the Salisbury Terrace area.

Summary of LTN scores for reference

Water Lane Access

Scores 78% on the CLOPS test. The weakest scores are as a result of Severus Bridge adopting a shared cycle/pedestrian path rather than having proper segregation, and the design of the bridge preventing overlooking security of pedestrians/cyclists using it.

Scores 71% on the JAT test. Loses points due to segments where shared cycle/pedestrian paths are used rather than proper segregations.

Millenium Green through to Park Street

Scores 93% on the CLOPS test. Weakest score comes from personal security concerns due to large parapets on ECML bridge blocking any overlooking.

Link to Leeman Road Tunnel

Scores 85% on the CLOPS test, score is reduced due to ends of link where it transitions to on-road provision.

Hudson Boulevard

Scores 97%, only loses 1 point due to assumption that 85th percentile motor traffic speeds would be between 20-30mph.

Cinder Street

Scores 59% on CLOPS, the worst scoring section, due to the lack of dedicated cycle infrastructure. 

Foundry Street

Scores 40% on CLOPS, due to lack of proper cycle provision. Road is identified as only initially closed to motor traffic, so has been tested as a future open state.

Adjacent NRM & Coal Drops

Scores 70% on CLOPS. Biggest losses are due to the potential pedestrian conflict around the NRM.

Leeman Road Tunnel

Scoes 68% on CLOPS, would score highly if provision as that through the tunnel was consistent through the section, but loses points because of shared sections in front of Royal Mail Depot. 

York Outer Ring Road Proposals

City of York Council have been holding a consultation on the proposed dualling of the A1237 (Northern Outer Ring Road) between Clifton Moor and the A64 Hopgrove Roundabout. As well as dualling the road along the existing route, the proposals include a shared cycle/footpath running parallel to the road and enlarging existing roundabouts along the route. More information about the scheme can be found on the Council’s consultation page, where you can also lodge a comment up until Monday 16th November 2020.

The proposed dualling section and roundabouts
Map data © Google

Below is a copy of the Campaign’s response to the consultation.


York Cycle Campaign is significantly concerned by the proposals put forward for the dualling of the A1237 and their lack of safe provision for pedestrians and cyclists. Whilst the proposed shared cycle track to run parallel to the scheme meets most the requirements in the latest cycle infrastructure design guidance, all but one of the roundabouts along the route fall woefully short. This is particularly pertinent as 20% of cyclists KSIs occur at roundabouts.

The Department for Transport’s Gear Change document is Government policy and needs to be embedded in City of York Council’s standards. In particular the following principles from Gear Change are not fully met by the current proposal:

1. Cycle infrastructure should be accessible to everyone from 8 to 80.

2 Cyclists must be treated as vehicles and physically separated from pedestrians, with separate parallel routes at crossings and junctions.

3. Cyclists must be physically separated and protected from high volume motor traffic.

6. To receive Government funding for highways investment where the main element is not cycling or walking there will be a presumption that schemes must deliver or improve cycle infrastructure to the standards of the LTN1/20.

18. Cycle routes must flow, feeling direct and logical.

20. Designers of cycle schemes must experience the roads as a cyclist.

21. Schemes must be consistent.

The cycle campaign has undertaken an analysis of each roundabout using the Junction Assessment Tool provided within the DfT’s Local Transport Note 1/20, a tool which rates each potential movement through the junction for cyclists in order to give the junction an overall score in the form of a percentage. The document identifies 70% as the minimum acceptable score, and that there should be no zero scoring movements – only Haxby Road Roundabout passes these thresholds.

For all roundabouts, other than Haxby Road, the need to cross multiple lanes at once is the greatest issue against the guidance. Whilst not identified within the documentation, it is assumed that speed limits through the roundabouts would remain at 40mph, Table 10.2 of LTN 1/20 identifies the only crossing types suitable for any traffic flow at these speeds as being signalised or grade separated. 

Paragraphs 10.7.5 and 10.7.13 of the LTN identifies the safe way of accommodating cyclists at roundabouts with high volumes and speeds as providing protected space away from the carriageway, as is proposed, but accompanying this with signal-controlled crossings at entries and exits, or grade separation.

The document also specifically identifies in paragraph 10.4.8 ‘at higher speeds and traffic volumes uncontrolled crossings (such as those shown in the design proposals) are unlikely to meet the needs of all users’.

The Campaign believes that all crossings should be revised to provide signal controlled cycle crossings alongside pedestrian crossings for the safety of all vulnerable users in navigating the roundabouts, or further grade separation such as those used at Haby Road Roundabout and Strensall Roundabout.

Where grade separation such as tunnels is provided, a minimum head height of 2.7m should be maintained to enhance lighting and personal security, and gradients leading to and from should be within the parameters set in table 5.8.

Throughout the scheme, for the safety and comfort of both pedestrians and cyclists, the Campaign believes that shared paths should be amended to segregated cycle tracks of a minimum 3.0m wide kerb separated from a footway as recommended in sections 6.2 and chapter 8.

We also note that York’s Local Transport Plan follows guidelines set down in National Policy Guidelines, particularly seeking to reduce car usage and make greater use of walking, cycling and public transport. At the heart of York’s Transport strategy lies its commitment to a hierarchy of transport users, placing pedestrians at the top, followed by people with mobility problems, then cyclists, and placing motorists at the bottom. The current proposal fails to uphold this commitment.

Whilst the suitability and effectiveness of dualling the northern ring road is up for debate, the Campaign believe that any dualling scheme that does not provide adequate pedestrian and cycling facilities represents a waste of resources and funding for the people living and travelling to York regardless of how they would be using the ring road. By not providing adequate facilities the dualling scheme locks in the residents of the outer villages, current and future, to not being able to choose active travel modes to travel to the York Inner. This lack of choice embeds car dependency for residents and leads to increased pressure and strain on the road network, which will eventually erode attempts to increase capacity and fix in congestion and delays for those that choose to drive around the northern ring road.

Below is a summary of the results from each Junction assessment:

Clifton Moor Roundabout

Clifton Moor Roundabout scores 38% on the LTN 1/20 Junction Assessment Tool with twelve zero scoring elements out of 24 tests, all as a result of having to cross the ST14 Garden Village arm. 

All maneuvers that didn’t involve the ST14 arm scored full points when tested against roundabout criteria because of the ability to use the underpass.  When tested against generic junction criteria these movements only scored one point, as crossings are shared with pedestrians.

Wigginton Road Roundabout

Scores 15% on the LTN 1/20 Junction Assessment Tool, with only left hand (first junction) manoeuvres scoring a positive score which in themselves are limited to one point because of sharing with pedestrians.

All other maneuvers required crossing multiple lanes of traffic which leads to a score of zero.

Haxby Road Roundabout

The only roundabout to pass, scored 75% on the LTN 1/20 Junction Assessment Tool, scoring two points for each movement when tested against roundabout specific criteria. Like others when tested against general junction criteria the score was limited to one point due to shared path sections.

Strensall Road Roundabout

Scores 25% on the LTN 1/20 Junction Assessment Tool, mostly using points due to the need to cross multiple lanes of traffic without protection.

Monks Cross Roundabout

The lowest scoring roundabout, Monks Cross scores only 6% because of the amount of junctions that require crossing multiple lanes. Only two maneuvers score positive marks out of twenty.

Cycle ride with Councillors in Rawcliffe and Clifton Without

A ride was organised by members of York Cycling Campaign for councillors in the ward in order to view some of the problems and some of the good provision within the ward.

Two of the ward councillors were able to attend: Sam Waudby and Daryl Smalley.  From YCC the participants were Tom Franklin, Robyn Jankel and David Hirst. A big thank you to Sam and Daryl for taking the time and trouble to join us, and especially to Sam who hasn’t cycled for a long while.

The Route taken is shown on the map below:

© Google Maps 2020

This differs from the original proposal by going into Clifton Moor and cutting the route to 8.25km. 

The following highlights some of the issues raised. Most of which can be found at the flags on this map.

Some of the cycle routes in the area are difficult or dangerous to use (or both). Problems that we encountered include:

  • Cycling without any protection on a main road eg (Shipton Road – A19) where there is no provision for cycling South of Loweswater Road.
  • Narrow cycle paths eg much of the route 65 past Rawcliffe Country Park, the path round Rawcliffe Lake.
  • Dangerous footpath/cycleway eg along the A1237 over the Ouse and railway.
  • Dangerous junctions eg Shipton Road / A1237, cycle path emerging from Shipton Road onto Manor Lane, Roundabout at Stirling Road/Clifton Moor Gate etc.
  • Difficult to negotiate barriers eg between Manor Lane and Hurricane Way, at the end of the cycle path along Manor Lane.
  • Impossible to negotiate barriers (except for fit cyclists with no or small panniers) eg Oakdale Road just North of Loxley Close on the cycle path, from Staindale Road to the Rec.
  • Lack of signing eg by Rawcliffe and Clifton Allotments either to the Ings or onto the quiet Shipton Road, on any of the entrances to Rawcliffe Rec (to say cycling allowed)
  • Routes disappearing eg onto Tesco where route takes you to petrol station and then it is unclear what bicycles are even supposed to do, Southern end of quiet Shipton Road (south of Loweswater Road).
  • Kerbs to cross eg at Southern end of quiet Shipton Road (south of Loweswater Road) to rejoin main carriageway.
  • Complete lack of provision eg within Clifton Moor where although technically there are little bits much of it is not signed

The key messages from this were:

  • Cycling is only as safe as the most dangerous part of the route.  For Instance, many parents will be wary of their children cycling to Manor CofE Academy because of the seriously dangerous path over the river.
  • Cycling is only as accessible as the least accessible point. 
    • While we could get past most of the barriers some of these are impossible for disabled cyclists who cannot easily get off and manoeuvre their bikes round the barriers

Cyclists with trailers, or on tricycles are unable to navigate some of the barriers rendering that whole route useless

  • Kerbs to be ascended are again problematic for disabled cyclists, bikes with trailers and many tricycles.
  • More imagination is needed in design. We all understand that there are places that motorbikes may be a problem, but often this can be handled with methods other than barriers, and where there are barriers they need to enable access by children, disabled cyclists, tricyclists  and bikes with trailers.
  • Cycle routes need to be continuous. As already noted, a cycle route is only as safe as the most dangerous part. Cycle routes therefore need to be designed to get to places and not just inserted where easy as these do not offer cycling for everyone.
  • Better provision is needed in Clifton Moor. This is a major employment site and so needs provision of both cycle routes and parking to encourage people to make a modal shift to cycling. (it should also be noted that bus provision is very poor except to Tesco).
  • Alternatives to barriers are needed. Even a reduction would be welcomed eg they cannot be needed at both ends of the Manor Lane / Hurricane Way snicket. 

We have not explored the entire ward and it was agreed to have a second cycle ride to look at the South West of the ward.

Many thanks to both Sam and Daryl for coming and listening.