This is the second part of my look at applying the principles of Sustainable Safety to Twickenham town centre. Go refresh your mind of part one.
Previously on Pedestrianise London.
Back in October last year I started to look at how the Twickenham Area Action Plan might look if it were put together by the Dutch. We looked at how the streets of the town are used, how they should be prioritised to reduce unwanted behaviour and encourage a positive environment.
Since that time, the borough council have pushed ahead with the plan which has now moved into a more detailed phase after it’s initial consultation. So let’s do the same and look at how, following on from part one, we’d design the region based around the principles of Sustainable Safety.
A quick recap. Here’s the lay of the land. We have the main north/south through route of London Road into King Street into Cross Deep (blue), and the east/west distributor route of Richmond Road to Heath Road (orange), with property access roads in green and pedestrian/cycle only in red.
So here we go, a detailed plan for the town from yours truly…
Let’s go in for a good look at the details.
Starting from the north end of town, the station is a critical link. It not only brings people to the town but also rugby fans to the stadium on match days, so it has to not only have all the usual train station type stuff, but also be suitable for handling the masses.
The traffic light controlled t-junction between London Road and Whitton Road is currently designed to aid the flow of traffic from the two roads heading towards town. Since it is in effect a fork in the road, it is an ideal candidate for a three pronged roundabout. Whitton Road is also a good candidate for closing to through traffic to the A316 since it is a narrow road and this function is already adequately carried out by London Road.
We have chosen to completely close the entrances to Cole Park Road and March Road to motor vehicles so as to simplify the road layout by removing these unnecessary junctions since these access roads are already accessible by alternative routes.
London Road heading south towards town is currently a 3 lane road with a bus lane heading south and a cycle lane that’s mostly used by buses heading north. Removal of this underutilised space along with removal of the central reservation creates room for wider pavements and cycle tracks that run behind the bus stop pull ins.
The pelican crossing has been replaced with a single stage zebra positioned outside of the station entrance and between the bus stops allowing easy transfer from train to bus.
At the beginning of the London Road shopping area we re-direct traffic off of London Road and down Arragon Road thus freeing up London Road to be an access only space that will be more pleasant for pedestrians and the shops that run along both sides of the street.
At the junction with the priority changed, we have removed the existing traffic lights (and the race to get onto the bridge over the railway first that came with those lights) and replaced them with a single lane roundabout with central and corner “truck aprons” to allow for the wide turning angles of buses and delivery trucks. Due to space and the legal size requirements of roundabouts, this would actually technically be a large mini-roundabout, ie. a roundabout without a central curbed area, but with the truck apron acting as a de-facto curb.
With the south portion of London Road becoming a pedestrianised zone, it can be repaved with an attractive tactile surface and made pedestrian and cyclist friendly. Alterations to the bus routes would now take northbound buses up this portion of London Road via the southern bus only entrance, while southbound go via Arragon Road.
The roundabout could be done without and the junction treated as a pure right of way junction, but the roundabout helps reduce vehicle speed and so helps with the pedestrian and cycle crossings.
Along Arragon road, a bi-directional cycle track has been added to the north side. Although bi-directional paths are usually to be avoided in urban areas, in this case it is safe and worthwhile as it simplifies the junction with Amyand Park Road, provides better access to the primary school, and since the south side of the road simply runs around the multi-story car park there is no required access there for people on bikes or on foot. Having a bi-directional track also helps us optimise space and keep room for on-street parking.
Where Arragon Road meets Richmond Road and becomes York Street we keep the traffic signals but again rework the junction to improve cyclist safety and pedestrian crossing times.
We have a cross roads but not enough road width to give each turn it’s own traffic lane, so we need to either combine or remove some turns. We can’t easily remove any, so we’ve had to combine some together which gives us two choices:
- Either we have to inconvenience cyclists and pedestrians by making them wait while motor traffic for the combined turns get a green;
- Or make sure that the cycle track comes close to the roadway so it is obvious that cycles may be present and that the roadway crosses the cycle track.
As we have the end of a bi-directional cycle track to deal with which adds the requirement of additional crossings, we’ll be best to stick with the first option.
The light stages are shown below, they should be triggered by detection loops and/or push buttons and should be flexible, for example the third stage could combine parts of the second stage to allow left turning motor vehicles from York Street if there are no crossing pedestrians.
If we went with the second option, the cycle track across south side of Arragon Road should be kept close to the roadway and a warning sign should be included for turning traffic. Of course, there is no suitable sign in the UK, here’s how the Dutch do it.
“Let op” literally “Look out”. Note the flashing orange turn signal and the warning sign below, the cycle track in question is to the right beyond the bushes slightly out of view. Picture courtesy of Google Streetview.
London Rd / King St / York St / Church St
The heart of town is this main junction between the two main routes at the intersection of the three main shopping streets.
Since we want to encourage people into this area, we want to reclaim this area from the traffic heavy junction it is currently. The best way to do this is to remove the traffic junction entirely. So we’ve closed this end of London Road to through motor traffic traffic except for buses coming from King Street while keeping it open to cyclists and pedestrians.
We’ve also added two sets toucan crossings to King St / York St to allow people to cross between London Road and Church Street. These could be zebra crossings depending on traffic speed and volume, and if so a central island refuge could be added to aid crossing, although it would need to be wide enough to fit a bicycle.
The entrance to Church Street has been constrained to humanise it with a tight corner radius, a steep vertical curb deflection, and tactile pavement-like surface; although in practice we could remove it altogether to create a larger pedestrian space and remove any potential conflict since it’s accessible from Richmond Road.
Along the full length of King Street we have included cycle tracks that run behind the disabled parking, loading bays and bus stops.
At the far end of King Street we have the Cross Deep junction. Due to space restrictions we’ve stuck with a set of traffic lights rather than install a roundabout, however we’ve made some changes to the three lane confusion that currently exists.
We simplify the lane arrangement to a two lane entrance and one lane exit for each aspect of the t-junction. This allows us to synchronise the traffic movements of each mode (motor traffic, bikes, and pedestrians) together into the same stages (all right turns go together, etc. I inadvertently spoke a little about this junction last post) so as to make for a safe yet efficient junction.
So there we go, my take on how the council could revitalise and revolutionise our town centre through inclusive street design inspired by our friends across the North Sea.
Now I’m not a traffic engineer, but as far as I understand all the things I’ve mentioned are possible within current legislation, so the only real barrier is political will. Plus nothing here is specific to Twickenham, we can apply these and similar techniques to any town or village to re-shift the balance back towards a people friendly environment.
Of course, taking the risk of reducing capacity for road vehicles would be a brave one, politically, but there’s only so much space in our towns and all evidence points to the fact that traffic always grows or shrinks to fill the available space as long as you provide people with quality alternatives (a phenomenon known as traffic evaporation). Some day we’re going to have to have these decisions forced upon us, perhaps it’s time to start getting prepared?