Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Suspension Bridge: Council to objectors: go away

Here then, as promised, is the council's response.

  1. The council cycling QA team reviewed it -and didn't object.
  2. Therefore there are no problems with the route. 
  3. Therefore all the objectors are mistaken
  4. So their objections will be ignored.
This is fantastic! It shows the way forward for building pro-car designs in an anti-car city. All we have to do is involve the cycling team at the last minute, get some inadequate review from them -and we've got a green light to do what we want.

Once the cycling team at the council say there is nothing wrong with a route, all objections from cyclists can be discounted.

The best bit: the cycle team will get the blame, but by the time they get to find out, it's too late. And now we can use their "they didn't say no" response to ignore all other objections, the council road team must be laughing:

Consultation comments and responses, Summer 2013
RS12088 Suspension Bridge Road Highway Improvement Works
  1. Please consider closing Observatory Road to noncoach and noncycle traffic; there is a very suitable alternative route via the mini roundabout and this would unify the green areas,
    The feasibility of this is now being investigated and traffic counts are being arranged to assess the impact on the wider road network. If it is deemed workable then steps will be taken to procure the Traffic Regulation Order, including public advertisement of the proposals, when there will be opportunity for comments to be made,
  2. Please consider making Observatory Road one way (southbound) for coaches and twoway for cyclists,
    The proposed coach drop off point is designed for coaches to access by turning off Suspension Bridge Road (SBR), ie heading northbound on Observatory Road. Not only does this design make use of an historic ‘layby’ area, thus minimising the change of the road layout, but exiting Observatory Road from its northern end makes use of an easier junction than turning out of the bottom. Foreign coaches would, however, need to travel southbound in order to access the drop off point and allow passengers to alight onto the footway. Observatory Road would be kept twoway for cyclists, if a closure to noncoach traffic was progressed,
  3. Please consider installing one or two zebra crossings on Observatory Road if it remains open to general traffic,
    Controlled crossings, such as zebras, should be installed on established pedestrian ‘desire’ lines, i.e. on established routes where pedestrians already cross; the ‘desire’ lines across Observatory Road are across the junctions at each end. Controlled crossings are expensive, and the installation costs would be difficult to justify here if Observatory Road was to be partially closed, as discussed in 1, due to the reduced traffic volume,
  4. Use different surfaces across the mouths of side roads to affirm the presence and priority of pedestrians over turning vehicles,
    The primary purpose of surface treatment in this context is to prevent skidding under sharp braking on the approach to pedestrian crossings, but it also serves to warn motorists in advance, of the possibility of pedestrians being in the road. It would not be appropriate, therefore, to just lay a strip of surfacing across a junction, but a larger area would be treated, including the approach roads, such as is proposed on SBR in the area between the two tables. We would not wish to encourage pedestrians to cross SBR in the vicinity of its junctions with Observatory Road and Sion Hill, due to the various turning movements here, but rather to use the zebra crossing near The Mall or the proposed tables a little further west. We would not, therefore, lay surface treatment on the SBR approaches to the side road junctions, but limit its use to giving warning of, and protecting, the two areas mentioned, where more formal crossing points are already in place or are proposed,
  5. Very difficult to cross Sion Hill – Sion Place, please build out between the junctions,
It is currently proposed to build the footway out between Sion Hill and Sion Place in order to reduce the width of the wide junction, to facilitate pedestrian movement and also slow traffic turning left from SBR, down into Sion Hill,
  1. Crossing Gloucester Row can be difficult and dangerous because of the heavy traffic flow. The changes will make this worse (increasing coach traffic), particularly endangering pedestrians seeking to cross Observatory Road,
    It is not considered that installing a coach drop off point on Observatory Road will significantly increase the total amount of traffic travelling along SBR / Gloucester Row. An estimate of visiting coach numbers is an average of 3 per day, with an expected maximum of 5 per day. Partially closing Observatory Road, as discussed in 1, is likely to increase traffic volume along this road, however, and this will be considered when the feasibility is assessed. It would, however, also reduce the amount of turning movements at the junction of SBR and Observatory Road, arguably making it simpler to cross. There is also a zebra crossing a little further up the Mall, where priority is given to pedestrians to be able to cross,
  2. Please ensure that the junctions at the top of Sion Hill and Sion Place are not narrowed too much,
    All new road layouts are checked that they are able to be tracked by large vehicles as part of the design process,
  3. The southernmost footway on SBR is too narrow, this could be closed and a new footway could be cut across the Downs,
    Given the pedestrian desire lines across SBR on the approach to the bridge, particularly on the route to the childrens’ play park, it would be necessary to keep the existing footway on the southern side. The foliage and bank has encroached over the footway opposite the public conveniences, and it is proposed to restore the width of the footway here,
  4. The dropped kerbs in the build outs at the end of Observatory Road are on the widest part of the junction, putting pedestrians at risk,
    The proposed dropped kerbs will be moved back to the existing position,
  5. Consider installing a raised crossing across the end of Observatory Road, in order to slow traffic,
    A raised crossing could be a very useful item here, provided it was set back from the junction to allow cyclists to straighten up before negotiating the ramp. It would, however, be unnecessary if Observatory Road was to be partially closed, as discussed in 1, due to the reduced traffic volume,
  6. Removal of the pedestrian refuge island at the junction of Observatory Road and SBR is not safe for pedestrians, due to the speed of traffic exiting SBR and queueing on Observatory Road,
    It is considered that the proposed built out footways in the junction will reduce the speed of traffic turning into Observatory Road, making the junction easier to negotiate as a pedestrian. Furthermore the crossing width is also proposed to be reduced. It is understood, however, that the existing refuge island is useful in allowing pedestrians to cross one stream of traffic at a time.
It would, however, be unnecessary if Observatory Road was to be partially closed, as discussed in 1, due to the reduced traffic volume,
  1. Formal crossing points should be installed across SBR, rather than tables,
    Although there are several main pedestrian desire lines across SBR, on the route to the childrens’ play park and near the public conveniences, pedestrians do wander across the road between these points and also closer to the bridge, across the central reserve. Research shows that controlled crossings are not necessarily suitable for areas where there is a ‘scatter’ of crossing movements, rather than distinct desire lines, perhaps because motorists are focussing on the crossing itself rather than who may be crossing elsewhere. The proposed 20mph limit (being proposed as a separate scheme), together with the proposed speed tables should slow the traffic so that pedestrians are more able to negotiate SBR without the need for formal controlled crossings,
  2. Slower traffic along SBR will be more dangerous for pedestrians to cross between as it will be more bunched up,
    It is unlikely that slowing the traffic will result in it being bunched up and therefore difficult for pedestrians to negotiate, rather traffic will undoubtedly slow for the speed tables, allowing slightly more gaps. It is hoped that the slower speeds, together with the raised areas may even encourage some drivers to actually give way to pedestrians at the tables,
  3. The Sion Hill build out can not be used by people in wheelchairs as they can not negotiate the steps at The Mall end of the footway, near the zebra crossing,
    People in wheelchairs would be able to use the proposed crossing point across Observatory Road, with great ease if Observatory Road was to be partially closed, as discussed in 1, due to the reduced traffic volume,
  4. Turning right from Observatory Road onto SBR is tricky on a bicycle in heavy traffic,
    If Observatory Road was to be partially closed, as discussed in 1, turning movements into and out of the junction would be negligible, reducing the potential for conflict at the junction. Traffic flow along SBR is likely to increase, but the zebra crossing near The Mall will continue to provide gaps when the traffic is flowing freely. When traffic is backed up and at a crawl during peak time, there would be limited impact, except for the positive effect of the reduced turning movements,
  5. The westbound cycle lane on SBR approaching the bridge is too narrow, especially where the central reserve starts, and part of it is cobbled,
    There is limited scope for widening the cycle lane on the bridge approach along SBR. Where the central reserve starts it is necessary to maintain a narrow traffic lane in order to ensure that the weighbridge takes the full axle load of heavy vehicles, from both wheels. The feasibility of widening the carriageway directly after the weighbridge is being investigated, in order to widen the cycle lane through this pinch point. It is not feasible, as part of this scheme, to meaningfully widen the approach cycle lane, as this would mean widening the highway corridor over the common land, a strip of full depth carriageway construction, relaying of a long length of granite sett channel, drainage works and reconstruction of the whole footway; this could not be carried out within the scheme budget,
17. The westmost table, can the carriageway be widened to widen the cycle lane, please?
As discussed in point 16, the feasibility of widening the carriageway directly after the weighbridge is being investigated, in order to widen the cycle lane through this pinch point,
  1. Please consider a segregated cycle lane along Suspension Bridge Road (SBR),
    As discussed in point 8, given the pedestrian desire lines across SBR on the approach to the bridge, particularly on the route to the childrens’ play park, we deem it necessary to keep the existing footway on the southern side. There is therefore no space within the existing highway corridor for a segregated cycleway along SBR,
  2. The build outs at the end of Observatory Road create a pinch point for cyclists,
    If Observatory Road was to be partially closed, as discussed in 1, it would not be used for general traffic and cyclists would, for the majority of the time, have the road to themselves,
  3. Please introduce a 10 or 15mph limit for safety and structural reasons and a ‘no overtaking’ restriction on the bridge,
    The Bridgemaster is satisfied that a 20mph limit is suitable for the structural needs of the bridge. This is also the slowest limit which is permitted to be imposed on the public highway. We have forwarded the comments regarding a ‘no overtaking’ restriction to the Bridgemaster,
  4. It is not clear that the works have been formally assessed with regard to cycling. This should be done,
    The proposals have been formally assessed with regard to cycling, as part of the Council’s ‘quality assurance’ design process,
  5. Extend the central reserve onto the bridge with other measures to discourage overtaking,
    We have forwarded the request for the extension of the central reserve onto the bridge to the Bridgemaster,
  6. Appropriate signing would be useful to draw drivers’ attention to cyclists,
    Part of the scheme’s brief is to reduce and rationalise highway signing in the area. It is not considered necessary to introduce further signing to draw attention to cyclists,
  7. The speed tables should have bypasses for cyclists as they are too sharp and deteriorate leaving a dangerous surface,
    The ramps of the speed tables are proposed to be sinusoidal in profile and the ramps are proposed to have flat tops. This is different to the usual design which is more angular and sharp. The ramps are only proposed to be 75mm high. It is considered, therefore, that they will pose no danger to cyclists,
  8. The existing cycling drop off from the toll bypass is not in a good position and this is worse with the new ‘quick’ barriers,
We have forwarded the comments regarding the cycling drop off position and the new barriers to the Bridgemaster,
  1. The tables should have high friction surfaces to avoid slipping in winter / wet weather,
    Given the proposed gentle profile of the speed tables, as discussed in point 24, it is not considered necessary for them to have a high friction surface. Nevertheless we do intend to lay buff surface treatment on and between the tables, as discussed in point 4, to warn motorists of an area in which pedestrians are likely to be in the road,
  2. The approach road should be a ‘shared surface’,
    The civil engineering works which would be necessary in order to make SBR a shared space could not be carried out within the scheme budget,
  3. The central reservation should be removed allowing wide cycle lanes to be introduced,
    The central reservation must remain in place, in order to ensure accurate weighing of large vehicles on the weighbridge, as discussed in point 16,
  4. Please consider the second (unnamed) road opposite Christchurch for a bus drop off point as it is flat, or on the Promenade,
    It is likely that if a coach drop off bay was introduced too far away from the bridge, then coaches would still drop off passengers close to the bridge, and the hazard of coaches stopping on Observatory Road would remain,
  5. Consider left hand drive foreign coaches, when children will be alighting into the road rather than onto the footway – can a sign be erected to encourage foreign drivers to pull in wrong direction so that children can alight onto the footway?
    There is no approved sign which can be used for this purpose; foreign drivers would need to pull over onto the ‘wrong’ side of the road in order to allow their passengers to alight safely. This could also be done within the proposed coach drop off bay, and one would assume that such drivers would be used to this issue and be prepared to do so,
  6. A coach exiting the drop off bay will be dangerous when it turns onto SBR,
    Coaches would need to access Observatory Road from the south in order to access the coach bay. This would mean that they would not normally be exiting via the southern junction of Observatory Road, but via the northernmost junction,
  7. Coaches could be queueing as they wait for their slot at the drop off point,
    Given that the area typically receives around 3 coaches per day, with an expected maximum of 5, and that coaches will only be permitted to drop off here, it is unlikely that this will be a significant issue,
  8. The 10 minute drop off time will be abused,
The coach bay would need to be enforced, in order to ensure turn over, and should problems occur then extra enforcement would be requested,
  1. Currently coaches drop off on the far side of the Downs and drive down the road towards Central Bristol (ie towards Pembroke Road) rather than impinging on Clifton Village,
    Currently coaches also drop off along Observatory Road and Sion Hill, blocking the road and causing traffic to overtake in dangerous positions,
  2. Coaches should not be encouraged to drop off so close to the bridge,
    Practically, as discussed in point 29, if a coach drop off bay was introduced too far away from the bridge, then coaches would still drop off passengers close to the bridge, and the hazard of coaches stopping on Observatory Road would remain,
  3. The coach drop off point should be just painted on the road to save expense and avoid loss of Downs land,
    If a coach bay was just painted on the road, rather than being in a layby, then the hazard of a parked coach which needs to be overtaken would remain. The purpose of this design is to provide a safe stopping place for coaches, where pedestrians can alight safely and walk to the bridge safely,
  4. A drop off point on Observatory Road would need to be about 25 minutes drop off, to ensure that they do not stay there if they are only in the area for about 1⁄4 hour. This would also ensure that coaches can access the point, rather than circling the Downs waiting for space to stop. Coaches waiting might just wait on Observatory Road till they can turn right and pull in, causing congestion. Proper enforcement of the restrictions would be needed,
    A 5 minute drop off time is unlikely to be long enough to allow a coach to return and stop to wait for passengers to board after visiting the area. As discussed in point 33, the restriction would need to be enforced,
  5. The ‘no return within 1 hour’ restriction will be a problem; do people stay in the area for an hour? If not, then buses will be returning illegally, perhaps this time period needs to be reduced,
    This is a good point, the proposed restriction is to be changed to, ‘10 minutes, no return within 30 minutes’,
  6. Thinks tourists miss the village, they only visit the bridge. Can some sort of signing be installed to direct them to the village?
    Investigation will be made into provision of a pedestrian sign, pointing towards Clifton Village, in order to encourage tourists to visit,
  7. What about encouraging people to visit the national trust woodland in the Leigh Woods area? Speak to the National Trust,
    Communication will be made with the National Trust, although priority for funding will be given to encourage visitors to visit attractions within the city boundary,
  1. Advanced weight limit warning signs for all bridge approaches could be useful,
    A sign survey will be carried out in order to find out any deficiencies in the highway signing,

  2. Could do with a flashing ‘weight limit’ sign, like a VAS,
    It would not be necessary for a sign to flash for all vehicles approaching the bridge, but only for large vehicles, like a speed limit sign only flashes for vehicles which are travelling too fast. While this is a good idea, in order for it to work it would have to be sited on SBR, near its junction with Sion Hill, and would clearly have to be activated by some means, meaning that the weighbridge would also have to be moved. The weighbridge is positioned where it is, so that if a large vehicle were to drive on the other side of the road in order to avoid being weighed, then this practice would be visible from the bridge toll booth and action could be taken to stop the vehicle. This could not so easily be done if the weighbridge was near Sion Hill. Nevertheless we have forwarded this comment to the Bridgemaster for his consideration,
  3. Can Parks be prevailed upon to improve the steps which are approx. 30m s/w of Observatory Road? Also the slope down to the eastmost proposed table is treacherous in winter – can this be relaid with a rougher tarmac?
    Subject to funding, the steps will be reconstructed as part of the scheme. The comment about the slope condition will be forwarded to the Parks team for their consideration,
  4. Railings on the northern side of the eastmost proposed table – please restore the railings which are bent and need painting. They should be moved rather than shortened!
    The railings will not be shortened but rather be repositioned and restored,
  5. By the WCs, there are 3 or 4 concrete posts around the WCs, with no fencing on them so they are redundant, please remove,
    The posts will be removed as part of the scheme,
  6. BT pole in footway west of the toilets, is the post redundant (don’t think so actually)? If so please remove,
    We will contact BT to ascertain the need for the post, or otherwise, and if it is not needed ask them to remove it,
  7. Please maintain the loose kerbs on the bends,
    The loose kerbs will be maintained or replaced as part of the scheme,

  8. There was a sign reading, “To the public lavatories” which was removed some time ago, it was on a l/c, just east of the eastmost proposed table. It was taken to store, please can this be restored and repositioned?
    There is no record of such a sign being in store,
  9. Scruffy around the WCs, whose responsibility is this?
The area around the public conveniences is the responsibility of the Parks team and the comments regarding the need for maintenance will be forwarded to them for their consideration,
  1. The bin in the build out near the central reserve, on the bridge approach, is in the pedestrian desire line,
    The bin will be moved as part of the scheme, so that it is not in the main pedestrian desire line,
  2. The westmost table is too near the weighbridge, please move to the western side, 5m beyond,
    The westmost table has been moved so that it is on the other side of the weighbridge, so that it will not affect the accuracy of the weighing system. This is actually in a better place with respect to pedestrian movements across SBR,
  3. The shrubbery along the southern side of SBR should not be cleared out due to the birds and also it forms a screen against traffic, the toilets and the rocks to residents of Sion Hill,
    This matter has been discussed with the Parks team and the Downs Ranger and it is agreed that the undergrowth should be cleared out from underneath the trees. The purpose is to open up the pedestrian route to the bridge, which is currently dark and constricted. The aim is to let in light, improve the views and accessibility between the trees and ensure that the maximum footway width is maintained. Small trees will be removed and the ground will be grass seeded. There are plenty of ‘wild’ areas for fauna in the area and this area will be improved for people using the area. The proposed 20mph speed limit, mentioned in point 12, should moderate traffic speeds and noise,
  4. Why is the weighbridge so close to the bridge rather than near the Sion Hill junction? This comment is answered in point 42. 

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