Positive signals at Ham Field

For some weeks there have been extensive roadworks at the junction between Eastern Avenue and Middle Road in Shoreham. That’s the spot where a track cuts through the centre of Ham Field Allotment, connecting Nicolson Drive to Middle Road.

The work has finished and we’ve been down to take a look.

There are several positive changes, but also a bit of room for improvement.

Let’s start with the good news:

Alongside a load of great enhancements for people on foot, these new features will help you if you’re passing through the area on a bike:

✅ Cycle-specific traffic lights

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-30 at 11.39.04If you’re coming from the east or west, traffic lights now have secondary bike-specific sets at eye level. These lights change to green a few seconds before the main lights, allowing a safety-boosting headstart if you’re on two wheels.

✅ Advance stop lines

An advance stop line has been created at the eastbound end of the allotment track – and one has been repainted at the end of Middle Road. These familiar-looking road markings allow extra space for cycles in front of waiting traffic. Their use is sometimes criticised in some locations, but they do have advantages.

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-29 at 20.44.27

✅ Better sensing for bikes leaving the allotment track

Have you ever sat by the Ham Field waiting to head into Middle Road – and waited, and waited, and waited? Before the recent work, people on bikes were often missed by the sensors controlling the lights. Not anymore. We’re not sure exactly how the new sensors work, but we didn’t have to wait long before lights changed green in our favour.

✅ Good quality surfacing

At the entrance to the allotment track, high quality tarmac has replaced a rough unsurfaced area. This is easier and safer to ride on – but only at the eastern end of the track.

All these measures combine to make the new junction much easier to negotiate by bike, as well as on foot. We’re grateful to West Sussex County Council, and we’ve spoken to them to tell them so.

However…

There are a couple of aspects of the project that seem like missed opportunities. These concerns don’t spoil the great work that’s been described above, but we’re speaking to WSCC about them…

❌ Continued reliance on a ‘shared use’ path instead of enabling space for bikes

IMG_0907The eastern end of the allotment track has a brilliant new surface. But a few metres along, the tarmac stops and the original unsurfaced track takes over. A ‘drop kerb’ allows westbound people on bikes to join the existing ‘shared use’ path. This arrangement continues to bring bikes into close proximity with people walking through the area – including young children on their way to school.

In our view, a further strip of tarmac at the level of the existing wide track could have connected Middle Road to Nicolson Drive without having to awkwardly share space with vulnerable pedestrians.

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-30 at 11.39.09Confusingly, there’s a stencilled ‘bike’ symbol on the tarmac, near the dropped kerb, but its position suggests bikes continue on the rough track – on a surface that is currently only suitable for mountain bikes, not regular cycles. This symbol seems like it should have been placed a few metres sooner if it is intended to guide westbound cyclists.

❌ No cycle provision on Eastern Avenue lights

East-west cycling (along National Cycle Network Route 2) has been improved by this recent work. But the new lights installed for traffic approaching the junction on Eastern Avenue from the north or south lack the same advance stop lines, or cycle-specific traffic lights. This means if you approach this junction on a bike from the north or south, you are less protected than if you approach from the west or east.

So, our overall verdict on this recent work is positive, but with some reservations, and perhaps some opportunity for future improvement.

What do you think?

 

Author: Clive Andrews

- digital and social - - training and consultancy -

5 thoughts on “Positive signals at Ham Field”

  1. Really pleased (and amazed) that the needs of cyclist have actually been taken into account on this occasion! I love the new lights and the road lining, and agree that there should be something similar on the north/south sides of the junction – especially for cyclists turning right into Middle Road. Well done to whoever made this happen.

    However, I don’t agree with you about the need for separate ways for cycles and pedestrians along the strip between the two allotment sites. In my view, in towns, and wherever there are about the same number of pedestrians as cyclists, it’s safer to share. A separate path for cyclists encourages faster cycling, which is dangerous for pedestrians, who often forget which part of the way is for them. I have to use the gate on the west side of Ham Road allotment regularly. This gate exits directly onto the cycle section of the path there, and the cyclists come so fast that I have had several close calls with my wheelbarrow! I would much prefer sharing; then both pedestrians and cyclists have to keep a look out for the other. But in out-of-town places, however, such as the stretch along the edge of the beach between Shoreham and Worthing, the cycle track works really well; pedestrians are few, and those who do use the path for walking remain aware as their path is quite separate and clear for long distances.

    I do hope you will reconsider your stance on this.

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  2. Hi Heather.

    Thanks so much for you comments. We really encourage everyone to share their thoughts with us, so we can get a feel for what the people of Shoreham need in order to get around easily.

    I appreciate your views on the matter of ‘to share or not to share’, but I’m afraid we still have deep reservations.

    Your concern about ‘fast cycling’ is a widely-held and understandable one, but we’d contend that artificially slowing people on bikes by using pedestrians as traffic calming serves no-one as well as it could. In a well-designed environment, each mode of transport is able to move at a speed that is reasonable for them. The utility of cycling as a practical way to get around is not realised if people must negotiate their way around vulnerable pedestrians at walking speed. Many people have a very negative feeling about the NCN2 route along the seafront, where much of it is shared (as far as Lancing). At busy times it can be nearly impossible to cycle at anything above walking speed, and people on foot often feel nervous – understandably so.

    The path at the west side of Ham Field is indeed not great. On that we agree. But that is not a properly segregated path – it’s just a strip of white paint on a narrow path, across which people (on foot or on two wheels) often stray, as you say. We share your misgivings.

    For a better example of design, look instead to the Hove end of Old Shoreham Road. In that location, good design means that all three classes of road user are very clear about where they should use, people are free to ride at cycling speed (as opposed to walking speed) and people on foot do not feel endangered:

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@50.8345829,-0.1561375,3a,75y,269.26h,82.01t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1srSOwC4DDObZs2HiEKo-aPw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    As our role model, we need to keep an eye on places like the Netherlands. There, shared paths are rare. People on bikes demand the space they need to get around safely, designed in a way that separates them from people on foot. That’s what we’re aiming for.

    Clive
    Shoreham-By-Cycle

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