13 Aug 2011

Tank clears bike lanes - not suitable for Brewery Bridge in Stroud?

Remember Cllr Sarah Lunnon's 'Pedestrians on Pavements' campaign (POP) and the plonker award to cars parked on pavements in Stroud - see here. Well Mayor of Vilnius is a little more dramatic and takes out Mercedes parked in a bike lane - with a tank. See film here. Joking aside it sometimes takes such a statement to get folk to wake up?

Photo: Tulip earlier this year - nothing to do with this blog entry but looks nice!

Greens are still trying to sort the dire new Brewery Bridge in Stroud - see campaign here - Sarah Lunnon wrote in a blistering attack on the proposals in Stroud Life while the Town Council are also seeking answers. It does seem the Glos County Highways are sometimes a law unto themselves and totally ignore locally democratically elected bodies. Well Sarah has also written to theCommisioning Director with responsibility for Highways to draw a number of concerns to their attention.

These concerns centre on two areas, the incremental difficulties added to using the junction on foot or by bike and the lack of thought in the design process given to this sensitive gateway area. Here is some more detail:

Vulnerable Road Users

When the plans for the bridge where first submitted for consultation with the Stroud Pedestrian and Cycle Forum maybe three years ago, major reservation were voiced about the lack of improvement for pedestrian using the junction (although a new underpass provides one route from Cainscross Rd to Wallbridge this was not accepted as a direct useable pedestrian route). The Pedestrian and Cycle Forum made repeated and sustained responses to the plans and continued in their response that the proposed work made the junction incrementally more difficult for vulnerable road users.

The main response to these concerns and concerns raised by a District Councillor for a neighbouring ward was that any changes to make the junction more pedestrian friendly would detrimentally affect the vehicle flow and that the usage of the junction by pedestrians and cyclist was so low that there was no call for any major improvements. However one only has to be present the  morning and  afternoon when students attending Marling and the High School are walking to and from railway station to see there are significant peaks in pedestrian crossing  this junction, along with gradually increasing number of  local employees cycling and walking into Stroud

Given these responses, and the views of the local residents who have formed an action group because their views have not been taken into account, why was the carriageway outside the Stroud and Swindon building extended. This action has resulted in the area of green spaces being leased to Stroud Town Council to mange being substantially reduced in area, a zebra crossing extended meaning the pedestrians now have to spend more time in the carriageway and the area of black-top extended by even more.

Public Realm

The restoration of the Stroudwater Canal has been undertaken to act as a major regeneration project for the Stroud District, the point  where the canal intersects most closely with Stroud Town centre is at the junction of Merrywalks and Rowcroft. This means that pedestrians in Stroud who wish to visit this major regeneration project, or canal users who wish to use the services of the town will use this area. As a gateway to Stroud this is a sensitive area, as recognised in the Public Realm Strategy adopted by the County Council.

Why then has the area been treated only as a road junction with the design process, signage and lighting being undertaken for a highway junction, the benefit of the road user and no thought been given to the visual impact of the area, eg, large directional sign on the remaining green open spaces, multiple signage on pathways, disproportionally high and bright lighting schemes.

Way forward

We now request that an independent body with experience in reconciling the use of public places for vehicles and pedestrians is commissioned to undertake a study of the junction and provide some simple, easy to implement measures that will improve safety of junction for pedestrian and cyclist  and provide a public realm that benefits the gateway to Stroud Town and the Canal and enable vulnerable users of the junction better access. We would recommend Ben Hamilton-Baillie Associates based in Bristol.

Maybe we do need a tank to make a statement?

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