“Metropolitan line” cycle routes

Overview

Harrow council originally proposed ‘Metropolitan’ cycle routes along the A404 (Pinner Road / Marsh Road) and A4090 (Imperial Drive). This current plan is a different set of routes mostly along minor roads, heading west from the town centre towards Pinner and Eastcote but avoiding most of Pinner and North Harrow town centres. They are planning to upgrade the existing narrow footpath between Cambridge Road and Pinner Road and make it suitable for cycle use, improve the connection between Church Avenue and Durley Avenue, and build a parallel crossing of Rayners Lane leading towards Whittington Way. There is a brief section of shared footway along Marsh Road. There are a few minor improvements to some of the junctions (level footway outside Vaughan School, raised table and reduced flare at the Cecil Park / Marsh Road junction), but these improvements are primarily to help pedestrians.

The rest of the routes will be signed without any specific infrastructure. There are no concrete plans to build the segregated paths along main roads, as originally proposed.

Detailed proposals are on cyclescape (https://www.cyclescape.org/threads/3714).

The deadline for response is 17 Dec 2017 – please respond online (https://consult.harrow.gov.uk/consult.ti/metcyc/consultationHome).

Our response

We oppose the scheme overall because there is inadequate separation from motor traffic (some of the minor roads are quite busy) and this scheme avoids key destinations (such as the North Harrow and Pinner shops), unlike the previous scheme with cycle paths along main roads in the 2013 Vision for Cycling (which we supported). Some of the minor improvements are reasonable but do not justify marketing the entire route as a cycle route, so signage and bicycle symbols on the road (as proposed) would be a waste of money. Most importantly, we do not want this substandard scheme to be used as a tick-box exercise by the council to say that they have built 5 miles of new cycle route. It would be much better to spend this money on a high quality localised  improvements (e.g. the North Harrow to Rayners Lane link), and to apply for larger amounts of funding to complete the original route along Pinner Road (which is fully justified, as this is a desire line identified in TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis and good quality cycling infrastructure has a huge benefit:cost ratio).

Proposed improvements

Overall route: to include segregated cycle paths along main roads:

Proposed modifications to Metropolitan routes

Outside North Harrow station:

Note that Harrow’s original 2013 proposal involved a network of cycle paths along the main roads:

Detailed response

This consultation response is on behalf of Harrow Cyclists, the local branch of the London Cycling Campaign. We are grateful for the opportunity to comment on these proposals.

We oppose this scheme. Specifically, we oppose the marketing of these routes as cycle routes because the level of infrastructure proposed will not make them sufficiently quiet to enable a wide range of people to cycle. Some parts of these routes have dangerous conditions that are “critical issues” in both TfL’s Healthy Streets Check and Cycling Level of Service matrices. Signing this route and painting bicycle symbols on the road will be a waste of money and should not be funded.

Unlike Harrow Council’s 2013 Metropolitan cycle route proposals in the mini-Holland bid, which consisted of segregated cycle paths along important desire lines (Pinner Road, Marsh Road, Bridge Street and Imperial Drive), this proposal also avoids important destinations such as Pinner High Street, Pinner Sainsbury’s, North Harrow shops, Nower Hill School and Rayners Lane station. The detour through Cecil Park avoids potentially useful junctions with Rayners Lane and Field End Road. The route along Church Avenue may be useful for local journeys but does not serve any important destinations – a more comprehensive approach to improving links across Whittington Way may be useful (cycle paths to link up the service roads), but the primary signed cycle route needs to follow the main desire line, which would be along Imperial Drive towards Rayners Lane.

Specific points about this scheme:

  • Routes through this area are marked as featuring very high potential to cycle in TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis, and were included in the council’s 2013 proposals.
  • For a scheme aimed at providing a route “using quieter and safer residential streets”, this route both crosses and proceeds along the A4090, with bicycle symbols marked in the road near North Harrow Station. This road is not quiet or safe. Above 2,000 PCUs and/or 20mph, physical separation between motor traffic and cycling flows is required. Imperial Drive traffic counts show circa 17,000 daily motor vehicle movements on a 30mph road. Continuous cycle tracks are required the whole length of Imperial Drive.
  • The proposed traffic island at Marsh Road (northern end of Cecil Park) will result in lane widths that are between 3.25m and 4m wide – a “critical issue” in TfL’s London Cycling Design Standards, on top of that, a second “critical issue” comes from simply the sheer volume of motor vehicle traffic those cycling will be expected to mix with on this section of Marsh Road. A 2m advisory cycle lane is not a suitable “quieter and safer” treatment on Marsh Road between Cecil Park and West End Lane. For roads featuring high volumes of motor vehicle traffic, physical separation throughout is required.
  • The birectional cycle track outside North Harrow station needs to be continuous with safe design of side road junctions, such as the junction with Cambridge Road. The proposed shared footway outside North Harrow station is inappropriate – segregation and bus stop bypasses are required in busy areas such as this (see attachment).
  • Some of the residential streets used feature high volumes and sometimes high speeds of motor vehicle traffic using them as through or “ratrun” routes, especially on school days. These streets require further treatment – physical separation or restrictions to through traffic on an area-wide basis – to be successfully made “quieter and safer”.
    • Northumberland Road is very narrow but is often used as a through route by motor vehicles, making it unpleasant for pedestrians, cyclists and residents. A modal filter near the Scout Hut / Yeading Walk would not hinder motor vehicle access but would prevent rat-running. (Residents of Northumberland Road have repeatedly complained about speeding on this road but the council has so far not tried to reduce the volume of traffic).
    •  Vaughan Road is a route for through motor traffic and can be busy at times. The road is one-way for cars in the uphill (eastbound) direction, but there is car parking on both sides and not enough space remaining for cars to overtake cyclists safely. The council proposes to install speed cushions on this road even though they are not recommended for use on cycle routes. Full-width sinusoidal profile humps should be used instead. Ideally, this route should be blocked for through motor traffic, for example by installing a modal filter at West Harrow station. This would make the West Harrow residential area more pleasant for walking and cycling. If this is not possible, we recommend that the direction of the road is changed, so it is one way westbound with entry only from the south (i.e. no right turn to enter). This would encourage motorists to use the parallel Butler Road instead, reducing traffic on Vaughan Road. It is also essential that some car parking spaces are removed to provide safe places for cars and bikes to pass each other.
    • The Gardens is also narrowed by car parking on both sides and can be busy at times. Sometimes it is blocked by cars trying to travel in opposite directions at the same time. A modal filter at West Harrow station would significantly improve the walking and cycling environment outside Vaughan School and West Harrow station.

Comments on specific interventions included in the scheme:

  1. Raised table across entrance to Vaughan primary school (page 1) – we support this as it will aid pedestrians, but it does not do anything to improve conditions for cycling
  2. Imperial Drive, near North Harrow station (page 2) – this is a poor design. The cycle path to the north of North Harrow Station should be extended southwards to join up with the Rayners Lane cycle path, as we have consistently campaigned for years. Car parking in bus laybys will delay buses, and bus stops will remain inaccessible because it is difficult for buses to line up with the kerb. For cyclists, crossing from Argyle Road to Northumberland involves a 100 metre detour via the existing toucan crossing. Shared footway outside the shops in the middle of a cycle route will cause conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. Bicycle symbols painted in the carriageway of a 30mph road are useless. We recommend extension of the  segregated cycle path and a new parallel priority (‘tiger’) crossing  further south, between Blenheim Road and Lancaster Road. This would shorten the route of the southern arm of this quietway and also provide a useful crossing facility for pedestrians.
  3. Northumberland Road, level access to path along Yeading Brook  (page 3): instead of building a complicated area of shared footway, would it not be easier and cheaper just to replace the guard rail with a dropped kerb? This would have the added benefit of allowing cyclists to enter or leave Northumberland Road in either direction.
  4. Streamside open space, between Church Avenue and Durley Avenue (page 4): this route will not be easily accessible for disabled cyclists if it has a gate. We would recommend removing the gate if possible, and providing the alternative route via St Michael’s Crescent (which is just as quick, entirely along residential roads and has higher social safety).
  5. Rayners Lane junction with Whittington Way (page 5) – this plan provides cycling provision for a very specific route through the junction but the crossing of Whittington Way is poor – the refuge island is too narrow for cycles with trailers. There is plenty of space along Whittington Way for cycle paths to link up the side roads. For example, the Yeading Brook path already extends to Whittington Way but ends abruptly at a bus stop without a dropped kerb; this should be extended to link up with the service roads on either wide of Whittington Way with a tiger crossing across Whittington Way. This would allow cyclists to use St Michael’s Crescent as an alternative to Church Avenue.
  6. Melrose Road raised table (page 6) – we support this.
  7. Cannon Lane / Cannonbury Avenue junction (page 7) – we do not feel that bicycle symbols would add much because this is no different to most of the roads in Harrow.
  8. Marsh Road between Cecil Park and West End Lane (page 8) – this is a poor design which does not safely accommodate people cycling along Marsh Lane itself (who have an intermittent short cycle lane southbound and an indirect route northbound via the service road. Segregation of cyclists and motor vehicles here is essential because Marsh Road is very busy. The pedestrian layout remains poor; people have to cross multiple wide-mouthed service roads. We recommend removal of the service road, with car parking off the main carriageway with a segregated northbound cycle path on Marsh Road and stepped cycle lane southbound. The northbound cycle path on the west side of Marsh Road should be two-way between the junctions with Cecil Park and West End Lane, to allow cyclists to use the tiger crossing and avoid having to cycle on Marsh Road itself.
  9. South entrance of Cecil Park, near Chessington Court (page 9) – the parallel ‘tiger’ crossing is welcome but the scheme does not accommodate people cycling along Marsh Road very well. Marsh Road needs segregated cycle lanes, and there is plenty of space on this stretch of road to accommodate them.

General points about cycling schemes:

  • LCC requires schemes to be designed to accommodate growth in cycling. Providing space for cycling is a more efficient use of road space than providing space for driving private motor vehicles, particularly for journeys of 5km or less. In terms of providing maximum efficiency for space and energy use, walking, cycling, then public transport are key.
  • As demonstrated by the success of recent Cycle Superhighways and mini-Holland projects, people cycle when they feel safe. For cycling to become mainstream, a network with a minimum 400m  mesh density is required, with high-quality, direct routes separate from high volumes and speeds of motor vehicle traffic to all key destinations and residential areas in an area. Schemes should be planned, designed and implemented to maximise potential to increase journeys – with links to nearby amenities, schools, residential centres and transport hubs considered from the outset.
  •  Spending money on cycling infrastructure has been shown to dramatically boost health outcomes in an area. This is particularly important in Harrow, which has the highest level of diabetes in London and Spending on cycling schemes outranks all other transport mode for return on investment according to a DfT study. Schemes which promote cycling meet TfL’s “Healthy Streets” checklist. A healthy street is one where people choose to cycle.
  • All schemes should be designed to enable people of all ages and abilities to cycle, including disabled people.
  • LCC wants, as a condition of funding, all highway development designed to London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS), with a Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) rating of 70 or above, with all “Critical Fails” eliminated.