ChiCycle’s position on WSCC Proposals for Westgate and Fishbourne Road East

ChiCycle’s position on WSCC Proposals for Westgate and Fishbourne Road East

West Sussex County Council invite residents to give feedback on their proposals for modifying the highway on Fishbourne Road East and Westgate (‘Route K’ as featured in Chichester District Council’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan). A link WSCC information on these scheme and the survey is available here Their engagement period should remain open until 11:59pm on 7 August 2023.

In a recent meeting, ChiCycle concluded that Local planning decisions have already removed any realistic opportunity to create a viable cycle network to the West of Chichester.

It has already been agreed by local authorities that motor vehicle traffic from the huge 1,600 home White House Farm development will run through Chichester’s existing sensitive residential streets. Arterial volumes of traffic are anticipated at the southern end of Sherborne Rd where it will be joined by the White House Farm Southern Access Spine Road. This will effectively sever any practical cycle route that could have run the length of Westgate.

Moreover, National Highways and WSCC decided the A259 between Emsworth and Chichester shall remain a trunk road used to bypass the A27 and carry over 20,000 vehicles per day. As there is inadequate width for segregated cycle provision through the narrow Harbour Villages, this rules out any realistic future for a viable Chemroute cycle route. The A259 between Fishbourne and Emsworth is rapidly being developed into a car dependent ribbon development. Traffic volumes on A259 (Chemroute) are already ten times higher than those recommend by the DfT as suitable for inclusive cycling.

Additionally, the pedestrian/cycle railway bridge at Bishop Luffa was built to an inadequate standard to support  future increases in cycle use. Even with  existing low volumes of cycle traffic, conflict and difficulty of use are already frequently encountered on the bridge.

Without first resolving these key issues, the Fishbourne Road East and Westgate ‘Route K’ scheme will be an inappropriate waste of taxpayers money. It will literally create a road to nowhere.

ChiCycle recommend money for cycle infrastructure in Chichester should be spent elsewhere where there remain better prospects for establishing a viable cycle network. For example, a link between the Tangmere housing development and the city centre would be a better investment if it avoids reliance on shared use pavements.

Nonetheless, reducing traffic on Westgate does remain a desirable objective as it could improve the street environment for pedestrians and residents. This could be cheaply achieved by filtering motor traffic between Parklands Rd and Henty Gardens. If the 56 bus service is re-routed, filtering of traffic could easily be achieved by placing concrete planters in the roadway.

More detailed points about ChiCycle’s position on the Fishbourne Road East and Westgate Route K scheme are as follows:

  1. WSCC Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) CHS9038RC has already determined that cyclists will be directed onto Westgate’s pavement at the Junction with Sherborne Rd. Design Principal No2 from section 1.6 of DfT Cycle infrastructure design guidelines LTN1/20 makes clear that it is unacceptable for cyclists to share space with pedestrians on busy urban pavements. Indeed, Carley Sitwell surveyed pedestrian use of these pavements and found pedestrian flows regularly exceed the 300 people per hour maximum considered acceptable for shared use cycle-ways by DfT. Installation of shared pavement infrastructure already agreed by (TRO) CHS9038RC, will make Westgate impracticable and undesirable for use as a cycle route. Therefore, few people will use the proposed Route K scheme resulting in it having an unjustifiably poor cost benefit ratio.
  2. National Highways and WSCC have decided the A259 between Emsworth and Chichester must remain a trunk road used to bypass the A27 and at times carry over 20,000 vehicles per day. As there is inadequate width for segregated cycle provision through the narrow Harbour Villages, this rules out any realistic future for a viable Chemroute cycle route linking onto Fishbourne Road East. Without prospects for a direct and inclusive cycle-route running west of Route K, the cost benefit justification for investing in cycle infrastructure on Fishbourne Road East remains unclear.
  3. The proposed West of Chichester Development Southern Access Road staggered junction onto Sherborne Rd will introduce a blind uncontrolled pedestrian and cycle crossing with inadequate visibility of traffic approaching the crossing from the A259. This unsafe crossing will then lead cyclists to ride on a narrow shared use pavement around a blind corner where a busy osteopathy clinic operates. The proposed poor quality cycle provision around the Southern Access Road staggered junction will further deter anyone from using the proposed Route K scheme and further compound Route K scheme’s unjustifiably poor cost benefit ratio.
  4. ChiCycle have severe safety concerns over the proposals to run two way cycle lanes flush over the mouths of multiple roads and driveways at Fishbourne Road East and at Westgate. LTN1/20 paragraph 10-5-24 advises cycle lanes that run across the mouths of side-roads, junctions and driveways without set back (No Set Back) are only suitable for one way traffic. Surely the motivation for installing cycle infrastructure is to reduce the danger of collision. At Fishbourne Road East the 500 metre two way cycle lanes would cross, Dolphin Mews Rd, Willow Court Rd, Grove Park Rd, Rectory Gardens Rd, two arms of Clay lane, Christopher’s Close and Freedland Close. It would also cross at least nine private driveways! There would be a crossing of the two way cycle lanes every 30 metres! This poor quality solution will increase the risks for cyclists at each of these crossings. Likewise, on Westgate the proposed short 375 meter section of two way cycle lane will cross at least 13 driveways in addition to crossing over the mouth of Parklands Rd. It is unsafe to run two way cycle traffic over driveways, side-roads and junctions.
  5. Chair of ChiCycle Philip Maber recommends, a traffic light controlled junction would provide a more cycle friendly connection where the West of Chichester Development Southern Access Road  is proposed to join Sherborne Rd.
  6. Between Sherborne Rd and Orchard Street it remains desirable for Westgate to be converted into a Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Unfortunately, this conversion will provide little benefit for cycling due to the effective severance of cycle Route K at the Sherborne Rd junction. Nonetheless, a Low Traffic Neighbourhood would still benefit residents and pedestrians by providing an attractive street where people can enjoy walking into the city centre.
  7. A viable Low Traffic Neighbourhood on Westgate requires enforcement of traffic restrictions in addition to option A proposals for “No motor traffic except for residents and buses”. Buses, emergency-vehicles and Rubbish collecting vehicles should be permitted to use the proposed controlled section of Westgate. If the intention is to make Westgate into a low traffic neighbourhood, it is undesirable to allow local residents to drive through this short stretch of Westgate between Parklands Rd and Henty Gardens.
  8. WSCC should first cheaply trial Westgate as a low traffic neighbourhood for 3 months before progressing further with proposals. This would allow both planners and residents to efficiently learn early lessons prior to making large infrastructure investments. It will be cheap and easy to use concrete planters at the narrows to filter traffic. Buses could be temporarily re-routed through Via Ravenna Way and/or Parklands Rd. A trial of Westgate as a Low Traffic Neighbourhood prior to the installation of any permanent infrastructure, is vital research to prevent costly mistakes.
  9. If private motor vehicle traffic is to be filtered between Parklands Rd and Henty Gardens, this section should be narrowed to a single lane’s width. There is normally only one bus scheduled on this route each hour. On rare occasions where two buses should simultaneously approach the short 90 metre single lane traffic controlled section, one of the buses could give way leaving only one bus entering the single lane section at any one time. The pavements are currently narrow on this section of Westgate between Parklands Rd and Henty Gardens and reducing the carriageway to single lane width will allow the pavements to be usefully widened.
  10. There is no benefit from the proposed 375 meter section two way cycle lane proposed for the north side of Westgate. At 20 kph it would take only 1 min 8 sec to ride this short section and if heading West, this would require crossing the road twice. The time spent crossing the road twice would significantly increase inconvenience involved in cycling the Westgate route.
  11. A key destination for many pedestrian and cycle journeys on Fishbourne Rd East is to visit the Tesco Superstore. The proposed two way cycle lane makes no provision for turning into the Tesco side entrance. The two way cycle lane will also make it more difficult for pedestrians to cross the road to reach Tesco. ChiCycle advise a zebra crossing is desirable at this location so pedestrians can easily cross the road to reach the supermarket.
  12. It is undesirable to remove the planters speed restricting features along Westgate. If Westgate traffic is reduced to below 2,000 pcu/24-hour and speeds are restricted to below 20 Mph,  DfT advise these conditions are suitable for inclusive cycling in the carriageway. Indeed, this advice is clearly illustrated by LTN1/20 figure 4-1. Straightening the Westgate carriageway and removing its other speed restricting features will be counter productive. This will make the road less well suited to walking and cycling. In addition, the existing planters and trees are attractive features that currently enhance the environment for residents and visitors.
  13. It is unclear what benefits are gained from removing parking from both sides of Westgate where the road is widest. Narrowing the apparent width of a carriageway tends to reduce traffic speed. However, removing parking from both sides of the street will visually widen the street and encourage motorists to drive faster.
  14. Rather than segregate traffic on Fishbourne Rd East, the DfT Manual for Streets (MfS) recommends reductions in traffic speeds and volume should be considered first. Research should investigate why this residential street has such high traffic volumes and speeds. Closing the level crossing on clay lane or making other modifications to the local transport network may be a more cost effective solution than creating expensive cycle lane infrastructure.
  15. If WSCC decide it is desirable to maintain or increase motor vehicle traffic volumes along Fishbourne Road East, removing parking on both sides of the road and installing stepped on way cycle lanes on either side is a safer and more convenient solution than the proposed two way cycle-lanes.

If the local authorities wish to seriously pursue a substantial modal shift towards walking and cycling, they should adopt plans along the lines ChiCycle recommend as shown below.

Fishbourne Road East ChiCycle solution based on OS aerial map
Fishbourne Road East ChiCycle solution based on OS aerial map

Ideally, changes to the local transport network could be introduced to reduce traffic on Fishbourne Road East to below 2,000 motor vehicles per day. This would negate need for stepped cycle-tracks making inclusive cycling acceptable by current DfT standards on the carriageway.

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