Old Shoreham Road

Norman Baker MP at the grand opening telling the one about two nuns riding down a cobbled street. Maybe. A passing aeroplane made it difficult to hear.

Well, the construction work has finally come to a close on Old Shoreham Road. Firstly, to remind you of the scheme, here are the consultation plans for the eastern end (BHASVIC means Brighton & Hove Sixth Form College)

..and the western end

…and the two posts I wrote during the construction period are here and here.

Below is the Old Shoreham Road stood close to the Dyke Road Junction looking west whilst the path was in construction

An old Old Shoreham Road looking West

And this is how it looks now…

As you can see in the new photo above, the line markings have been painted except the centre line. I have been reliably informed that the line will not be painted immediately as part of a road safety trial to see if traffic speed drops as a result. You will also note that the cycle lane starts away from the Dyke Road junction. I assume this is because the original purpose was to link the schools and colleges and BHASVIC to the right so, job done. Below are a couple of photos of Chanctonbury Road with its bit of cycle permeability

…and this it now…

Junction with Chanctonbury Road, now with shared use area

Stone setts announce (albeit vaguely) that we are entering a shared use area. This to me poses problems, especially when you consider the Belisha Beacons indicating the zebra crossing just ahead.

On the plus side, the central ‘holding pen’ with guard railings has been removed which is a definite improvement. However, cyclists are going to have to negotiate around the Belisha Beacons and pedestrians are going to be needlessly on guard as they cross the road. I personally would have extended the zebra crossing across a cycle path that I would have continued right through. That way there is no ambiguity or confusion, particularly for partially sighted pedestrians. The tree marked the edge of the old carriageway anyway – I assume that the designers wanted to give the feeling of widening the pavement at this point but in doing so they may have increased the potential for conflict.

The radii at junctions have been tightened considerably to slow traffic making left turns reducing further the chance of a collision.

Stencils were made to get the message of continuity across in a fun, graffiti way in lieu of coloured paint. These were spray painted on the approach to each side turning, presumably because people on bicycles need a little bit of time to adjust to not being treated as second-rate citizens. Cars I encountered waiting to pull out all waited patiently behind the ‘give way’ markings.

Not quite Banksy but a good way to get the priority message across
My Brompton as a guide to path width. And it’s all for bicycles.

Another criticism of the cycle path is the way it becomes shared use on a railway bridge, as illustrated in the picture below, just beyond the tree. Even here however, space has been taken from the main carriageway to keep the shared use area as wide as possible and, with the sight lines so good, it just requires a little common courtesy, which should be mandatory in an area where people live and go to school anyway.

Cycle Lane rejoins the road as a mandatory bike lane before junctions

One of the particularly interesting features of this scheme is the new phase on the traffic lights installed on the two main junctions. There is an auxiliary bicycle light that turns green a few seconds before the main lights to give cyclists a head start

I think it’s an attempt to replicate the this type of light seen below, which I photographed on the David Hembrow Study Tour in Assen and Groningen last September..

In Assen, cyclists and pedestrians are given their own separate phase as opposed to optimistic head starts. I assume there had to be compromise in the British version so as not to impede on ‘traffic flow’ (although that is conjecture). It will take a while for British cyclists (and motorists for that matter) to adjust to even this simple change in signalling but it is an improvement from just an Advanced Stop Line. My slight concern is – does it really give a more nervous cyclist time to make a right turn before motor traffic comes steaming through in the opposite direction? In the interests of infrastructure nerdism and the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, I filmed the lights in action, just for you.

Overall, I personally think this is an excellent, progressive scheme. It is not perfect – there are problems as outlined throughout this post (as usual with a British scheme it’s the conflict points) but these can be remedied. At least they didn’t build a narrower track which would then cost a prohibitive fortune to widen. Cycling along this facility, just for a short while, it almost felt as if the Netherlands or Denmark has infiltrated this little part of the South Coast and this was also reflected by the variety of people I saw using it including parents with young children which was encouraging. The width of the vast majority of the track means that, unbelievably [for Britain] people can ride side by side to chat, casting my mind back to seeing groups of Dutch children and young adults cycling to school and college in social groups (always important) or groups of elderly people out for a mid-morning ride to the shops and a natter. To me, this is a crucial element of making the bicycle look inviting to the masses as opposed to part of a heads down specialised sporting rat race it often becomes here.

I cycled London Cycle Superhighway 2 (Bow to Aldgate) in its entirety on Tuesday evening on my way back from a presentation in Stratford. It just felt like optimistically placed blue paint allied to a too narrow segregated path and confusing lights at Bow Roundabout. At no point did it feel as though any attempt had been made to improve the lot of cyclists at all in terms of comfort or safety on what is still a hysterically busy thoroughfare. It was like eating a McDonalds Big Mac Meal – a lot of money had been spent on branding and advertising but after trying it, I was left still feeling hungry. However, the Brighton & Hove scheme has actually taken considerable space from motorised traffic. They have made the bicycle look like an inviting mode of transport that is taken seriously. To be fair, it’s obviously nowhere near as long as the Cycle Superhighway, but it doesn’t give itself an undeserved grandiose name either.

The Old Shoreham Road should be an easy win, being the former A27 but it has been many years in the formulation and execution. I have to doff my hat (in lieu of a helmet) to those who had the determination to see it through. I now incorporate this into my commute (which is now an almost totally segregated route within the Brighton & Hove city boundary).

On that note, I’m thinking of doing an Infrastructure safari on a Saturday in July covering this and other Brighton schemes followed by the ride that I would normally take as my commute followed by a ride around the best and worst of my adopted home town of Worthing. Here is a picture taken from my commute this evening..

Looking toward Worthing Pier

If you’re interested, do let me know. Just bring suntan lotion and money for a pint of beer and 99 ice cream (with flake).


14 thoughts on “Old Shoreham Road”

  1. This looks like a genuinely positive development.

    OK, so we need more of this, everywhere, a consistent policy to continue doing this for a few decades, and a continuous raising of standards as it happens. However, this appears to be good enough to at least help some of the people some of the time and that puts a smile on my face this morning.

    Keep it up, Brighton and Hove.

  2. Looks very well executed. well done to Brighton and Hove! Only slight improvement I can think of is a “give way” line between the main carriageway and the bicycle lane at junctions, to make absolutely clear that other vehicles should give way to cyclists when turning. And possibly even a bollard (or slightly raised kerb might be safer) half way across the junction to make it an even tighter affair and further reduce the speed of turning motorists.

    1. At last we’re seeing serious levels of funding for safe cycle routes! It sounds a lot, but compare it with annual spending on roads for motor vehicles, and it’s peanuts.

      B&H has a population of 256,600 according to Wikipedia, so they spent £3 per person. Not quite up to Dutch spending levels of around £20 per person per year, and way off the spending on motor transport. However this is a LOT more useful than the 6p per person per year that WSCC manage to scrape out of the bottom of the transport funding barrel.

  3. Personally, I don’t really think the bicycle green phase is quite long enough, as evidenced by the group of cyclists on on opposite side of the junction. Only the first two riders seem to get any benefit from the head start. It would be interesting to see if the pedestrian and bicycle phases could be combined here, as is apparently common in NL. That might be too much for us Brits to comtemplate though..

  4. here are my comments – i will not apologise for the tone.
    i totally agree with your comments over the zebra crossing and have seen numerous instances of “move, your in the cycle lane” already. This also applies to some of the bus stops. I think the green light for bikes is too high and should be bike height.
    I also wonder how many would take notice of he lights as in the Ship Street bike lights. I haven’t seen anyone obey them.

    1. Don’t apologise as any feedback is good for the designers. The criticism you mention is one of the reasons why I’m not very partial to shared space. It works on Worthing Prom because in places it is as wide as the road it runs alongside. However in the Old Shoreham Road instance, you have too much going on in such a confined area (a pedestrian crossing, pedestrians emerging from a footpath, street furniture and trees). I prefer the Dutch method of consistency and continuity of cycle routes as everyone knows what the score is and is a greater help to sections of the community such as the visually impaired or parents trying to shepherd their children. It’s such a shame because where it does work, it is superb as eveyone has ample space and knows where they should be. We shouldn’t rule out common courtesy however – a mother and son were crossing this morning and I slowed in case they wished to cross in front of me as it was at the very least the right thing to do. I think many people however expect to be treated as second rate citizens as soon as they get on a bike and sadly that reflects in their attitudes to others. I like being responsible because I like the smiles and sometimes looks of shock that I get 🙂

  5. I suspect that the shared use near the zebra crossing comes from a rigid interpretation of a rule that says you can’t run a zebra over a cycle “track”. The cheaper and better alternative would have been to have transitioned from track to “lane” at the crossing (with as little actual physical difference as possible.

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