TWAP! It’s the New Road Surface and Cycle Lanes

It’s not been long since we last talked about the Twickenham Action Plan (aka the TWAP) or about bikes for that matter. But as we begin to see a few signs that the road and pavement works in Twickenham may actually come to an end at some point this spring (or perhaps summer, but definitely, 100% definitely before the Rugby World Cup) we thought we’d take look at the brand new road surface and cycle lanes. The result? Confusion. Confusion for us, confusion for cyclists and, quite possibly, confusion for drivers.

Advance cycle stop markings at junctions?  Nothing says ‘stop your car here’ quite like a massive bicycle painted on the road, or so it seems. Some education is required.

Cycle lanes? We’ve got yes, no and maybe. All at the same time. It’s a very mixed picture.

We all know that the sheer volume of traffic through Twickenham means finding a solution that suits, cars, cyclists and pretty much anyone else is always going to be tricky but here at twickerati HQ we can’t help but feel that bike lanes that appear, disappear then re-appear will make life confusing for all.

Most troubling is the north side of King Street heading towards Richmond. Cars coming from Cross Deep are in two lanes as they turn right into King Street. Cars coming from Heath Road are also in two lanes (bus stop and regular M&S deliveries permitting). But King Street now has a cycle lane marked out and the road simply isn’t wide enough for two lanes and the cycle lane. Should cars merge into a single lane? Dunno. Should cars drive in the bike lane? Perhaps. Should they try to do both?  And what is supposed to happen when the road narrows to barely two lanes at the York Street / London Road junction. It’s unclear. Apart from giving a general indication that there might be cyclists around, these bike lane markings make things ambiguous for drivers as well as cyclists and that doesn’t seem like a good recipe for a safe and sensible approach. Maybe there’s still time for an early rethink or at least some clearer signs and a bit of education?

That’s our view as a driver, cyclist, pedestrian and bus passenger. What’s yours?

Two lanes plus bikes?

Two lanes plus bikes?

A brief video clip

A Vine

UPDATE: On May 11th @LBRUT responded to a question on Twitter about the lanes in King Street from @CindyCroucher. The LBRuT response was, “It operates as a single lane for most of the time, with an advisory cycle lane marked on the nearside… During peak periods traffic can travel in two lanes by over-running the cycle lane if not in use.”
To us that just sounds like usual road use, i.e. if there’s a cyclist in the left hand lane, try not to run him/her over. Perhaps that’s the ‘advice’ bit in the ‘advisory cycle lane’?

43 Comments

Filed under Features, Local Issues & News, Twickenham Action Plan

43 responses to “TWAP! It’s the New Road Surface and Cycle Lanes

  1. UPDATE: On May 11th @LBRUT responded to a question on Twitter about the lanes in King Street from @CindyCroucher. The LBRuT response was, “It operates as a single lane for most of the time, with an advisory cycle lane marked on the nearside… During peak periods traffic can travel in two lanes by over-running the cycle lane if not in use.”

    To us that just sounds like usual road use, i.e. if there’s a cyclist in the left hand lane, try not to run him/her over. Perhaps that’s the crux of the ‘advice’ bit in the ‘advisory cycle lane’?

    • There seems to be a new and interesting high risk mind game for cyclists through the King Street and London Road junctions – do I stay on the main road and risk the cycle lane becoming less advisory as I cycle along it – or do I go down the new “one way except for cyclists” route along Oak Lane and risk a driver coming the other way round the blind bend who does not know of this set up. I have experienced both in the last couple of weeks and not sure which I currently favour. I certainly don’t blame car drivers for not fully appreciating the subtleties of this new road system

    • Sally

      I saw the police pull over one pavement cyclist early today. Perhaps it would be better to have a presence later on. The problem seems to worsen the later it gets. There are now also pavement cycling hotspots, favoured places to hurtle off the road and zip down the pavement, narrowly missing the elderly and frail. Outside the Coss Deep GP is the most popular and of course has the hight likelihood of a nasty accident as the sick totter by, pharmacy bound.

      Today I actually passed a couple of teenagers doing wheelies outside KFC, then two more pavement cyclists, in one block’s walk! Can’t. we sacrifice a bit of the pavement space for a safe cycle path ? Bit of paint, some bricks … no problem.

    • Paul is right. You may not have seen the small signs on the bollards but cyclists are allowed on the pavement at the Cross Deep junction for a short section. Whilst this may help some with crossing the junction it is confusing and may result in some cyclists not being aware that this ‘dual use’ section is only very short. Most are probably not aware of these signs and are simply cycling on the pavement.

    • mick sinclair

      When is a cycle lane not in use? See also my comment below regarding Rule 140 of the Highway Code, which the council seem unaware of.

  2. Anonymous

    Interesting to talk to 6 police men and women who were standing around Twickenham high street today. They said they had had complaints of cyclists going through red lights and cars driving in cycle lanes and they were there to try and see what was going on. I witnessed them pulling over a few cyclists but didn’t see them pulling over any cars driving in the cycle lane – Surely Richmond council should be taken to task about this utter shambles in Twickenham High Street rather than have 6 police officers manning the roads!!!!

  3. Interestingly, http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/my_richmond/all_in_one/my_richmond_villages/all_twickenham_villages/twickenham_rediscovered/improving_twickenham_town_centre.htm refers to “Installation of new cycle lanes and other features to help cyclists – advisory lanes in King Street / London Road and mandatory segregated lanes outside Twickenham Station.” I’ve been cycling on the roads for 55 years and never heard of “advisory” and “mandatory” cycle lanes before!

    • twickerman

      Advisory cycle lanes are the dotted ones that can be driven and parked in. e.g. the useless new ones in King Street.

      Mandatory cycle lanes have a solid white line and should not be used by motor vehicles. e.g. the one opposite Twick station that is frequently used illegally by cars, vans and buses. High speed police responder cars also use the mandatory cycle lane, but apparently have an exemption.

    • mick sinclair

      Advisory and mandatory cycle lanes have been included in the Highway Code for over twenty years (Rule 140). The Rule states: ‘You MUST NOT drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a solid white line during its times of operation. Do not drive or park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable.’

  4. The Council will only listen to protests from formally organised groups. I recommend to those who post here that instead they devote their time and energy to re-energising the Richmond Cycling Campaign (RCC) and using it to get LBRuT to listen, first by asking them nicely by letter, then by asking a string of questions at the next Council meeting, then by organising ‘bike-ins’, etc., etc. . .

    The RCC seems to be doing its best pursuing a ’discussing campaigning issues’, lobbying and ‘asking nicely’ strategy – it’s time to ramp up the protest before someone is killed. It meets monthly, ‘upstairs at the Old Ship pub in Richmond on the corner of King Street, opposite House of Fraser.’ The next meeting is on Monday 11/05/2015.

    Published minutes indicate that they met in April and that John Head is Chair; Paul Luton reported on a meeting with council officers on March 28.
    http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/events/monthly-meetings/
    http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2005/01/RCC-Meeting-130415-Minutes.pdf

    The Lib Dem council, in office 2006-10, had a councillor ‘Cycling Ambassador’, a role abolished by the Tories. The post was filled by Cllr Ben Khosa [St Margaret’s & N Twick] – I don’t know the dates. He is now Opposition Spokesperson for Community Safety; he writes:

    . . I am a keen cyclist: I am a member of the Cycle Liaison Group and was one of the Borough’s first Cycle Ambassadors looking for ways to encourage others to take up cycling . .
    http://cabnet.richmond.gov.uk/mgMiniSite.aspx?UID=415

    He may be able to advise on how to get the council to admit that its scheme is flawed and should be changed – a hard thing for any organisation to do. One obvious move is to get up a petition,get 1000 signatures and present it at a council meeting – which he can organise – and ask for a debate on it, with a well-attended demo outside York House to concentrate their minds, press and TV in attendance etc.

    I’m not a cyclist so I cannot assist in this.

    • Paul

      To be fair to the Council they do have a Cycling Champion (Cllr Loveday) who has been active in some important off-road issues. Reallocating road space is a difficult concept for members of the governing party. The problem is that most cyclists are keener to go cycling than attend demos.

    • The Cycling Champion is Cllr Jean Loveland [Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside http://cabnet.richmond.gov.uk/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=9316%5D; this role doesn’t merit a council web page and she is not mentioned in the minutes of the RCC, which report on meetings with officers.

      She seems neither to champion cyclists to the Council nor to promote Council plans to the cyclists. So I think the role is purely decorative, a hangover from the Lib Dem regime that is kept on to deflect criticism.

      Nonetheless it is to her that the RCC should address its complaints in the first instance. A barrage of questions to be answered in public at a Council meeting is another useful tactic.

      The new leader of the Lib Dem group on the council is likely to be Gareth Roberts, who careers round town on his battle bike. Maybe he’ll pick up this issue for his first crack at the Tories.

  5. Cooper 500

    I did spot outside the Cabbage Patch today a LBRUT notice saying the Licencing Sub-Committee are going to consider allowing the pub to have 4 tables & chairs on the pavement outside. So the surprisingly large pavement at this junction at last has a use as a beer terrace!

  6. twickerman

    I don’t like to be negative, but the TAAP highways scheme:

    – had no ambition to improve cycling thru Twickenham town centre, despite ever increasing numbers of cyclists

    – was poorly designed to crush cyclists and vehicles into 2’ish lanes thru the busiest King St section

    – has been very poorly executed, with dotted lines stopping and starting every few metres, and motorists unsure how many lanes there are.

    – provision of the occasional bike box doesn’t make cycling any safer (note there aren’t any at the pedestrian crossings), neither does the 20mph limit, as they are both ignored by motorists.

    El Brute need to start again, and add proper mandatory cycle lanes (no vehicles) along Heath Rd, King St, York St and London Rd. This can be done by narrowing the monstrously wide pavements slightly without impacting pedestrians.
    As a result, the roads will be safer for cyclists and less confusing for motorists, thus smoothing and improving traffic flow. A Win- Win-Win solution.

    • jbuzza

      To be fair, bike boxes are also ignored by a lot of cyclists as they don’t observe traffic lights.

    • Paul

      At the junction of London Rd and King St / York St the road narrows too much for 3 lanes of general traffic + 2 cycle lanes. The only solution would be to close either York St or the South end of London Rd.

  7. Kazza

    I whole heartedly agree with your article – what a hash of the roads the council has done and a sure recipe for disaster. As a victim of being knocked off my bike in Twickenham by a car a few years ago whereby I suffered irreversible damage to my knee cap I have first hand experience of how near fatal the roads can be. Since my accident the council realised the error of their ways and have since changed the road layout. I fear that nothing has been learned by the council since then and that the new road system in Twickenham will unfortunately see more unnecessary accidents due to poor planning and consideration.

  8. Cooper 500

    What a dog’s breakfast the new road layout is. Expect much hand wringing when the first cyclist is killed or seriously injured. Another ambigious junction is the Railway Approach/ London Road one, were because the left turn signs have been missed off the traffic lights increasing amount of traffic is now illegally turning right.

  9. Its an absolute nightmare, and it feels to me as though the council is really anti-cyclist. The bit outside M and S is too narrow for a bike to go past a bus at the bus stop (and why on earth does the bus stop need such a wide pavement??) and then just after the lights the new cycle lane is such that it always has cars because the rest of the road is just about wide enough for two cars so two cars it is. And stopping in a cycle box is endorsable, PC Plod could rack up a lot of extra penalties there.

    Really we need segregated cycle lanes similar to the Kingston Bridge one. The only bright spot is that now Holly Road is two way for bikes so that there is no need to cycle up to the traffic lights at Barclays to turn left. If you want to go towards Richmond though, tough luck.

  10. Totally agree with article on cycle lanes in twick. These ambiguous markings are joined by 1. The need to reinstate the yellow box junction at the arragon/York St/ junction as traffic queuing into twick from Richmond, block the junction and 2. Reinstate the 3rd lane for Turning left out of water lane (?) coming up from river alongside Iceland and wanting to continue up Heath road. Currently, you either wait for ever and make a dash across the lane turning left into cross deep or anticipate the light change to green and straddle the lane and bike lane and hope some kind soul will let you in. There are not many kind souls driving in the rush hours so there’s a high risk of prompting a road rage attack!

  11. Rob H

    All Council members and traffic planners involved should be forced to put their children/nieces/nephews and/or elderly parents/grandparents onto bikes, give them a kiss, and send them off through Twickenham town centre.

  12. Hester Huttenbach

    Other issues..what happened to the yellow box at Cross Deep/Heath Road/King Street junction? Constant jams as cars cross without having a clear exit but then how many of them know what a Box Junction means? Very few bother to stay out of the cyclist box as there is noone to catch them out and give them three points on their licence! And as for the 20mph speed limit ..unless there’s a snarl up noone keeps to that either as the signs on the posts are too small..it might help is large 20 are painted on the road! No wonder Twickenham lost out on extra cash from Boris for promoting cycling..

  13. This, from Richmond Cycling Campaign in September 1913 (nearly as old as the pavement works) is interesting and a bit depressing: http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/2013/09/29/twickenham-town-centre-september-2013-update/

  14. jbuzza

    I struggle to understand what has actually been improved. The bus stops are now fragmented, the advisory cycle lanes are badly conceived and the opportunity to encourage cyclists onto the quieter roads doesn’t seem to have been followed through.

  15. There is one word for this new layout: AMBIGUITY.

    … and that’s really not helpful for any road user.

    This is a wasted opportunity to make Twickenham safe for cycling.

    I wonder who is to blame?

  16. The lane coming over the bridge from the station into the town centre is also now confusing. Before the L hand lane cars went left and the R hand lane cars went ahead. Now both lanes can be used by cars to go straight on with a cycle lane running down the far left hand side. So I’m going straight on but the car just in front of me wants to turn left? How do they do that without cutting me up? It’s a confusing new layout – I’m sticking to the R hand lane!

    • jbuzza

      Yep, that one is just bonkers. I was initially wondering if it had been painted wrong but no its still there.

  17. Jon

    i ride into and out of Twickenham (from the Green to Richmond and back) every day as part of my commute into London. The cycle lanes and advance stops are really not good enough. The cycle lanes I ignore and ride as though I’m a car by picking the suitable lane for my route. The Advance stops are largely ignored by traffic and the one outside the Barbers at the lights is encroached by any large vehicles (HGV, Bus etc.) that is turning left, feels very exposed and poorly thought out. The danger of bad cycle infrastructure is the potential for a false sense of security for the less confident cyclist, with the potential for a nasty accident …

  18. The two lanes coming from Cross Deep to King St. should have an arrow for left and another for right. It’s ridiculous for both lanes still to be able to turn right. Another small but relevant point is that if you’re coming from Wharf Lane onto King St but want to go on to Heath Road rather than take a left turn at the filter, you used to be able to wiggle into the middle lane of the three. Now there isn’t a middle lane, so when you rely on people to let you into the traffic, you can end up blocking the left turn to Cross Deep. And if you are polite and say, no go ahead and you wait, you can be there for ages. At least, I’d have liked a yellow hatched box there. It’s all a bit of a buggeration job.

  19. There’d be room if the pavements weren’t the width of an airport runway.

  20. Rickytwicky

    The cycle lane heading West from Twickenham Green to Sixth Cross Road is blocked by parked cars for most of it’s length making it pointless. I’m not sure why LBRUT bothered to go to all the expense of painting in a cycle lane unless it can be kept clear for cyclists. Yet another example of illogical thinking from the council.

    • Dr B

      Worse than pointless in fact: Cyclists are advised to avoid weaving between parked cars, meaning that this lane neatly marks out the part of the road that cyclists should not cycle in. Inexperienced road users don’t always get this, which can lead to confusion or worse.

      I pointed out this lane to a councilor a few months ago. He said that something was better than nothing, and I think he was dissappointed that I didn’t agree.

      I think that councillors, and even the council, genuinely want to promote safe cycling. There just seems to be a lack of consultation with the actual users.

      On a positive note, though, the cycle lanes on 6th cross road between Squires and the Fountain are great in both directions. More of these please LBRuT.

  21. Michael

    Your article exactly sums up my thoughts. What are two lots of two lanes of traffic supposed to do now? Merge or drive on the cycle lane? Presumably the former, in which case I see crawling traffic returning to King Street and the queues up Heath Road getting even worse.

    If a cycle lane was always planned, surely this could have been accommodated with two lanes plus cycle lane if the pavements weren’t quite as wide? I appreciate the efforts to make Twickenham more pedestrian friendly but don’t fancy walking next to near-stationary traffic so much and I fear for cyclists’ safety / blood pressure.

    Seems such a missed opportunity to spend all this money and see great improvements. All we seem to be getting is a lot of money spent.

    • Paul

      Absolutely – a “half road” with cycle lane needs to be either too narrow for two cars abreast or wide enough that 2 cars leave about 2m for safe cycling. Otherwise everyone will ignore an advisory lane and most will ignore a mandatory one.

  22. Sally

    The Cross Deep right turn into King Street is insane. Without warning the 2 lanes of traffic are expected to melt into one, and make room for a cycle lane. In the struggle to creep along in one and a half lanes of course the cars will go on the cycle path, which is after all just a bit of paint. And don’t get me started on the new cycle lanes which just vanish at critical points.
    It isn’t too late. Could they just plonk a lane of bricks on the new pavement to separate it from the pedestrians and call it a cycle path? We can sacrifice a little of the broad sweep of beige. If there was a safe cycle path through Twickenham, so many more people would, I think ,give cycling a try and established cyclists would stop getting their affairs in order before every bike trip.

    • Paul

      Actually something useful has been done here. From the end of the bus lane where the kerb sticks out the footway is now shared use up to the junction. Cyclist can then cross Heath Rd by toucan. (Would anyone riding by notice this – probably not !)

    • Sally

      Thanks Paul and Twickerati, I missed the marker bollard. On Cross Deep.
      Time to visit the Eye Store !

  23. Ex-Twickenham Resident

    And btw I am a qualified cycling expert holding a Cycling proficiency certificate and badge 1973, achieved at junior school.

  24. Ex-Twickenham Resident

    The cycle lanes in London are a joke. If you are going to encourage people to cycle give them a cycle infrastructure.
    To be perfectly frank…if this is the cycle infrastructure of London it would be more appropriate for the local authorities to dissuade people from cycling because it is too dangerous rather than encourage cycling on overcrowded roads.

  25. All that time. All that money. And they still don’t get it right 😦