The remodelled crossing of Newmarket Road and Ipswich Road connects the Orange Pedalway through Fellowes Plain to Grove Road. Derek takes a look and discovers an unexpected problem
After months of chaos caused by the roadworks, the remodelled crossing is finally open. This is a very important point on the Pedalways network, it not only connects the Orange Pedalway across the busy Newmarket and Ipswich Roads, it’s also the route taken by students heading to and from City College on Ipswich Road. This is a truly busy place at peak times where two of the major traffic routes into the city meet and large numbers of pedestrians and cyclists need to cross.
It would be great to be able to say we have a new bit of infrastructure that fully conforms to the government’s design standards known as LTN 1/20. It does in part and overall it’s an improvement, but there are problems with a lack of signage and one frankly unbelievable issue which we’ll get to at the end of this review that certainly does not conform to LTN 1/20.
The point of the work
Every day in term-time hundreds of students walk from the city to the college along St Stephens Road. The aim of the project was primarily to improve the pedestrian route from the city towards the college by providing more pavement space around the junction of Grove Road. To do this the left turn for traffic from the city into Grove Road was removed. At the same time the cycle and pedestrian crossings were also upgraded.
The biggest change for cyclists is the approach from Grove Road to the crossing. The previous painted cycle lane has been replaced by a short section of high-quality segregated cycle track, complete with lane markings.
Overall, it’s fair to say the project has achieved what it set out to do and crossing Grove Road as a pedestrian is now much easier and almost certainly safer.
So how good is the new arrangement for cyclists?
The user experience
Ride-through of the new crossing – Video by Derek, October 2022
To be frank, there isn’t that much of a change for users of the cycle crossing apart from Grove Road, where the painted cycle lane in the middle of the road has been replaced by a section of segregated cycle track. The road at the junction is now one-way for motor traffic.
This is clearly a vast improvement, sadly marred by the lack of signage to tell cyclists where to go as they approach the new cycle track. Now it’s true that regular users will soon learn the new layout, but the Pedalway routes should be clear and obvious to anyone using them for the first time. This will probably get corrected soon, but it is a pity this wasn’t thought through in the design stage.
Otherwise, the crossing is much as before for users of the Orange Pedalway.
Heading along Grove Road towards City College riders stay in the left lane with the (light) traffic to turn left onto Ipswich Road, as before.
Heading north along Ipswich Road towards Grove Road, the idea is to use a “jug handle” – which means to take to the pavement on the left and then cross by way of the cycle crossing. But in fact, it’s easy to simply turn right from the advanced stop line at the lights into the new cycle track. The phasing of the lights makes this safe enough, just be careful to enter the cycle track and not the traffic lane.
For riders heading north along Newmarket Road there’s another “jug handle” arrangement. Bikes using the bus lane can take to the pavement and use the crossing as before. The only problem is that at the time of writing the necessary carriageway and pavement markings to indicate this seem to have been forgotten. Again, no doubt this will be corrected soon.
Turning left into Grove Road from the city direction is possible but involves a very tight left turn into the cycle track, it’s as if they didn’t think of this movement. To head straight onto Newmarket Road is as before, involving crossing the left turning flow of (often heavy) traffic before the junction. It is possible to stay on the left and do a “jug handle” turn across the crossing, but it’s obviously not designed for that.
The big problem
If you’re following the Orange Pedalway across this junction for the first time and don’t know the route, you have a big problem. Once across Newmarket Road you’re faced with a brick wall with no indication of where to go.
Obviously, a sign on the wall telling riders to turn right would be a good idea, but that can’t be done because of a frankly unbelievable problem that has existed since the creation of the Orange Pedalway that few seem to know about and has never been sorted out.
For the observant, the markings on the pavement give a clue. The give way markings on the left indicate (correctly) that it is a one-way cycle track towards the junction, it’s just for “jug handle” using riders heading north and wishing to cross by way of the junction. The problem is the solid line across the other direction, to the right, which means you can’t cycle that way either.
In fact, you do need to go right, following Ipswich Road for about 10 metres to the (also unsigned) point where the Orange Pedalway enters the old hospital site, Fellowes Plain.
Now it’s important to know this has not changed, the markings are exactly as they were before the upgrade, but of course before the works, the old paint had worn away so it wasn’t obvious.
The truth is something you couldn’t make up, even if you tried very, very hard, the 10 metre section of the Orange Pedalway from the crossing to the entrance to Fellowes Plain is not a shared-use pavement, you are supposed to get off and push. Yes, seriously. Not that anyone is ever going to do that.
The only section of shared-use path is to allow the “jug handle” turn from Newmarket Road to the crossing, it has never extended to the entrance to the Orange Pedalway. Look very closely at the official Pedalways map and you’ll see this:
It’s not obvious, but there is a small “D” symbol at the exit from Fellowes Plain which means “dismount”. The start of the shared-use pavement at the junction is indicated by the usual shared-use sign.
Yes, this is amazingly bad and a ridiculous situation. It’s worth mentioning the signage isn’t complete, the “end of cycleway” sign is missing and there is no indication the cycleway starts or ends at the Fellowes Plain entrance either.
This must have been noticed during the design stage when the road markings were drawn up and correcting it should have been included in the scheme, but seemingly no-one noticed.
The 10 metre section of path between the junction and the entrance to Fellowes Plain needs to be made shared-use and the proper markings applied to the pavement showing the end of the shared-use path and directing riders into Fellowes Plain.
Why hasn’t this already been done? Clearly no-one is expected to obey the “dismount” instruction here, even if they knew about it. This cannot be allowed to continue. It’s a pity, but this lack of attention to rather important details like this is worrying.
A basically good scheme with some strong points, undermined by a lack of clear signage and a glaring lack of attention to detail.
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