Nottingham Road Cycleway

Part 1 – The story so far…

The story begins when the Romans….not that far back, Jim. As its name implies, Nottingham Road was once the principal route to and from our neighbouring city but severe congestion led to the construction of the A52 (as we know it today). Phew! Some relief for the poor folk whose front doors open straight onto the road and for people on bikes to safely negotiate a core travel route.

A view along Nottingham road….Pre A52

Fast forward a few decades and, lo and behold, Nottingham Road is once again chock-a-block. As anyone will know, never in the history of road widening has building new roads led to a long-term reduction in traffic.

Proposed Cycleway Scheme

In November 2021, Derby City Council launched a consultation on a proposed two-way cycleway along part of the southern/city-bound side of Nottingham road through Chaddesden. Funded by the Transforming Cities Fund, the proposed route ran between Chaddesden Park Road (by the fire Station and cemetery) and the roundabout for Raynesway, Acorn Way and Derby Road, Spondon.

The scheme would utilise a mixture of existing wide footway and road carriageway for the two-way cycleway.

Looking west towards Chaddesden Fire Station and Chaddesden Park Road

The consultations was open for 12 weeks and closed on February 14th 2022 making a perfect valentine’s day for cycling couples frantically getting their responses in before the deadline.

DCG’s Response

Derby Cycling Group welcomed the prospect of a two-way cycleway that was separate from motor traffic. It was a bold and exciting proposal for a core route between the City Centre, Chaddesden and out, eventually, to Spondon.

We collated responses and these can be seen on the following annotated scheme plans.

Nottingham Road Cycleway Plan 1 of 2

Nottingham Road Cycleway Plan 2 of 2

Themes

The general themes of concern from the group included:

  • The lack of connections to existing cycleways
  • Termination of the cycleway part way along the road.
  • The level of protection and separation between road and cycleway – Often no more than a kerb’s width.
  • A narrow and inconsistent width along the route – Typically 2m-2.5m.
  • Conflict between pedestrians and people on bikes at bus stops and on sections of shared-use path.
  • Safety and priorities at side streets – Mixture of give-way and priority markings at various points along the route.

Never the less we all felt it was a good proposals in need of a bit of tweaking and clarification on some details.

The Local Response

In early December 2021 a letter from a “concerned resident” was posted on the Chaddesden Ward Councillors’ Facebook page.

A concerned resident’s response to the Nottingham Road proposals
(Sorry, we can’t find one without the edges trimmed off!)

The local councillors said, via their Facebook site, that they were “heartened” by the letter. Many of the concerns were shared by the Chaddesden Councillors and, as the design stood, they said that they simply couldn’t support the plans.

The Chaddesden Councillors informed, via their Facebook page, that having had a discussion with the owners of the consultation, highways officers would look in detail at all the points and queries raised with the promise of a follow-up meeting with the Councillors soon after.

Hatching

Just a little interlude here, but from reading comments about the scheme on various platforms, the potential loss of turning refuges and hatching in the centre of the carriageway was a key concern. As a little exercise, we calculated that between Chaddesden Park Road and the roundabout at Raynesway (a distance of 1750m) nearly 2000sqm of hatching exists on Nottingham Road – that’s 10% of the entire carriageway dedicated to patterned white lines. What luxury to have such a surplus of rarerly-used tarmac.

Uttoxeter New Road, Normanton Road, London Road, Burton Road (to name a few major routes in Derby) all have long-lengths of two-way single carriageway road with no hatching provision for overtaking emergency service vehicles. While having the means to overtake is a “nice to have” it clearly isn’t essential to allow emergency vehicles to pass. In fact road vehicles could use the proposed cycleway, if necessary, to clear a way through for an emergency vehicle.

Alternative Routes

The local councillors cited plans for improvement works to existing routes which was, essentially, limited to the resurfacing of an existing section of footpath between Meadow Lane and Highfield Lane (which runs alongside the A52), with a cycle Lane being added. Quoting from the councillors’ facebook page they stated the following:

This plan clearly means that a continuous cycle lane from Raynesway, running along the A52 into the city centre, will provide a potentially safer route for cyclists. Whilst adding weight to some local residents views, the Nottingham Road proposal is a duplication and a less safe option for road users. Chaddesden Ward Councillors are not against cycle lanes, however they feel they must be in the right places

This is the footpath as it was:

Heavily vegetated and narrow shared use path

And this is it today:

Wider paved route but showing signs of vegetation ingress.

While it’s an improved surface and wider route, being caged in during the day is one thing, but this is it at night:

There are a couple of fundamental issues with the “alternative” route:

Firstly it’s a secluded route, hemmed in by a 2m-high fence on one side and vegetation on the other and is therefore not considered a safe route. Motorists on the A52 are not going to spot any antisocial behavior let alone slam their brakes on, leap over the fence and bravely make a citizen’s arrest.

Secondly, the route is in effect a by-pass of Chaddesden. Proposing this as an alternative is a failure to understand the realities of using a a bicycle for visiting shops, accessing healthcare or popping out for a social meet.

The alternative route also runs alongside the edge of Chaddesden making it less accessible to residents on the northern side of Nottingham Road defeating the point of facilitating safe utility cycling.

Post Consultation Updates

It’s been a couple of years since the initial consultation was launched and council offers have been beavering away in the background updating the scheme plans based on feedback.

Reported back in June 2022 in the Derby Telegraph, amendments had been made, but as the article states, the changes hadn’t been shared publicly or ever with the local councillors. Having spoken to a highways officer on an adjacent scheme on Derby Road, Spondon, he informed us that the issues raised by the local councillors had been resolved. We took that as meaning a few minor issues had been ironed out and the scheme was now shovel-ready and Chaddesden would have a two-way cycleway in the near future.

After several fruitless efforts to obtain the latest updated plans from council highways officers, we resorted to raising a freedom of information request for the drawings and the post-consultation summary report.

Post Consultation Report

The following is a link to the report which summarises the responses to the consultation:

It’s broadly a factual summary of the feedback given.

An interesting point from the report is that a mere 433 people responded to the consultation. When you consider we have 400+ members and nearly 1000 Facebook forum members, if united we should, in theory, have a significant influence on decision making for active travel provision.

Responses to questions can be somewhat misconstrued – For instance, the question of how much do you agree with the following: “Retain full access to/from businesses or residents’ houses” and “Maintain current vehicle capacity on Nottingham Road” imply the proposed scheme was a threat to both of those. Neither are true but with over 80% and 58% agreeing or strongly agreeing to the respective questions, it’s possible it has been assumed that scheme is a threat.

Carriageway narrowing and removal of some of the 2000sqm of hatching sparked the biggest backlash with 37% of respondents strongly disagreeing with both proposals.

Post Consultation Plans

The revised drawing files were opened with high expectations, but the changes are, quite frankly, absolutely gut-wrenching.

Click on image below to open the six scheme drawings in PDF. Sheets run from Raynesway towards Chaddesden Park Road.

We’ve outlined the key fundamental changes from the consultation drawings.

Segregation

Despite the key in the drawing border showing a red shading indicating “Segregated Cycleway”, a quick scan across the plans shows a sea of green which indicates shared-use.

We’re at a real loss as to how the 433 responses, most of whom were in favour of the scheme, has led to this fundamental change in the proposal.

It’s exceptionally frustrating and a real kick in the teeth for active travel having dangled the carrot of real transformative improvements in front of our eyes, to then snatch is away, without explanation, to be replaced with something that was considered acceptable in the 90s.

In the style of hit TV quiz show, Bullseye, look at what we could have won with some examples from the West Midlands.

Photographs courtesy of The Ranty Highwayman Blog

Further photos and a thorough overview can be found here for the Coundon Cycleway scheme in Coventry – A scheme that has its constraints, typical of any big town or city, where many of the clever features employed could have been applied to the Nottingham Road cycle way scheme.

Looking for positives

It’s always good to look for the positives but right now we need at least a dozen positives to cancel out all the negatives. There are a few.

Going Dutch

One of those is the proposed use of Dutch entrance kerbs which are typically utilised across side streets, reinforcing priority for active travel users and forcing vehicles to slow down when crossing over the cycle and footway.

Dutch Entrance Kerb – Image from Aggregate Industries

We’ve counted seven in all but their locations are hit and miss resulting in a disjointed set of priorities across side streets. Where one street has them, the adjacent, and much quieter entrance into a business premises, doesn’t!

What should be jewels in the crown now seem more like lipstick on a pig.

North Side Provision

It does appear there has been some additional provision, that was not included in the consultation, in the verge on the north side of Nottingham Road between Chaddesden Lane, Aldi and Chaddesden Park. It is unclear what the strategic value is here other than aiding park users en-route to a Sunday carvery meal.

Bike Parking

Half a dozen Sheffield stands are proposed at the parade of shops on the north side of Nottingham Road which is 6 more than are currently there. 4 more car parking spaces will be provided, with the loss of 2 mature trees bringing the total to over 60.

Acorn Way to Raynesway

Currently a very tricky and risky crossing point, immediately west of the roundabout on Raynesway/Acorn Way, a new toucan crossing shall be installed as part of this scheme. It will provide a safe route for residents on the north side of Nottingham Road to access Raynesway and cross over towards Asda as there is no safe crossing near the roundabout across Acorn Way (Nor is one proposed for the adjacent scheme on Derby Road, Spondon)

Quirks and Foibles

If there aren’t already enough trip hazards about, a heritage mile post marker is to be relocated into the footway for, you’ve guessed it, some parking spaces.

Capability Scoring

We’ve reported previously on Derby City Council’s capability rating for active travel delivery and how Active Travel England will be looking at schemes that councils are delivering with the hope that they are learning and implementing high quality provision.

ATE will no doubt be looking at his particular scheme with a keen eye but I don’t think they’ll be particularly impressed, thus reducing the city’s likelihood of obtaining future funding for active travel provision.

Parting words.

What was a bold and promising-looking scheme, has been watered down to something with minimal benefits. Road vehicle users might have clawed back a little from the changes, but active travel users have lost a lot.

Construction is set to begin in the new year and once complete, the usual comments will follow that it’s a complete waste of money and I think, in this instance, we wouldn’t disagree.

2 comments

  1. I think its criminal that such a lot of space is wasted with the hatchings. Love the Dutch Curbe idea. That is a definite reminder to drivers that the cyclist has to be considered. There are some major headaches as has been alluded to regarding the shopping areas and what would be the best way to implement traffic between cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles. šŸ™

    Great info on the BLOG btw

    Andy

    1. Thanks for your comments, Andy.

      Hatching should really be the low hanging fruit when it comes to the reallocation of road space for active travel. But it’s sad to see even the slightest suggestion of removing parts of it is so controversial. Like a dog with a bone, it seems motor vehicle users just can’t let it go.

      The Dutch kerbs will be neat although I’m bamboozled by choice of where they will (or won’t be) be located. It’ll be interesting to see how the priorities will work in practice once installed.

      James

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