Bradford’s new Cycle Super Deathway

You can read all the posts about this particular junction, in order, here.

In July 2014, Henry Lang was killed when riding along a cycleway on Twickenham Road in Richmond, London.

The junction is dangerously designed – turning motor traffic has priority over the cycleway at side roads. The junction is unclear, people on foot and on bike are expected to look left as well as backwards to the right, simultaneously, and so the design is dangerous.

The junction of Twickenham Road and Kew Foot Road, where the separate cycleway, and footway, cedes priority to a minor side road

This design is inconvenient and dangerous. (Photo: Google Maps)

This is exactly the type of design which all cycling campaigners hate, from the hardened road warriors who love mixing with motor vehicles, to those who dream of the stress-free cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands.

Nobody wants cycleways like this. They don’t suit the fit and confident, and they fail the rest of us. They’re crap, and they’re dangerous.

So why is Bradford building brand new inconvenient death-traps like this – with the added complications that come with bi-directional cycleways?

The photos below show freshly finished work, part of the Leeds-Bradford “CityConnect” “Cycle Superhighway” project, at the junction of Dick Lane and Grange Avenue.

New junction design at Dick Lane and Grange Avenue in Thornbury, Bradford, taken in May 2015.  Turning motor vehicles have priority over people walking and cycling.

This design is proven to be dangerous. This is not acceptable. (Photo courtesy Lee @d0tdash)

New junction design at Dick Lane and Grange Avenue, taken in May 2015. The new two-way cycleway has to give way to side road traffic, as do people on foot.

Does this look super to you? Or even like a highway? (Photo courtesy Lee @d0tdash)

Shockingly bad design.

It doesn’t even match the published plans, which show the cycleway and footway having priority over the side road. Why were the plans changed, who changed them, and when? These are reasonable questions, can the CityConnect team answer them?

Why does Grange Avenue even need to be a two-way through-route, considering it merely connects back to Leeds Road around the corner?

If the person responsible for this is reading, then please quit your job before you kill someone. Let someone else do it, as you’re clearly incompetent.

Or if your bosses forced you to create this monstrosity, then please contact me anonymously so I can name and shame them before somebody dies. Let us know where the blame lies. This is a waste of public money and a hazard.

The time for this kind of crap is over. It’s 2015, we know that designs like this are dangerous, and we know what works.

I’m pleased to see that Cyclenation and CTC have both criticised it, and it clearly falls well below the CEoGB’s expectations. Leeds Cycling Campaign and Sustrans Yorkshire are also not happy, especially as they were consulted on the design, which has since been silently changed. This junction is exactly the type of thing all campaigners should be opposing.

There is lots of space here to get this right, tons of space (have a look across the road). The two-way cycleway is too narrow, the curve at the junction is too sharp, and there should be clear visual priority for the cycleway and footway.

This is all possible, there’s no physical reason why good design doesn’t happen in Britain. Is it a lack of knowledge? Is it managerial incompetence? Whatever the reason, it needs fixing.

And I’m sure excuses will be made about timescales and budgets, but these are all part of the problem that needs addressing, they’re not a reason to install dangerous designs like this.

This project should be put on hold now, and a thorough appraisal made before it is open for use by the public.

This junction is just one of many problems that I’ve been made aware of in this project. I’m planning a blog post covering some of the others, but there’s only so many hours in the day and this whole scheme seems full of dangerous flaws.

If you know of other poor-quality or dangerous parts of this scheme – or if you know of any particularly good bits that should be commended – then please get in touch.

PS. Of course, there’s the obligatory promotional video, which bears little resemblance to the actual engineering.



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40 responses to “Bradford’s new Cycle Super Deathway

  1. You have to love the completely thoughtless chicanes on the entry and exit of that crossing of Grange Ave, not enough to slow the cyclists, but enough to reduce the usable width. Then wait for the abuse cyclists will get if they instead of giving way at every crossing decide to use the continuous road lane along side it.

    • MJ Ray

      The chicane is so that we ride into the front doors of waiting cars instead of messily sliding across their bonnets, isn’t it? Cheaper to replace a door than both front wings and the bonnet.

    • The chicane really is bizarre, as is the mysterious high kerb. I suspect it’s a cargo-cult version of the proper thing (here's a UK example), the intention of which is that drivers who have crossed over the cycleway, but are waiting for a gap in traffic on the main carriageway, don't block the cycleway.

      I suspect this is the source, and it's a good design, but like a folk tale it has probably been passed on so many times that the meaning has been lost and there's just this unattributable belief that for some reason "cycleways have to curve in at junctions, purple monkey dishwasher.”

      • bz2

        Additionally, it means cars turning off the main road meet cyclists coming from behind them at a 90° angle instead of just sideswiping them.

  2. And, pedestrians are being tucked around the corner…

  3. In Lancashire the CTC objects to this, but they are still built. At a recent Lancashire Liaison meeting I proved that the motorist also has to give way when passing the farm entrance, as the farmer owned the land this highway ran over. But the signs remained at least my objection was minuted in the minutes of the meeting.

    Thats one of the reasons I resigned from being a road campaigner, I concentrate now on ‘off road’ now, only ten years left before lost PRoW are lost forever.

  4. SpokeForDayz

    They did a similar thing on regents street in Leeds, but then changed the priorities once it was “finished”. I have no idea why they couldn’t just do it right first time round and get motorists used to the new design but there you go, I suggest watch this space.

  5. I suspect that they’ve consulted on the priority changes with local Councillors etc, none of who want to actually take any responsibility for slowing down themselves and taking care, or want any voter backlash from drivers, so the changes have been squashed.

    Bradford will be just hoping no one has noticed and that no one will complain about the about turn.

    This may need a concerted effort from CTC, cyclenation, CEoGB, local campaign groups and individuals to hold Bradford to account and get this changed

  6. the highwayman

    You should check out what has being going on the other part of the project, which is the upgrade of the canal towpath (stated goal in the funding application – to create a surface which can be commuted on, year round, by people on road bikes). This has included:
    -installing cobbled speedbumps, inviting buckled wheels and crashes, particularly by kids on small-diameter wheels.
    -uneven tarmac surface
    – leaving extensive gravel surfaces, without brushing or rolling on them (result, punctures, crashes due to lack of grip, slow speeds due to the friction)
    -not upgrading the worst sections of rutted and stony path (think Paris-Roubaix)
    -routing cyclists under low bridges on 18-inch wide cobbled paths, right next to the canal (handy for an impromptu swim?)
    -using self-binding surface for some sections which will be rutted and potholed within months, and a mudbath after the slightest bit of rain.
    But above all, handing over £1 million to the Canal and Rivers Trust (not the most cycle friendly organisation out there), without any supervision or oversight that they will be delivering cycling-friendly infrastructure. The result is that the Trust have taken the money and either wastes it or worse, spending it on infrastructure like speedbumps that actually makes it a less cycle friendly route.

    • Wow, that does sound bad. I’d seen photos of the speed bumps, on Twitter, but I didn’t realise the extent of the problems. I’ll be writing a blog post about this at some point! Do you happen to have any photos?

      • I was up visiting to see recent Tour of Yorkshire and came back from the Chevin Road climb on my Brompton into Leeds, joining the canal path around Bramley Fall Park. I almost immediately regretted taking that route as it was a real slog through the gravel surface. There seem to be a few miles of this before thankfully getting a more solid surface closer to Leeds. I wouldn’t want to ride much thinner than mountain bike tyres along that path.

  7. malaconotus

    City Connect have posted a response on Facebook here to this blog and the ensuing Twitterstorm… The implication is that this rubbish was endorsed by Leeds Cycling Campaign. Having represented the Campaign at all the earliest discussions I can categorically say that is false. All involved were clear then that the superhighway must have priority over minor side roads.

    • Thanks for that. I’m not surprised to read such a mealy-mouthed excuse from them (blog post dealing with their response due very shortly).

      I feel sorry for whoever’s behind the CityConnect account, as they don’t seem to have a clue what’s going on, or indeed any clue about cycle infrastructure at all. But then, they are presumably getting paid to defend this rubbish, so my pity doesn’t last long!

  8. the highwayman

    Malaconutus – it wasn’t an “implication”, it was a clear and unambiguous statement that LCC endorsed it. So it looks like CityConnect are getting into a swirling vortex of trying to justify crap infrastructure.

    For what it is worth, I have spoken to various city connect folk, who all sound like they are proper cyclists who understand the stupidity of this scheme. My interpretation is that they know the superhighway is crap, they know the towpath is crap, but they are unable or unwilling to stand up to either Canal and Rivers Trust or the various local council highways departments and make them build things that are up to scratch. I think we should get City Connect to acknowledge that it is all inadequate, and then take our ire out on CRT and the councils. It might be worth contacting the Cycling Cities Ambition Scheme folks who stumped up the cash – an audit might sort things out.

  9. It’s also interesting how the route ignores consideration of cyclists crossing it. I commute from Woodhall Road through Pudsey crossing the route at the TA Barracks. Here, unless you pretend to be a car and queue for ages waiting to get onto the roundabout bit, you are forced to filter across the stop line because there is no ASL. You can’t filter either side of the car in the left hand lane as it is usually impossible to tell which way they are going to go. It’s probably safer than it was before but only if you don’t mind breaking the law to do it. There is plenty of space for an ASL – they just haven’t bothered to provide one. And don’t get me started on the double red you probably almost always will have to cross if you are on the cycle route. Who is going to do that rather than take the main road and go through on green. Or the lethal behind the bus stop chicanes. It’s an odd way to treat what is actually, at least in the morning rush hour, the fastest mode of transport on that route!

    • MJ Ray

      By “lethal behind the bus stop chicanes” do you mean floating bus stops and who’s been killed by one?

      • I suspect Rolf isn’t being a stubborn Franklinist here, but is referring to the dreadful excuse for a bus stop which has been installed here.

        You can see one such bus stop here. The design is awful, the cycleway disappears and people on foot and on bike are squished together in a narrow channel between the bus stop and a fence.

        Truly dire – not worthy of the term “bus stop bypass” – and completely at odds with the stated goals of the project.

        • MJ Ray

          That’s no bypass – it’s just a bus shelter planted on the cycleway that vanishes into a mixed use path. Awful and hazardous, but lethal? Has it killed? Let’s keep lethal accurate.

          • Point taken – but it looks to me like you have a very narrow chicane between deep kerbs. It only takes one person to step from behind the bus stop onto the cycle lane (a risk that is predictable and likely to happen and therefore should very obviously not be designed in) and the cyclist has nowhere to go being sandwiched in between the kerbs. You would have the choice of hitting kerb or pedestrian both of which have serious consequences. Obviously, if you drop down to about 10mph it then becomes reasonably manageable – but how is repeatedly having to slow to a crawl to avoid a significant and very obvious risk that has been designed into the project a good thing? And of course, many people won’t slow down – and if there is an accident the speeding cyclist can then be blamed for it but, given that the hazard was designed into the project its hard to see those responsible escaping blame either. What will certainly help is if they put in a long stretch of fencing behind the bus stops and I hope they do. That will make the bus stops on Stanningley Road more palatable but it won’t do anything about the nasty narrow chicanes on the bypass. In the case of the latter, I’ll either stick with the road or use an entirely different route.

            • MJ Ray

              Yes, the cycleway should rise up to pavement level gradually and the surface markings should make it clear to people getting off the bus and cycling past the bus that there’s potential for conflict. I think is Bristol’s approach which is the best I’ve seen (but still constrained by being on a slope and so on) but I’ve yet to see it in operation.

            • MJ Ray

              Just a second note on “of course, many people won’t slow down” – I think cycleways should be designed with visibility so that they work at 20mph but you can’t completely design out stupidity. There’s always a chance that someone will plough headlong into a pedestrian who misjudged it, but that happens on the carriageways too, sadly. Highways aren’t built to prevent motorists doing their worst (even if I think they should do more to help reduce the effects of carelessness), so nor should they impose unreasonable penalties on well-behaved people on bikes.

              • Here is a picture of what concerns me most so far on this route. I think the one at the top of the hill might be even worse. To me, the narrowness of it combined with the expectation of proximity of groups of pedestrians at a somewhat narrow bus stop is dangerous (at least it doesn’t seem to be a heavily used stop). There is clearly no attempt to follow any minimum width guidelines – the bike lane seems to just get squashed into an almost impossibly narrow gap wherever it can. It’s not something I plan to be using.

              • I’d seen this on the plans – I can’t find it right now, but there were drawings of these somewhere.

                It’s a dreadful design where the cycleway narrows to 1m width as it passes the bus stop. Truly awful, especially as there’s often wasted space in the middle of the road.

                This bus stop design is essentially the whole UK roads philosophy summed up: cycling and walking are squashed uncomfortably together, while polluting, dangerous motor vehicles are treated like kings.

        • Martin Stanley

          I honestly don’t think that is finished, Everything is being done in stages. My understanding is that where there is not space (don’t go there!) to do a full bypass, The cycle track will narrow to approx 1m through the stop.

  10. Pingback: Leeds-Bradford CityConnect: an update | The Alternative Department for Transport

  11. Is this all over one small junction at a side road? What about the rest of the 23km ???? Am I missing something?

    • If this one junction has been changed at the last minute, and a sub-standard, dangerous design installed, how many more times might this happen across the rest of the route?

      The project management now have to correct this, and make sure the rest of the junctions are installed as planned. If we’d remained silent, who knows how bad the rest of the route might have turned out?

  12. the highwayman

    I believe it is the first junction to be complete, so there could be other surprises in the offing! Also, a chain is only as strong as its weakest point, so one bad section does undermine the whole thing substantially. The plans for Thornbury roundabout are also a bid dodgy. There have also been consistent complaints about the towpath upgrade, which city connect have fobbed off.

  13. I sent an email to CRT complaining about the surface on Leeds-Liverpool canal towpath addressing the following issues.

    1. The surface is difficult to ride on a “normal” bicycle, impossible to ride on a scooter, and almost impossible for children to enjoy on bikes with smaller wheels. It requires much more effort to ride at the same speed as it did on the previous surface.
    2) I’ve personally experienced a punctured tyre due to one of the chippings penetrating my tyre. I’m sure I’m not alone.
    3) Riding on the loose surface creates a lot of noise, which is not only unpleasant, but also scares wildlife
    4) The surface which isn’t stable creates hazards, as it’s easy to slip and harder to brake
    5) The “rumble strips” as you like to call them are not only poorly visible but create additional hazards with the loose surface

    Today, the work of removing the loose surface has begun, which revealed numerous “bald” patches, where the adhesive failed to bind the gravel with the previously laid tarmac.

    I’ve taken some photos today.

    Earlier today I received a response

    Dear Sav

    Thank you for your email today with regard to the regeneration of the towpath from Leeds to Bradford. I was sorry to read your feedback regarding the new surface being installed.

    Our project team overseeing the works who have furnished me with the following feedback and background information regarding the project.

    The towpath works currently being undertaken on the Leeds Liverpool Canal are being funded through the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Fund. These funds were secured by West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The towpath scheme represents one part of the much bigger scheme which is known as City Connect. The towpath works are being delivered by Canal & River Trust through our Framework Contractor – Kier.

    The aspiration for West Yorkshire Combined Authority is that CityConnect will make it easier and safer to get around on foot and by bike giving people better access to their local area, increasing travel options and reducing congestion. We feel there are great benefits to the towpath for all users through this scheme – which represents a huge investment by a third party on our property – enabling works to take place which we would simply not be able to deliver through our core funding.

    We undertook consultation on the scheme in December 2013 and January 2014. Two public events were held, one in Shipley at the local Library, which was an all-day event, and one in Leeds at the Town Hall which was an evening presentation. These events were attended by a mix of local people and representatives of organisations – including Inland Waterway Association, local authorities, the local Ramblers Group, and the Horseboating Society and cycling groups. To supplement this, the Canal & River Trust posted project information on our website where people were invited to view outline plans and email in their comments. Overall the towpath proposals were supported.

    There are two types of surfacing being applied – one is a self-bind and the other is tarspray and chip. The attached map shows what is being done where.

    The surface underway now is the application of chippings to the base course which was applied a few weeks back. The process for the surfacing application is that we over-chip the tar to give a good coverage. There is then a natural bedding in period, 4-6 weeks which will be accelerated with use by both pedestrians and cyclists. The surface will then be swept to remove a lot of the loose chippings. It is really important that cyclists take care and moderate their speed on this surface while it is bedding in as there may be a risk of slipping.

    We will be positioning more temporary signage along the canal to advise users of this process. Unfortunately, signage is being removed as quickly as we put it in place. Please do take care during this period of bedding in, it will take a number of weeks so please take this into consideration when you are using the towpath. The surface is designed and laid to be hard wearing, long lasting and safe for all users in all conditions once completed. It is not driven purely by aesthetic reasons – although it is generally accepted that the buff finish of the stone is more appropriate for the canal corridor than a tarmac surface.

    We are in talks with West Yorkshire Combined Authority to see if further funds are available to undertake works in the sections which have not been done in this first phase. We could not complete the full stretch with the initial funding made available – therefore certain sections were left out. It is hoped that a phase two will follow on shortly. Thus creating a surface for all users to enjoy throughout the year.

    Please follow the link below to view the programme of works for the City Connect scheme. This details the areas that have had works completed and those which are up and coming:

    Click to access 9381-city-connect-towpath-works.pdf

    Live stoppage information is also available on our website on this link: I would recommend refining your search using the boxes on the right hand side. If you choose the towpath closure box and the North West Region, the Leeds to Bradford information will come up as a choice and this is updated when we get any new details regarding the scheme.

    I hope the above information goes some way to explain the project and its vision. If we can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us again.

    With kind regards

    Stephanie Lyons
    Business Support Administrator
    Canal & River Trust

    • MJ Ray

      Hard to know where to start with that. Find me a road where motorists slow down for 6 weeks while a dangerous surface beds in – it doesn’t happen so no-one expects them to. At best, they shove up some loose chippings signs and come back every few days to sweep up and reapply.

      Small credit to them that they don’t even try to refute the points about punctures, scaring wildlife or the dangerous rumble strips. Or do you think this is a cut-and-paste reply written to deal with what they think the complaint is, rather than any actualy complaint?

      • Thanks for that, Sav. As MJ points out, their reply reads like they haven’t bothered actually reading your email at all, it’s just bland waffle!

        The big problem with the towpath is that the concept just doesn’t work. The authorities love it because they don’t affect the roads, so they throw canal users and cyclists in with each other, divide and conquer. But towpaths should be for leisure, they’re just not compatible with transport cycling.

        • The highwayman

          This is a stock reply – some of these paragraphs are identical to the notices on various webpages and the signage on the towpath. As well as not addressing the actual complaints regarding rumblestrips/speedbumps etc, they also neglect the fact that the city connect funding application specifically said that the project was aimed at creating a surface suitable for year round commuting on road bikes. And this is not what is being delivered. Furthermore, they also neglected to mention the fact that things like the rumblestrips, the self-bind surface and so on, were not mentioned in the original consultation documents. A devious response – it should read “thanks for your email. Basically, City Connect have given us a million quid to spend as we like on the towpath, with no oversight and no expectation of what constitutes a surface suitable for road bikes. So as we don’t like cyclists, we are screwing them over. Yours, CRT.

  14. Pingback: That Bradford junction: an update, and some suggestionst | The Alternative Department for Transport

  15. Pingback: That Bradford junction: some suggestions | The Alternative Department for Transport

  16. cyclestrian

    Often with these designs, considerate motorists will yield to cyclists anyway, inviting them to proceed. Perhaps these drivers are used to driving on the continent?

    Similar happens on some nasty pinch-point type pedestrian crossings with drivers stopping to let people walk across, as if there was a zebra.

    At crossings and junctions where drivers frequently cede priority, the designed/marked priority is likely wrong.

    • It doesn’t matter if 9 out of 10 motorists cede priority. It’s the 10th that will kill you.
      Priority should be very clear indeed, and should be given to all traffic that is proceeding past the side road… and that means bikes too.

      Drivers turning into the side road should be FORCED to cede priority to bicycle traffic continuing past. Drivers turning out of the side road should be FORCED to cede priority to traffic on both the main carriageway AND the cycle way.

      The problem is that Leeds and Bradford have decided that there will be some exceptions (so far, one or maybe two junctions, but in due course this is certain to become 10 or 20), and drivers will not realise that the rules are different in different places.

      Then, the drivers start refusing to cede priority at junctions where they are required to… and someone gets killed.

      Consistency is very important.

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