Side road treatments – do most British designs miss the point?

One of the things that I liked to see in Amsterdam was the quite common use of continuous footways  across side roads:

IMG_2390_AThis design makes it very clear to motorists (and cyclists for that matter) that, on entering or leaving the side road, they are driving across a footway and must give way to pedestrians.

This is also occasionally seen in Britain, but the designers often seem to miss the point. Here is an example from my home town of Bolton:

Here, the road is raised to the level of the kerb, but the whole design of the junction makes it look still as though the pedestrians are crossing a roadway, rather than motor vehicles crossing a footway. In fact it makes the priority completely ambiguous, which could conceivably lead to pedestrians and motorists both thinking they have the priority, with disastrous results. In practice, I rarely see motorists giving way to pedestrians here.

The key differences here are that in the Dutch design, the kerb-line does not deviate across the junction mouth, even though there is a dropped kerb, unlike the Bolton design; the surface material of the footway is continuous across the junction, whereas the Bolton design has a different coloured surface across the junction; and there are no kerb-stones around the junction mouth as there are in the Bolton design. In addition, the presence of the give-way lines aligned with the kerbs give the impression to motorists that they should block the footway whilst waiting to exit from the side road. For goodness sake, if something is worth doing, it is worth doing properly!

It seems to be virtually impossible in this country to get highway designers to leave behind this ingrained world view in which roads are for motor vehicles and anything else is to be fitted around that. The more I think about this, the more ridiculous and stupid it seems.

Update: I’m told by The Ranty Highwayman (who really knows what he’s talking about) that the Bolton example is not a continuous footway, but an entry treatment. I think this distinction is a technical one among highway engineers, though. The point is that if the council is going to do this, then why not do a continuous footway rather than just an entry treatment, which makes the priority ambiguous at the very least. He also referred me to some examples of good practice in London, including this one (Kenington Park Road/Magee Street), which appears to have been changed from a similar design to the Bolton one as part of the upgrade to Cycle Superhighway 7.


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4 Responses to Side road treatments – do most British designs miss the point?

  1. Tim says:

    It should be such a simple thing. But the “fancy” new curry mile cycleways give way at every tiny side turning. See this example:

    Because it’s only a minor access way, people actually park in the end of it, blocking the pavement and the cycleway, in a way that they wouldn’t if the pavement, cycleway, and kerb were continuous.

  2. Eric D says:
    even goes OTT with give-way markings – continuous pavement is much neater.

    Even separated cycleways don’t have priorities you can trust !
    Bears Way, Milngavie, Glasgow
    Car has priority, but yields.

    Back to Wilmslow Road, MCR – (before)
    No indication who has priority!
    It’s like zebra crossings – whoever gets there first has priority, so people race – ends in ‘dead heat’.
    Has that been fixed in the last year ?

    • Eric D says:

      PS even “a car turning left from lane 2 across a bus lane with bikes in it” seems to have no clear priority !

      HC Rule 183
      “When turning, give way to any vehicles using a bus lane, cycle lane or tramway from either direction.”
      but folks argue, and the paperwork isn’t reflected in the infra design.

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