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Exeter temporary cycle lanes staying put

Monday, July 27th, 2020 11:47am

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter

They'll be in place till at least October

Pop-up measures in Exeter to support cycling and walking will stay in place until at least mid-October.

Councillors on the Exeter highways and traffic orders committee have unanimously agreed that trial measures should be maintained for another two and a half months to allow their impact to be assessed.

Will Pratt, principal transport planning officer, told the meeting that from the written comments received so far, 57 per cent of people were in favour of the interventions, with 43 per cent against, but that the number of positive comments was increasing over time.

The E9 route at Ludwell Lane and Wonford Road had a positive response, but it was mixed at Magdalen Road. Whilst changes to Vaughan Road had been the most unpopular. Changes implemented so far have seen Magdalen Road in Exeter become one-way between St Leonards Road and Denmark Road for vehicles heading towards Western Way (westbound) with a contraflow cycle lane (eastbound).

Closures have been installed at Wonford Road, Dryden Road and Ludwell Lane on the E9 route, as well as at Homefield Road, Chard Road and Vaughan Road on the E3 cycle route to only allow only allow access for cyclists, emergency vehicles and walkers in Exeter.

A contraflow cycle lane is also planned for South Street, with modest changes proposed for Fore Street, but plans for a cycle lane in North Street having been dropped as too complex and costly for the emergency active travel funding. Opposition from traders has seen a one-way system in Fore Street dropped.

Proposals for no-entry restrictions in Ladysmith Road/Hamlin Road are on hold, while a temporary crossing and upgraded cycle route in Polsloe Road will now be taken forward as a permanent measure it was too costly for the funding granted by Government.

Mr Pratt added: “Cycle flows increased by 50 per cent during lockdown and with these measures, we sought to avoid the main roads into the city as they are main routes for access, emergency vehicles and for freight, so we made the changes of routes in residential areas, some of which are rat runs.

“Changes in Vaughan Road is the most significant of the changes, and the only one where the balance of comments has been against it, as it is the only crossing of the railway between Hamlin Lane and Hill Barton so traffic has been diverted onto other routes

“We are keen to allow some time for the measures to settle in and for people to adapt their travel patterns and after a period of time, we will have a clear understanding of how they impact on travel patterns. This is a once in a generation opportunity to try stuff and it want to try it for at least three months before any changes to making them permanent are consulted on.”

Cllr David Harvey said if you listen to people then you would have assumed that everyone has jumped on a bike and ditched their car, but city council car parking income is back to 50 per cent of what they budgeted for, so people’s attitude and approaches change. He said: “The 40 per cent against will reduce as people don’t like change. I applaud the effort and energy people have put into this to make car journeys more difficult but still feasible for people who for whatever reason have to use vehicles, and this improves the environment for those who cycle, so please carry on with this.”

Cllr Greg Sheldon said that generally most of the comments he had received about the changes had been positive, but was getting complaints about the measures in Chard Road from residents in adjacent roads who are now experiencing more traffic as a result of the closure, while Cllr Rob Hannaford added that some of the behavioural changes people made during lockdown have slipped back as congestion, noise and pollution have returned.

The committee unanimously agreed that the current installed pop-up measures remain in place until at least October 13, the date of the next HATOC meeting, and then current changes be consulted on and any decision on their permanency be brought to Committee. They also agreed to back financing of a series of permanent measures for cycle and pedestrian improvements around Exeter.

Two ‘straight-through’ crossings for cyclists and pedestrian across Browning Close and also across the Phoenix Court entrance in Burnthouse Lane will be created to ensure that cyclists and pedestrians have priority over motorised traffic.

A proposed new parallel crossing for pedestrians and cyclists to cross Russell Way will be installed, as will a parallel crossing for the E3 Cycle Route on Polsloe Road near Gladstone Road, as will a new Toucan crossing on the Rydon Lane approach to Countess Wear roundabout between the Shell garage and the footway on the eastern side of Rydon Lane.

Although the reduction to two lanes would reduce capacity on the Rydon Lane approach, it would allow the stop lines on the circulatory carriageway to be moved further eastwards and increasing the stacking capacity for vehicles on the roundabout, the committee heard, as well as improving the ability of the junction to manage variation of traffic and providing something for all road users and pedestrians and cyclists.

Work would take place in the autumn and be combined with existing surface improvements due to be made to the Countess Wear roundabout.

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