Warwickshire County Council is proposing to make changes to the junction of Greenmoor Road/Bull Ring/Heath End Road with the aim to improve traffic flow through the congested area. Currently operating as a mini-roundabout, the proposal is to provide traffic signals instead. With the scheme comes new crossing infrastructure for pedestrians – but no accommodation for cycling.
The junction is located to the south of the town and is on a key corridor connecting to the A444 via College Street. Travelling north from the junction, along Greenmoor Road is a high school and sports centre; travelling south towards the A444 is the hospital; taking Heath End Road to the west is another hospital access and onward connection to the Stockingford area of town. There’s even a BMX track nearby. In short, it’s an important junction for all road users. Yet despite its proximity to both the hospital, a nearby school, and a cycle sport facility, there is no dedicated on-road cycling infrastructure in the area at all – not even painted lanes!
This is an ideal opportunity to provide some form of protected cycling infrastructure to help people on cycles traverse the junction between Greenmoor Road and Bull Ring (north-south and vice versa) as well as connecting with Heath End Road. Though the latter appears to be problematic in providing dedicated infrastructure due to limited space, there does at least appear to be ample room for the north-south route to accommodate a protected cycleway while maintaining at least two general traffic lanes (if not three, to allow for a proposed turning lane).
The scheme is open to public consulation at present but only until 7 January 2022, so anyone wishing to comment must do so quickly. My own response is copied below which details why the County Council should be incorporating cycling into the junction redesign. Space appears to be available to do so, and even if dedicated provision would be short and limited given the geographic scope of the junction, it is these spaces that pose a significant risk to cyclists. Therefore a short scheme here could provide a real benefit.
The plan and notice can be found on the Warwickshire County Council website.
With regard to the proposed redevelopment of the junction of Greenmoor Road/Bull Ring/Heath End Road, Nuneaton – whereby the existing mini-roundabout will be replaced with traffic signals – please note the following comments as an objection under the formal consultation.
This area of town has zero provision for cycling, and this junction (and broader surrounding road network) accommodates heavy traffic flows including large commercial vehicles. It is therefore hazardous and off-putting to cyclists. However, it is an essential junction for accessing the hospital via College Street or Heath End Road, the school on Greenmoor Road, a BMX track, and other nearby premises, as well as being a through route for onward travel. This should be an important area for enabling active travel yet the redesign does not accommodate cycles even to a minimum standard – not even so much as painted lanes and advanced stop lines (ASLs), though noting that these are not considered good infrastructure; current guidance would not recommend ASLs on busier roads.
The geographical scope of the junction alteration is obviously limited but it must still be taken as an opportunity to improve the road infrastructure to better accommodate cycling in line with the core principles and design standards of Local Transport Note (LTN) 1/20. I strongly urge that the designs are redeveloped to accommodate safe, accessible, and separated cycling provision across the junction, with a mind to broader infrastructure being provided at a later date. Both Greenmoor Road (15.6m+) and Bull Ring (15m+) have sufficient space to permit at least two motor traffic lanes (2x3m), separated bidirectional cycle lanes with turning space (4m), footpaths (2x 1.8m), and buffers to the main carriageway (1m).
LTN 1/20 notes that it “should be applied to all changes associated with highway improvements” (paragraph 1.3.1). It would therefore apply to this scheme yet nothing for cycling is indicated in the plan. It is important to remember that one method of improving traffic flow through the road network is to reduce the number of motor vehicles in use. Taking proactive steps to enable people to choose cycling for local trips is an important method of facilitating that reduction. The Local Transport Plan (Version 3) notes the various benefits of sustainable travel with regard to air pollution, health – and congestion.
The County Council also declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and acknowledges the role it has to play to reduce carbon emissions, including considering its impact on “everything we do”, and promoting safe and active travel. An essential part of promoting active travel is through the provision of safe infrastructure. Transport is a significant contributor to the climate crisis and the local authority must ensure that road network changes reflect the importance of mitigation. The current plans for this junction do not do this. Rather, it is an acceptance of the current traffic volumes and, through an attempt to improve traffic flows, an accommodation of greater numbers of vehicles using the road network – this works contrary to climate objectives.
Junctions are one of the most dangerous road features for people on cycles. Therefore well-designed improvements even in just this limited area can make a notable difference to the attractiveness, comfort, and safety of cycling particularly for the less confident or less experienced rider. This is an opportunity to work towards making cycling safe and attractive throughout Nuneaton. It must not be missed.