Manor Lane cycling contraflow

On 20 January 2016, Sutton Council wrote to us to seek our views on proposals relating to the to introduction of a cycling contraflow along the existing one-way section of Manor Lane (The Broadway) [Google Maps | Streetmap | Open Street Map] in Sutton Central ward. This informal consultation was open until 11 February.

The fact that a cycling contraflow is finally to be considered for implementation on Manor Lane is very good news. A contraflow here has been on the “wish list” for a number of years. Indeed, this idea featured in the Council’s mini-Holland submission (July 2013) [1] as part of improvements to the ‘Sutton to Carshalton corridor’.

Our full response, which was submitted on 10 February 2016, is set out below. In welcoming the cycling contraflow, we asked for some relatively minor changes to be made to the proposed plan. We would also like to see the inclusion of some additional features that, in our view (and in the context of the borough’s imminent Cycling Strategy), will provide wider outcomes. This is about maximising an opportunity to entice more people to try cycling, it’s about bringing benefits to residents and to those who visitor the shops or businesses here, and it’s about potentially enhancing the character of the street too.

ManorLaneContraflow_ConsultationPlan

Figure 1: Plan of proposals for Manor Lane (London Borough of Sutton, January 2016)

The consultation plan is available to download here. The photos that follow endeavour to illustrate some of the points outlined in our response.

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Photo 1: Manor Lane (The Broadway). This is the eastern end, by Benhill Avenue and Lind Road, looking west (towards Sutton town centre). If the proposal goes ahead, it will be possible to cycle out of, as well as in to, this low-trafficked street. Meanwhile, it looks as though one of the existing cycle stands would benefit from some care and attention.
24 January 2016

ManorLaneContraflow_IMG_0113_Sutton_SuttonCentral_TheBroadway_ManorLane

Photo 2: Another view of the one-way Manor Lane (again, eastern end, looking west, known here as The Broadway). The alignment of the London Cycle Network route 75 is currently signed along Benhill Avenue (two-way, and much busier), seen to the right. It will be good to have two-way access to the much quieter Manor Lane at this point.
8 February 2016

ManorLaneContraflow_IMG_0109_Sutton_SuttonCentral_TheBroadway_ManorLane

Photo 3: Same location as photos 1 and 2, the entry point to the one-way Manor Lane, looking west. According to the plan, the build-out on the right is going, but the large painted arrow on the carriageway, and painted triangles on the vertical deflection are still shown on the plan. We have asked for these to be removed for obvious reasons. This photo is also useful in showing the curvature of the road ahead.   
8 February 2016

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Photo 4: Manor Lane, but this time about 600 metres west of the location shown in photos 1,2 and 3, and looking in the other direction (i.e. eastbound from Sutton towards Carshalton). Myrtle Road is seen on the west. The proposal plan indicates that the build-out seen behind the parked car on the left (where the no-entry sign is situated) will be removed. All fine, however, a “ghost island” is to be painted on the carriageway adjacent to this location, and the priority changed from Manor Lane to Myrtle Road. We are not sure about either of these interventions, see our response for more.
8 February 2016

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Photo 5: Moving forward from photo 4, just passed the no-entry sign, and we have entered the one-way section of Manor Lane. The width of the carriageway between the boundary on the left and the painted parking bay on the right is 3.1 metres. Cycling “the wrong way” here would be a much more enjoyable experience if the parking allocation was transferred from the kerb-side to the ample, and spacious, hard-standing area (no doubt installed at some expense and at some loss of vegetation ) shown on the left. This would also enable consideration be given in the future to the widening of the existing (single) footway. Currently, at 1 metre wide (reducing to 0.8 metre further on), it’s single-file only.
8 February 2016

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Photo 6: This is the other side of the parked car shown in photo 5, and looking in the other direction. It’s a parking thing, isn’t it? The creation of some off-carriageway parking (which, here, includes a handy garage behind the fence on left) can clearly have an impact on the availability of parking space on the carriageway (because the garage becomes useless if access is blocked). Of course, it so so much easier just to park on the road, rather than stop and open two sets of gates. There again, there is all that hard-standing on the right going vacant. So between the garage and the hard-standing, can’t we give a little space for cycling?
8 February 2016

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Photo 7: Capturing the moment a vehicle passes the parked vehicle shown in photo 6, and illustrating the race for space that can occur. Drivers will probably slow down (and, after all, this is a 20 mph zone, and it is a low-traffiked street) but somehow cycling towards an oncoming vehicle when there is nowhere to go should the drive not see you until the last moment, is not a pleasant prospect. There is somewhere to go, of course, and that is the vacant parking lot!
8 February 2016 

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Photo 8: Camden Road, Sutton, SM1. This is included by way of an example of how other (long standing) contraflows have been implemented elsewhere in the borough. Everyone is made aware here, through on-carriageway demarcation, that people may be cycling the “wrong-way” (although, strictly speaking, two-way traffic is allowed on most of Camden Road due to point closures). In addition to the cycle logos, a reassuring dashed line is included. This quiet residential street is a relatively cycle-friendly place, and one-way, with contraflow, is very useful. Camden Road is clearly wider than Manor Lane.  Although, arguably, the ad-hoc approach to kerb-side parking here is still a detrimental feature in terms of the resultant restricted width provided for footways. And this is a street where more people walk than drive, where the sloping camber of the footway can be problematic to some, and where a multi-storey car-park graces the street with its presence (offering oodles of space for parking). All of which raises the question, does it have to be like this?
8 February 2016      

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Photo 9: Gibson Road, Sutton, SM1. There is no ambiguity here, and the message is clear. Even with a carriageway width allowing more room for manoeuvre, there is no doubt that cycling against the general traffic flow is to be expected. This is the sort of intervention that we feel would be of benefit to Camden Road too.
8 February 2016

Illustrations complete, here is our full response to the informal consultation:

10 February 2016

Reference: PP_PR_WL1009 Manor Lane, Sutton

This response is submitted on behalf of Get Sutton Cycling (the London Cycling Campaign in Sutton). The full text of the response, along with photos illustrating the points made, is also available at getsuttoncycling.org.uk/manor-lane-cycling-contraflow.

Get Sutton Cycling welcome the proposal to introduce a cycling contraflow on the one-way section of Manor Lane/The Broadway in Sutton Central ward. Such a facility is long overdue on this 80-metre section of low-trafficked street, situated in the Old Town 20mph zone. Allowing people to cycle two-way in one-way streets makes cycling more convenient, gives cycling an advantage over driving, and can therefore help encourage a shift from cars to cycles for short journeys. This particular contraflow will enable the existing eastbound section of London Cycle Network route 75 to be rerouted to complement the westbound alignment, and in doing so remove the need for the detour currently provided by way of Nursery Road and Benhill Avenue when cycling towards Carshalton. Nevertheless, in our view, the proposals for Manor Lane require some additional features in order to provide more protection for people cycling against a long-established one-way flow of traffic.

In this response we offer two or three comments in reference to the consultation plan, before providing some suggestions on how, and why, the scheme needs to be further improved.

Firstly, in relation to the consultation plan, the removal of the existing build-out, along with the addition of clear contra-flow signage, at the eastern end (The Broadway by the Benhill Avenue/Thicket Road/Lower Road/Lind Road roundabout) is noted and approved. However, the large one-way arrow that is painted on the carriageway is still shown, and this could undermine the contra-flow lane signage. Consequently, this arrow is no longer appropriate, and really needs to be removed. Additionally, the painted triangles, delineating the vertical deflections at both ends of the link, need to be removed (or consolidated) for the same reason.

Along the length of contraflow, on-carriageway cycle logos are shown for eastbound travel. These logos appear to be against the kerb-line and over the top of the yellow lines. This is not satisfactory. Any on-carriageway cycle logos need to be in a prominent position, well away from the kerb. Given the usable width of the carriageway (restricted at its minimum point to just 3.1 metres due to parking bays, and there is more on this below), the use of a strongly delineated, wide, cycle lane (similar to those provided on the cycle contraflows in Camden Road and in Gibson Road, Sutton) would be the preferred option (especially if the existing parking arrangements are to remain as proposed).

At the western end of the link, by the intersection with Myrtle Road, the plan indicates a proposed change in priority, so that westbound traffic on Manor Road will be required to give-way to traffic turning between Myrtle Road and Manor Road. It would be better, in our view, to keep the existing priority, so that northbound traffic on Myrtle Road continues to give-way to traffic on Manor Lane. Indeed, there is a stronger case for retaining this priority, given that, when the contraflow is introduced, the manoeuvre by bike from Myrtle Road, northbound, right into Manor Lane (eastbound) becomes an option.

Also at the western end, and associated with the proposed change in priority, the requirement for a “ghost island”, created from hatch markings (markings that are likely to fade with time), is questioned. This would push cyclists entering the contraflow to the side of the road at the outset, just moments before the carriageway is narrowed to a width of 3.1 metres (when vehicles are parked), and could suggest to oncoming drivers that their westbound travel takes priority over the vulnerable eastbound cyclist at this point.

In our view, the proposals could be improved upon further if the parking bay at the western end of the link was removed. The removal of parking here would facilitate an improved sightline for westbound users of oncoming cyclists, and provide secure space for eastbound cyclists to pass oncoming vehicles. Furthermore, the removal of this parking bay would then enable consideration to be given to widening the very narrow southside pavement (noting that the existing pavement is currently only about one metre wide, requiring people to walk in single file, at a point where there is no pavement on the opposite side of the road).

The removal of the parking bay need not be a net loss for parking provision, as residents could park in front of their own dropped kerbs. There is also ample space for parking a few metres away, at the rear of a property on Benhill Avenue, which could potentially be utilised if required. As this space is private property, transfer of parking would require negotiation between Sutton Council and the owners. Nevertheless, this is exactly the type of scenario that is likely to become increasing necessary if issues relating to the availability of parking become even more challenging. It is certainly the sort of discussion that would be expected from a local authority that purports to have a leading sustainable transport agenda, and where a holistic approach, requiring cycling strategies to be considered alongside parking strategies, is a successful approach.

Sutton has here the possibility of creating a quality piece of cycling infrastructure for relatively little cost. The borough’s new Cycling Strategy, approved in November 2015 (but as yet unpublished), states that the Council is committed to taking practical, innovative steps to deliver a step-change in cycling that will fully realise the benefits of increased levels of cycling (which include a fitter, healthier and happier population, improvements to air quality, and the creation of better streets and places for everyone). The Manor Lane contraflow, delivered to a high standard, could be precisely the kind of infrastructure that would allow the Council to persuade more people to cycle.

Charles Martin on behalf of Get Sutton Cycling, representing the London Cycling Campaign in Sutton, 10 February 2016

Footnote: [1] Sutton’s Mini-Holland Bid, Expression of Interest and Outline Proposal (July 2013), can be downloaded from our Publications page. Information on the mini-Holland programme (part of the mayor’s Vision for Cycling) is available from Transport for London.


Update 17 March 2016

An brief update on the Manor Lane cycling contraflow was provided by a Sutton Council at the Cycle Forum meeting held on 15 March 2016:

  • Work is due to start on site, hopefully, week commencing 21 March 2016.
  • Two considerations from our consultation response have been taken into account:
    • The on-carriageway, one-way, arrow road marking is to be removed (photo 3). Whether the painted triangles on the vertical deflections are to go too, is not known.
    • The priority at the junction with Myrtle Road is to remain as it currently exists (photo 4).
  • Our suggestion that a parking bay at the western end be relocated has not been upheld. Presumably because too difficult. This is disappointing. The challenges associated with on-carriageway parking and cycling provision are interlinked, and the sooner this association is recognised the better.

Update 19 March 2016

On 18 March, a further update was received from Highways and Transport, Kingston and Sutton Shared Environment Service (and that is the first time that name has been used in this blog)! The update was provided in a letter, along with a post-consultation, revised, plan (see below).

18 March 2016

Highways  Contraflow Cycle Lane Proposal – Manor Lane – Results of consultation

Thank you for your correspondence in response to the consultation to introduce a contraflow cycle lane in Manor Lane Sutton.

Your comments to the scheme and all the other responses received were summarised and sent to the ward councillors for their consideration. The design of the scheme was amended slightly as a result of the comments received and that was sent to the councillors for consideration also.

As a result of comments received, we have added green surfacing to the lane at the beginning and end of the road and added more cycle symbols and ‘SLOW’ road markings to highlight the cycle contraflow cycle facility further and changed the give way priority at Mrytle Road, see attached drawing. There will also be temporary road signs saying ‘NEW ROAD LAYOUT AHEAD’ at the site for a period of at least 3 months.

Officers recommended to the councillors that we proceed to implementation of the contraflow cycle facility as the road layout is in accordance with the London Cycle Design Standards and the facility will promote cycling as a sustainable mode of transport.

The ward councillors have agreed to the scheme and the minor changes and to proceed to implementation. Therefore I am writing to let you know that the scheme will be implemented. The order was made on the 14th March 2016, the Notice of Making was advertised in the Sutton Guardian and London Gazette on the 17th March and it will come into operation on 23th March 2016.

ManorLaneContraflow_RevisedFinalPlan

Figure 2: Revised and final plan of Manor Lane (Kingston and Sutton Environment Shared Service, March 2016)

The revised and final plan is available to download as a PDF from this link: Manor Lane Cycling Contraflow – revised plan.

The slight amendments to the design of scheme, which now include green surfacing on the carriageway at both ends of the short link to highlight the contraflow, are welcome. When the new facility is open, cycling between Sutton town centre and the Old Town, and on towards Carshalton (all part of the London Cycle Network route 75), will be easier and more direct.

However, as mentioned above, the issue of parked vehicles at kerb-side, and the impact parking can have on the provision of safe and enticing cycling, will need to be addressed at some point. If not at Manor Lane, then certainly elsewhere in the borough. There are ways and means to accommodate both a sufficient level of parking, and the very best cycling provision. The sooner the conversation starts with the community, as outlined in our response to the consultation on the borough’s new cycling strategy, the better.


Update 21 March 2016

Contractors started working on the project on Monday, 21 March (see photo 10).

ManorLaneContraflow_IMG_2618_Sutton_SuttonCentral_TheBroadway_ManorLane_WorkStarts

Photo 10: The Broadway / Manor Lane viewed from the other side of the roundabout (by Lower Road / Thicket Road). Work commences on the Manor Lane cycling contraflow.
21 March 2016  

v4: 21.03.2016

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5 comments on “Manor Lane cycling contraflow
  1. montaigne09 says:

    I rode down here yesterday travelling east towards Carshalton, and was pleasantly surprised by the new signs and painted green markings at either end of the lane. Although it’s certainly an improvement on the previous layout, it still doesn’t solve the problem of large vans travelling towards you in the opposite direction, risking a head-on collision. The next logical step could be to completely close this particular stretch to motor vehicles by installing bollards at both the Myrtle Road and Broadway ends. Perhaps one day it might form part of a real segregated cycle lane running from Sutton High Street to Carshalton along Manor Lane and Westmead Road? A man can dream I suppose. Great work again LCC.

    • Charles Martin says:

      Thanks for your thoughts on this Peter. Agree with what you say entirely, although some vehicular access is required to shops and properties. We did consider asking for a point closure, at the Myrtle Road end, in our response to the consultation. However, given the low traffic volume we asked for on-carriageway parking to be removed instead so that space could be made for a clear contraflow cycle track avoiding the potential conflict you describe. The council would not address this though. And it’s going to be largely parking that will cause issues with introducing segregated cycle lanes elsewhere. We like to think we are on the case though, so don’t loose hope. If enough of us ask for such things, one day it may happen! By the way, Manor Lane and Westmead Road form the alignment of a proposed ‘Quietway’ route, so there is potential for further improvements in the short to medium term (even if not protected cycle tracks). Watch this space.

      • Matt Barker says:

        Cycle tracks can go inside parked cars; that could be worth asking for.

        With contraflows, one school of thought says that you should try to segregate the with flow lane (with parked cars if necessary, i.e. cycle path goes between parked cars and pavement), and the contraflow lane need not be segregated if traffic speeds and volumes are low. However, in LB Islington, I have used a contraflow lane that was kerb separated from the road and the with flow lane was not segregated, or even not painted on the carriageway. However, the volume of motor traffic was low.

        I am impressed with the clear vision and solid asks that Get Sutton Cycling put to TfL and LB Sutton; I never see any watering down of asks and no asking for ‘dual networks’, two stage turns or other nonsense that other groups seem to ask for or just accept

      • Charles Martin says:

        All noted Matt, thanks for commenting on this and the good points on contraflows. Unfortunately, Manor Lane (The Broadway) is not sufficiently wide to accommodate both kerb-side parking provision and a segregated cycle track. The Council would not countenance relocating the parking (or at least, just ignored our suggestion about the possibility of doing so), and the result, in this case, is that the carriageway remains shared. It’s a relatively low trafficked street, and existing “cyclists” like, myself, almost certainly consider it an improvement. But this intervention on its own is unlikely, I would have thought, to entice anyone to give cycling a try. We will have to wait and see what is next for this area when attention turns to introducing a Quietway here.
        And yes, no two stage turns for us, only simultaneous green junctions will do! Having said that, we are nowhere near getting to that level of detail yet. However, in our response to the Croydon Fiveways consultation last year, a simultaneous green junction at the A23/A232 intersection was requested. Aiming high at the outset!

  2. Matt Barker says:

    Those points were actually from David Arditti; he explained that that is the Dutch way with contraflows (although if traffic is low enough segregation is unnecessary). I suppose a compromise could be to have parked cars on only the right hand side of the street from the POV of the motor traffic flow, meaning no cyclists would get doored because any passenger opening their door into the street would be facing oncoming cyclists. I expect that Get Sutton Cycling has thought through different options that could be implemented.

    I can think of many junctions where SGs would work well and stop having to banish poor Ben onto bumpy, lumpy pavements and frustrating our progress on his bike or scooter. Some members of Lewisham Cyclists like the idea of as great infra as possible; one or two thing SGs are bad because they would not give much green time to cyclists, or would make the junction difficult to use for them, or some such nonsense. I do try to get all members to aim high. Greenwich Cyclists do have numerous members who want great infra and ask for the best.

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