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