Opinion: Opinion: Alternative designs for Kings Heath & Moseley LTN Phase 2

Filed under: LTNs / Opinions

BS4B member, Paul Manzotti, shares his alternative design for Phase 2 of the Kings Heath & Moseley LTN. 

Having detailed the problems with the design of Phase 2 in my previous article, I offer a better design.

Design principles

I will first detail the principles that have driven my thinking. This should make it easier to understand my design choices.

Put modal filters closer to the High Street

To stop residents having to use the High Street, move the modal filters closer to the High Street. This will reduce the amount of traffic needing to use the High Street. It will reduce the number of cars queueing to turn right off the High Street. Whether it’s enough to be noticeable on the traffic nightmare that is the High Street is debatable.

Access to car parks requires them to not be right at the High Street junctions.

Minimise one-way streets

One-way streets by themselves do not provide safe cycling routes. Making a street one-way to allow conversion of a lane to a cycle lane is fine.

One-way loops are also avoided, to reduce speeding.

Minimise traffic past Kings Heath Primary School

If we can’t protect our children from pollution at their place of learning, then we doom ourselves as a species. Removing rat-running from Valentine is good. Providing an access route to Asda past the school is not. Any design must minimise traffic past the school.

The proposed school street will make the area safe twice a day. But will not reduce pollution levels during the rest of the day.

Reduce dangerous driving on Billesley Lane

Installing chicanes on the full length of Billesley Lane will be very expensive. Instead, stop Billesley Lane being a through road. Installing a modal filter would cost a lot less. It would stop people racing through the area.

Remove buses from Addison Road

Remove all bus routes from Addison Road. With the volume of residents’ on-street parking, it is no longer suitable for buses. Buses could instead go down the A435 onto Wheelers Lane. Replace the expensive bus gate with a cheaper modal filter at the High Street end. This will result in some residents being further from bus stops, but is a price worth paying to improve the road.

A protected cycle lane on Wheelers/Howard Road East

As part of the former outer ring road, these are busy roads. They are also wide enough to include a protected cycle lane on. This will enable more children to cycle to school, reducing the number driven there.

More public spaces and greenery

If it is possible to reclaim road space, turn it into public squares and add greenery. As well as providing spaces for the community to use, they would be pleasant spaces to visit.

Proposed LTN Cells

There are many ways to create cells that fit with the principles outlined above. After a lot of deliberation, these are the designs I’m happiest with. But I’m not wedded to these. Anything that fits with the principles I’ve worked with works for me.

Cell 1: Mossfield Road

This is the southernmost cell in the region. My only change is to move the modal filter from the Mossfield Road end of Portman Road to the Wheelers Lane end. This is to reduce the amount of traffic that would need to cross the proposed cycle lane on Wheelers.

Cell 2: Brook Lane, Springfield Road and Billesley Lane

There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a beast of a cell. But either this cell or cell 4 have to be large.

Brook Lane and Barn Lane

I understand why Barn Lane residents prefer a modal filter on their road to a one-way street. But to allow more cycling infrastructure, a one-way street is my preference. This would allow Brook Lane to be one-way, freeing up the golf course side of the road for a protected lane.

With no through-traffic on Billesley Lane, traffic volumes on Barn Lane would reduce. The objection residents had to bus traffic would also not be an issue if buses no longer used Addison Road.

Roads off the High Street

With no need for a bus gate on Addison Road, move the modal filter at the High Street end. The same goes for Drayton Road. On Institute Road, place the filter after Kwik Fit. This allows access to Bishop Challener school, the car parks, and the businesses.

Heathfield Road should have its filter after the Community Centre. And Poplar Road should have its filter after the Asda entrance, and be a School Street.

Springfield Road and Valentine Road

To protect the school from pollution, install a filter after the school on Valentine Road.

Add a modal filter at the bottom of School Road and leave the existing one on Cambridge Road. Replace the roundabout with a T-junction for Springfield/Poplar/Valentine. Create a new public square on it with land from the church grounds, School Road and Cambridge Road.

A resident of Woodfield Road recently contacted me. Phase 1 resulted in a lot of through-traffic on their road, unbeknownst to me. This may be why the council proposed removing the Cambridge Road filters. Whilst Phase 2 should reduce this traffic a lot, a modal filter could go at the Springfield end of the road.

Billesley Lane

There are many choices for the boundaries of this cell. I’ve settled on this one so that cell 3 is not too small. The aim of this cell is to stop through-traffic on Billesley Lane. Filters after the Greenhill Road junction of Billesley Lane, and on Dyott Road will do that.

Filters at the top of Blenheim, Prospect and Greenhill Road set the western boundary of the cell. One on School Road near its junction with Cotton Lane sets the northern boundary.

You could instead put filters on Blenheim, Prospect and Greenhill before Clarence Road. This would move these roads into cell 3. But this would put more traffic on Valentine Road. 

Finally, there could be a filter at the junction with Clarence Road.

Cell 3: Valentine Road and School Road

This cell was smaller in my original design. It only covered Valentine Road, Ashfield Avenue, and Ashfield Road. This did make Greenend Road a long way from its cell exit road. So, I moved the filters (as described in cell 2), to add Greenend and School Road to this cell.

You could instead move the School Road filter from Cotton Lane to Prospect Lane. This would put Greenend and most of Greenhill into cell 4.

I am minded to have the least amount of traffic on Valentine Road. Its junction with the High Street is a dangerous one. Less cars using it would make it safer for children at Queensbridge School. But two extra streets in this cell shouldn’t make much difference to traffic levels here.

Valentine Road needs a filter after the school, to reduce traffic as much as possible past the school.

Cell 4: Oxford Road and School Road

Oxford Road

With Wake Green Road too narrow for a protected cycle lane, the only route to Moseley is along Oxford Road. Banning on-street parking allows space for a lane on each side. This is my preferred design when there are driveways on both sides of the road. That may be too difficult to put in place.

Instead, place modal filters at the Billesley Lane and Wake Green Road ends. This would reduce traffic levels, providing a safe cycling space.

School Road

Complete the cell with a filter on School Road, past its junction with Cotton Lane. The existing filter position is fine as it is. Or, as detailed in cell 3, the filter could move down to Prospect Road to include Greenend in this cell. A filter at the Clarence Road end of Greenhill Road would also move Greenhill into this cell. This is another design decision that I’m happy with either way.

Cell 5: Dyott Road and St Agnes Road

St Agnes Road

The biggest need here is to stop it being a cut-through between Yardley Wood and Wake Green Roads. A modal filter at the Yardley Wood Road junction would achieve that.

Colmore Crescent

Turning this into a gyratory will do little to stop its current use as a racetrack. Instead, close Colmore Crescent at the Dyott Road end. With the only driveway being by Oxford Road, turn that 50m stretch into a public square. The same goes for the northern section of the road, which has one driveway near the St Agnes end.

Dyott Road

To stop through-traffic on Billesley Lane requires a modal filter on Dyott Road. As there are no houses in the bottom 100m of the road, greening it is an option. A cycle lane would provide a safe route through the greenery.

Boundary Roads

All boundary roads should have 20 mph speed limits. Removing the speed differential to residential streets will result in less speeding.

Coldbath Lane needs a modal filter

The first design of the scheme had Coldbath Lane as a boundary road. When expressing incredulity at this to the design engineer, he admitted that he hadn’t been down the road. The volume of residential on-street parking makes this road an unsuitable boundary road.

The current proposal has Coldbath Lane as one-way. This is going to result in a lot of speeding traffic on that road, making it more dangerous than it currently is. It is also suggested that it could be a contraflow cycling route. Again, there is not the space available for this.

Instead, place a modal filter at the Brook Lane end of Coldbath Road. This will make it a safer cycling route. Close the roundabout exit to the school, and replace the roundabout with a T-junction. Control it with traffic lights.

Howard Road / Alcester Road junction

I’ve not seen anything in the scheme about altering the sequence of the traffic lights on this junction. I’ve been driving for the last couple of years as if this LTN already existed, so I use Howard Road to get home. With the current volumes of traffic at the junction, you are lucky to get 3 cars to turn right per green light.

Each direction along Howard Road requires its own traffic lights phase. I’d also like to see this become a scramble crossing. 

Howard Road East

I’m torn on what needs to happen to this road. The level of on-street parking narrows the road too much. Royal Mail uses it as an overflow car park. There should be a ban on-street parking. This will impact Royal Mail, but might encourage them to use electric cargo bikes instead.

A further option is to make the road one-way towards the roundabout with Wheelers Lane. Make the Wheelers Lane to Alcester Road section one-way. This would free up a lane on Howard Road East for a protected cycle lane. It would need a set of traffic lights at the junction with Alcester Road.

Yardley Wood Road

Another road that, like Billesley Lane, suffers from horrendous speeding. Remove the dual carriageway sections. Reduce the speed limit to 20mph and consider installing average speed cameras.

Put a protected cycle lane from Swanshurst Road to St Agnes Road. It could extend to Wake Green Road, though there’s a section that is borderline too narrow for that. Again, driveways need it to be a single lane on each side of the road.

Provide a raised zebra crossing to the entrance to Moseley Bog and by St Agnes Road. This provides safe crossing points and stops speeding.

Make the junction with Wake Green Road people-centric. There are no pedestrian phases for the traffic lights, yet 5 lanes to cross. Reduce the exits to a single lane. Each direction only has one lane going straight across anyway. Do the two roads with three lanes need a dedicated left-turn lane?

Incentivise people

There are incentives the council could offer to increase the chance of success of the scheme. These are the same ones I mentioned in my article on improving Phase 1.

Offer free monthly bus passes to residents in the area. Free passes for the railways once the station opens. Set up electric car club schemes. The less people need cars to get around, the less they need cars at all.

Introduce paid parking permits for the whole area. This will help stop people parking to go to the train station. Pricing can incentivise owning less cars. Increase the cost for every extra car owned, for having a drive, for larger cars. We need to reclaim our streets for people.

With space freed up, install parklets, bike hangers and plant trees. Turn our roads back from car parks into lovely places to be in.

Design for success

I understand the council’s desire to listen to feedback during consultations. I fear that this has led them to produce a design for this phase of the LTN that does not optimise for success.

The official line is that changes are possible after implementation of the scheme. The lack of change to Phase 1 does not lead me to believe that will happen. This makes it critical to get the design right the first time.

I offer that my proposals are more likely to result in the success of the LTN. They stop all through-traffic, so reduce dangerous driving and speeding. They provide safe cycling routes and protected cycle lanes. And the basic measures cost less than the council’s designs.

I hope the council will re-evaluate their designs in short order. More residents deserve better streets across Birmingham.

Paul Manzotti

Worrying about my wife's daily cycle commute and the health of my born-and-bred-in-a-city children, I may have become slightly obsessed with creating a network of protected cycle lanes in Birmingham! Which includes LTNs.

In my defence, they can solve so many problems our country suffers from currently.