Opinion: Opinion: Appraising the design for Kings Heath & Moseley LTN Phase 2

Filed under: LTNs / Opinions

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

How we got here

The original Kings Heath & Moseley LTN proposal consisted of four cells. Two on either side of the High Street, with aspirations of one below Howard Road. A backlash over the use of Addison Road as a boundary road sent the east side proposal back to the drawing board.

The latest design

After a mere three years, we finally have a new design, now called Phase 2 of the scheme. It consists of the following four cells:

Cell 1: High Street

This runs along the High Street, from Addison Road to Ashfield Avenue. Removing the modal filter on Poplar Road, it has a bus gate on Addison Road. Diagonal filters create many one-way sections. The one-way sections allow contraflow cycling (against the direction of traffic).

Cell 2: Oxford Road

The School Road filter moves south of Greenhill Road, with one added before Clarence Road. A filter on Oxford Road at the Billesley Lane end creates a cell up to Wake Green Road.

Cell 3: Billesley Lane

The third, and largest, cell encompasses the Billesley Lane area from Brook Lane up to Wake Green Road. It includes traffic calming measures on Billesley Lane to reduce speeding. Colmore Crescent, Dyott Road and St Agnes Road become a one-way gyratory system. I assume this is also to deter speeding.

On the edge of this cell, Coldbath Road is one-way towards Yardley Wood Road. Barn Lane has a filter at the Addison Road end. Existing filters on Cambridge Road are no more. Instead, a diagonal filter prevents traffic reaching Valentine and Poplar Roads.

The Springfield Road junction with Melton Road has a filter blocking it to vehicles. A diagonal filter at the Institute/Melton junction creates a one-way system.

Cell 4: Mossfield Road

A small cell around Mossfield Road. A modal filter midway stops through-traffic. 

Thoughts on the design

Ending rat-running

Starting with the positive, it ends rat-running on Institute, Heathfield, Valentine, and Springfield. They are not suitable for the volume of traffic they receive. Reducing the pollution inflicted on Kings Heath Primary School is a welcome move. But the proposed design to achieve this baffles me.

Vicarage to Institute is quite the rat-run at the moment. Closing Institute Road to through-traffic should see less cars use Vicarage Road. I fear this may be offset by letting cars turn right onto the High Street. One to keep an eye on after implementation.

Polluting Kings Heath Primary

The removal of the Poplar Road bollard is disappointing. Making Valentine > Poplar an access road to Asda is a backwards step. Pollution levels in the school and playgrounds will not reduce as much as they could. And for what purpose? To save shoppers a few minutes when driving to the shop? Is that more important than our childrens’ health?

Forcing residents onto the High Street

I have lived on streets off the High Street for since 2000. I’ve tried to avoid driving on it for that entire period, as the traffic on that road has always been a nightmare.

If I was a resident on the Phase 2 side roads, I would be very disappointed that the scheme forces me onto the High Street.

These are not the one-way streets you are looking for.

I understand that the council wants to listen to residents’ proposals. But proposals that won’t work? I am talking about one-way streets, often raised as alternatives to modal filters.

An LTN is part of the cycling network, providing safe routes through neighbourhoods. It does this by reducing both the amount and speed of traffic. I know from the one-way section on Grange Road, cars travel faster on them. The only thing stopping speeding on these narrow residential roads is oncoming vehicles. One-way sections will not reduce vehicle speeds.

Creating a loop of Heathfield and Institute Roads is also a strange decision. It risks people driving round it looking for free on-street parking.

How can these streets be safe cycling routes with speeding vehicles on them? They can’t.

You want me to cycle where?

The suggestion of contraflow cycling lanes on the one-way sections beggars belief. I often cycle on Heathfield Road, and the safe distance from parked cars is the middle of the road. There is no room for contraflow cycling on these roads.

Also, some drivers will not be aware of contraflow cycling, causing potential conflict.

Has the design team visited these roads, let alone ridden them on a bike?

Billesley Lane

Billesley Lane suffers a lot from dangerous driving. There are regular accidents caused by speeding. The speed humps do not slow people down, especially those in larger cars. To address this requires action.

But the proposed measures, chicanes, rely on traffic to slow vehicles down. I can see people still speeding through them when possible.

On top of that, at around a kilometre long, this is an expensive solution. Whilst safety must improve on Billesley Lane, this is not the solution I’d choose.

In summary

The three and a half year delay this phase suffered was disappointing. But it pales into insignificance compared to the designs themselves.

I hope I’ve made it clear what the issues are with the proposed designs. They do not solve enough of the area’s problems. They do not provide safe cycling routes across the whole area. As such, they do not provide value for money. Poor designs risk turning people against liveable neighbourhoods. Success demands good design.

In the next article, I detail alternative designs with less issues, less cost, and more success.

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.