I've seen the shared use path at J47 of the A1M several times through a car windscreen. For some time I have wanted to photograph it. I've never done so because there's nowhere to stop when driving, and it's almost impossible to get to on foot or by bike.
There's the rub. What's the point in a walking and cycling path that no one can get to on foot or by bike? (To be clear, I'm arguing for more and better cycle infrastructure, not less).
To get to the path around the J47 roundabout, you'd have to ride along the A59 from Harrogate and Knaresborough to the west, negotiating a big roundabout at Flaxby Covert and a multi-lane approach to J47; or along the very busy A59 from York to the east. Main roads are where people most fear the danger from motor vehicles (para 4.2.5, LTN 1/20).
The provision at J47 is therefore isolated, not part of a connected network, in breach of Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance.
It is is inconsistent provision.
As a subsidiary point, anyone brave enough to ride a bike along the A59 is highly unlikely to leave the road at J47, in order to ride the shared use path and lose priority at every single side turn.
The minimum width of a shared use path is 3m. The new path which has been built as part of the current works at J47 is 2m50, plus a 50cm buffer (the brick paving). Therefore, the new path is less than the minimum width in the guidance.
If it is argued that the brick paving is part of the usable width of the path, then there is no buffer in breach of the guidance in Table 6-1.
Cyclists and pedestrians are given uncontrolled crossings of the arms of the junction. Such crossings appear to be unsuitable when compared against traffic speed and volume in Table 10-2.
Para 10.4.8 states that '...at higher speeds and traffic volumes uncontrolled crossings are unlikely to meet the needs of all users...'
The cost of works to expand capacity for motor vehicles at J47 was (as at 30th April 2020) £7.766 million.
The money comes from a variety of sources: government funds paid to Local Enterprise Partnerships, North Yorkshire County Council, Highways England, and Forward Investment LLP.
Three of four slip roads are being widened, and traffic lights are being installed. An extra traffic lane is being added west of J47.
In a Harrogate News article, Councillor Don Mackenzie describes the works as being done '...to support sustainable growth'. Is the word "sustainable" now meaningless?
We have now reached the point where almost no one denies that the planet is heating rapidly. In 2020, Europe was 1.9C hotter than the 1981-2010 average.
Everyone is talking about reducing emissions, but most people in positions of authority and responsibility are not acting to reduce emissions.
Transport for the North envisages reducing transport emissions by 55% between 2018 and 2030. Mode shift and demand reduction are the main ways that the 2030 target can be met.
So this is the situation: we are talking about reducing vehicle trips and miles, and pretending that's going to happen; but we are building capacity for more vehicles, which will increase vehicle trips and miles and increase CO2 emissions from transport.
I don't have a zinger to round this off. I don't know what to say, other than to point out the chasm between the words of decarbonisation strategies and the actions taken to increase emissions.
I don't know how to get the DfT, Highways England, North Yorkshire County Council, and everyone else involved to stop doing what's wrong and start doing what's right.
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