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Illegible Cycle Infrastructure at Clifton Moor

Illegible cycle infrastructure at Clifton Moor
Illegible cycle infrastructure at Clifton Moor

The cycle infrastructure at Clifton Moor Retail Park in York is illegible – as well as being of the lowest quality. It’s badly signed and confusing, and it’s not at all obvious where you’re supposed to go.

If you come up Clifton Moor Gate to the roundabout junction with Stirling Road, you’re met with the sign pictured above. Ok, it’s not as hard to read as the book London Orbital by Iain Sinclair that I stubbornly refused to give up on a few years ago, but neither is it instantly understandable – which is what you need when travelling by bike.

Interpreting the Sign

I think the message is:

  • don’t turn right up the pavement, because that’s only for people on bikes going in the opposite direction
  • do turn left, but be careful of riding into a red oblong

Uncontrolled Crossing of a Dual Carriageway

You’re asked to use an uncontrolled crossing of the roundabout arm (Stirling Road). An uncontrolled crossing of a dual carriageway is a really poor level of service.

More Confusing Signs and Bad Provision on Stirling Road

Contradictory signs on Stirling Road
Contradictory signs on Stirling Road

The other side of the roundabout arm, there’s a baffling set of contradictory signs:

  • the painted bike implies you’re fine to ride diagonally neither onto the crossing nor along the pavement – somewhere in between
  • the END sign indicates that you’re not allowed on the pavement alongside Stirling Road
  • a few metres further on, a shared use sign suggests that you ARE allowed on the pavement after all
Shared use sign on Stirling Road
Shared use sign on Stirling Road

Confusingly, the tactile paving by the shared use sign suggests that it is walking only here. The width is only a metre, whereas a shared use footway should be 3m.

Continuing round the corner, an on-road murder-strip cycle lane starts – but without a dropped kerb from the pavement to get onto it.

Murder-strip cycle lane on Stirling Road, Clifton Moor
Murder-strip cycle lane on Stirling Road, Clifton Moor

Summary of the Cycle Infrastructure & the Appropriate Punishment for the Designers

In summary, the design of the cycle infrastructure here is wholly incompetent. It looks like a box-ticking exercise by people who had no idea about usable cycle routes.

Those designers should be condemned to read London Orbital by Iain Sinclair for all eternity.

I am being harsh on London Orbital. The idea behind the book is interesting, as the author explores the M25 corridor on foot. This is the Google Books description of the work.

‘Here he uncovers a history of forgotten villages, suburban utopias and hellish asylums, now transformed into upmarket housing, all the while walking a disappearing landscape as the countryside is engulfed by commerce.’

Book description in google books review of london orbital

My problem was that I personally didn’t find London Orbital a page-turner.

For a time, I even considered hiring a Life Coach to act as Page Turner and Motivational Speaker, to help me get through it. I only rejected the idea because I’ve heard that these Life Coaches often tell you to drop a proportion of your friends, and I calculated that I couldn’t afford to drop any friends without dipping below a crucial absolute minimum number.

As I’m sure you’ve already grasped, the discussion of London Orbital isn’t just a whimsical aside. It’s relevant, because it’s a story of the destruction of valued landscapes to make way for the motor car.

You build a ring road to deal with congestion, the ring road attracts drivers and cars, and you “need” to widen it to deal with congestion, the wider ring road more attracts drivers and cars, and you “need” to widen it etc. etc. etc.

At some point someone has to twig that providing for ever larger volumes of vehicles is a mug’s game, and the real answer is to reduce capacity for cars and provide quality alternatives.

What Do You Do About a Problem Like Clifton Moor?

Map showing Clifton Moor, Open Street Map
Map showing Clifton Moor, Open Street Map

I remember going to Clifton Moor for the first time around 1990, when I believe it was quite new, and cars still seemed like the future.

Now Clifton Moor is contributing to congestion on the Ring Road, and the experience on foot on the site itself is pretty dangerous and unpleasant due to all the cars.

Out-of-town retail parks no longer seem like the future – but luckily for Clifton Moor, it is not truly out of town. It’s attached to Rawcliffe, and it’s within cycling distance of a lot of other areas of York.

Clifton Moor could be turned into a retail park not dominated by motor cars, but pleasant for human beings. You could restrict parking to a smaller area, and put in parklets and play areas in the space freed up.

The volume of traffic could be reduced using modal filters, and one-way systems for cars would enable wider pavements and cycle tracks to be built.

For my next post, I’ll come up with the outlines of a plan.

Illegible Cycle Infrastructure at Clifton Moor

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