Sunday, 24 February 2013

Longman Drive Alternative

On Friday 22 Februray 2013, the day after completing Shore Street to Kessock Bridge
I discovered that I'd missed a bit of the route. So I revisited the section that day.

I'd failed to spot a small NCN1 direction sign on Stadium Road.
I can be forgiven for this as it's on the other side of the road.
There is no sign on the side I was travelling.
Nor is there any marked cycle crossing.

 The sign is placed quite high and often hidden by passing traffic.
 It points to Longman Drive although there is no name plate.

 A short distance along Longman Drive another road branches to the left.
 Interestingly, this is also called Longman Drive.
 There are two clearly visible and well placed NCN1 signs.
 Although, like the first section, this section has no name plate.

 This second section of Longman Drive is unattractive.
 Even on a sunny day it was dark and cold.
 I'm told that it can sometimes be subject to flooding.

 On this day, a continuous layer of ice covered the width of the road.
 This did have the benefit of levelling the rather large potholes.

 There were large collections of rubbish dumped at the side.
 Ironically this included a child's bike.

The Courier Building and the Kessock Bridge are in view.
Ahead is a T-junction.
The road ahead is a third section of Longman Drive.

There's a sign for NCN1 on a communications cabinet.
It's on the other side of the road and displaced to the right.
The cabinet may be convenient but results in poor placing of the sign.

The arrow on the sign points to the right
and to the collection of signs discussed previously.

In my opinion the route described here is much less pleasant than the coastal route.
It's only very slightly shorter. (In fact it's longer if you follow the intended diversion.)
Obviously it should remain available for any cyclist who prefers to use it.
For tourists it offers nothing.
It would be better if NCN1 remained on Stadium Road as far as the Courier Building.
I understand this was the original route for NCN1.

Whichever route is taken, the current diversion signs are ineffective.
Without local knowledge, a cyclist travelling from Harbour Road will be misdirected
if they attempt to follow the signs and diversions to get to the Kessock Bridge.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Shore Street to Kessock Bridge

My idea was to leave from Inverness and cycle across the Kessock Bridge.
I gave it a go on Thursday 21 February 2013 and that's when I took the pictures.

I started from Shore Street Roundabout
and headed North along Shore Street.

At the mini roundabout there's a small sign
confirming that I'm on NCR 1.

I take the first exit onto Cromwell Road.
That's Cromwell Tower in the background.
A sign reminds me:
'Recommended route for pedal cycles'

A squint sign confirms NCR 1.
Although its a cycle route there's a steady flow of cars, buses and lorries.

Not sure if I can cycle on the pavement.
Anyway there's an MOT sign obstructed it.
Finnie's should consider scrapping this to help pedestrians.

Cromwell Road becomes Stadium Road.
Another NCR 1 sign as the Kessock Bridge comes into sight.

The pavement is now clearly marked as an unsegregated path.
But where did that start?

Warning to motorised vehicles of cycle route ahead.
And sign indicating to turn right for NCR 1.

There's also another sign on the opposite side of the road:
   NCN1 North
   Kessock Bridge.

Continuing a short distance along the pavement
to a crossing point for cyclists.
There is no sign but this appears to be the end of the cycle path.

[In fact, I should have continued to go straight ahead!]

Cross the road - similar direction signs here.
Some care needed to get past the 'Diverted traffic sign' pointing the way I'm going.

Soon after the junction I see a collection of three signs.
The first says 'Diversion ends'. Well that diversion didn't last long!

The next one says 'Diverted traffic' with an arrow pointing back the way I came from.
The final one says 'Foot / cyclepath ahead closed' follow diversion.
Surely I wouldn't be directed here just to be told to go back.

But the path is actually open at that point so let's investigate it.

At the other end of the path there's a choice: stairway or slope.
Both appear to be open.

At the top of the slope there is a cone barrier to prevent access toward the Bridge.
But I can approach the barrier from the other side by climbing the stairway.
I notice that a middle cone has been displaced to provide passage.
So the barrier seems a bit pointless for several reasons.

Attempting to progress onto the bridge beyond the stairway.

The route is partially barred by a staggered pair of heavy plastic barriers.
Further beyond that the way is clearly blocked by three cones.
However there are no signs to inform pedestrians or cyclists.

So I'd had a pleasant journey but failed to discover how to cross Kessock Bridge.
The signs seemed clear and I'd followed them but ended up confused.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

City Transport Forum

A forum was held by the Highland Council in Inverness Town House on Monday 04 Feb 2013 from 4.30 to 6.30 concerning the measures being taken to minimise the impact of the Kessock Bridge resurfacing work and the ongoing River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme.
The meeting was chaired by Councillor Ian Brown, Leader of the Highland Council’s City of Inverness Area Committee with key speakers Cameron Gair (Transport Scotland) and Bob Nicol (SIS Ltd, Traffic Consultant) speaking about the Kessock Bridge and Colin Howell (Project Design Manager, The Highland Council) focusing on the River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme.
Other representatives on the stage were: Matt Smith (Principal Engineer TECs); David Haas (City Manager); Steve Walker (Stagecoach); Michelle MacRae (First Group); John Kerr (First Group).

The first hour of the forum was taken up by the three presentations. Cameron Gair gave an interesting explanation of the maintenance and improvements from the Kessock Bridge resurfacing work. This was followed by Bob Nicol showing how Traffic Modelling had been used to predict the expected traffic and hold-ups and measures that were to be taken to alleviate problems. Finally, Colin Howell gave an overview (with fly-through) of the River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme and how they planned to blend with the Kessock Bridge work.

The second hour was given over to questions from the floor and answers from the speakers or others on the platform as appropriate.

The Kessock Bridge questions were mainly about how the lanes would be managed, effect on public transport and cyclists. The responses were mainly in the form of clarification of known facts. The issue of transport of special needs children to school by taxi did not receive an adequate response. It is unrealistic to expect autistic children to be unaffected by changes in routine such as timings, routes or vehicles. Empathy is not enough.

The River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme questions mainly related to the reduction in parking particularly along Huntly Street. Disabled parking was to be provided at strategic positions but some concerns expressed by residents and businesses still remained unresolved.

Of the estimated 70 in attendance possibly only 10% were there as cyclists. But what they lacked in numbers they more than compensated for by their participation to the extent that the chairman commented at one point "We're looking for questions that have nothing to do with cycling." In truth he did an excellent job of chairing the forum and the remark seemed good-natured.

Anne Thomas noted the lack of mention of cyclists in any of the presentations. Ron Stewart listed a number of issues and highlighted how little budget (£10,000) was allocated for cycling. Ged Church also spoke a length.

Sinclair Dunnett suggested that all No Entry signs should be supplemented with a "behalve voor fietsen" plate as they do in Holland. Brian MacKenzie thought this was a good idea as "Ik spreek een klein beetje Nederlands".

As a result of a brief follow-up after the forum, the cycling provision on Ness Walk from the Ness Bridge towards the Cathedral (Blog: Friday, 30 November 2012) was clarified. It was explained that the narrow (one-way) road with its extra wide pavement on the river side of the road was done with the intention of allowing (unsegregated) cycling on the pavement. It was recognised that the signage did not make this clear and this would be corrected as part of the work.