Sunday, 21 April 2013

One Chainstay short of a Bike

This is an update to last week's blog:
Blatant Discrimination against Cyclists in the City?

And it's good news - the cycle symbol has been re-painted!

The artwork will not win any prizes but at least it's there.
There's no chainstay and the pedals are a bit odd.
But it clearly indicates that contraflow cycling is permitted.

So 'Well Done!' to Highland Council and the anonymous painter.

And just a few days later another bike appears.

This time it's a real bike a short distance away
at the same junction pointing the way to Velocity
Cafe and Bicycle Workshop at the top of Stephen's Brae.

Your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Blatant Discrimination against Cyclists in the City?

After my blog Is Stephens Street really one way?
I had a very inspiring meeting with a Highland Council representative who assured me that the Traffic Orders did in fact allow cycling against the flow.

Even better, the intention was to investigate if the junction could be re-aligned and provided with improved signage.

Today (15 Apr 2013) I noticed that the lines at the junction had been repainted. But I was surprised that, although the cycle lane was still clearly marked, the cycle symbol itself had been left unpainted.

Note: The ZenBike UK logo isn't painted on the road :)

There are several possible good reasons:
  • The painter ran out of time/paint and will return to finish it later.
  • The specialist painter who paints the cycle symbol wasn't available.
  • In these times of austerity the Council can only afford a partial re-paint.
However it may be a lot more serious:
  •  There may be a plan to let this cycle lane fall into disuse before removing it.
  •  This may be part of a larger plot to eliminate all cycle lanes from the City.

While preparing the photos for this blog I happened to notice an extra plate on the 'No Entry' sign.

Closer inspection revealed that it said 'Except cycles'.

Amusingly and confusingly this plate has been placed directly below
the National Cycle Route plate!

I returned later and had a closer look. Indeed, the two 'No Entry' signs at the end of Ardconnel Terrace now have supplementary plates saying 'Except cycles'. The nearby signage at the South end of Stephens Street remains unchanged.

So I guess it's good work in progress. Watch this space - and see if it gets painted!

Your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Torvean Triangle

The Torvean Triangle is an area of about 3 ha (including a short length of the Canal).
It would be part of the necessary infrastructure for Option 6 (and other rejected options).
The need for it would not exist if a different crossing was considered near Torvean Quarry.

The picture was grabbed from the Highland Council simulation video.
Animated graphics have been added to make clear the area being discussed.

It identifies the three new roundabouts needed in association with the tandem swing bridges.

The roads linking these roundabouts mark out a roughly triangular area.

In this blog this area will be referred to as the Torvean Triangle.

Although I think the Torvean Triangle is a bad idea I must admit it would be fascinating to watch.

Road traffic from the West would normally have a choice of two routes to cross the Caledonian Canal.

Boats travelling through the Canal would require first one then the other swing bridge to open. Whenever a bridge would open that road would be closed and the other would be used.

The road connecting the two roundabouts on the East side does not include a bridge and so would always be open.

At about 30,000 sq m (3 ha), the Torvean Triangle is larger than might be thought.

It is roughly the same size and shape as the triangle enclosed by Baron Taylor's Street and Church Street and Academy Street
(down to the IronWorks).

Being bounded by main roads on all sides, renders it unsuitable as a leisure area.
It would be difficult to access as there are no pedestrian crossings indicated.
This would be a definite loss as this is currently a popular area with many types of user.

The Torvean Triangle would only need to be created as a result of constructing a second swing bridge.
Without a second swing bridge this area could still be landscaped as planned but,
with only one road, the other problems would be considerably reduced.

Your comments are welcome.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Exciting New Plans for Inverness

On 05 April 2013, Highland Council unveiled its plans for the West Link.
The announcement can be found here:

It starts with a video and 4 maps.
The superfluous 'u' in 'Video Suimulation ...' gives an initial impression of carelessness.

It contains too much unwarranted 'excitement' and vacuous spin.
'Exciting plans', 'huge potential', 'golden opportunity', 'sweeping alignment', 'excited',
'catalyst for a great many exciting opportunities', 'maximise the potential', 'excite',
'recreational hub', 'broadly in line'.

Cycle ways are mentioned but not detailed. The 'transport network' seems to be car-based.
'Over 3 km of formalised cycle ways and foot paths created (this is just on South side of river ...)'
The proposed NCN 78 appears only to account for about 1 km - where's the other 2 km?
Why no formalised cycle way on the North side?
Cycle ways and foot paths seem insufficient and added as an afterthought.
Similarly, road crossings seem to be missing or inconveniently positioned.

There are three references to hub: recreational, natural, sports.
A hub usually means a centre. It seems to be something more vague here.
Even the map of Torvean Sports Hub doesn't help. The Sports Hub is shown near the top edge.
A possible contender may be 'The Torvean Triangle' joining the three roundabouts at Millerton.

'No need to go into Centre only to come back out again.'
This is exactly what you have to do to travel between the Dores Road roundabout and the A82.

Unlike the Highland Council website, you are encouraged to leave a comment here.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Inverness's Leisure Area

Many people in Inverness frequently enjoy a visit to the 'Islands', the 'Bught' or Whin Park.
These are only some of the amenities in the Leisure Area on the West side of the City.
A more comprehensive list includes:
  • Queens Park (Athletics Ground)
  • The Floral Hall
  • Inverness Leisure (Aquadome etc)
  • Inverness Ice Centre
  • Bught Park (Football Pitches, Skateboarding, Cycling)
  • Whin Island (Children's Play Park, Boating Pool, Miniature Railway)
  • Ness Islands
  • The Canal Field (Rugby Pitches)
  • The Caledonian Canal (Rowing, Pleasure Craft)
  • The Canal Tow Path (Walking, jogging, Cycling, Dog Walking)
  • Torvean Golf Course
Two points are worth bearing in mind:
- The is a natural heritage for everybody who visits or lives in the City.
- Inverness owns it. It does not have to be bought - it only needs to be looked after.

This area is about to be affected by the planned development of a new road.

Option 6 was chosen from the 8 options that were presented to the Highland Council.
Although the decision has already been made it is still worth understanding these options.
They are presented here in the order of greatest threat to the Leisure Area.

Options 3, 4 and 5

The worst three options (3, 4, 5) take a fairly direct route from Millerton to the City side of Holm Mills. The most serious concern is that they all pass through the centre of Whin Island.

All three routes cut across the West end of the Miniature Railway.
(It is not clear if a level crossing was intended as part of the plan.)

The craziest of this lot is option 5 which places a roundabout right next to the main entrance to the children's play area in Whin Park.
This isn't for the children to play on.

Were they seriously intending to drive a main road through the middle of the Leisure Area! Each of these options also encroaches to some degree on Torvean Golf Course and Canal Park.

Options 3, 4 and 5 cannot have been proposed as real options.
They must only have been include with a view to be rejected.

Options 1, 2 and 8

The next three options (1, 2, 8) take a route from Millerton to the West side of Holm Mills.

All these routes require some amount of crossing of Canal Park leading to a river crossing at the end of the Park at the downstream end of the long weir. They also cut across the Golf Course.

The worst (option 8) places a most peculiar three-way roundabout near the main entrance to Whin Island.

Again it's hard to believe these were ever considered to be genuine options.

Options 1 and 6

Option 6 follows the same route as option 1 from Millerton to the bridge over the river. Then it takes a roughly semi-circular detour along the side of the river to Dores Road Roundabout.

Most people express disbelief when they see this route for the first time.
The compass bearings from Dores Road to the A82 Fort William Road are: NW, N, NE, E, N, NE, W, NW. These bearings ae somewhat confusing since Fort William is SW of Inverness.

It provides a crossing and links the distributor road with the A82.
But it is extremely tortuous with a significant part going the wrong way.
Currently this is the selected option. But doesn't deserve to be.

Options 6 and 7

All seven options considered so far involve creating a second crossing within sight of Millerton Bridge. The remaining option (7) takes a fairly direct route from the A82 to Dores Road Roundabout.

People may have different opinions about the crossing solution (high bridge, low bridge, tunnel, ...). But, regardless of the type of crossing, most are agreed that this is the obvious choice for the route.

It has the benefit of minimal disruption to the Leisure Area.

Surprisingly, option 7 also includes a second bridge at Millerton.
This only serves to artificially and unfairly increase the cost of this option.

By taking the option 7 route there is no longer any need for a second crossing at Millerton.
The option 7 route is the only one which will keep the Leisure Area undamaged and deserves proper consideration.