Infrastructure

Woolton Road, help required!

Dear readers,

A recurring topic at the Liverpool Cycle Forum is Woolton Road, at some time in the past it was given non-mandatory cycle lanes which, as we all know, are utterly pointless and sometimes make things worse. However, the residents when asked have an overwhelmingly negative attitude to making it a mandatory cycle lane, and of course the council doesn’t have a lot of money to dedicate to infrastructure, so any solution has to be relatively cheap! At the end of this week’s meeting a member of the forum asked if I would enquire amongst the readers of this blog for any suggestions.  It’s not a part of the city I really know, so with today being a very fine December morning I decided to take the opportunity to head over to that side of the city and have a look.

Here it is in streetview, it’s 2 miles long so my photos don’t cover much of it, so it is definitely worth viewing in streetview for a better idea.

My first problem was deciding what the road was for, in a typically British way it seems to fall somewhere between what the Dutch would call a distributor road and a through road. It is 30mph, it is on a bus route, it has a school,  a small university campus and a couple of rows of shops, and lots of houses. The roadside varies from quite narrow to very broad, but in many places it includes large trees. On a Saturday morning it seemed relatively quite and although there were plenty of cars parked in the cycle lane there were also long stretches without any. However the proximity of the university campus makes me think it would be a different story on a weekday.

Click on the images for bigger versions.

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Above, boulevard like amounts of space to play with.

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But less so further on.

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As we approach a row of shops more cars appear in the cycle lane.

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On both sides of the road the cycle lane moves out around the offside of the parked cars and straight through the door zone.

roundabout

This could be a wonderful dutch style roundabout but only at the expense of reprofiling the approach roads and shifting it to the right a little.

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A familiar site at any significant junction, more ‘gave up’ than ‘give way’.

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On the opposite side of the road, residents have parked cars fully square on the pavement, blocking the entire pavement despite having space in their drives. It leaves the cycle lane clear but any pedestrian, wheelchair user or parent with pushchair has to decide whether to take to the safe but waterlogged verge or the dangerous but smooth road to get past the obstruction.

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Further on more cars parked in the cycle lane but also mounted on the pavement, more shops up ahead.

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Down near the school, more cars and a bus stop, more residents parked fully on the pavement.

As I say it is my first visit to this road and there are clearly many different challenges to overcome before this can be considered a workable safe cycle route. On first impressions I don’t think it can be done without spending significant amounts of money and the council either proves it is committed to cycling by providing the money or it doesn’t and nothing ever changes, cycling’s modal share doesn’t increase and we hope nobody ever dies here, but as a wise man once said, hope is not a strategy.

So, to the old hands and wiser heads, is there any middle way through this problem?

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5 thoughts on “Woolton Road, help required!

  1. Woolton Road should form part of my daily commute, but I avoid it as the cycle lanes make it awful to ride along. My preferred option would be to remove the lanes all together, as they do far more harm than good.

    A few things I’ve noticed while cycling there:
    – bus drivers don’t move out to overtake, they just stay about an inch outside the cycle lane
    – some drivers are reluctant to allow cyclists to move out to pass parked cars (especially near the Cromptons Lane junction), presumably because we’re straying into “their lane”
    – the ludicrous door-zone cycle lanes outside the Halfway House pub need to go as a matter of urgency
    – drivers leaving side roads often ignore the Give Way markings and creep forward into the cycle lane instead
    – parking restrictions are rarely (if ever) enforced along Woolton Road. That’s not just a cycle lane issue: the zig-zags by the pedestrian crossing near Mosspits are just treated as parking spaces

    • Ideally, I’d like to ride on Woolton Road from by Hope University to Fir Lane, get a traffic-free short-cut through Wavertree Mystery and then cross Picton Road and head north.

      Instead I tend to go Menlove Ave -> Dudlow Lane -> Lance Lane -> Mill Lane, or take a detour along Dunbabin Road / Beauclair Drive / Abbeystead Road.

  2. I regularly use woolton road from from prescot via gateacre to my office in allerton road. Parked cars same old issue during school run. Surface poor and wearing off in parts but it does make for a decent route and I always feel safer when in my own lane even if its just a line on the road.

  3. I use this road regularly on my commute to work, I usually join it from Aldbourne Avenue roundabout and cycle all the way to the Wavertree Mystery and further into town.

    I agree that the cycle lanes are rubbish along there, and this advisory status is just not good enough.

    It will surprise most cyclists and other commenters, but I think to just take away the cycle lanes along there will improve things: Overtaking cars also drive along ‘the line’ with the impression that this bit of kerbside separation called cycle lane is enough space for a cyclist, and come very close while overtaking. I’d rather take my space on the lane than having to hover along the outer boundary of a narrow cycle lane.

    There’s this weird marking along the shops near the ‘Neighbourhood cafe’ (https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=Woolton+Road,+Liverpool&hl=en&ll=53.390393,-2.899028&spn=0.003429,0.009484&sll=52.8382,-2.327815&sspn=7.116961,19.423828&oq=Woolton+&hnear=Woolton+Rd,+Liverpool,+United+Kingdom&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=53.390356,-2.898853&panoid=uaSyUl5wBDkK4sPvQKkLAw&cbp=12,105.01,,0,-1.02) where there’s an advisory cycle lane and a double yellow marked ‘parking bay’. What does that supposed to mean?

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