Tuesday, 23 November 2010

St Paul's Churchyard gets the architecture treatment - comments invited

The City is planning to re-model the street just to the south of St Paul's cathedral, namely St Paul's Churchyard. If you're not sure where we're talking about, click here

I've uploaded a copy of the plans here (thank you sharesave!) and apologies, it's saved sideways.

To anyone who cycles along this stretch regularly, I'd really appreciate your feedback so that I can send a summary response to the City on people's behalf by next week. 

The primary aim of the design is to widen the footway on the north side of the street. So, the cycle lane that currently exists heading east is removed and replaced by footway. What you get heading east is a bus lane and a secondary lane, only both slightly narrower than now. And then a formal cycle lane leading up to the traffic lights at New Change which is arguably much better than the current set-up. The bus stop near New Change is moved west, so that you won't constantly have buses stopped near the junction. Those two measures seem good to me but does anyone have any comments on this? I'm worried about the overall narrowing of the road making for squashed cycles.

Less good is the situation heading west. The current bus stop on the south side of the street is moved further away from the junction with New Change, which is very positive as it makes the junction easier to negotiate when heading west. But I'm not sure of the need for the fairly abrupt tightening of the carriageway and resulting pinch-point just before the new bus stop, caused by the pedestrian crossing refuge. 

One thing that might interest cyclists heading west is that technically, the space that used to be YHA Lane, where the City has unveiled its newly restored Victorian drinking fountain is actually 'shared space'. You are allowed to turn left / south off St Paul's Churchyard over what looks like pavement just by the fountain thing and on into Carter Lane. In fact, you'd have to be pretty eagle-eyed to spot it, but you can head along that recently paved stretch in both directions on a bicycle. I reckon most pedestrians probably think this is a pedestrianised zone, though. It looks like one. It feels like one. I always feel this sort of thing just makes pedestrians dislike people on bikes for cycling on what they might regard as 'their' space. Mind you, the fact that it's almost impossible to tell you can cycle here might make this less of an issue. 

I just think it's rather sad that the City could have created an obvious route for cyclists heading from Mansion House to Blackfriars Bridge, say, to whizz along Cannon Street here and then turn south west into what was formerly YHA Lane and down the back route to the bridge. Instead, what it has created is something you'd have to be a complete genius to spot and means most cyclists will struggle on along Ludgate Hill, one of the most clogged up bits of street in the area and then turn left along Farringdon Road to the bridge. A real wasted opportunity to create sensible, easy-to-find, quiet routes for cycling. 

Oh, and cycle parking. There's none anywhere near St Paul's at the moment. And none on these plans either. 

The City is inviting comments. I'm planning to summarise a response by early next week. I'd really appreciate feedback either in the comments box or feel free to email me at cyclistsinthecity@gmail.com

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