I took the day off today. Think I had crammed four or five days’ worth of work into three, so needed it. Decided to go for an explore and do a recce for one of my routes for this page. Also an excuse to try out my new handlebar phone holder.
So: the A1159. I have mixed views. Ignoring the traffic it is a nice route to cycle on, bar the hill around Priory Crescent. If cycling on it I prefer the single carriageway bit (even though it has the hill) to the dual carriageway bit. I can only think that cars travel a bit slower perhaps? But, there is a lot of traffic and roundabouts that (it seems) you have to cycle through rather than there being shared space around them. I believe there’s space for segregated routes along most of it.
My ride today consisted of cycling on the road, unless there was an obvious cycle provision, in both directions. I then tried out alternative routes.
From the airport
I started at the airport and headed south. This is quite a wide single carriageway. Cars park on it and it doesn’t impact traffic flow. At Cuckoo Corner you are directed on to the pavement to traverse the roundabout. Soon after heading round to the A1159 exit you are directed back on to the carriageway (between a hedge… which I nearly missed).
It is on the road all the way and at the roundabout with Sutton Road there is no cycle provision. Luckily, when I arrived there was no traffic and I simply went through. But this is not a nice roundabout to cycle on – lots of traffic and it comes round quickly. You can use cars as cover – but hoping they aren’t turning left and not signalling… It would be suitable for some Toucan crossings and shared space (especially since the pavement here is quite wide on the approach!).
Safely across the roundabout you hit dual carriageway and you’re on it until the roundabout with Fossetts Way. Here you get directed on to the pavement but crossing isn’t great since, again, lots of traffic and it zooms round the corners. Toucan crossings would be good here. At this point you can join a mixture of painted cycle lane and shared space that is traffic free and runs all the way along the road pass Cecil Jones until the Garon Park roundabout.
Here you need to use the Toucan crossing to get to the other side of the road, cross
Hamstel Road so you can join a shared space path that runs along Royal Artillery Way. This is fairly okay, but it misses out on opportunities to join up with some of the side streets that are along there (Archer Ave, Archer Close, Vallance Close) to improve connectivity and just ends at Bournes Green. I will put together a post about this junction another day but the point here is that the cycle provision just ends.
The main thing I would say about the entire route is a lack of signage to indicate where the cycling routes are. I have seen cyclists (and got caught myself) end up cycling on Royal Artillery Way. In my case, when first cycling around town, it was because it wasn’t clear that one should cross over. Where I say signage, I don’t mean the blue cycles to indicate if it shared space and so on, I mean directional signs, just like one gets for cars.
I have a fuzzy (don’t know why) time lapsed video of the route here.
To the Airport
The route back is fairly similar. At Garon Park, there is the old Eastern Avenue alongside the McDonald’s and I follow that for two reasons: 1) it gets me off dual carriageway and 2) I wanted to double check something. Along here there is wide pavement and so it would easy to have something along here. In fact, there is something that looks like cycling provision but doesn’t appear on any maps!
This ends as the Eastern Avenue approaches Lewes Road but the road is all kerbed off.
This is a shame – you could have a cut through for bikes and other non-motor vehicles to access Lewes Road. At this point, Temple Sutton school gets in the way. Here you could tolerate shared space since on the other side of Temple Sutton there is a path down to the old Eastern Avenue. Most people cycle on the pavement here, anyway… For me, though, it is back on to the carriageway.
As I went along here I started to be concerned I would have to cycle through the roundabout at Fossetts Way, but then the old Eastern Avenue appeared and so I slipped in to that. This completely by-passes the roundabout but you rejoin the dual carriageway and you back on to the road for the rest of the trip, except at Cuckoo Corner where you are directed on to the pavement.
A time lapsed video of the route is here.
As I mentioned above, I don’t mind the single carriageway bits. It is mostly wide and with some remarking could facilitate a cycle lane on both sides. Indeed, on Manners Way there are side roads running parallel that could be utilised in some way. Cuckoo Corner’s arrangements are okay, but does push bikes and pedestrians together in some tight spots (outside the RC church in particular).
Most of the dual carriageway element is side stepped by the shared space by Cecil Jones the the path alongside Royal Artillery Way. So, it is really only the element from Sutton Road to Fossetts Way that is an issue.
There are alternative routes but whether they are any safer is debatable. You may avoid fast cars on a dual carriageway but you use smaller roads with parked cars (so the car dooring threat) and traffic from both directions. It also utilises Priory Park – which can only really be used in daytime.
Here they are anyway.
From airport: I followed Manners Way until Thornford Gardens and turn left past the
Ecko Social Club and into the new housing. Following this you end up on a path taking you past the new Havens Hospice on to the A1159. This path could be pavement or shared space… who knows? No signs… (I sometimes work on the basis if there is nothing to say no cycling then it is okay.)
Here, use the Pelican (perhaps one day it will be Toucan) crossing to cross and navigate the narrow gate to pick up the Priory Park cycle path. My views on this path will feature on another blog. This gets you to the junction with the A127, where I turn left on to Priory Crescent, joining the road, and turning right on Priory Avenue and then join East Street at Prittlewell Station.
At the roundabout with Sutton Road I take the first exit. I hate cycling on roundabouts and still astonish myself I do it, but if I can just nip through to the first exit, I do. I turn right onto Wentworth Road, cross over Bournemouth Park Road and join Royston Avenue all the way along to its junction with Eastern Avenue.
Here, you can ride up to a Toucan crossing across the A1159 that joins up with the shared space alongside Cecil Jones. The interesting thing here is that the path from the road to the crossing is pavement so technically I am not allowed to cycle the few feet there to get to a crossing designed for both pedestrians and cyclists.
To airport: you can easily reverse the route above, though I find I stay on Royston Avenue and brave the roundabout at Sutton Road to join East Street (this is because if I have gone via Wentworth I have to take the third exit on the roundabout and that is spending far too long on it for my liking). However, you do need to go down St Mary’s Road and then Hill Road to get to Priory Park.
An alternative from this point is to cross the A127 and use the Prittlewell Path briefly to
get to Prittlewell Chase and turn right on Hobleythick Lane, following the old road to Rochford. This route is a little busy at times and does cross the A127 carriageway but it is all traffic lighted and I have always felt safe crossing it. After crossing the A127 the road widens and runs like that all the way to the airport. I noted some parallel running side streets which I will investigate in another blog as part of another route.
What could be done to improve the A1159?
From the airport to the hill over the railway line the single carriageway is quite wide. I believe there is room to bring the two lanes of traffic closer together. Many parts of it have white diagonal lines in the centre of the road. Remove those and there is room for a segregated cycle lane either side of the carriageway.
The dual carriageway areas are trickier and it would require redesign of some roundabouts. If cost was no issue you could remove the bits inbetween the carriageways and move them closer together. This creates room for a segregated route to run alongside. This could work all the way along to Garon Park. But that would be massive work and remove some greenery.