17 April 2014

Changes to notorious junction set for go-ahead

Plans for making one of Brighton’s most notorious junctions better for cyclists, pedestrians and buses are set for a final go-ahead.

If follows the council advertising fine details of the Vogue gyratory scheme. Just three people or organisations objected.   

During the original consultation on improvements to Lewes Road in May 2012, 65 per cent of responses supported improvements to the junction.

Now councillors at the environment, transport and sustainability committee meeting on April 29 are being recommended by officials to press ahead with the scheme.

In January the committee approved in principle a package of changes.  These are designed to protect pedestrians and cyclists while maintaining traffic flows.

Main features are:

* Simplification of the existing complex layout, making the junction easier to understand and therefore safer

* Continuous two-metre wide northbound cycle lane through the gyratory system – there is already one going south

* A new northbound bus lane with improvements to the Sainsbury’s bus stop through introduction of a ‘floating bus stop’ and larger bus shelter, with bike lane behind.  These were successfully used in the new Lewes Road bus lanes and will allow the No.25 bendy buses to stop for the first time.

* Pedestrian improvements across the Sainsbury’s car park entrance, with a raised area to give pedestrians priority over traffic emerging from the car park

* Changes to the kerb alignments at the entrance and exits to the gyratory to provide adequate space for cyclists and vehicles to move through the junction without coming into conflict or causing delay

* Improved and simplified pedestrian crossings 

* Replacement traffic signals to improve efficiency and traffic flow using up-to-date technology and linking the signals with the new signals on Lewes Road to maximise traffic flow throughout the area

* Advanced green phases for cyclists at traffic lights, providing a three-second head-start to reduce conflict.

* Resurfacing of the road and new line markings throughout to make it easier to negotiate and to improve the quality of the driving experience

* Review of signage and street furniture to reduce clutter on the footways

Research shows that most people travelling the Lewes Road route do NOT use a car. About 34,000 people a day either walk, cycle or use the bus compared to about 26,000 in cars. The council wants to increase further the numbers using sustainable transport because of serious traffic jams and air pollution.  Councillors say that will happen if walking and cycling facilities are improved and bus journeys could be made faster and more reliable.

The proposed layout will maintain two lanes for general traffic throughout the junction.

Timescales

If approved, works would start in July and take about two to three months. However it is expected most work will be completed within the summer holidays when traffic flows are lowest.

Costs of £650,000 are being met from budgets ring-fenced for transport.  Even without the scheme, half of this sum would have to spent anyway on resurfacing and new traffic lights. A further £100,000 comes from other external sources.

Council deputy leader and lead councillor for transport Ian Davey said:   “There’s solid support for these measures and very little opposition. This junction is seen as unpleasant for pedestrians and off-putting for cyclists.  It also delays buses – a particular problem, given that more journeys are made by bus along Lewes Road than are made by car. The measures will encourage use of public transport improving air quality, travel options and health.

“Given the limitations of space and the needs of general traffic, it’s not perfect for cyclists but it will be a lot better.  It has been designed so as not to add to traffic jams. In fact better phasing of traffic lights should mean capacity of the junction is improved.

 “Seven Dials shows how we can improve places with good design. We apologise in advance for any disruption during the works.”