Monday, July 13, 2009

Planners - sadists or stupid?

A trip to Merry Hell on Saturday reinforced the question posed as the title. I present the following for consideration:

Primary evidence 1. A single lane splits into three as it approaches an island, where would you put a bus-stop? The answer appears to be just before the road splits. Okay you can overtake it using the oncoming lane - nope there's a concrete lane divider just before the bus-stop. Oh and just for fun where would you put a speed-bump? Yep next to the divider just before the bus-stop. The result is that a bus pulling up here blocks all the other traffic until it moves.

Secondary evidence - a bus-stop positioned just before the brow of a narrow hump-backed bridge.

Primary evidence 2. A single lane splits into two as it approaches a set of traffic lights to produce a straight/right split. Further back from this traffic is having difficulty getting into and out of a junction, what do you do? Answer - put in another set of traffic lights oh and just for S&G add in a pedestrian crossing between the two.

Secondary evidence - a mini traffic island with a two lane left/right split approach with the right-hand turn exiting to two lanes. Make the left-turn lane a right-turn lane as well.

Primary evidence 3. The cinema car-park. Okay I've said a lot about car-parks, but this is specific. You don't want cars blocking things up when they're trying to leave so the exit should be as painless as possible. So to stop cars from dilly-dallying force them out in one direction and prevent them crossing to the other lane to turn right. For this they've put a concrete divider in place - well done. However the second part is that the traffic should be able to get out and to this end it's not advisable to have the left-only exit connect directly with a pedestrian crossing.

Secondary evidence - the car-park actually extends past the pedestrian crossing and as such there is no reason why the exit couldn't be run along the edge to come out after it.

Make up your own minds, but I have to assume that they just don't like drivers, otherwise I have to consider that someone laid this all out on paper and thought "I don't see any problems with doing this"


Orphi said...

Well, you say “they don't like drivers”, that might actually be true. Where I live, the people in charge seem to be deliberately trying to ruin the road network to force people out of their cars. Every single scrap of paper they put out is all about “encouraging people to use public transport”.

Unfrotunately, these people seem to think that they way to do this is to make private transport as difficult and expensive as possible. Not, say, making public transport actually freakin' work! The fact of the matter is that in my city, public transport is ridiculous. Nobody uses it because it's unusable.

When I was in Manchester one time, we went and stood at a bus stop, and a bus appeared within less than 45 seconds. And this happened at every single bus stop, no matter what time of the day we happened to turn up. It's like there's literally a bus every 60 seconds or something!

In Milton Keynes, most routes have two busses per day. No, I'm not making that up. There's one bus in the morning at rush hour, and another going the other way in the evening at rush hour. So if you miss the bus… you actually cannot go to work at all. (Unless you hire a taxi.) What escaped loonie would voluntarily go through that rather than get a car? (If they had a choice, anyway.)

But hey, they only claim they're doing all this for the environment. We all know why they really increased the parking fees.

Why they're spending money ruining the existing road network is less clear. But certainly the new housing estate they're going to build won't be following the grid system because it's cheaper that way. (Never mind all the extra expense it'll cause in the long run.)

In case any of you think I'm just being cynical here… they're planning to take the city's major artery, a 60 MPH road from one side of the city to the other, and a major through-route, and turn it into a residential street. With a 30 MPH speed limit, traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, house driveways, etc.

I rest my case.

FlipC said...

I think the logic that runs in tandem with public transport goes as follows:

No-one uses public transport because it's crap.
It's crap because it has no funds.
It has no funds because no-one uses it.
No-one uses public transport because it's crap.

So the only way to break through the deadlock is to force people on to it to get the ball rolling. Never helped in the past that the buses never sync'ed with the trains.

The new housing estate sounds like it should have been challenged in the planning approval stage, but heh yeah it's cheaper and with the push for 'more housing, more, more' I guess that would over-ride future considerations.

As for the two-a-day bus service that sounds insane, but isn't that different from the shut-down of such services at night.

Switching a 60mph to a 30mph... well it would be interesting to see if anyone picked up on the repercussions of that at the planning stage.

Dan H said...

Well, this probably is no consolation, but I think that road planners hate cyclists and pedestrians too. At least road planners do actually use cars: many pedestrian layouts give the impression that road planners never walk anywhere, and certainly the kind of implausible twists and turns you get on some cycle lanes and paths show the same thing about cycling.

FlipC said...

I think we're all agreed - planners hate everyone ;-)

Orphi said...

I think you have it backwards: Everyone hates planners!

I love how they consulted the public on which design the new housing estate should have only after detailed plans had been drawn up. I mean, they must have been planning this for years already. But only at the last minute do they give us two (equally stupid) options to choose between.

Unfortunately, as best as I can tell, there's nothing anybody can do to stop this stupidity. The Council has decided that this is what is going to happen, and that's just tough. Which seems horrifyingly unfair to me, but hey…

FlipC said...

Ah a classic. Rather than "Do you want a housing estate here?" it's "Which of these two layouts of housing estate do you think should go here?"

Then they can cite public support for building it.