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Old June 21st, 2012, 11:41 AM   #1
DBadger
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Subways / How to cross a road

The country is dead set against subways at the moment it seems. An iconic (and in my opinion, beautiful) subway in Leicester has recently been filled in and replaced with a terrible pedestrian crossing on a busy ring road. But apparently that's preferable, and we're no longer allowed nice sweeping grade segregation for pedestrians unless it's a poncy glass bridge in a weird shape.

Here's a pic of them blocking it up: http://www.flickr.com/photos/1346235...n/photostream/

Apparently it didn't look good to visitors. Did they ask any visitors? The current set up is disgusting and far less appealing, instead of bring in the city straight away you're forced to cross a badly timed crossing:


http://publications.leicester.gov.uk...eo/page11.html

My question is: how would you cross a road like this?

The new crossing means both traffic and pedestrians have to stop whereas previously it was free-flowing. The old subway looked nice (could have done with a clean) but apparently it's unsuitable.

If not a subway, then how could a subway be improved so as not to look "naff"?

Most of the problems with them come from "antisocial behaviour" (also known as Offensive Aggressive Wa*kers Who We Can't Be Arsed To Deal With), poor lighting, or a concrete interior.

So build them out of fancy brick, give them some street decoration, and get rid of the yobs. How about putting shops through the subway, creating less a road-crossing, more a nice place to be that happens to cross a road?

Bridges are apparently fine even though they have the same ability to bottleneck pedestrians into a bunch of yobs as a subway does.

And I'd take yobs over angry street drivers any day.

Wolverhampton has a very nice grade segregated pedestrian route running from Pendeford Business Park, through Pendeford, and to Aldersley High School. It is beautiful and very easy to use with no road crossings. But the people that don't actually use it hate it, because it has subways, and everyone knows subways just lead to yobs.

Is this really the future?



Because we don't want this?

image hosted on flickr


Because we assume they always have to look like this?



There's a big effort to get rid of the underpasses beneath Wolverhampton's inner ring road, which IMO is a disgusting thing to do, when they're open, light, and just look like this:



If you're going to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds getting rid of a subway just to get rid of the yobs,... spend a margin of that amount getting rid of the yobs.

End of rant.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 02:04 PM   #2
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I dislike subways on principle, because pedestrians should have priority in cities - if you want to grade separate something build a road tunnel, but don't send those on foot round the houses for the convenience of drivers.

I dislike subways in practice, because they do create fear, opportunities for crime and for whatever reasons British councils seem incapable of maintaining them.

Since the southern subways at elephant and castle in London were removed the junction is vastly improved. People walk around here now, where as before they scuttled from one underpass to the next, watching their back.

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Old June 21st, 2012, 02:08 PM   #3
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In the Leicester case, I would get rid of the ring road.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 02:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lasdun View Post
I dislike subways on principle, because pedestrians should have priority in cities - if you want to grade separate something build a road tunnel, but don't send those on foot round the houses for the convenience of drivers.

I dislike subways in practice, because they do create fear, opportunities for crime and for whatever reasons British councils seem incapable of maintaining them.

Since the southern subways at elephant and castle in London were removed the junction is vastly improved. People walk around here now, where as before they scuttled from one underpass to the next, watching their back.
Couldn't agree more. Elephant is a huge improvement.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 02:11 PM   #5
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Closing the one in Wolverhampton seems like a waste of money given how short and open it is, but I can fully understand why people don't like scuttling through tunnels. The subway under the southern roundabout in the Elephant & Castle was recently closed and walking through the area is certainly more pleasant (despite the wait at the crossings); I never felt unsafe in the subway, but I'd always rather walk on a street than in a tunnel.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 03:45 PM   #6
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There are some great ones here in Portsmouth that have grade separation between the Cycle Roads and the Pedestrian Paths. However, I would much rather see the ROAD diverted underground than the people.

Any excuse for a public square to be honest.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 04:06 PM   #7
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That looks great, Lasdun. I'll agree there's definately a point where a subway becomes something horrible, a narrow, dingy tunnel; but I'd say that's down to either using them in the wrong places, or bad design.

I agree pedestrians should have priority - but with for example the system in Leicester, they don't. You have to wait a while to cross that road, which you didn't have to with the subway. It inconveniences both cars and people, whereas before inconvenienced neither.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 04:18 PM   #8
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If you like subways so much go and live in Cumbernauld.

See how long you last...
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Old June 21st, 2012, 09:32 PM   #9
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Pedestrians should have priority without a doubt. I like the proposal in Leicester and I prefer that to any subway as it goes against the modernist principles of cars being kings, which ruined our cities.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 10:53 PM   #10
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In my home town, there is a subway under a dual carriageway in the town centre. They built a pedestrian crossing across the road, right above the subway, but the subway remains open. To cross the road you have to do 2 separate "green man waits" as they are not coordinated across the 2 carriageways.

But still no one uses the subway anymore...
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 12:34 AM   #11
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Subways are silly because not only do they harbour crime, they're also not the most direct way for someone to walk. Therefore many people will just jump over barriers and walk across the road anyway, even if its dangerous to do so.

At-grade crossings are the way forward, and as mentioned, it should be roads that go underground not pavements.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 01:10 AM   #12
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Preston bus station recently had zebra crossings installed across the bus apron, despite the fact that there are no less than 4 subways linking the bus station to the surrounding streets, in addition to one sky bridge. The subways remain open but very few use them. Even when the new crossings were not in place, pedestrians gave the subways a wide berth as they were both unsafe and indirect.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 01:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirrelking View Post
If you like subways so much go and live in Cumbernauld.

See how long you last...
Cumbernauld is home to one of the best underpasses I have ever seen. I've also managed to last 22 years walking through them

For all of Cumbernaulds failings this is not one of them:



Link to the design website
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 01:42 AM   #14
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I generally hate underpasses. In some places they are almost unavoidable like the huge roundabouts in the Sheffield IRR. But I think that just adding a crossing with traffic lights at a junction that is there anyway doesn't cause too much of a problem.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 05:02 PM   #15
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The Cycle ones down here though are Brilliant. Full grade separated cycle highways. Brilliant.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 08:12 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by get13 View Post
Cumbernauld is home to one of the best underpasses I have ever seen. I've also managed to last 22 years walking through them

For all of Cumbernaulds failings this is not one of them:



Link to the design website
It certainly looks nice but are you honestly saying you would let your daughter walk through the likes of the ones found in Seafar, North Carbrain or remote bits of Whitlees on their own?

My wife, sister in law (not much older than you) and quite a few friends would certainly disagree. As said they are places where the undesirables can shelter out of sight, doesn't matter how pretty you make them.

Until you deal with the crime people will always give them a wide berth.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 10:15 PM   #17
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Well as you can probably guess from my location I'm pretty fond of underpasses. From my point of view they ARE a form of pedestrian priority - a lot of people mistake MK for being 'car city' but the idea behind it was to make it possible for every mode of transport to move freely without one ever holding another up. A walk or a cycle ride here never involves a wait to cross a busy road. An at-grade crossing creates more barrier to pedestrian movement than a well-designed underpass or footbridge. Not to be confused with a badly designed underpass of which there are none in MK (the wibbly wobbly can't see where you're going kind).

The thing is most city centres don't have MK's advantage of being planned from the get-go so underpasses in those cities are crammed in and don't have the clear sight-lines the MK ones do. So they become attractive to crime. That doesn't happen in MK underpasses with the exception of one or two 'rough estates'. Throughout most of MK our underpasses are safer to use than the at-grade crossings found in most cities.

Here's an example of one:



A few years ago one of CMK's set of four underpasses around road junctions was filled in and converted to at-grade. The result: public outcry. Few people use the resultant crossing and the council has been forced to promise never to do it again:



Also in Aylesbury an at-grade crossing was built on top of an existing underpass to link into a new footbridge over the railway. The underpass was to be closed but it was retained to due to protests. People off the bridge use the crossing, others use the underpasses (two of them) or the overbridge. The crossing is almost always the slowest way of walking from the station to the shops:



The underpass looks a little dark due to the height from which I'm photographing it but it's perfectly light and clear inside and I'd much rather stroll through there than try my luck on a dual carriageway contending with a rush of bikes, cars and buses.
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Old June 22nd, 2012, 11:18 PM   #18
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One of Preston Bus Stations subways:
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 12:51 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarJoLe View Post
In the Leicester case, I would get rid of the ring road.
I would keep the ringroad and get rid of Leicester

are there still signs for a topless car wash on the ring road? i followed them for miles only to find it had closed down. how does a brilliantly conceived business like that go wrong?
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 02:36 AM   #20
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If there had to be a form of grade-separated crossing, I'd rather see bridges than subways.

In most cases, at grade and shared space should be encouraged, but where traffic is too high, bridges (if well designed) are much better.
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