Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The flow of traffic along Kings Heath High Street - an analysis

The following is part of the continuing discussion on traffic congestion along the A435

 At the end of October 2008, I had two sets of vehicle count tubes put down on Kings Heath High Street and Valentine Road – south direction only. The objective of this was to see how congestion on the High Street affected the amount of traffic on Valentine Road.

 The location of the counts was done at the junction of High Street and Valentine Road. Photos of the counting tubes can be seen at: http://martinmullaney.co.uk/kings-heath-high-street-flow.html   This webpage also contains a series of graphs showing the level of flow of traffic along the High Street and Valentine Road in the south direction between Monday 27th October to Thursday 30th October. Unfortunately, the tubes on the High Street broke in the days follwing this, so I have no data for Friday and Saturday.

I am happy to e-mail my Excel spreadsheets on request to show how I produced these graphs. The speadsheets also contain the raw data, if anyone feels like analysing the data themselves.

My conclusions from looking at the data is as follows:

Kings Heath High Street flows freely in the south direction from 6pm till 12noon. Between 12noon and 6pm, the flow of traffic is unpredictable.  On the graphs, you will see how during this period the flow of traffic will vary dramatically between 50 to over 100 vehicles per 10 minutes. When the flow is 50 vehicles per 10m minutes, the High Street has ground to halt. When it is 100 vehicles per 10 minutes, it is free flowing

It will either flow freely or grind to a halt dependant on whether or not random events have happened. These random events include the flowing:

a)      a vehicle parked on double yellow lines that is loading/unloading and stopping the flow of traffic

b)      a bus at the Institute Road or Drayton Road bus stops having a long dwell time and vehicles not being able to pass

c)        a poorly positioned car turning right and blocking the flow of traffic. For example a car turning right into Findlay Road.

d)      A high usage of the pedestrian crossings at Poplar Road, Institute Road or Vicarage Road.

 

When the traffic is flowing freely on the High Street, the traffic levels on Valentine Road are low compared to the High Street levels. Between 12noon and 6pm, when the High Street becomes clogged up in the south direction, the traffic levels of Valentine Road are comparable to the levels on the High Street. This reaches a peak at 6pm, when 100 cars per 10 minutes travel down Valentine Road (that’s a car every 6 seconds) – which is equal to the flow on the High Street.

After 6pm, when the High Street flows freely, the traffic level on Valentine Road drops significantly, whilst the level on the High Street continues to rise, reaching a peak at 8pm.

It is assumed that the traffic along Valentine Road is by-passing Kings Heath shopping centre and using  Springfield Road and Barn Lane.

What this vehicle counts shows is that the clogged up nature of Kings Heath High Street between 12noon and 6pm is forcing traffic onto residential roads. It would be interesting to do similar measurements for Shutlock Lane and Avenue Road.

What do residents think?

What I would like to know from the residents is the following:

a)      Do you accept that the present clogged up nature of the Kings Heath High Street between 12noon and 6pm, is forcing traffic onto residential roads like Valentine Road?  

b)      Do you want the Council to

a.       Leave the High Street congested as it is between 12noon and 6pm and accept the present level of traffic on the residential roads?

b.      Increase the level of congestion in the High Street and widen it outside the 12noon and 6pm period. This would increase the traffic on side roads, such as Valentine road and Springfield Road.

c.       Reduce the level of congestion on in the High Street and maybe narrow its time period. This would reduce the level of traffic on side roads.

 

Ways of easing congestion along Kings Heath High Street

Reducing congestion along a busy High Street will never be straight forward, since we don’t want the High Street to become an urban moterway and it is crucial that the needs of the local shops are taken into account.

A number of possible ways of reducing the level of congestion in the High Street, could include the following:

a)      Make the double yellow lines on the High Street ‘no stopping’ between 12noon and 6pm. We would have to persuade the shops that require to unload on double yellow lines (about 10% of the shops), to unload in the mornings.

b)      Position the bus stops, so that traffic can pass whenever a bus is letting off or picking up passengers

c)       Replace the all day parking bays that have nibs sticking out into the road, with traditional parking places that have no nibs at each end – as per Moseley shopping centre and as Kings Heath shopping centre was pre-2000. Make the parking spaces, no parking between 4.30pm and 6.45pm. This would increase the capacity of the High Street in the south direction between 4.30pm and 6.45pm. This would also allow the possiblity of an evening bus lane along the High Street, out of city operating 4.30pm to 6.45pm.

 

I would welcome readers views on the above.

 

2 Comments:

At 2:30 PM, Blogger ArthurJB14 said...

A quick Small fix would be to enforce the loading and unloading restrictions during the peak hours. The regulations are already in place, but in the morning around 8- 830 there seems to usually be a truck delivering at the butchers shop adjacent to the Goose pub, right opposite the Poplar Road turning causing chaos. (this is also a safety issue as sometimes parked on the pedestrian crossing zig zags). I have seen chaos here when a Somerfield delivery truck was trying to join the City bound lane from Poplar Road at the same time as a bus was also trying to negotiate its way to its stop around the truck delivering to the butchers store. In there evening the problem seems to move to close to St Dunstan’s where vehicles seem to just stop and put on their hazards causing problems for the heavy South Bound traffic. Also the bus stops outside the Pear Tree do cause issues, but I understand that this is something that is being resolved.

There also seems to be far too many buses for the demand. I’m not sure if there are any official figures on this, but in peak periods there seems to be an endless stream of buses with just a handful of people on them, surely this ironically adds to the congestion rather than being part of the solution to reducing it.

In evening peak there is often an issue at traffic lights on the A435 at the Queensbridge Road junction. Traffic queues at the lights along the bus lane (sometimes past the junction with Sandhurst Road) meaning that the drivers are in the correct lane for heading straight on (albeit the bus lane), while others overtake the queue in the right hand lane, then cut in at the lights. Who is in the wrong, those queuing in the bus lane (breaking the bus lane rules) or those cutting in at the last minute (breaking the ‘right turn only in this lane’ rules)

Unfortunately I don’t think there is an easy solution to the problems of Traffic around Kings Heath High Street, which obviously was designed around times where such volumes of traffic were unthinkable.

As a separate issue, some policing of the bus lanes in the morning would be great as I seem to see an increasing number of cars regularly disregarding the rules while others queue, yet I can’t recall ever seeing anyone stopped for this.

 
At 4:38 PM, Blogger ShutterSpy said...

I don't know what you mean by the 'nibs' for the parking bays, so I can't comment on those.

Changing the bus stops so traffic can pass while the buses are at the stops seems like a good idea, but I don't see how it can be done.

I don't know if I like the sound of extra restrictions :S

 

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