Rubbish Infrastructure of the Month 1: Staples Road Cycle Route

Hello and welcome to our new regular blog feature which we have decided to call Rubbish Infrastructure of the Month. This will shine the spotlight on a particular piece of cycling or walking infrastructure in Epping Forest which falls well short of an acceptable standard. This will not be a focus on the condition of our infrastructure, instead I will examine the shortcomings of the design, focusing on the deficiencies which have been built in and which have wasted either public money, or a valuable opportunity to improve the lives of people living in or visiting Epping Forest.

We begin at the top of York Hill, Loughton in the area Wikipedia affectionately calls Little Cornwall. Here we are on the signposted quietway from ‘Wake Arms Roundabout’ (in reality, Goldings Hill) to Buckhurst Hill, avoiding Town Centre. This is one of few pieces of actual Cycling infrastructure in the town. It is a shame that the signs are so useless, offering no suggestion as to where the route might lead you. There were once more appropriate signs, but these were thought to be ugly.

At the top of York Hill with poor signage, we’ll try not to judge the driver of the Mercedes sports car for parking within 10 metres of a junction.

At the bottom of York Hill we reach the junction with Staples Road. The signs here have a more casual posture, but no more information.

School Green, looking up Staples Road. Your author understands there is a recurrent issue with school run cars parking on the green, this could explain the damaged sign post.

At the far end of Staples Road, we reach the major problem with this cycle route, it is obstructed by the closing of the western end of Staples Road where no provision for Cycles has been made.

Trapped. The cycle route continues through the closed end of the road but alas there is no way to ride through.

It is very easy to design a filter which stops cars but allows bikes through, and that is clearly what was intended here. A design where the muddy path was replaced by tarmac path with a bollard to stop cars would solve the issue. It would have cost next to nothing when the road was first closed off.

The muddy path is unpleasant for pedestrians and cycle users alike. It also has unpleasant kerbs.

Riders not wishing to dangerously (and illegally) mount the pavement must use the muddy path. Filthy and often water logged this requires the mounting of a fairly tall kerb on this narrow path which is also often used by pedestrians as it is a lot more direct than the pavement.

Emerging into Shaftesbury. A tall kerb and a muddy puddle, thanks go to the former British Cycle Corporation for ensuring my bike was properly attired.

On the Shaftesbury side, there is another tall kerb to negotiate and a puddle to mess up the clothes of anyone whose bicycle is not equipped with mudguards. Thankfully there is a parking prohibition here now. The double yellow lines mean that putting a proper modal filter in here wouldn’t come at the expense of any parking.

Finally we reach the end of Shaftesbury where we get proper signage (again it is damaged). This could be a lovely route if the obstruction was removed, though it ought to have a 20mph speed limit too, something EFTAG understands has widespread support among local residents.

The other end, another bent sign.

Join us next month for another Rubbish Infrastructure of the Month.

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