Why we need to fix Freetown Way now before the…

why-we-need-to-fix-freetown-way-now-before-the…

Why we need to fix Freetown Way now before the…

Why we need to fix Freetown Way now before the city centre grinds to a complete halt
2021-10-09 04:00:00
Come on Hull City Council it's time to put your big boy pants on, admit you were wrong and get it sorted. I'm talking about the city's first pop-up cycle lanes on Freetown Way in the city centre which appeared just over 12 months ago. Installed in both directions, they were the city's first-ever physically segregated on-road cycle lanes with cyclists separated from vehicles by rows of bollards along the route. Click here for more traffic news It was the first of a series of temporary schemes funded by the government aimed at encouraging more people to switch to cycling and public transport after a sharp drop in traffic during the early months of the first national Covid-19 lockdown. But guess what? Several months after the last lockdown, traffic levels are back to where they were in 2019 and Freetown Way is now almost permanently gridlocked as a result of turning a dual carriageway into a single lane in each direction. Freetown Way in Hull backed up with traffic (Image: Benson Planning) It's like trying to pour a quart into a pint pot. A friend who works in the Fruit Market says travelling across the city centre while trying to avoid Castle Street has become a tortuously slow shuffle through the gears. “It's crippling the city,” he told me. “The council has good intentions regarding sustainable transport but unless there is a systematic change in people's attitudes to cycling and public transport nothing will change and that shift just won't happen in Hull.” Having a lifting bridge spanning the River Hull at one end and the junction with Beverley Road at the other only compounds the situation and the congestion isn't just confined to Freetown Way either. Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will auto-play soon8Cancel Play now Inbound queues of traffic regularly stretch the length of Spring Bank and Beverley Road on most days, partly caused by new combined bus and cycle lanes along the two routes but also because that much-discussed modal shift isn't happening just yet as the majority of people still rely on cars, vans and lorries to get about. Once upon a time, the idea of taking 20 to 30 minutes to drive from North Bridge to the Beverley Road junction with Ferensway and Spring Bank would have sounded daft. Now it's a reality. Next week the situation is almost certainly going to get worse when a stretch of Beverley Road near the junction is squeezed down to one lane in each direction because of necessary works to the structurally unsafe Brunswick Arcade parade of shops and flats. Part of Brunswick Arcade in Beverley Road (Image: source unknown) Hold on tight folks because the two-lane operation is going to last until spring next year. Hull Fair will also add to the fun and games next week with traffic traditionally heavy on all roads within a mile radius of Walton Street. Three months ago came the first hint of an imminent tweak to the design of the Freetown Way scheme in a council report reviewing the progress of the cycle lane roll-out across the city. It suggested the segregated cycle lanes would stay with the remaining road space being widened to once again allow two lanes of traffic to flow along the route. Get traffic updates for your area Since then, however, nothing has happened apart from what I presume to be a steady deterioration in air quality in the immediate area as drivers sit idling their engines in stop-start jams. I don't blame cyclists for any of this, by the way. In general, I'm all in favour of creating safer inner city cycling routes and I'm on record as a supporter of more investment in off-road cycling but something needs to be done about Freetown Way and fast. I'm no civil engineer either but an immediate solution for me would be reducing the size of the vast unused middle section of the dual carriageway to create

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