BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘bad design’

#365daysofbiking Station approach

May 22nd – Something that’s mostly been happening beyond my notice although I pass through regularly is the rebuilding of Wolverhampton City Railway Station. All of a sudden I notice from a waiting train that steelwork has sprung up and hoardings have been erected at the north end of the old station.

I don’t get the hate for Wolves station. It’s a bland, semi-modernist, semi-brutalist station in the postwar style common in the midlands on the West Coast Main Line. Save for the signs, at Wolverhampton you could be in Stafford, Tamworth, Coventry. It’s light, it’s open, it’s dull but functional.

My only criticism really is the steep access bridge and weird separate bridge for lift access. But it works.

Now it seems we’re in for a new structure, with new facilities and it’ll be interesting to see how it develops. I hope it’s better in outlook and ambition than the risible New Street revamp, and also that it has more aforethought and usability than the monstrous, ill-conceived access bridge at Telford.

Frankly, I’m not optimistic.

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#365daysofbiking Money down the drain

April 24th – I returned in heavy rain in the afternoon to Telford Station.

Ten million pounds spaffed by Network Rail and Telford and Wrekin Council on a structure so poor that has no solution to rainwater control other than holes drilled in its deck. Water spouting down onto the platform below, flooding it’s own lift shaft.

The designers and commissioners of this fiasco should be ashamed.

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#365daysofbiking Lip service

March 12th – I noticed a couple of weeks ago there seemed to be new bike parking at WalsalL Station, but only got around to investigating it this evening.

It’s in a curious, newly built compound off platform one, and isn’t like the secure hubs at other stations, which are lockable and really deter the casual thief. This is a decent enough stacking stand, with a tethered tool station nearby which is, I guess, a nice touch.

It clearly isn’t secure though, despite the claims it’s monitored by CCTV. A new looking bike lies in one station, stripped and trashed.

I’d rather leave my bike locked on Park Street – and the disclaimers are very off-putting too.

This is nothing more than lip service by West Midlands Trains, a company I’m rapidly coming to dislike.

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#365daysofbiking A sign of failure


February 25th – Telford station, Monday morning.

I notice we now have an ‘Official Procedure’ for when the lift on the new pedestrian bridge breaks down.

‘Complimentary’ taxis will run the stranded passengers from one side of the station to the other.

If you spend nine million pounds on a new bridge to fix disability access issues, then omit a ramp and replace it with an unreliable lift meaning punters can become stranded if it breaks – you have failed as a designer and actually made the problem you set out to solve worse.

This is an idiotic disgrace. Those that allowed this to happen should be ashamed.

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#365daysofbiking More to it than that

February 18th – Returning from a work trip to Stafford, I got off the train mid day at Coseley, to ride back to work. On the station platform there, there was a poster advertising cheap returns to … Coventry.

These three pictograms are apparently what the City of Coventry has to offer.

Well, the cathedral’s in a bit of a state, can’t find the penny farthing hire and as for nude women riding horses…

Can a city sue? Asking for a friend.

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#365daysofbiking Ring around

January 31st – I shoot around Walsall’s new ring road all the time, and it’s not a road system I like at all. The junctions are complex and often, badly thought out; it’s unfriendly for bikes and the signals are only just seeming integrated with each other after ten years of being fiddled with.

However, it does have it’s plus points. Sweeping over the hill and canal bridge from Place Road past the old Smiths Flour Mill and up towards the Magistrate’s court is a delight, which flows well on a bike if the traffic lights and drivers will allow.

It’s also rather beautiful.

Don’t be deceived though; despite the marking and seemingly wide cycle lane there, it’s shared use, full of obstacles and soon Peters out to nothing.

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#365daysofbiking The Crossing:

December 13th – A bright, glass hard, cold day saw me in Telford mid-morning, and in the week or two I haven’t been here, the new footbridge has opened.

Man, is it a curate’s egg.

First thing is, someone clearly booked the possessions and plant to remove the old bridge for a fixed date, and the new one had to open. Regardless. So it’s not in even a nearly finished state. Brick cladding is still being laid. The access ramp to the cycleway on the Priorslee side is still being built. Bits of it haven’t been surfaced properly or at all. Workmen still mingle with commuters. It’s a bloody mess if I’m honest.

The bridge itself is an interesting, open construction that’s light and airy. It makes the journey between platforms one hell of a lot shorter. The lifts are welcome. It feels stable and the thing seems to be a nice, rigid design.

But there’s a huge, massive, glaring issue.

There is no ramp access to the Shrewsbury side of the station. So wheelies and those not able to use steps are confined to the lift. If that isn’t working, someone alighting here from Brum or Wolves will be stranded on a platform next to a 6 lane road with no means to cross it. There is no simple way around.

I can’t overstate how bad this is if it’s the final design.

If the bridge does not eventually provide ramp access to the Shrewsbury platform, then it will have failed in its primary objective – to make life easier for those that found the old ramp too steep. The designers will have spent 10 million quid making the use of this station for those with limited mobility much more of a gamble.

I hope I’m wrong and a ramp is sorted. If not, the council and Network Rail really need to rethink this urgently.

The bridge is nice, but too reliant on lifts, and at the moment is very much unfinished. Open too soon, and at the moment, looking critically flawed.

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April 27th – I keep noticing this Giant bike at Telford; I don’t know who it belongs to, but it annoys me irrationally every time I study it. Giant are an American brand whose bikes I’m not a huge fan of; like fellow US companies Cannonade and GT they often have a non-standard, peculiar approach to design resulting in bikes with odd features or incompatibilities, usually only noticed after purchase when something goes wrong.

This one annoys me for two reasons: one is design, the other is just happenstance. The rear seat-stay seems to be 2 parts, a U formed tube for the stays and a curious, welded linkage interpenetrating between the U form and seat tube. The weld, being aluminium, is rough, not square and looks absolutely awful. What on earth was the designer thinking?

The other thing is that rear quick release. Who would leave it closed facing backwards in such a vulnerable position? I want to sort it but would never touch another’s steed.

A mystery are the two M6 tapped holes on the non-drive side dropout; they aren’t present on the opposite side, and serve no apparent function, but designing them, machining them and fabricating the form they’re in was clearly serious effort. What are they for, does anyone know?

An odd bike. Never been fond of US designs.

January 27th – Awful day. Horrible commute in rain and a headwind, loads to do then I had to nip into Birmingham. Coming back, New Street was rammed, the train back was awful and I just wanted to be home.

The top photo really illustrates the hogwash on ‘Grand Central’ – or the ‘remodelled’ New Street. The platforms are still cramped. It’s still very, very dark down there. The new cladding only covers bits that can be seen from the street. And nothing has been done to alleviate the terrible train congestion that dogs the station.

Climbing off at Walsall, I was expecting a following wind, which didn’t show up. But Walsall Station, splendid in it’s isolation, was as haunting as ever.

Those Late Night Feelings again.