A DAMNING report on the state of Tseri Avenue in Nicosia was presented on Thursday detailing the number of road accidents, parking problems, the lack of public transport and the “poor and dangerous” conditions for pedestrians.
Strovolos municipality presented the proposed new design for the busy road, the construction of which has been delayed for years over disagreements on how the thoroughfare should be developed.
Designed by Markides Associates, the avenue includes cycle routes, greenery, and pavements, a far cry from the current dangerous eyesore that is the state of the road.
Disagreements between shop owners and the public works department over the number of traffic lanes and whether there should be a median strip in the centre of the road, have put redevelopment of the avenue on hold for several years.
Addressing the disagreement, Markides Associates stressed that the avenue should be treated primarily as a commercial and a community street, which is why the design emphasises the creation of hubs that will provide a focal point for community life.
“Conditions for pedestrians along Tseriou Street are very poor,” said the lengthy report, adding that large sections do not have pavements, and where there are pavements, “these are often of poor standard, lacking consistency in alignment, width and levels (height)”.
The report said the carriageway was generally very wide with few pedestrian crossing facilities. “Those that are there often have faded markings and can get ‘lost’ amidst moving and parked vehicles,” it added. “Parked cars often obstruct pedestrians.”
This includes points where pedestrians would naturally want to cross at side-streets which are consistently blocked by parked cars, the report said. Street lighting was also poor, generally on only one side of the road. “It is understood that in times of heavy rain, flooding further adds to the issues faced by pedestrians,” said the report. The reason pedestrian movement was low was not surprising it added: “given the lack of good provision along the road and crossings and the dominance of the traffic function”.
“The fact that there have been serious and fatal pedestrian accidents highlights that the street is dangerous for pedestrians, discouraging local walking and encouraging more traffic,” it said.
“This very poor pedestrian environment is very likely to discourage people from walking – even for very short distances – such as from the residential areas to the east and west, or even short trips ‘across the road’ between shops.”
This has several serious negative effects such as loss of trade, loss of ‘community life’, additional car trips and pollution, bad and potentially dangerous parking behaviour and an unsustainable public transport system as people won’t walk to a bus stop.
“No one will use a bus / tram if the walk to the bus stop is inconvenient / unattractive / involves long detours,” the report added.
Also, despite the 50 km/hr speed limit on Tseri Avenue “we understand that there are occasional examples of bad driving and speeding”. The report said that since 2005 there had been four fatalities along the avenue, two of whom were pedestrians. There have been 16 serious accidents, 15 light accidents and 14 that involved car damage only.
The report said the planning department had spoken of uncontrolled entries onto the road as a serious source of accidents, and that due to the large number of uncontrolled junctions and parking along the road, there were many possible collision points.
Parked cars, the report added, dominate the road; parallel parking along the full length of street, including street corners; echelon parking where street widths allow; parking on a number of vacant plots; the back of some large stores, accessed via smaller side streets; and next to or in front of larger-scale retail developments.
“In this respect, we believe that the ‘balance’ between vehicles and other street users is critical; too much traffic dominance leads to a pedestrian and community ‘wasteland’, with everything subsumed to the needs of the car,” said the report.
It said there were relatively few buses using the corridor, the main service being the route 110 which has only an hourly frequency. Bus stops are either lay-bys or directly on the kerb, and provision of shelters is sporadic, the report added.
Recent traffic counts from the planning department and the public works department showed that the daily flow was some 19,500 – 21,000 vehicles per day in both directions.
“The patterns indicate that the street is well-used throughout the working day and that there is already some ‘spare’ capacity in the street, with Saturday peak flows northbound being some 100-150 vehicles per hour higher than the weekday peak. The flows shown are broadly compatible with the peak hour flows of 800-900 vehicles per hour we would expect in a mixed-use urban street,” the report said.
It said the vision for the road was “a thriving ‘community street’ that provides the focus of the social, commercial and leisure needs of the surrounding community and stimulates local businesses, encourages and sustains local pedestrian/cyclist and public transport around natural centres of activity, provides an adequate level of parking for businesses and facilitates an environmentally acceptable level of through traffic in a safe, low-speed way.
Mayor Andreas Papacharalambous said during a news conference to present the plan that “the avenue’s new design is based on the creation of a safe environment for pedestrians and drivers, which will promote a better quality of life, without compromising the local character and the commerciality of the area” adding that “the avenue should be the road which unites the community and its people.”
The designs include off-street car parking places and high-quality pedestrian environment to allow customers to access the shops and the creation of community hubs around the area of Kosmos Bakery which will also maximise the opportunities for tree-planting.
To deal with excessive traffic congestion, the designs include strategic cycle routes on parallel routes through the residential communities and at key crossing points, as well as right turn lanes to cater for traffic.
The redeveloped Tseri Avenue will include different gateway landmarks that mark key points along the road, as well as pinch-points, places along the street where the street visually and physically narrows in order to decrease on-street parking.