Saturday, 6 October 2012

Act now! Tell TfL half-hearted change isn't enough

Transport for London is consulting on the first of 100 dangerous junctions they are to redesign, with construction work scheduled to start in just four weeks time. It's the roundabout on the Westminster side of Lambeth Bridge and TfL's design just isn't anyway near good enough, so there's no time to lose. As soon as you've read this post please, please send an email to

Rather than introduce a serious Dutch style street design, like the one above that allows cyclists to glide along in their own lane, TfL plan to give cyclists two options: either mix in with the lorries and taxis as now, or weave in conflict with pedestrians on the pavement and zebra crossings :

Cycle Superhighway 8 along Millbank will still just fizzle out as you approach the roundabout. And the cycle lane over the bridge from Lambeth will also fizzle out just as it does now at the start of the zig-zags to the zebra crossing, but with the option to cycle onto the pavement if you wish to irritate the pedestrians.

TfL's design allows three options should, for example, you wish to go straight on from Lambeth Bridge.

1) Stay where the cycle lane was, but has gone because of the zig-zag starting, and go straight ahead hugging the left hand side of the roundabout. Expect to get left-hooked by a driver turning left.

2) In accordance with cycle training advice, move from the cycle lane to take the centre of the nearside lane. Expect a driver to run into the back of you as they've forgotten you're there (as happened to me). Also expect to be shouted at for not being on the pavement.

3) Cycle onto the pavement and cross on the zebra crossing with the pedestrians (it's not clear from TfL's drawing if you're meant to dismount), then cycle along the pavement and join Horseferry Road at some unspecified and seemingly unprotected place. Expect conflict with pedestrians and a tricky merger back into the main traffic lane.

I agree with London Cycling Campaign's view that, if the roundabout is to remain, this is a perfect location for a Go Dutch roundabout like the photo at the top, which I copied from the LCC blogpost. I can see teenagers, tourists and commuters happily and safely using the cycle lane as it is segregated from drivers, doesn't have pedestrian conflict, and is no slower than using the general traffic lane..

There can be no better place to start top quality cycling infrastructure than adjacent to the Houses of Parliament, where any MP not sensible enough to have cycled in the Netherlands yet can see for themselves what the future should be. Let's also remember that this roundabout forms part of this year's Diamond Jubilee Walking and Cycling Greenway - even more reason why it should be inspirationally good rather than badly compromised.

Now please email, with the heading Lambeth Bridge Northern Roundabout Consultation and tell them you don't like their plans but, if the roundabout is to remain, want a proper Dutch style design along the lines that London Cycling Campaign proposes.

If we accept a feeble, watered-down pastiche of 'Going Dutch' at this point, the next 99 dangerous junctions will be dealt with by TfL just as feebly. So please write!.

Also, check out the results of my snapshot survey, showing a very low occupancy level of the bulky motor traffic on Lambeth Bridge


Lovelo Bicycles said...

Done my bit, here is my response....

I have been reading the proposals for the Northern Roundabout at Lambeth Bridge and I wish it to be noted that I disagree with the fundamental principles of this redesign, namely that cyclists should either be mixing with heavy traffic or mixing with pedestrians. This is not an acceptable choice, providing proper segregated cycle lanes is the only rational choice at a roundabout as busy as this. Leaving cyclists on the road will inevitably mean someone will be killed here and the persons responsible for this design will be responsible for that death as they have the chance right now to prevent it.

Alternatively, putting cyclists onto shared used footways creates a conflict with pedestrians that will be the precursor to a thousand comments on the internet about ‘speeding cyclists’ ‘almost ran over my 80 year old grandma’. Pedestrians do not want cyclists on the pavement, motorists do not want cyclists on the roads, cyclists do not want to be on either, provide segregated cycle lanes and everybody wins.

PS. the design doesn’t make clear how you expect cyclists to get from the carriageway onto the shared use path, is it by entering the raised pedestrian crossing and then tuning on to the pavement and passing against the flow through the crowd of people waiting to cross the road?

Paul James said...

Charlie, please feel free to use any of my roundabout diagrams in campaigning over this issue. If there's anything I can do to help, let me know.

Paul M said...

I used the on-line comment box rather than emailing, and didn't save my text but in summary I observed that the new design envisages significant build-out of the footway all around, and there is already considerable area of footway, so there is more than enough room to create a cycle path - not shared with either traffic or pedestrians - around the rim of the roundabl=out with their own "toucan" crossings parallel to the pedestrian crossings. Didn't occur to me I'm afraid to comment on the design of the re-merging of cycle path with road once out of the roundabout again.

Jim said...

It's instructive to compare TfL's proposals with their own Cycle Design Standards, particularly section 5.4 on roundabouts. Here are a few quotes:

"In general terms the larger the roundabout, the more circulating lanes, and the higher the traffic flows, then the greater the problems for cyclists". All of those factors apply to this example.

"Large conventional roundabouts pose greater problems for cyclists. The most effective options for cyclists are:
- Signal control of the roundabout. Advanced stop lines can be used at signalcontrolled roundabouts and they should also be considered for the circulatory carriageway for large roundabouts. Pre-signals for cyclists could be considered.
- Provide segregated cycle tracks with signal (toucan) crossings of appropriate arms if the total junction flows exceed about 25,000 vehicles per day."

There's more, but I think that last bit is the most significant. According to DfT's traffic counts, the vehicle flow over Lambeth Bridge is over 30,000 vehicles a day (plus about 4,500 bikes), so by their own rules they should be providing segregated cycle tracks with toucan crossings here, not a design which they acknowledge to be more dangerous for cyclists.

Unknown said...

As a cyclist I'm all for choice, common sense and a sense of shared responsibility with other road users, with whom we share the highways.

We don't have to pass a driving test and if some cyclists would feel safer with a shared use zone, where there is plenty of space to do so, then I think this is an adequate development.

Having worked frequently in Holland I can categorically state that the dutch system simply doesn't work, neither in terms or traffic flow, nor indeed safety. I've witnessed fellow cyclists, having lost all sense of responsibility, simply charge across busy intersections barely looking for oncoming traffic. This is because the dutch highway code gives priority to cyclists, rather than all road users adhering to the same code.

I think the proposals are more than adequate.

Charlie Holland said...

Thank you for your comment Iestyn. Why do you think so many more Dutch of ALL generations cycle around, and why, given the greater proportion of cyclists and distance covered, fewer are killed or seriously injured than in the UK?

Anonymous said...

Iestyn, I don't believe that you have really been to the Netherlands. I spent a month there this summer and it was wonderful. I didn't see anything close to the chaos you describe.

In fact, I suspect you may be one of John Forester's split personalities making it all up!

Wheels said...

I cycle this route daily, so stunned that someone was killed today, just weeks after the death in Victoria, which is also on my commute to work.