I write this in a purely personal capacity as a London bike commuter, though naturally I could not fail to be profoundly moved by my experience in representing the family of Brian Dorling who died so tragically and unnecessarily at the Bow Roundabout shortly after the blue paint of CSH 2 was laid in 2011 and furthermore, in following the recent inquest into the death of Philippine De Gerin-Ricard at Aldgate last July.
I agree with the Mayor that Cycle Super Highways have a future. However this is with the important proviso that their designers have a good understanding of how cyclists safely integrate with traffic where segregation is not achievable (or rather not achieved). Current design, typified by a 1.5 m strip of paint of no legal significance, encourages cyclists towards an unsafe position too far to the left. This both conflicts with the ‘Bikeability’ training that TfL itself rightly seeks to encourage and reinforces the mistaken views held by some motorists as to where cyclists should be.
It is telling, and confirms what I have long suspected, that cycle infrastructure designers, and even those at the top at TfL pushing cycle training for others, do not see the need for Bikeability training for themselves. Their designs demonstrate that they do not understand, for example, that approaching a roundabout to go straight ahead the cyclist is best advised to position herself well to the right of the leftmost lane (especially of course if there is a high volume of left turning traffic). When given advice by a very knowledgeable police officer who understands safe cycle positioning, it is all too easy for the untrained designer to consider this is a matter on which their opinion is as good as anybody else's.
Personally I do not buy the argument that putting down paint is a useful indication to motor traffic that cyclists may be present. Any driver, especially in London but also elsewhere, is criminally negligent if he does not consider the likely presence of cyclists on any highway. Are we implying that where there is no blue paint drivers are not obliged to consider the likely presence of cyclists?
For the encouragement of the broadest possible mix of people the focus has to be on (optional) segregated routes of the highest quality, as recognised in the Mayor’s ‘Vision for Cycling’ published in March. Using paint to lead cyclists directly towards segregated areas without regard to how they integrate most safely with traffic on their way there must be avoided. Indeed there is a very great deal to be said for not marking the road at all where cyclists need to integrate with motorists. Many (indeed the majority) of cyclists crossing the Bow junction do so on the elevated flyover where there is no cycle infrastructure, recognising that it is not only faster but safer than the provision below. It is so easy to make matters worse and the Mayor needs to be held to his word to do cycling infrastructure properly or not at all.
I do not doubt the Mayor and TfL’s sincerity in wishing to make London safer and more attractive for cycling. I applaud them for some good progress towards HGV safety (sadly too often neglected by others). I trust that by the end of the Mayor’s second term we will be able to look back and see that he really did take valid criticisms of his project to heart.
The lack of cycling experience of those planning road and cycling infrastructure is a significant issue. I met recently with a Highways Engineer in Manchester to discuss some flawed signage aimed at cyclists through some roadworks. He clearly meant well, but by his own admission did not ride a bike and had no knowledge of how road infrastructure appears to a cyclist. How cyclists should behave from the perspective of a motorist is often very different from the way cyclists actually behave. Some of the TfL guidance from the late 1990s (such as Traffic Advisory Leaflet 15/99 - Cyclists at Roadworks) recognised this and based guidance on cyclist behaviour, recognising, for example, that putting up a sign telling cyclists to dismount will not get cyclists to dismount if motor vehicles can still use the road, and will just lead to conflict. This kind of knowledge seems to be disappearing, so "shared use" schemes, which basically tell cyclists that they can legally cycle on a pavement, are seen as suitable cyclist-specific provision. Such shared use is OK for getting the kids to school on their bikes, but it is not going to tempt cyclists off the road. I am sure that local government cutbacks are not helping - how many cycling officers have lost their jobs over the last few years, I wonder?ReplyDelete
Another good one Martin.ReplyDelete
What is fascinating about the CSHs is the way that their design has managed to annoy both integrationists and segregationists - quite an achievement.
Also, don't forget that when (if) the CSHs are completed, they will cover about 1% of London's road network.
BTW - at the risk of being pedantic, the previous poster refers to a Traffic Advisory Leaflet - these are produced by the Department for Transport (DfT), not TfL.
Thanks, Robert, you are not being pedantic - it was a typo, as I meant to put DfT. JulianDelete
Having just heard that disgusting twerp Peter Hendry, blaming Dorling for going through a red light, could you explain to us the circumstances in which both Dorling and the lorry driver went through red? Was it at the beginning or the end of the red phase?ReplyDelete
" Using paint to lead cyclists directly towards segregated areas without regard to how they integrate most safely with traffic on their way there must be avoided. Indeed there is a very great deal to be said for not marking the road at all where cyclists need to integrate with motorists. "ReplyDelete
I disagree. In Copenhagen, blue paint is used effectively at junctions between segregated lanes.
The problem in London is two-fold:
a. Most of the blue paint is laid out as an alternative to segregation through the full length of the CSH, AND IT IS TOTALLY IGNORED by motorists. Therefore, the Mayor's objective (to increase the respect that drivers need to pay to cyclists) is negated by his own faulty implementation.
b. Cars and bicycles do not mix safely on roundabouts FULL STOP, because the driver's attention is to her right. TfL should first consider whether a roundabout is actually needed (frankly I don't see why it would be); and if that is the case, total segregation with priority to bicycle flows (i.e. Dutch Roundabout) is the only way to keep it safe.
'Copenhagen' is exactly what TfL say though I cannot help but feel that something is lost in the translation. I find roundabouts just fine as long as you take the same line that you would on a motorbike/car and it helps to do that if there is a 20 mph (enforced) speed limit.Delete
The saddest thing is that we already have well-tested and well-proven solutions to the problem of cyclist safety and attractive cycle routes for everyone to use.ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, "Not Invented Here Symdrome" prevails, along with a large dose of institutional motorism.
Perhaps the possible closure of a major petrol and diesel refinery in Scotland will concentrate minds more on sustainable transport. Road transport fuels aren't getting any cheaper, and even now the refineries are apparently making a loss.
Lost in translation indeed. To be comparabe with Copenhagen, the inside kerb on the north side (here: http://goo.gl/maps/fOsFJ) needs to have a much tighter radius. In which case (since the UK seems to be wedded to ASLs) the ASL would need to be brought forward in accordance with the new geometry. That means that motor vehicle driversReplyDelete
a) wouldn't get a run up into a curve that helps them accelerate into the north-bound slip road. They'd have to turn slowly.
b) have a much longer period with the cyclists in their normal lines of sight (including mirrors) i.e. without having to turn their necks through more than 90 degrees. Maybe not so important, but still a factor.
This is nothing to do with the blue paint across the slip road per se. With or without it, the current arrangement is intrinsically dangerous.
See how tight the turn is here in Copenhagen:
Similar for lots of other junctions there, but if you look round the city you'll see that the Danes don't always put blue lanes across all junctions wherever bicycles could go. They are quite sparing. I'd be very interested if someone could explain the differences.
PS roundabouts are pretty much unheard of in Copenhagen and blue paint goes straight across junctions, not round the sides.
PPS Personally I'd go for a solution for non-vehiculars more resembling part of the new 24 Oktoberplein layout presented by Mark Wagenbuur
i.e put the cycle paths straight across the roundabout parallel to the flyover with cyclists on a completely separate signal phase. Ooo, but that would cause congestion say TfL - let it, says I, might encourage more cycling. They could put up signs saying "try cycling - it's quicker and healthier".
"See how tight the turn is here in Copenhagen:Delete
Similar for lots of other junctions there, but if you look round the city you'll see that the Danes don't always put blue lanes across all junctions wherever bicycles could go."
and yet on google street view, you can see cyclists still taking to the pavement and the bus cutting the corner and driving over the cycle lanes.
I am watching the building of the new CS2 extension from Stratford to Bow with huge and vexed trepidation. This is my route to work. This was supposed to be a flagship design. Yet it fails to acknowledge how people have cycled along that route for years, what the level of danger was for cyclists in the nice old, wide bus lanes (was there actually any?), where the conflict actually exists (flyover and roundabout) and what people have actually asked for (a safe cycle route over the flyover please).ReplyDelete
Cyclists will be corralled into pitifully narrow spaces that mean inevitable conflict between speedy overtaking cycling commuters and the slower cyclists who TfL and LCC hope will be tempted to cycle that route. The designers then want to force us into even slower, horribly narrow, meandering and completely rubbish crazy golf-style cycle lanes behind bus stops. They have then actually designed the whole thing to force us to cycle round the roundabout and not allow us to take the flyover!
With two recent tragic deaths and numerous near-misses how many cyclists would be mad enough to volunteer to go round that roundabout? It gives me the creeps and is always chock a block with vehicles. The flyover, on the other hand, is usually free of heavy traffic.
The transition from the segregated east-west cycle lane to the Bow Flyover - that up to 85% of commuting cyclists take at present - will mean a sharp right turn for cyclists, slap bang in direct opposition to fast and aggressive left-turning vehicular traffic. There are no planned staggered rights for cyclists, there is no design to reduce vehicular speed. You are on your own cyclists!!
Wow, TfL this is a number of terrible collisions waiting to happen, and I hope one of them is not me. I have escaped with my life twice now on the roundabout, and don't want to die thanks very much. But you have actually designed the possibility into the infrastructure.
Bad news for every cyclist who wants to cycle that route. If you don't get mown down, you will feel every day that you are about to be. Much the same as now, except now you don't expect anyone to give a toss. We were hoping for something better from the new plans.
The CS7 has some good examples of bad design, in my opinion. Where they have physically separated the cycle route from the road around Stockwell roundabout, and even worse, at the Kennington Split, where if you want to travel straight on you need to pull into the middle lane. The blue paint encourages you to pull into the middle lane far too late in my view, particularly as there are always cars that are crossing from right to left, to take the left hand turn towards Waterloo. It also means if you are joining the route from Brixon, the sensible thing is to ride in the middle lane the whole way, but due to the blue route cars will honk at you if you do.ReplyDelete
Martin - the Poplar coroner commented on the false sense of security created by the blue routes and the lack of understanding among road users generally of routes with or without a white line. While education might help, it seems to me the problem is more fundamental than that. We need to address the way that UK drivers turn left. In Holland, Denmark, Germany et al, my experience is that drivers will generally make sure there are no cyclists behind them before turning right; here, as long as their nose is in front of you and they are indicating drivers seem to believe they have the right of way. As far as I can find, the only thing the highway Code says is that drivers should 'look out for cyclists'. What can we do to change this? As a lawyer can you suggest what legislation, changes in the highway code or in insurance policies would need to be implemented to radically change these deadly habits?ReplyDelete
I have just finished a blog, and I quote you. You write:
"Personally I do not buy the argument that putting down paint is a useful indication to motor traffic that cyclists may be present. Any driver, especially in London but also elsewhere, is criminally negligent if he does not consider the likely presence of cyclists on any highway. Are we implying that where there is no blue paint drivers are not obliged to consider the likely presence of cyclists?"
I wonder if you would be kind enough to clarify your thoughts on this matter, because the argument that you use seems to me actually to be a non sequitur. I am not saying you're wrong, necessarily, just that your main point does not automatically follow on from your first point.
My blog here:
Many thanks - Simon
this is not really a comment on your post, but a point about the press coverage of the recent cycle deaths in London. People (including the BBC transport correspondent) KEEP talking about cyclists not obeying the rules of the road and not paying road tax. I just know that you will be better at putting them right than I could ever be: what is the evidence that the recent deaths (nearly all caused by HGV's at junctions) were the result of a cyclist disobeying the law? I strongly suspect that it is more often than not the motorist who is at fault in fatal accidents but do you have statistics at all? The deaths seem to be disproportionately female and older. They just don't strike me as the red light jumping types.... Furthermore, people also mutter about helmets quite often when discussing road deaths but am I right in thinking a helmet would be of little help once you are under the wheels of a bus or a tipper truck (tragically) which seems to be the type of incident killing cyclists in London at the moment?
Great blog - thank you,
You are right on all points, Amy. I am very disturbed at the way much of the press/broadcast commentary is going.Delete
We don't need 'cycle superhighways', we need 'cycle superjunctions'. Cycling on a straight road is usually perfectly safe; junctions are where incidents occur. Most cycling infrastructure is undertaken where it is perfectly safe, and it tends to disappear where it is 'difficult'.ReplyDelete