Up the Junction

In his post “Surrey’s Failed Roundabouts“, Bez said “It’s a well-known fact that over two-thirds of collisions involving cyclists occur at junctions…”

While not knowing the exact figures (and if anyone does know them I’d be interested to see them), that makes sense to me. When paths cross, interaction gets complicated and mistakes get made, often with tragic consequences.

So my question to traffic planners is, “Why don’t you START designing cycling infrastructure at junctions, and work back from there?”

I know the real answer is that it’s just easier to paint some cycle lanes on the tarmac and maybe an Advanced Stopping Line (ASL) at the lights, and let everyone take their chances from there.

An  Edinburgh junction with cycle lanes and ASLs

A typical Edinburgh Junction (image © Google)

This Edinburgh junction near where I work uses the, what seems to me to be, inherently dangerous method of running a painted cycle lane between the straight ahead lane and the left turning lane to lead on to the ASL. A design that was tried and discarded as unsafe in the Netherlands years ago (according to the video below).

As a side note, this comprises part of what the City of Edinburgh calls a “Quality Bike Corridor”, which I have since learned just means it’s been given a certain priority in planning rather than, well, a statement of quality. And the QBC consists entirely of painted lines on the carriageway. As we know from the recent coroner’s inquest about Brian Dorling’s death on the Bow Roundabout in London, these “quality” lanes are just bits of paint with dubious (if any) standing in law. A suggestion rather than protection.

So again, I ask, can we start now planning from the junctions and working back from there?

The junction above is, in fact, a simple crossroads, with a mix of right-hand and left-hand turning lanes in addition to the straight-ahead ones. There is nothing AT ALL preventing the use of the Dutch model as outlined by Mark Wagenbuur in this instructive YouTube video. I must have watched this video half a dozen times now, and I don’t see the catch. I don’t see why this is not being rolled out at all busy junction in cities everywhere. (This video is about American streets, but the same principles apply here in the UK, with right/left swapped over).

From this you can then decide how to extend the cycle paths into and out of the junction, but at least the most problematic part of the street, the junction, would have been made as safe as it could be, given cars, cyclists and pedestrians all using the same area.


Glad to add my voice

First off, I apologise to the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative for nicking their slogan “The Revolution will not be motorised”. In return I wholeheartedly recommend their services and products.

I am new to the field of cycling activism and I feel humble in the face of the all the amazing bicycle blogs out there. I hope to populate my blogroll with quality reading. In the meantime, I suggest you start with the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, who periodically post roundups of the best and latest cycling posts. Maybe one day I’ll make the grade.

This is an exciting time for cycling in the UK. There’s a change in the wind, and momentum is picking up, much like approaching the crest of a hill on your trusty steed. What will be on the other side? A long thrilling coast to an exciting place? Or yet another summit to climb? Who knows? But with the excellent example of Dutch and Danish cycling just across the water from our shores, there is no excuse for not doing the right thing. Our children and their children deserve no less.