UK's first Dutch-style roundabout gets underway in Bedford

Roundabout encourages drivers to select exit before entering - and stick to it

by Sarah Barth   February 8, 2014  

Dutch Style Roundabout (picture TfL)

Work will begin on the UK’s first Dutch-style roundabout in Bedford, fitted out with segregated vehicle lanes to keep cyclists safe.

The lanes of traffic will have plastic separators, which will encourage traffic to stay in the appropriate lane, and encourage vehicles to slow down to do so.

Although cars will be able to cross lanes, they will get a ‘bumping’ sensation reminding them to reduce their speed.

The effect of this style of roundabout is to force motorists to choose their final exit before entering the junction. By reducing weaving around, and increasing the predictability of the final destination, there are only ten points of conflict (compared with 8 for a conventional single lane roundabout, or between 32 and 64 with traffic signal control), making this design safer.

Patrick Lingwood, Bedford’s walking and cycling officer, told Transport Xtra that the Motorcycle Action Group and others in the national motorcycling lobby had objected to the DfT about the proposal, arguing that bikers may not see the lane dividers and hit them, or hit them when taking action to avoid a collision.

The upgrading of the roundabout will cost £490,000, which is largely funded by a £420,000 grant from the DfT’s Cycle Safety Fund. Bedford says the roundabout had the highest concentration of cyclist accidents in the borough between 2004 and 2010. 

A 2012 traffic count recorded 25,000 vehicle movements through the roundabout in a 12-hour period (7am-7pm) plus 550 cyclists and 2,500 pedestrians. About 200 of the cyclists avoided the roundabout carriageway by cycling on the footpath round the edge. 

Mr Lingwood said he hoped traffic speeds would be reduced, encouraging cyclists to come back onto the road. He said: “Even though you will be sharing the lane with vehicles I’m hoping that as a cyclist you will feel this is a safe roundabout and a comfortable experience because traffic is moving more slowly.”

The lanes are said to be wide enough for a car, but not a lorry, to overtake a cyclist who is cycling close to the kerb or  plastic lane divider. 

The use of these roundabouts in the UK has seemed likely for some time.

As we reported last year, a delegation of Scottish transport chiefs visited the Netherlands to learn more about the junctions.

However some other styles of Dutch roundabouts feature segregated cycle lanes around the outside, making them much more cycle-friendly, particularly important as two-thirds of bike collisions happen at junctions.

Transport for London spent some time last year investigating the possibility of introducing Dutch roundabouts to the capital, including testing them at the Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire, but any plans to implement them have since gone quiet.

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There won't be lanes. There will only be the road. If we ever did achieve the nirvana of proper dutch infrastructure and roundabouts like the one in the picture there wouldn't be cyclists on the road in a situation like this. It isn't easier, or faster, so in Holland even the lycra-clad chain gangs are on the beautiful smooth wide tracks.

posted by Malaconotus [34 posts]
8th February 2014 - 21:43

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jarredscycling wrote:
Damn that is expensive!!! Surprise

Is it? Just what is the cost of the civil works including the updated drainage, kerbing, upgraded entry and exits, surfacing, signage, and lighting for a roundabout. That would include the planning, designing etc.

Anyone know? I don't.

I guess it is reasonable to deduce that it is probably more for this one than a standard roundabout. But a standard roundabout upgrade isn't free. So the cost of the extra safety of this one isn't £420k. It is £420k minus the cost of a standard 4way roundabout upgrade.
And we don't know what that costs so it is hard to say that this is expensive.

The real question of whether it is expensive or not is only partly related to the actual additional cost of this over and above the standard roundabout. It is also related to any savings made in casualty reduction. Collisions and casualties are horrendously expensive. If it stops one then that may well outweigh the additional cost of this over the cost of a standard roundabout.

Ipso facto. This could be very good value. Value for money and lifetime cost is the criteria that is important and not initial cost.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [364 posts]
8th February 2014 - 23:37

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Please note Holland is only a portion of the Netherlands. Wink Yes, there are many Hollanders who will call the country Holland, but that still pisses off some non-Hollanders. Wink

posted by Paul J [431 posts]
8th February 2014 - 23:38

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MercuryOne wrote:
Looks good. Motorists don't tend to respect each other in roundabouts - let alone cyclists. The American's 4 way stop signs always amaze me. Can you imagine a system based on manners working here? There would just be four cars crashed in the centre with the drivers fighting each other.. Yawn

There are plenty of cases where traffic lights have been removed and chaos has not ensued.

One of which is when Portishead trialled switching off traffic lights 2009

There is also the town of Drachten that removed all traffic lights and road signs as recommended by Hans Monderman and encountered a radically different result from what you would expect.

posted by zanf [382 posts]
9th February 2014 - 0:20

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the stock headline photo is misleading - it is indeed a turbo roundabout - there is a detailed diagram in the linked article its the link were the story talks about motorcyclists complaining - I've reproduced it below
http://www.transportxtra.com/magazines/local_transport_today/news/?id=37123 which shows zebra crossings at the exits and also states that the adjacent pavements will be made into dual use - meaning that if the traffic speeds aren't the predicted 15mph quoted in the article then funding for cycle safety will have built a nice roundabout that maintains vehicle flow and forces many cyclists to act as pedestrians - might be being a bit too cynical there at least trying something different

posted by antigee [106 posts]
9th February 2014 - 0:33

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"that bikers may not see the lane dividers and hit them, or hit them when taking action to avoid a collision, but it was too late to avoid the implementation of the scheme."
From the article above.....maybe the bikers should ride slower then.
It might work in Holland but here in the UK where we drive far more aggressively and give our highway transport infrastructure totally over to motor vehicles without any consideration to pedestrians or cyclist it doesn't have a chance!

posted by Guyz2010 [278 posts]
9th February 2014 - 0:53

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Why is this being touted as a "Dutch-style" roundabout as if it's a Dutch roundabout? They may have turbo roundabouts in the Netherlands, but this is NOT a Dutch roundabout.

There is NO cycle provision here at all. Just a 'take the lane and you might be ok' attitude that's ingrained in British road design. Every time you have to take the lane it is because the infrastructure is anti-cycling.

posted by teaboy [126 posts]
9th February 2014 - 10:36

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antigee wrote:
the stock headline photo is misleading - it is indeed a turbo roundabout - there is a detailed diagram in the linked article its the link were the story talks about motorcyclists complaining - I've reproduced it below
http://www.transportxtra.com/magazines/local_transport_today/news/?id=37123 which shows zebra crossings at the exits and also states that the adjacent pavements will be made into dual use - meaning that if the traffic speeds aren't the predicted 15mph quoted in the article then funding for cycle safety will have built a nice roundabout that maintains vehicle flow and forces many cyclists to act as pedestrians - might be being a bit too cynical there at least trying something different

Don't really understand why they haven't gone for the solution shown in the video, except that it would slow down the precious motorists.

posted by oldstrath [84 posts]
9th February 2014 - 10:38

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Clearly if they are really set on this kind of roundabout then the cycling budget should be used for £75k of some real dutch design cycletracks outside and separate from the roundabout, while the £450k for the roundabout comes from general roads budgets Sad
Time to call for a audit into misuse of funding?

posted by CarlosFerreiro [42 posts]
9th February 2014 - 11:36

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Bikes make up 2% of the traffic, 85% of the cost of the project comes from the cycle safety fund but doesn't deliver improvements for cyclists.

A similar design was dropped at Lambeth Bridge in London as, amongst other reasons, traffic doesn't have to stop for cyclists on zebra crossings (see this CTC thread on Crank v Brooks 1980 for more details).

Best of luck 'less confident cyclists' negotiating a junction with 25000 vehicles a day that don't have to stop for you on a piece of infrastructure that has been built with your money with you in mind.

posted by tarquin_foxglove [73 posts]
9th February 2014 - 20:38

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This is a really bad idea.

The plastic dividers won't stop cars/lorries taking route of preference - but they will trip and constrain bikes.

This is precisely what the Motorbikers said in objecting to this proposal - and they were dead right.

As if that isn't bad enough, 'Cyclesafe' money is being misappropriated to fund this atrocity.

Turbo roundabouts are designed to reduce vehicle/vehicle conflict to *increase* the speed of traffic flow. When they are good and speedy, Patrick Lingwood points them at zebra crossings. Madness.

For permission to cycle on the pavement and piss-off all the pedestrians, £420,000 is one hell of a lot of money. The painted signs are £300 tops.

Patrick Lingwood should resign with immediate effect, and never claim the mantle of cycle promotion again.

posted by ar-gos [1 posts]
9th February 2014 - 21:11

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Last summer I was in the Netherlands (& Belgium), I used proper Dutch roundabouts (such as the one modelled in the photo), the biggest thing that I found was that motorists actively looked out for cyclists, in this country some motorists seem to only actively look for cyclists for use as target practice!! I fear that the mentality of many motorists would lead to even proper Dutch roundabouts working...

posted by stealth [152 posts]
9th February 2014 - 21:27

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I agree with what others have said, cars wouldn’t be overtaking me on that roundabout as I would be in “Primary Position” the same as I am on all roundabouts. I notice that road cc missed a sentence out in copying the text from the transportxtra article. In the text of the original article it says; “He ( Patrick Lingwood ) said many cyclists were likely to cycle in the middle of the lanes” before it goes on to mention how wide the lanes are.

To be honest I don’t really see that much difference or advantage to cyclists that are confident cycling on the road and using “Primary Position” etc. Where the difference is; slower / less confident cyclists will now be able to cycle around the outside of the roundabout on a new shared use path, like the 200 out of 550 cyclists had already been doing “illegally” on the footpath.

Something that does I think ‘open up a can of worms’ and highlights the difference between the UK and the Netherlands; are the crossings on the shared use path “zebra crossings” or are they “tiger crossings” ?

According to the Highway Code (rule 79 ) cyclists can’t cycle across zebra crossings, the rule says “Dismount and wheel your cycle across”. It doesn’t have “must not” in bold type so it isn’t illegal to cycle across one (I do all the time). The problem is, if a driver collides with a cyclist that is using a zebra crossing the police / courts etc can cite the Highway Code to say the cyclist was in the wrong ! Hence why I believe they are looking into making “zebra crossings” on shared use paths something called “tiger crossings”. From my limited understanding and reading up on it, the difference is the road markings, but they are a relatively new thing and the highway code being a few years old doesn’t mention them.

posted by Pete B [8 posts]
9th February 2014 - 22:08

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I don't think a 'Tiger Crossing' (ie a Zebra that confers the same rights on bikes as it does pedestrians) is allowed under current legislation.

Current "best practice" (sic) is to install a parallel crossing like this one in
Chaucer Road in Cantebury.

posted by tarquin_foxglove [73 posts]
10th February 2014 - 10:53

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An article on the same website from April last year is quite enlightening on the status of cyclists using the zebra crossings and Bedford's priorities with the scheme:

"Zebra crossings will be installed on the roundabout arms to assist pedestrians and those cyclists who use the shared paths. The council plans to seek permission from the DfT to install new blue ‘Cyclists give way to traffic’ signs at the crossings. (Patrick) Lingwood explained that, whereas pedestrians have priority over vehicles on a zebra crossing, vehicles have priority over cyclists.

Bedford looked at a number of other possible redesigns for the junction, including creating single lane entries and a single lane on the roundabout. But Lingwood said Paramics modelling showed this option would cause unacceptable delays."

So that's what £420k, 85% of the project cost, buys eh?

Full article:
https://www.transportxtra.com/magazines/local_transport_today/news/?id=3...

posted by tarquin_foxglove [73 posts]
10th February 2014 - 16:23

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What a mess.

This is not cycling friendly at all. If you cycle over a zebra crossing you're likely to get run down.

I would also like to know what the stats are like for incidents at zebra crossings on the exits of roundabouts. I have a sneaking suspicion they aren't terribly safe as drivers don't have a great view of people waiting to cross and are likely to be distracted by the hazards on the roundabout until the last second.

DaveE128's picture

posted by DaveE128 [25 posts]
10th February 2014 - 17:11

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So it looks like another shared path cop out and this has been reported before I believe...

Back to the drawing board for Bedford and the rest of the UK.

posted by northstar [946 posts]
10th February 2014 - 17:54

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Just to reiterate what others have written, the headline image on this article is of the test roundabout in Berkshire, and is therefore misleading and has nothing to do with the proposed roundabout.

More detail on the proposed roundabout is at the linked article:
https://www.transportxtra.com/magazines/local_transport_today/news/?id=3...

And David Hembrow has written articles explaining how un-Dutch it is, what a bodge it is, and why it's bad for cyclists here:
http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2013/06/when-going-dutch-doesnt-mea...

I would advise anyone interested in this to visit both those pages. And I would very much like to know what Patrick Lingwood has to say about this.

posted by pmanc [97 posts]
10th February 2014 - 17:56

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+1
Poor design for cyclists, we are sadly used to
Design aimed at solving a car capacity problem by making things worse for cyclists, paid for from cycling specific budgets.... At Wits End

posted by CarlosFerreiro [42 posts]
10th February 2014 - 19:13

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pmanc wrote:
I would very much like to know what Patrick Lingwood has to say about this.

I emailed him, asked what type of crossing it was & about cyclist priority and got this response:

patrick.lingwood@bedford.gov.uk wrote:

They are Zebras that we will be installing.

You are correct that cyclists do not have priority over vehicles when they cross a Zebra. Whilst they do not have priority, cyclists can legally cycle across a Zebra without priority, though it is against rule 64 of the highway code.

However, TfL/TRL research showed that 92% of cyclists at six sites surveyed for TfL cycled across Zebra crossings

These findings are consistent with the previous Shared Zebra Crossing Study (Greenshields et al., 2006) which concluded that “the high number of cyclists presently riding on zebra crossings suggests that a change in the regulation to allow mounted use of zebra crossings may not have a significant upward effect upon the numbers presently doing so, simple because so many are already doing so”.

In 56% of the cases where the waiting cyclist is dismounted the first vehicle to approach stops, while for mounted cyclists this drops to 33%. 87% of first vehicles stopped for a waiting pedestrian.

Further calculations revealed that 4% of the total number of those who cycle across were involved in a conflict. Cyclists who were dismounted appear to have a far higher level of conflict (8%), however this is massively skewed by one site, Bayswater Road. If Bayswater Road is excluded, the percentages are 3% (mounted) and 1% (dismounted)

The Zebras have been design in accordance with the recommendations of the TRL/TfL study, ie 4 m wide rather than the typical 2.4m wide.

There is currently no legal way of giving both pedestrians and cyclists priority at crossing (other than a Toucan crossing which is inappropriate at this kind of location)

The design is a balance between the needs of pedestrians and cyclists and motor vehicle flows. Cyclists will have a choice of dismounting with priority, or negotiating priority with oncoming motorised vehicles.

Currently at the roundabout, there are no facilities and both cyclists and pedestrians have to find gaps in traffic to cross at the arms of the roundabout.

I hope this answers your query

Best wishes

Patrick

posted by MGFW [1 posts]
11th February 2014 - 11:00

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In 56% of the cases where the waiting cyclist is dismounted the first vehicle to approach stops, while for mounted cyclists this drops to 33%. 87% of first vehicles stopped for a waiting pedestrian.

Or to put it another way, 31% of drivers would stop for a pedestrian without a bike but not for a pedestrian with a bike, what a bunch of ****s.

I've noticed cars hate stopping when I'm with my bike on a Zebra crossing, so I just walk faster into the road to achieve > 56% of the f**kers stopping. Devil

PS, legally speaking you don't get priority until you put one foot in to the road.

posted by kie7077 [359 posts]
11th February 2014 - 13:26

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tarquin_foxglove wrote:
I don't think a 'Tiger Crossing' (ie a Zebra that confers the same rights on bikes as it does pedestrians) is allowed under current legislation.

Current "best practice" (sic) is to install a parallel crossing like this one in
Chaucer Road in Cantebury.

but the cyclists haven't got any right of way markings over the road... it looks like they're still expected to dismount and walk over...

posted by Paul_C [116 posts]
11th February 2014 - 14:17

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interesting phrase in Bedford officers email

"Cyclists will have a choice of dismounting with priority, or negotiating priority with oncoming motorised vehicles."

so is this a good solutions for cyclists? (and pedestrians?)

the stats show that drivers aren't that great at stopping for dismounted cyclists and pretty bad at stopping for cyclists who are riding at crossings - in this type of position I think a lot of drivers will negotiate from a position of strength using speed, surprise, quantity and weight as tactics

the Canterbury link at least shows a crossing which isn't confusing - 4m wide zebras will benefit pedestrians mixing with cyclists but also (rightly or wrongly) encourage those cyclists using the share path to continue believing they have some sort of priority - the Law is a problem but I'm not sure if this is the best solution

if the roundabout is designed to reduce traffic speeds to 15mph then why not have a 20mph limit and give ways at cycle crossings adjacent to the zebras? that would save cyclists having to "negotiate" with vehicles and give drivers and cyclists a clear idea of priority

posted by antigee [106 posts]
12th February 2014 - 3:00

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Assuming this is the same design as trialled recently by the TRRL, where a correctly positioned cyclist nearly came to grief by a driver who was leaving the rbt and assumed he was now clear, it is a recipe for disaster.
And remember, they were all alert, knowing it was a trial of something new!

Binky

posted by davebinks [115 posts]
12th February 2014 - 11:36

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MGFW wrote:

I emailed him, asked what type of crossing it was & about cyclist priority and got this response...

Thanks for doing the legwork MGFW and sharing the response. A couple of thoughts.

- It sounds to me like Mr Lingwood is attempting to use a set of rules which are unclear and confusing for everyone (except perhaps him) to get a good result for everyone.

- I can only assume this attempt will fail. He admits the roundabout itself is just a "traffic-flow" prioritising roundabout with no provision for cycling. As a cyclist, I really don't want to have to dismount and start walking, but without having read these comments I would never assume the intention was for me to consider riding over the zebra crossings. This is not Dutch-style and it is not going to make people feel safer.

- I guess part of the answer is that where local authorities really want to improve things for cycling, they need much better nationally agreed tools to do the job. Zebra crossing equivalents where (mounted) cyclists also have priority. Roundabouts where cars have to wait for bikes on exit. Cycle lanes where cars aren't legally allowed to park (or stop). And so on.

posted by pmanc [97 posts]
12th February 2014 - 14:21

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After looking at https://www.transportxtra.com/magazines/local_transport_today/news/?id=3...

I love the way, what I'm assuming are the proposed bike lanes leading up to the roundabout, vanish just as you get to the point when you need them. Unfortunately, this is typical of Bedford (and the most of the country from my experience).

I ride over this roundabout almost every day going from south to north and I'm not really seeing how this is going to help me. They'll paint all different lanes and pointers on the tarmac, and this will break up within the year leaving a typical road of the kind you see on the news in Syria!

I can't wait for it to happen. It took over 40 years for Bedford to get any kind of bypass, so I won't be holding my breath on this one.

posted by monkeytrousers [29 posts]
12th February 2014 - 14:57

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davebinks wrote:
Assuming this is the same design as trialled recently by the TRRL, where a correctly positioned cyclist nearly came to grief by a driver who was leaving the rbt and assumed he was now clear, it is a recipe for disaster.
And remember, they were all alert, knowing it was a trial of something new!

Like this awful set of lights:
http://goo.gl/maps/rvEOs

On the side being looked at the pedestrian lights are independent of the crossroads lights - that are only a few yards away. But the other half of this pedestrian crossing is timed and with the crossing. It's a recipe for disaster.

This one makes me laugh:
http://goo.gl/maps/tFH69
I regularly see cars turn out of the side road (on the left) turning left and instead of leaving the junction, they stop! at the light which is for cars on the other entrance to the junction, and then the cars behind start hooting but they just sit there, duh!

posted by kie7077 [359 posts]
12th February 2014 - 18:31

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pmanc wrote:
- I guess part of the answer is that where local authorities really want to improve things for cycling, they need much better nationally agreed tools to do the job. Zebra crossing equivalents where (mounted) cyclists also have priority. Roundabouts where cars have to wait for bikes on exit.

Having priority and getting it are two different things. Even in the Netherlands I consider it unsafe when roundabouts give priority to cyclists, since many drivers fail to look for cyclists coming from the side/back to cross (at a very awkward angle). In a country like the UK, where many more drivers fail to look for cyclists, it would be a disaster.

posted by Aapje [147 posts]
13th February 2014 - 11:56

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"I guess part of the answer is that where local authorities really want to improve things for cycling, they need much better nationally agreed tools to do the job. Zebra crossing equivalents where (mounted) cyclists also have priority. Roundabouts where cars have to wait for bikes on exit. Cycle lanes where cars aren't legally allowed to park (or stop). And so on."

second that - local authorities seem to run scared of being innovative - probably because they find it essential to spend a lot of money on ensuring every traffic order/sign/design meets a myriad of often very dated and conflicting regulations

last years Parliamentary enquiry (sort of) addressed this and here is a couple of quote from the DfT's response - one issue here is that local authorities look to DfT as defining best practise when DfT (possibly) isn't the best authority on non-motorised transport, looking at and citing best practise elsewhere would be better but if its not legally possible a local authority won't run with it - what's needed is some sort of enabling act allowing local authorities to examine and implement schemes that without reference to national guidelines will do the job - provided some sort or criteria is met - like "could a Belgium truck driver understand the road layout?" or "could someone who took a driving test 40years ago understand this road layout?" - that last one is probably the problem

"This response is made on behalf of the Department for Transport, which has responsibility for cycling policy in England, outside London. Wales, Scotland and London have their own programmes to support cycling.

...............Through the revised Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions, due in 2015, Government will be making further changes to make it easier for councils to install cycle facilities, by removing the requirement for Traffic Orders for mandatory cycle lanes and exemptions for cyclists (such as ‘No Right Turn Except Cycles...............

.............The Department is currently working with local authorities to trial innovative new measures for cyclists, particularly looking at different signals to make junctions safer for cyclists. At the same time work is underway to revise the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions, which will include many changes to benefit cyclists. These changes will need to be referenced in subsequent guidance, but the focus is on making revisions by April 2015 to improve traffic regulations for all road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.......................

etc etc etc

detail here section 8 well worth reading

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...

posted by antigee [106 posts]
13th February 2014 - 12:55

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I've just noticed something in the plans showing the road layout.
If you're going Union St to Roff Ave (bottom to top) you go in the outside lane.
If you're going Clapham Rd to Tavistock St (side to side) you go on the inside.
But you're going straight on in both instances. At Wits End

posted by monkeytrousers [29 posts]
17th February 2014 - 11:36

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