Islington cyclists stage protest after latest London fatality

Lack of joined-up infrastructure highlighted over cycle lane that finishes at borough boundary

by Simon_MacMichael   August 10, 2014  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

Cyclists in London staged a protest last Wednesday evening following the ninth cycling fatality in the city this year, prompting a local councillor to ask, “how many deaths” have to happen before the streets are safe for cyclists.

Chris Tandy, a manager with the British Council, was killed on the evening of Saturday 2 August after he was thrown from his bike into the path of oncoming traffic when he hit the kerb on the central reservation of London Bridge.

While witnesses described the incident as a “tragic accident,” it does highlight ongoing concerns about provision for cyclists within parts of the capital.

Islington Cycle Action Group’s Chris Casalotti told the Islington Tribune: “We wanted to draw attention to an unfinished and unused cycle path at Clerkenwell and how it could provide safety for cyclists at a time when we put our lives in danger on London’s roads.

“We also wanted to show how the path can quite easily have continued onto a wide stretch of pavement – where there is room for cyclists and pedestrians – across Farringdon Bridge towards Old Street. If only our Islington Council planners had the foresight to do it.”

Speaking of London Bridge where Mr Tandy died, he went on: “As a cyclist I’ve always dreaded going onto that bridge.

“There is no protection for people on bikes. On top of the narrowness of the road you have buses overtaking each other. With roads like ours it only takes a small mistake by someone on a cycle before there is a serious accident.”

The newspaper adds that the cycle path in Clerkenwell where the protest took place, 70 feet long and 10 feet wide, was installed by the London Borough of Camden a decade ago and cost £30,000.

However, at the point where it crosses into the London Borough of Islington, the path was not continued.
Attending the protest were prospective Labour mayoral candidate Christian Wolmar, and Green Party councillor Caroline Russell, who said: “Transport for London, Islington and Camden councils keep telling us that they have plans to make cycling safe, particularly in Clerkenwell Road.

She added:“My question is: when are we going to see these improvements? How many deaths of cyclists do we have to have before our streets are safe?”

22 user comments

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Umm... I'm always a little wary of this approach from cycle-safety campainers asking for shared use paths and the such. This sort of infrastucture serves only motorists by removing cycles from the road. It typically disadvantages cyclists by giving them lower priority and forcing them to stop/give way more often and it's not a good thing for pedestrians either. It also allows for road planners to neglect cyclists in their planning and for those of us who choose to use the roads rather than these paths (which once-upon-a time was called 'cycling-on-the-footway and way illegal) the environment is even more hostile.

We're not going to get segregated infrastructure in the UK that prioritises bikes over motors, or even gives equality. The best we can hope for is safer road design that accomodates all types of vehicles, although I'm not confident that that's very likely either.

posted by Matt eaton [399 posts]
10th August 2014 - 21:37

57 Likes

Matt eaton wrote:
Umm... I'm always a little wary of this approach from cycle-safety campainers asking for shared use paths and the such.

They're not. They're asking for the cycle lane to be finished, not for a bit of paint on the pavement or a shared use sign.

This is what they're complaining about -

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.522135,-0.1075,3a,75y,72.15h,72.66t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1siGseJLcgD-ybKFqi5_urvA!2e0

That's the cycle lane on the Camden side, with a fence across it to stop cyclists using it! Move up the road another twenty feet and you're on the railway bridge crossing the tracks for Farringdon Station, it's narrow and exceptionally busy, sometimes there's not even room to filter through. You may also recognise the junction from a certain infamous youtube video involving a white Audi...

The pavement on the left is massive and actually has relatively little footfall. The cycle track was meant to continue over the bridge as a dedicated space, not shared use.

posted by bikebot [586 posts]
11th August 2014 - 0:21

53 Likes

bikebot wrote:

The pavement on the left is massive and actually has relatively little footfall. The cycle track was meant to continue over the bridge as a dedicated space, not shared use.

I am genuinely confused from looking at Google Streetview. Was the deceased going East?

posted by Ush [409 posts]
11th August 2014 - 3:35

33 Likes

Having cycled in London just once Yesterday. The roads are appalling, poor quality in places. What's with cycle lanes starting then just disappearing, only to re start a little later. The traffic is bedlam. I am not surprised there aren't more serious injuries and deaths.

It's going to take decades to provide decent continuous cycle lanes in London! Successive government will just drag their heels.

I am so glad I live out in the sticks where I can choose quiet lanes to cycle down.

posted by CXR94Di2 [150 posts]
11th August 2014 - 6:19

34 Likes

CXR94Di2 wrote:
Having cycled in London just once Yesterday. The roads are appalling, poor quality in places. What's with cycle lanes starting then just disappearing, only to re start a little later. The traffic is bedlam. I am not surprised there aren't more serious injuries and deaths.

It's going to take decades to provide decent continuous cycle lanes in London! Successive government will just drag their heels.

I am so glad I live out in the sticks where I can choose quiet lanes to cycle down.

Yep, sadly it probably will take decades. I've used the weight loss argument before, why does anyone think they can lose weight ten times faster than they put it on? The mess we have took decades to build, it will take as long to fix.

It doesn't change the need to keep campaigning, and some of the infrastructure in the pipeline to be built in the next year or two is starting to fall into the "not actually that bad" category.

posted by bikebot [586 posts]
11th August 2014 - 6:33

38 Likes

Ush wrote:
bikebot wrote:

The pavement on the left is massive and actually has relatively little footfall. The cycle track was meant to continue over the bridge as a dedicated space, not shared use.

I am genuinely confused from looking at Google Streetview. Was the deceased going East?

The deceased was on London Bridge. They weren't at the site of that accident and only raised it as a secondary matter to the main point of this protest.

posted by bikebot [586 posts]
11th August 2014 - 6:34

41 Likes

bikebot wrote:
Matt eaton wrote:
Umm... I'm always a little wary of this approach from cycle-safety campainers asking for shared use paths and the such.

They're not. They're asking for the cycle lane to be finished, not for a bit of paint on the pavement or a shared use sign.

This is what they're complaining about -

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.522135,-0.1075,3a,75y,72.15h,72.66t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1siGseJLcgD-ybKFqi5_urvA!2e0

That's the cycle lane on the Camden side, with a fence across it to stop cyclists using it! Move up the road another twenty feet and you're on the railway bridge crossing the tracks for Farringdon Station, it's narrow and exceptionally busy, sometimes there's not even room to filter through. You may also recognise the junction from a certain infamous youtube video involving a white Audi...

The pavement on the left is massive and actually has relatively little footfall. The cycle track was meant to continue over the bridge as a dedicated space, not shared use.

Thanks for the link; it's good to be able to see what is specifically being talked about (although my origonal comments were intended more generally). In this case there would be room to continue the cycle lane by taking space from the pavement but what would happen when the lane reached the junction where the white van is pulling out? In most situations like this cyclists are faced with a give-way to cross the side junction, at which point we're better off using the road. If cyclists were to be given priority drivers coming out of the side junction i.e. our white van in the picture would have to give way to cyclists (in order to cross the cycle lane) as well as other drivers which may not represent a real improvement.

posted by Matt eaton [399 posts]
11th August 2014 - 9:54

34 Likes

Matt eaton wrote:

Thanks for the link; it's good to be able to see what is specifically being talked about (although my origonal comments were intended more generally). In this case there would be room to continue the cycle lane by taking space from the pavement but what would happen when the lane reached the junction where the white van is pulling out? In most situations like this cyclists are faced with a give-way to cross the side junction, at which point we're better off using the road. If cyclists were to be given priority drivers coming out of the side junction i.e. our white van in the picture would have to give way to cyclists (in order to cross the cycle lane) as well as other drivers which may not represent a real improvement.

Understood, but by the same measure when I talk about infrastructure I tend to focus on what needs to be built in our crowded city centres, largely based on my experience of living in London (though I'm actually out on the edge near Surrey).

City centres and the suburbs are two completely different environments and it's not really useful to speak in general terms about such different roads. As I've said before about the London discussions, it's not just about safety, it's about capacity in the inner zones. The campaigners I've dealt are pretty switched on to the concerns some people express on here, even the campaign name "space4cycling" reflects that. When there's a narrow road such as this, and it's full of buses and trucks, sharing the same road space is both dangerous and slow.

Regarding your specific point, about what would happen at the next junction, it's likely that the segregated cycle tracked would merge back into being a lane, and as a lane it would have priority over the side roads. It could do this as the road is only narrow for the few car lengths where it crosses the bridge, immediately afterwards it widens.

I believe for the new north south cycle super highway (which would cross this junction) which is mostly a fully segregated cycle track, bikes have priority over the side roads. At the controlled junctions, the cycle track has it's own traffic lights.

I know that area quite well, and this story has amused me as it's finally solved the mystery of the fenced off bike lane that goes nowhere that I've seen for years.

posted by bikebot [586 posts]
11th August 2014 - 10:55

32 Likes

If you look at it from this streetview, you can see the line a segregated track would be able to follow and then continue as a lane after the next junction.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.522233,-0.107019,3a,35.9y,79.2h,82.24t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sFkdDG_G1rFDG2ZCl90KOkA!2e0

The give way lines at that next junction would need to be moved back.

posted by bikebot [586 posts]
11th August 2014 - 11:09

27 Likes

bikebot wrote:
Matt eaton wrote:

Thanks for the link; it's good to be able to see what is specifically being talked about (although my origonal comments were intended more generally). In this case there would be room to continue the cycle lane by taking space from the pavement but what would happen when the lane reached the junction where the white van is pulling out? In most situations like this cyclists are faced with a give-way to cross the side junction, at which point we're better off using the road. If cyclists were to be given priority drivers coming out of the side junction i.e. our white van in the picture would have to give way to cyclists (in order to cross the cycle lane) as well as other drivers which may not represent a real improvement.

Understood, but by the same measure when I talk about infrastructure I tend to focus on what needs to be built in our crowded city centres, largely based on my experience of living in London (though I'm actually out on the edge near Surrey).

City centres and the suburbs are two completely different environments and it's not really useful to speak in general terms about such different roads. As I've said before about the London discussions, it's not just about safety, it's about capacity in the inner zones. The campaigners I've dealt are pretty switched on to the concerns some people express on here, even the campaign name "space4cycling" reflects that. When there's a narrow road such as this, and it's full of buses and trucks, sharing the same road space is both dangerous and slow.

Regarding your specific point, about what would happen at the next junction, it's likely that the segregated cycle tracked would merge back into being a lane, and as a lane it would have priority over the side roads. It could do this as the road is only narrow for the few car lengths where it crosses the bridge, immediately afterwards it widens.

I believe for the new north south cycle super highway (which would cross this junction) which is mostly a fully segregated cycle track, bikes have priority over the side roads. At the controlled junctions, the cycle track has it's own traffic lights.

I know that area quite well, and this story has amused me as it's finally solved the mystery of the fenced off bike lane that goes nowhere that I've seen for years.

I don't know the area so well (at all actually) so you've got a better view on this than me but wouldn't it be more straightforward simply to widen the road so that filtering was possible? A segregated lane for such a short stretch seems overly complicated.

posted by Matt eaton [399 posts]
11th August 2014 - 11:13

31 Likes

Matt eaton wrote:

I don't know the area so well (at all actually) so you've got a better view on this than me but wouldn't it be more straightforward simply to widen the road so that filtering was possible? A segregated lane for such a short stretch seems overly complicated.

Aye, you could build it that way, but building a segregated lane between them offers much better protection against left turning vehicles, which as we all sadly know has actually been the cause of many of the worst accidents.

The fact that it would be a short lane is actually why I quite like it. My biggest complaint about most councils is that they maximise the mileage by adding lanes to roads that often aren't that dangerous, but then end the lane whenever it approaches a junction. Here instead we have a case of the exact opposite, building infrastructure to improve the safety of a known dangerous pair of junctions. I think that's how the money should be spent, focused on the danger points.

Of course I'm speculating myself about the design. I don't have any inside knowledge as to how the Camden designers wanted it to be continued, or what the Islington campaigners may be requesting. It's just a road that I've seen and been amused by for years.

posted by bikebot [586 posts]
11th August 2014 - 11:51

25 Likes

That unfinished junction on Clerkenwell Road with the metal barrier is another example of structural incompetence / negligence by a local authority

battery powered angle grinder and some white paint anyone?

posted by hampstead_bandit [161 posts]
11th August 2014 - 12:12

29 Likes

Matt eaton wrote:
....but what would happen when the lane reached the junction where the white van is pulling out? In most situations like this cyclists are faced with a give-way to cross the side junction, at which point we're better off using the road. If cyclists were to be given priority drivers coming out of the side junction....

This is because currently, the mindset with infra designers and most cyclists and campaigners/advocates, is that they still see cycling as bolted on solution that tries to interfere with traffic flow as little as possible.

The only mindset to have is that all concessions have to be made by private vehicles until it is the least convenient (and less subsidised) form of transport.

Another junction that does exactly what you worry about is on the Tavistock Place/Gordon Square cycle lane: http://goo.gl/maps/j6SY7

On this junction, you get cars that do not stop at the lines and so you have massive conflict with cycles,and its a very well used route. Instead the junction should have a raised platform so that cars are forced to slow before it, and are made aware because of the physical environment that they are crossing a cycle lane. Similar things are done in the Netherlands

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [538 posts]
11th August 2014 - 12:21

26 Likes

bikebot wrote:
Aye, you could build it that way, but building a segregated lane between them offers much better protection against left turning vehicles, which as we all sadly know has actually been the cause of many of the worst accidents.

I don't think I'm visulising what you are describing correctly as it seems that what you describe would increase the chance of left hooks. As riders come off of the 'pavement' cycle lane to re-join the road or painted cycle lane at the 'white van' junction it seems that they would be very vunerable to drivers entering or leaving the juction from all directions. Drivers may fail to realise that they need to yield to cyclists on the 'pavement'. Have I got it totally wrong?

posted by Matt eaton [399 posts]
11th August 2014 - 14:01

21 Likes

zanf wrote:
Matt eaton wrote:
....but what would happen when the lane reached the junction where the white van is pulling out? In most situations like this cyclists are faced with a give-way to cross the side junction, at which point we're better off using the road. If cyclists were to be given priority drivers coming out of the side junction....

This is because currently, the mindset with infra designers and most cyclists and campaigners/advocates, is that they still see cycling as bolted on solution that tries to interfere with traffic flow as little as possible.

The only mindset to have is that all concessions have to be made by private vehicles until it is the least convenient (and less subsidised) form of transport.

Another junction that does exactly what you worry about is on the Tavistock Place/Gordon Square cycle lane: http://goo.gl/maps/j6SY7

On this junction, you get cars that do not stop at the lines and so you have massive conflict with cycles,and its a very well used route. Instead the junction should have a raised platform so that cars are forced to slow before it, and are made aware because of the physical environment that they are crossing a cycle lane. Similar things are done in the Netherlands

The NL example looks much better, however in both cases I think I'd be more comforatable (feel safer) on the road than the cycle lane, but that's a subjective view, informed by cycing in the UK.

The biggest practical problem with these designs is a cultural one. Cars are viewed as superior and if they need to block a cycle lane whilst waiting to join traffic on a 'proper' road it's deemed as perfectly acceptable. Strict liability would also help a lot; I'm sure that Dutch drivers are very careful about crossing or even blocking cycle paths compared to Brits.

posted by Matt eaton [399 posts]
11th August 2014 - 14:22

23 Likes

bikebot wrote:
Ush wrote:
bikebot wrote:

The pavement on the left is massive and actually has relatively little footfall. The cycle track was meant to continue over the bridge as a dedicated space, not shared use.

I am genuinely confused from looking at Google Streetview. Was the deceased going East?

The deceased was on London Bridge. They weren't at the site of that accident and only raised it as a secondary matter to the main point of this protest.

Ah. Got it now.

Just for anyone else's interest, the deceased would have been heading in the outer lane towards this intersection. Slightly weird positioning.
Google Maps North bound end of London bridge.

posted by Ush [409 posts]
12th August 2014 - 12:33

14 Likes

Ush wrote:
bikebot wrote:
Ush wrote:
bikebot wrote:

The pavement on the left is massive and actually has relatively little footfall. The cycle track was meant to continue over the bridge as a dedicated space, not shared use.

I am genuinely confused from looking at Google Streetview. Was the deceased going East?

The deceased was on London Bridge. They weren't at the site of that accident and only raised it as a secondary matter to the main point of this protest.

Ah. Got it now.

Just for anyone else's interest, the deceased would have been heading in the outer lane towards this intersection. Slightly weird positioning.
Google Maps North bound end of London bridge.

No, that's Blackfriars, London Bridge is the second along east of there.

posted by bikebot [586 posts]
12th August 2014 - 14:17

8 Likes

Matt eaton wrote:

The NL example looks much better, however in both cases I think I'd be more comforatable (feel safer) on the road than the cycle lane, but that's a subjective view, informed by cycing in the UK.

The biggest practical problem with these designs is a cultural one. Cars are viewed as superior and if they need to block a cycle lane whilst waiting to join traffic on a 'proper' road it's deemed as perfectly acceptable. Strict liability would also help a lot; I'm sure that Dutch drivers are very careful about crossing or even blocking cycle paths compared to Brits.

You're right to focus on points such as the left hook risk, and in my experience attention to details is what the campaigners spend much of their lives doing. There's very little grand vision, it's all about bending the ear of some local councillor about a missing dropped kerb or an obstruction or yet another badly designed feature.

I can only hazard a guess as to what they've requested, to get the real answer someone should really contact the campaigners. I don't know the details and details matter. In law, whether it's a lane or a cycle track, the cyclist has priority over left turning traffic, unless the give way marking show otherwise. The concern comes about because the majority of cycle tracks do have such give markings.

Thus to an extent, the problem is a chicken and egg one. Drivers are used to having priority because they've usually been given priority. Eventually it would be much safer for cyclists if they stopped doing that, but there is a potential danger as drivers become used to it. However, in London that practice is going to change quickly, in particular with the segregated highways, and the first (continuous) one of those will be heading north south straight over that junction.

The use of ramps was mentioned above, and I believe that is now included in the TfL design standards for London. I would expect that at a minimum the Islington campaigners would be requesting that. Alternatively, they might simply make that side road no entry for motor vehicles, so that traffic has to enter at the next junction and go around. The southern road is already one way, so it would just link up with that in the same way.

Finally, you might want to try the road yourself a few times at peak hours, and then see if you'd still feel safer in the road. That's one of the roads where cyclists do outnumber the vehicles, but they still have to fight for space. Central London is simply mad.

posted by bikebot [586 posts]
12th August 2014 - 14:51

12 Likes

Left Hook turns could be quickly dealt with by the introduction of road markings !

What i would suggest is 50M before the LH turn , putting on the road a Reflective WHITE left turn arrow with a " GiveWay Triangle " at the apex . At the 25M before , repeat in a Reflective/Day glo Orange Both these markings !

Westminster would have to Legislate these Markings and introduce Penalties , severe enough that Driving Licences would be Jeopardised by not at least slowing below 10MPH before making the turn . In that 50M area , NO VEHICLE , should be allowed to pass or come alongside a Cyclist moving in the same direction !

BLUE Paint does not work , as i have seen POLICE Vehicles treating the Blue Cycle Lane as non existant , so it will come as NO Surprise that White Van Man , Taxis , Busses , etc , will surmise that they can beat the odds, as regards prosecution when they transgress ?

Some areas of Germany , where i have ridden , have red Paint on the junctions , where the Dedicated Cycle Lane crosses , BUT , you would be foolhardy to assume that you could continue straight ahead , without checking that there is no Road Traffic , likely to make the turn and thus pose a hazard to your progress . YES , the penalties are there , but even in Germany , there are Careless/ thoughtless drivers !

BTW , i have been advised that there is an admission of Liability for the Bus ramming me on the 2nd May , yet , i see no progress towards REPLACING destroyed clothing , Bike equipment , etc ! Seems that a Bus can damage a Vehicle and have it repaired to same standard , BUT , Clothing ? Hey, you wore it once , here is 10c on the $ , so YOU can go out and replace ! No idea some of those thoughtless GOONS !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [383 posts]
13th August 2014 - 8:18

5 Likes

bikebot wrote:
Finally, you might want to try the road yourself a few times at peak hours, and then see if you'd still feel safer in the road. That's one of the roads where cyclists do outnumber the vehicles, but they still have to fight for space. Central London is simply mad.

I'd love to, but I'm over 100 miles from the capital so it's not really practical.

I have cycled in central London during rush hour and actually loved the experience. It's absolute chaos but at least drivers are aware of your presence on the most part. The maddness of it all was a joy for me but I recognise that I'm an experienced and skillfull rider that doesn't scare too easily. We do need more support to enable everyone to ride regardless of skill level and confidence but all too often I see cycle-specific infrastructre that directs riders into harm's way.

posted by Matt eaton [399 posts]
13th August 2014 - 10:58

4 Likes

Matt eaton wrote:

I'd love to, but I'm over 100 miles from the capital so it's not really practical.

I have cycled in central London during rush hour and actually loved the experience. It's absolute chaos but at least drivers are aware of your presence on the most part. The maddness of it all was a joy for me but I recognise that I'm an experienced and skillfull rider that doesn't scare too easily. We do need more support to enable everyone to ride regardless of skill level and confidence but all too often I see cycle-specific infrastructre that directs riders into harm's way.

When it's February, and you're riding home in the dark surrounded by high sided lorries, it really takes the edge off the fun!

I'm emphasising the point, as actually I also enjoy riding in London, upto a point. When I have to go into town, I'll happily use CS7 and although it may not be the prettiest route, you can still feel fairly relaxed using it and enjoy the ride. It's also pretty fast.

However, once you hit the centre of town, it's a different world. The driving is mad, and impatience causes people to do all kinds of silly dangerous things. You have to be ten times as alert to be safe and at times it can be quite stressful. Suddenly things like quietways and proper infrastructure become much more welcome, and I'll happily woose out to make that part of my journey easier.

posted by bikebot [586 posts]
13th August 2014 - 11:55

3 Likes

bikebot wrote:
Matt eaton wrote:

I'd love to, but I'm over 100 miles from the capital so it's not really practical.

I have cycled in central London during rush hour and actually loved the experience. It's absolute chaos but at least drivers are aware of your presence on the most part. The maddness of it all was a joy for me but I recognise that I'm an experienced and skillfull rider that doesn't scare too easily. We do need more support to enable everyone to ride regardless of skill level and confidence but all too often I see cycle-specific infrastructre that directs riders into harm's way.

When it's February, and you're riding home in the dark surrounded by high sided lorries, it really takes the edge off the fun!

I'm emphasising the point, as actually I also enjoy riding in London, upto a point. When I have to go into town, I'll happily use CS7 and although it may not be the prettiest route, you can still feel fairly relaxed using it and enjoy the ride. It's also pretty fast.

However, once you hit the centre of town, it's a different world. The driving is mad, and impatience causes people to do all kinds of silly dangerous things. You have to be ten times as alert to be safe and at times it can be quite stressful. Suddenly things like quietways and proper infrastructure become much more welcome, and I'll happily woose out to make that part of my journey easier.

Totally with you, fun as it can be I can see how dodging daft drivers could get old when you're doing it every day.

More to the point, the fact that experinced and hardened riders like us are happy on these roads (or even having fun) is no measure of success. We need infrstrucure for all whether it's on the roads or via segregated routes.

posted by Matt eaton [399 posts]
13th August 2014 - 14:00

3 Likes