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"Confusing" design not up to Dutch standards and "like a traffic light engineer's dream"...

 

The London Borough of Wandsworth has announced plans for London's first roundabout with segregated routes for cycling, but critics have said it does not meet Dutch standards of cycling provision and have called it "hugely complicated".

The Queen’s Circus roundabout in Battersea is being revamped as part of a plan to overhaul large sections of the street network in Nine Elms on the South Bank to prepare the former industrial area for a major increase in the residential and working population. Wandsworth Council says the long-term aim is to make Nine  Elms one of the most cycle and pedestrian friendly districts in central London.

The roundabout design puts a cycle path round the perimeter of the roundabout, separated from motor traffic by kerbs and traffic islands.

Progress through the roundabout will be controlled by traffic lights. Stop Killing Cyclists co-founder Donnachadh McCarthy was one of many critics pointing out that this was not up to the standards of cycling provision at roundabouts in the Netherlands. He said: "in Dutch designs, the cyclists would have right of way."

It's this feature of the design that has that has attracted criticism, with campaigners saying the proliferation of lights is "confusing", "hugely complicated" and "like a traffic light engineer's dream".

In a blog post the London Cycling Campaign said: "London Cycling Campaign expressed serious concerns about this design when we saw them last year.

"Currently cyclists make up about a third of the morning peak hour flow on the roundabout. Often there are so many that they fill a whole traffic lane and cars give them space.

"The new design gives less space to cyclists with added delay… That can only lead to congestion and risk taking behaviour.

"While the proposals at Battersea provide segregation from motor traffic at the busiest points it is at the cost of a confusing set of signals which are likely to increase the number of times cyclists have to stop and increase the waiting time, especially for those coming out of town in the evening peak."

The LCC's Charlie Lloyd told Kaya Burgess of The Times: “Our view is that it’s far too complicated and people won’t understand it. Dutch designers would not put traffic lights on a roundabout in this position. More likely, it would work better to take out the roundabout and have a crossroads, especially because of the massive north-south flow.”

Wandsworth transport spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This is an innovative design and we expect it will be the first major roundabout in London which separates cyclists from other traffic in this way. There will be segregated cycle lanes and the points at which riders cross the road will be controlled by traffic lights to avoid any potential conflict. We hope this will be a blueprint others can follow."

More detailed critiques of the design came from Danny Williams on his Cyclists in the City blog, and Stop Killing Cyclists co-founder Donnachadh McCarthy.

McCarthy said that making provision for cycling at all was an improvement on Wandsworth's "terrible record on cycling provision (zero segregated cycle lanes over last 4 years built)" and noted that the new roundabout design has "protected left-hand turns at all relevant points… This is the key pinch-point where trucks kill cyclists most often."

However, he said, "It is NOT a segregated cycle lane - the vast majority of it is just the usual paint on the ground and so not child friendly. If infrastructure fails the 8 year old test - it is not up to Dutch standards.

"The design at present is quite confusing, which makes it more dangerous.

"The design requires the cyclists to stop at lights, whereas in Dutch designs, the cyclists would have right of way. This could add up to one minute to a commute, which is a lot for just one junction.

"Ideally they would have removed car-access/egress from the minor roads to make the junction simpler."

Danny Williams writes: "What we have here is have a heavily-engineered and heavily-managed splurge on traffic-lights to manage motor traffic queues, with bike tracks and pedestrian crossings working around the motor flow. It feels like the traffic light people gatecrashed a party that would have worked much better without them."

According to Williams, the design's problems have their roots in the council's choice of which road users are being given most weight in the plan.

He writes: "The clue is in the Wandsworth council committee papers. Three of the five justifications for this design are related to motor traffic flow and guess which is the top priority?"

According to the committee papers: "There is limited means of managing queues that develop or ensuring equitable discharge of traffic around the roundabout."

Williams adds: "There's no getting away from the fact, this roundabout has been designed to manage motor traffic flow first and foremost. It does create significantly better crossings for pedestrians. And it does create a Dutch-"style" approach that gives space for safer cycling around the roundabout. The whole thing feels over-complicated for both pedestrians and cyclists who could have benefited better from a proper Dutch roundabout. This would have given people on foot and on bikes priority over motor vehicles."

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

57 comments

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dp24 [201 posts] 1 year ago
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Quote:

“This is an innovative design"

Why does it need to be 'innovative'? Copying the Dutch infrastructure may not be innovative but it'd be more effective.

At least they're thinking about better cycle infrastructure, but the simple fact is that it's yet another case of them being too scared to go all the way with it, because they're afraid of the backlash from motorists and associated adverse publicity.

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SteppenHerring [328 posts] 1 year ago
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I find that design bizarre and confusing - and I'm from Swindon.

The lines would seem to indicate that motor vehicles coming off the roundabout have to give way to bicycles on the lane to the left of them. Some questions:
a) Will they see them?
b) Even if they see them, will they give way?
c) If they do give way and a queue builds up back onto the rest of the roundabout, how is it not going to cause chaos?
d) Why?

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bendertherobot [1073 posts] 1 year ago
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Yep. I think the point is that cyclists have priority, which is great. But, as stated, the chances of cars entering and exiting the roundabout are slim. It will be like entering the twilight zone or something.

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YorkshireMike [91 posts] 1 year ago
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Looks like an absolute mind fuck to me.

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Wolfshade [187 posts] 1 year ago
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It is a confusing mess. How many cars are going to end up in the cycle lane section?

We all know that the white lines are going to end up being worn off, and that really doesn't help deliniate between "motor lane" and "cycle lane", a raise curb for protection should do the job.

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naambezet [9 posts] 1 year ago
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It doesn't even come close, only similarity is that it's a roundabout. I would have struggles there driving or cycling and I'm Dutch.

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AyBee [85 posts] 1 year ago
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F*ck me, an extra minute to the commute? Better let the boss know you'll be late!

London is never going to be like the Netherlands, get over it! They're doing their best. Giving cyclists right of way on one junction is a recipe for disaster if they don't have it everywhere (which isn't going to happen), so you can't do it here. Most cyclists I see on my commute would ignore the lights anyway!

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Paul_C [463 posts] 1 year ago
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SteppenHerring wrote:

I find that design bizarre and confusing - and I'm from Swindon.

The lines would seem to indicate that motor vehicles coming off the roundabout have to give way to bicycles on the lane to the left of them. Some questions:
a) Will they see them?
b) Even if they see them, will they give way?
c) If they do give way and a queue builds up back onto the rest of the roundabout, how is it not going to cause chaos?
d) Why?

there are traffic lights there to stop motor vehicles exiting when cyclists have a green!!!!! But crucially, not on all the exits and entrances... it's basically a clusterf*ck... to put it politely.

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 1 year ago
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bendertherobot wrote:

Yep. I think the point is that cyclists have priority, which is great. But, as stated, the chances of cars entering and exiting the roundabout are slim. It will be like entering the twilight zone or something.

Do cyclists have priority? I don't think they do. There aren't give-way markings on the exits from the on-roundabout car lanes. Each exit is a two-way signalised junction with one cycling and one motor arm.

FFS, why can't we do this properly!

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pubcyclist [24 posts] 1 year ago
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What's the idea with blocking off the left lane with islands ? Get in the wrong one and drivers are going to be left being jettisoned down a road they don't want to be on, probably just as they're thinking about that theres a cycle lane to give way to..... accident waiting to happen.  35

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truffy [653 posts] 1 year ago
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It /is/ a Dutch roundabout...only designed by a committee.

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Cantab [93 posts] 1 year ago
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Complaining about lights regulating the cycle lane while wanting to foist them on drivers is contrary. As is moaning about motor traffic flow being prioritised (a two thirds majority of traffic at peak hours and therefore the key determinant of congestion which affects cyclists as well as motorists).
The most worrying parts of this design aren't the traffic light-managed major entrances/exits but the minor exits which have no controls and are therefore at the whim of motorists checking their mirror and blind spot properly for cyclists in their lane around the periphery. The key problems here being motorists are not used to doing that anywhere else and are having to deal with many small and unpredictable hazards simultaneously (which they struggle with while texting their mum about what they're having for tea...).
As with all these things the solution will inevitably be a compromise balancing the needs of different user groups. As cyclists we despair when our needs are not considered but that doesn't mean we should take to demanding they're considered above everyone else's.

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bendertherobot [1073 posts] 1 year ago
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cat1commuter wrote:
bendertherobot wrote:

Yep. I think the point is that cyclists have priority, which is great. But, as stated, the chances of cars entering and exiting the roundabout are slim. It will be like entering the twilight zone or something.

Do cyclists have priority? I don't think they do. There aren't give-way markings on the exits from the on-roundabout car lanes. Each exit is a two-way signalised junction with one cycling and one motor arm.

FFS, why can't we do this properly!

Why wouldn't, in the absence of a light stopping one party or another, the inside lane not have priority from the vehicle seeking to cut across it to exit?

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zanf [837 posts] 1 year ago
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The sad thing is this will probably be built despite all the opposition, it being a waste of money and will not improve the situation at all.

Cycling infra is utterly fucked in this country until all these shitheads in local government (who have spent far too long with their snouts buried deep in the trough) are removed and replaced by people who care and have a fucking clue.

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 1 year ago
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Cantab wrote:

As with all these things the solution will inevitably be a compromise balancing the needs of different user groups. As cyclists we despair when our needs are not considered but that doesn't mean we should take to demanding they're considered above everyone else's.

Not really. If less traffic congestion from cars is desired then you have to make the alternatives of cycling or public transport more convenient/faster/cheaper (and safe). This can be achieved in part by prioritising cyclists over motorists and providing less space on the road for motor vehicles ... and more for cyclists.

Bristol's red-trouser-wearing mayor George Ferguson is doing precisely that despite the protests from the pro-car lobby. Here's an interview with him in Cycling Weekly;

http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/interview-bristols-mayor...

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Scoob_84 [381 posts] 1 year ago
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it would be more helpful if that CGI showed the roundabout working in rush hour traffic

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Jude87 [16 posts] 1 year ago
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Even on this picture to demonstrate how it works, bottom left, would a cyclist be able to know which light was which? Red light on the left of the road, green light on the right. Plus, I have used this roundabout hundreds of times and is actually one of the safer ones because its lanes are so wide, it's easy to hug the edge.

How much money has been wasted just coming up with this design? Looks like the kind of thing I would have made with a spirograph, at 4 years old.

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Cranky Acid [40 posts] 1 year ago
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Lot of assumptions you are making there.

-Part of encouraging cycling (good for cyclists and drivers) is creating a positive differential for cyclists. Easier, faster.

-No reason London couldn't function like NL.

-Agree about one junction. Revision of Highway Code is long overdue and could include rights of way. Why not; see point 1.

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HKCambridge [222 posts] 1 year ago
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Cantab wrote:

Complaining about lights regulating the cycle lane while wanting to foist them on drivers is contrary. As is moaning about motor traffic flow being prioritised (a two thirds majority of traffic at peak hours and therefore the key determinant of congestion which affects cyclists as well as motorists).
The most worrying parts of this design aren't the traffic light-managed major entrances/exits but the minor exits which have no controls and are therefore at the whim of motorists checking their mirror and blind spot properly for cyclists in their lane around the periphery. The key problems here being motorists are not used to doing that anywhere else and are having to deal with many small and unpredictable hazards simultaneously (which they struggle with while texting their mum about what they're having for tea...).
As with all these things the solution will inevitably be a compromise balancing the needs of different user groups. As cyclists we despair when our needs are not considered but that doesn't mean we should take to demanding they're considered above everyone else's.

No-one else is going to demand rights for cycling, why shouldn't we? I don't see Stagecoach going round saying 'No sure, we don't really need a bus lane, there are private motor vehicles to consider'.

And as far as good of the city goes, why shouldn't we be, if not at the top, then just under pedestrians?

Car use didn't come out of a vacuum. We built for cars for decades, so that's what we got. If we start building for cycling - really building for cycling, of all abilities and ages, we'll get more cycling. The distances aren't too great - 69% of journeys in the UK are under 5 miles.

You don't need to remove access for motor vehicles, but if we take out a few car lanes, the world will not fall in. People adjust to the circumstances.

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balmybaldwin [157 posts] 1 year ago
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There has long been a school of thought that confusing road layoutss cause everyone to be more careful drivers, peds and cyclists a like.

The problem is that in London especially,but across the uk now, there seems to be a me me me mentality when on the roads which just isnt compatible. It might work ok in town centres, but on major thoroughfairs?

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Argos74 [392 posts] 1 year ago
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Just when we thought we'd sorted out the drugs problem in cycling, this comes along.

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vanmildert [50 posts] 1 year ago
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Looks ok to me as a first effort- cyclists are segregated? The point is drivers need to start to learn cyclists have priority in these situations. This kind of segregation is part of that education process. It has to start somewhere.

I don't see why it's that complicated -it's just an inner roundabout and an outer one where the cyclists have priority. Yes the responsibility will be on drivers to give priority but unless we attempt things like this there is no progression or evolution. Hopefully this will be another step forward. This kind of investment in cycling infrastructure should be encouraged. If the road CC community can't encourage it how can we expect things to move forward?

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lycra vs lager [20 posts] 1 year ago
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In Birmingham an artists impression would need to have a van parked on every curb and minicabs in all 5 lanes

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Duncann [559 posts] 1 year ago
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The lights for exiting the roundabout seem confusing. While a driver may have red on his right and ahead, if turning and looking let he/she is perhaps more likely to have the single cyclist-intended green in their line of sight.

Likewise cyclists wishing to continue on the roundabout may have the driver-intended light more clearly in their vision. And this is before the lights get even slightly twisted out of position or the cowlings fall off.

Agree that some physical barrier between the cycle and motor lanes would be preferable (and more space-efficient) too.

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PantanAYEMAN [8 posts] 1 year ago
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I'd guess that the cyclists' lights will have the little bicycle mask on them, as is tradition.

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bikebot [1920 posts] 1 year ago
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My guess, "Dutch-style" means the designers were stoned.

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zanf [837 posts] 1 year ago
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vanmildert wrote:

Looks ok to me as a first effort- cyclists are segregated? The point is drivers need to start to learn cyclists have priority in these situations.

Looks ok as a first effort? This is the design that is going in. It is considered the final design.

It is a fucking shambles.

Why mix traffic lights with roundabouts: have either but mixing them is an instant cause of confusion.

There is no real segregation: its just more paint with a few islands that creates more points of conflict.

vanmildert wrote:

This kind of segregation is part of that education process. It has to start somewhere.

Better solutions have already been devised that iron out all of the issues that this design introduces (and fails to eradicate from the current roundabout).

The price to pay for that learning process (which should be on the drawing board and testing centre, not on the roads) is going to be collisions involving, and injuring, cyclists.

The bottom line of why this design is so shit is because it comes from a mindset where traffic flow is paramount and everything else is an afterthought.

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CycCoSi [29 posts] 1 year ago
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Can anyone imagine WVM or a taxi driver going from 6 o'clock to 12 o'oclock.

Carnage  35

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levermonkey [664 posts] 1 year ago
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A major problem with this design is its 'schizophrenic' nature.

Queenstown Road and Prince of Wales Drive - entry and exit controlled by lights. Carriage Drive South, Service Station access and the Retail access are not.

I fear there will be blood if this design is implemented as it is.

Take a good look at the exit from the retail between Queenstown [North] and Prince of Wales Drive [East], cars have to cross two lanes of cycles to get to a car lane. Cars entering this retail have to cross over a chevron 'ghost' island. In case your wondering look at picture 1, this retail access/egress is at the bottom of the picture.

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workhard [397 posts] 1 year ago
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motor-centric knob-jockey designed fuck-shambling omni-shite twattery that will kill people.

and when it does the same knob-jockey will re-design it to make it even more motor-centric and even more dangerous for cyclists.

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