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Following an attempt at a cycling-friendly roundabout in 2014 the UK's cycling city seems to have got it right...

A Dutch-style roundabout was given approval last week to improve a collision blackspot in Cambridge, in what local campaigners are calling a “step change” in standards for cycling infrastructure.

The radical transformation of the Queen Edith’s Way/Fendon Road Roundabout was proposed following 14 cyclist-car collisions in five years, along with improved cycle lanes on two of the roads leading to the junction.

The roundabout is part of an important route to local schools, Peterhouse Technology Park, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Biomedical Campus, and the roads leading off the roundabout will see new cycle lanes too. Cambridgeshire County Council says the junction was a major barrier to cycling and walking, and says it will “achieve a very high quality design” as it finalises the details.

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

Transport Research Laboratory Dutch Roundabout

Transport Research Laboratory Dutch Roundabout

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson told road.cc they were given construction approval for the roundabout by the County Council’s Economy & Environment Committee last week.

"The roundabout has a poor safety record and is a major barrier for people walking and cycling in the area. The centre of the roundabout is so high that it is difficult to see over it - users have little time to see approaching vehicles.

“The tighter geometry of the new roundabout design should reduce vehicle speeds and new parallel crossings on the orbital cycle lane give cyclists and pedestrians priority at each arm,” said the spokesperson.

They said the detailed designs will ensure access to the orbital cycle lane at every arm, as well as diverting turning cyclists as early as possible so drivers can see where they are heading.

“We have an opportunity to work with the Dutch Cycling Embassy on the roundabout design – we feel confident that we will achieve a very high quality design by the end of it,” said the spokesperson.

In a Council consultation 67 per cent of respondents said cycling and walking improvements were needed on Queen Edith’s Way, with 32% reporting they felt unsafe cycling there, 7% very unsafe; while 24% felt safe, and 5% very safe

Among cyclists, 48% found the roundabout to be a “key safety issue”.

QEW e.jpg

QEW e.jpg

Directly above and below: The roundabout as it is now

Traffic speed and difficulty for pedestrians and cyclists to see approaching traffic when crossing the roundabout were among the top safety concerns raised. To address these problems, the turning circle for motor traffic is now tighter, with sharper angles at turnings. As in the Netherlands a cycle lane will run around the outside of the traffic lane, in this case separated by a grass verge, and motor traffic will give way to pedestrians and cyclists at each arm. Early designs also show a zebra crossing on each arm.

QEW f.jpg

QEW f.jpg

Cycle routes will lead East and West towards Hills Road and Cherry Hinton Road.

Two options have been proposed for each: on the route towards Hills Road a 2m wide raised cycle track, level with the pavement, is proposed, either with or without a grass verge separating it from pedestrians. Towards Cherry Hinton Road a 2m wide painted advisory cycle lane is proposed, also with or without a grass verge between it and the footway.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign welcomed approval of the plans. A statement on its website said: “This is a very exciting moment for Cambridge and the UK and represents a step-change in the standard of cycling infrastructure.”

However, while the campaign welcomed the design of part of the cycle route, which will be raised to pavement level, it called a painted advisory cycle lane on Queen Edith’s Way “problematic”, and offering those cycling too little protection from traffic. According to council figures there have been 25 collisions involving a car and a cyclist on Queen Edith’s Way in the past five years, and the campaign has called on the council to rethink the painted lane. 

This is not the UK’s first Dutch roundabout – one was built in Bedford in 2014. Another so-called “Dutch” roundabout, built in Cambridge in 2014, came under heavy criticism as instead of giving cyclists priority on the roundabout, as in the Netherlands, it required them to mount the pavement and give way to motor traffic at every junction. One week later a 12-year-old boy was injured at the site.

Cambridge’s Hills Road already boasts a protected cycleway, which was due to be completed in Summer 2016.

According to the Council local developers are contributing £3m to cycling and junction improvements on Queen Edith’s Way, Cherry Hinton Road and the Robin Hood junction.

 

13 comments

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Ratfink [143 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

Considering most drivers seem unable to even use a signal these days i reckon it could be quite hair raising hoping they are going adhere to the give way.

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davel [1242 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

Yeah a concern here is that it'll take some bedding in, cyclists will still get hit, and it'll be abandoned as proof that bits of the Dutch model don't work over here.

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alexb [161 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

There's one just like that at Queen's Circle in Battersea. I've used it twice,. Never again. The cars ignore the traffic lights at the junctions and sail through when they're green for the cyclists. As a cyclist you get stopped repeatedly as you make your way around the circle and it's apparent that you are in the blind spot of large vehicles as they turn across the junction at about 45 degrees.

Every time I see one of these I just wonder why it's not just converted into a simple traffic light controlled cross-roads with traffic cameras.

I know the theory, and in a gentler world, I'm sure it would work, but my experience was pretty negative and I feel safer on a conventional junction.

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HarrogateSpa [462 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes

I don't think we should be too negative about this. Most of us argue for quality cycle infrastructure, then when it comes along, we complain about it.

Ok, this might not work quite as well as in the Netherlands, where everybody is used to it and knows what to do, but it should be good. It does appear to be the best possible design for cycling and walking.

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bikebot [2120 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes
alexb wrote:

There's one just like that at Queen's Circle in Battersea.

Completely different design, it has about a million traffic lights for one thing. The cycle lane is directly adjacent to the motortraffic rather than laid out as an orbital ring (car length seperation), hence the sightline problem.  Central traffic lanes resemble a mini-turbo,  which of course does the opposite of calming traffic.

Converting to a conventional signal controlled cross-roads (repositioning the two minor roads) was the LCC recommendation during consultation.

 

 

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Arceye [20 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Holy crap!! That island is going to cause more problems than a normal island could ever do. 

14 cyclist collisions in four years... and the solution is going to cause more.

The rules of an island are give way to the Right. This is telling drivers exiting the island to give way to the Left. 

 

Segragated lanes or even cycle lanes are not the answer, they all need to be removed entirely in the UK. Driver education and very stiff punishments are the only way forward.

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kitsunegari [195 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Lets hope its more of a success than the last "dutch" style roundabout built in Cambridge which has been a poorly thought out utter disaster.

This roundabout is incredibley dangerous and the biggest problem with it is people come speeding off either Perne road or straight over from Fendon road onto Mowbray Road (the road heading upwards on the diagram), and don't indicate or take any notice of cyclists. 

There are also valid concerns about drivers actually bothering to take notice of the changed right of way; time will tell I guess.

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adoapplemac [5 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
alexb wrote:

There's one just like that at Queen's Circle in Battersea. I've used it twice,. Never again. The cars ignore the traffic lights at the junctions and sail through when they're green for the cyclists. As a cyclist you get stopped repeatedly as you make your way around the circle and it's apparent that you are in the blind spot of large vehicles as they turn across the junction at about 45 degrees.

Every time I see one of these I just wonder why it's not just converted into a simple traffic light controlled cross-roads with traffic cameras.

I know the theory, and in a gentler world, I'm sure it would work, but my experience was pretty negative and I feel safer on a conventional junction.

 

This is nothing like the one in Battersea, which is a poor design.

 

This roundabout has no traffic lights, instead it has priority crossings for pedestrians and cyclists. Also, this only has one lane for traffic, unlike the many lanes on the Battersea roundabout. Drivers are forced to slow down by the tight geometry and the priority crossings are set back one car length for the roundabout which creates much better sight lines for both drivers and cyclists. 

Avatar
adoapplemac [5 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes
Arceye wrote:

Holy crap!! That island is going to cause more problems than a normal island could ever do. 

14 cyclist collisions in four years... and the solution is going to cause more.

The rules of an island are give way to the Right. This is telling drivers exiting the island to give way to the Left. 

 

Segragated lanes or even cycle lanes are not the answer, they all need to be removed entirely in the UK. Driver education and very stiff punishments are the only way forward.

 

Vehicular cycling is a failure and normal British roundabouts are dangerous collision blackspots for cyclists. 

 

This is a proven safe design used throughout the Netherlands. It will take time for Cambridge drivers to get used to the new layout, but given enough time, there's no reason why it won't work here. Dutch drivers are no better than British drivers in general, it's just that they're more used to these types of road layouts. Plus, I expect Cambridge cyclists will be very cautious at first, because this design will be new to them too. I don't think most cyclists will take the priority without making sure cars are stopping for them, at least until everyone gets used to the design.

 

As long as the final detailed design is high quality according to Dutch standards, then there's no reason why this won't work. 

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fukawitribe [1923 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

@SP59 - yep, all good points. It ain't broke yet though, never know - this one might actually work although I share a good deal of your pessimism...

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Sailraw [1 post] 7 months ago
0 likes

 

It is great that Cambridge will get a new roundabout to a high standard for cyclists and other road users.

What is not great is the inacuaracy of this article. The previous roundabout does not require cyclists to leave the road it gives a choice of doing so or remaining on the road.

The accident within a week, within a week of what? And what evidence is there that this accident was caused by the design or otherwise. If so what other acidents have occured that supports this theory?

 

Please be accurate or you will lose credibility. Do not make up facts to support your article.

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Paul V [3 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

This article is the perfect example of why this country gets bad infra. Lavish praise is repeatedly poured on something that is inappropriate or just plain dangerous.

As a Cambridge cyclist, I can confirm that the traffic volume at this location will make this design  unsafe. Traffic coming fast down the 'hill' will be looking for vehicles as they enter the roundabout and any attempt to cycle across at even a sedate speed will be fraught. You will have to wait for a stopped vehicle, just like at any Zebra crossing

This design  should not be introduced on the Inner RING-ROAD in a country where currently motorists do not expect to give way to anything but another motor vehicle. Of course, I said that in the Consultation but as usual was completely ignored.

The only safe design at this location is grade separation. Further along the Ring-Road the previous attempt failed as well. Cyclists keep to the road as it is much safer.

Another error in the article: Hills Rd does NOT have a protected cycle lane. Traffic is free to enter at any time. Bin lorries, home delivery vehicles, motorists on mobile phones, taxis all use this convenient 'stopping lane'.

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dougie_c [33 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

Such designs rely on drivers to respect the priority of cyclists on the arms of the roundabout even as they displace the cyclist more peripherally in the driver's visual fields. If the junction is a collision blackspot because drivers currently fail to respect the priority of cyclists using the conventional layout, I'm not clear why this will change with the new design. It may even make it more difficult for drivers to anticipate the movements of cyclists.

Still, if the design reduces motor  vehicle speeds, it may be safer. If the unfamiliarity of the layout makes drivers pay more attention, ditto. If a reduction in roadspace for motor vehicles results in an overall reduction in motor traffic, it may even be progressive for the environment.

As long as cyclists who desire brisk progress are still at liberty to take to take their place in the traffic on the classical line on the road, then little is lost.
 

Motor traffic reduction via parking taxation/congestion charging, better policing, strict liability, and proper collision enquiries are more important elements of policy to reduce road danger though.