LCC reveals how Bow roundabout could have looked had TfL heeded safety advice

Meanwhile, local charity teaches youngsters how to negotiate junction - but only if they can't avoid it

by Simon_MacMichael   November 25, 2011  

LCC Bow Roundabout Design

London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has unveiled a graphic of how Bow Roundabout, where two cyclists have died in recent weeks, could have looked if Transport for London (TfL) had taken into account LCC’s views and those of a firm of consultants it had itself engaged. Meanwhile a local charity that advises youngsters to steer clear of the roundabout while cycling is now teaching them how to negotiate it safely if they have no other choice.

Brian Dorling, aged 58, was killed on the morning of 24 October as he headed to work at the Olympic Park, while 34-year-old Bow resident Svitlana Tereschenko lost her life on a different part of the interchange on the evening of 11 November. Tipper lorries were involved in both fatalities.

In the wake of Ms Tereschenko’s death, it was revealed that recommendations contained in a report commissioned by TfL prior to the installation of Barclays Cycle Superhighway CS7, which finishes at Bow roundabout, had been ignored, as had safety concerns expressed by LCC.

At a meeting with the Dorling family earlier this week, Mr Johnson, who has revealed that Bow is the first junction to be assessed in a review he has ordered, said that he had been unaware of the report’s existence.

Safety features included in the design produced by LCC include traffic lights at all pedestrian and cycle crossings, off-carriageway bike lanes, wider pavements with a smaller roundabout, and requiring motor vehicles to execute sharper turns, thereby reducing their speed.

The mock-up doesn’t show the Bow flyover, which would run bottom left to top right, presumably because doing so would obscure the view of the featured proposals on the roundabout itself, nor the A102 which runs underneath.

According to LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha, “Our diagram shows there’s space for providing both cycle tracks and pedestrian crossings at Bow.

“The Mayor must explain to Londoners why these cost-effective safety measures at Bow were rejected resulting in two avoidable cyclist deaths.”

Meanwhile, an East London-based charity that won a London Cycling Award last year for its Re-cycle project working with young people in Tower Hamlets, says it has always warned the disadvantaged youths aged 12-22 it works with to steer clear of the roundabout when on their bikes.

Poplar-based Streets of Growth acknowledges though that for some, the roundabout is unavoidable, and is therefore now giving specific advice on how they should deal with it on their bikes if they have no other choice but to use it.

Darren Way, founder of the charity, told the East London Advertiser: “That roundabout has always been dangerous.”

“When I was a kid it was known as the risk and run. From day one the whole set-up there was dreadful.

“It’s so bad we have to say to our young people don’t cycle there. I think the blue lines have simply done one thing – give cyclists a false sense of safety and priority.”

Politicians, too are keeping the issue of the safety of cyclists high on the agenda. London Assembly members Jenny Jones of the Green Party and Labour’s Val Shawcross have tabled a motion for 7 December which urges Mr Johnson to draw up a list of junctions where cyclists have been killed over the past three years.

It also calls upon him to provide an explanation of why any proposed safety measures at such locations, such as at Kings Cross where student Min Joo Lee died underneath the wheels of a lorry last month, were not put in place.

The motion reads:

Safety of cyclists on London’s road network

Proposer: Jenny Jones
Seconder: Valerie Shawcross

This Assembly deeply regrets the deaths of cyclists on London's road network and wishes to express its condolences for the loss felt by their relatives and friends.

We are concerned that some cyclist deaths and injuries could have been avoided if the road network designs for the locations where these deaths and injuries occurred had been safer.

We therefore call on the Mayor and Transport for London to:

  • produce a list of the 10 most dangerous locations for cyclists on the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) and all locations in London where a cyclist has died in the last three years;
  • report on any proposals that were put forward by cycling and road safety groups as part of official consultation processes for redesigning roads at those locations; and
  • provide the reasons why such proposals were rejected.

21 user comments

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Is this road layout similar to Gabalfa (with flyover) in Cardiff?

If I'm on the A470 in Cardiff I take the flyover or the cycleway's beneath (which use underpasses to avoid the frenetic navigation). Once on the flyover (yes there are exit slips which can be a problem but one has to take care, ride at a reasonable pace assert oneself) the traffic travels in the same driection at least.

I hardly ever use the junction via the Whitchurch Rd (see A469 on South side) as it means entering and exiting a roundabout where everyone corners at 30mph + .

Making the roundabout smaller won't make it much safer IME especially for the vehicular traffic. The crossings are good but having to wait for 5 sequences may be off-putting for some.

For reference:

http://bit.ly/s2CXxu

posted by IHphoto [75 posts]
25th November 2011 - 0:34

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As i have never seen this roundabout or cycled much in london, does anyone have a similar shot of what it looks like now or do you just take the blue lines away? Thinking

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posted by Gkam84 [8637 posts]
25th November 2011 - 1:10

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IHphoto wrote:
Is this road layout similar to Gabalfa (with flyover) in Cardiff?

Pretty much, yes - dual carriageway running under the roundabout, flyover perpendicular to that going over the top.

Remember it well from Cardiff days, not sure I'd want to cycle round it mind.

Only major roundabout I tackle regularly nowadays is the A34/A44 Peartree roundabout N of Oxford (which also serves as interchange to A40 half a mile to the S).

It has off-road cycle paths on the approaches and on the roundabout itself - not the best, but I've seen worse - so only traffic you have to deal with is coming on/off the slip roads and you don't have to wait too long for a gap.

Most cycle traffic at Bow I think runs W-E and vice versa (don't forget N-S traffic has the floating towapath to avoid it altogether), so if the two sets of relevant lights in each direction were synchronised, you're only waiting once as far as I can see?

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7820 posts]
25th November 2011 - 1:11

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Gkam84 wrote:
As i have never seen this roundabout or cycled much in london, does anyone have a similar shot of what it looks like now or do you just take the blue lines away? Thinking

Charlie Lloyd from LCC has a set of eight pics on Flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/96144932@N00/sets/72157628021873343/

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7820 posts]
25th November 2011 - 1:16

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That design still looks a real mess to me. You can't mix cyclists and heavy traffic on a dual carriageway roundabout.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1321 posts]
25th November 2011 - 1:26

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I'd do this and others on the carriageway The peripheral path & crossings approach still places cycle traffic in the firing line and unless the exit junctions are signalised you've potentially a square-on impact with any vehicle coming round the roundabout.

The lanes marked by TfL took no account of left turning traffic
and placed cyclists right in the firing line

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [468 posts]
25th November 2011 - 1:53

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Thanks for the link Simon, I guess there is no other route that can bypass that roundabout without incurring a long detour? The only reason i thought that was the amount of people calling for change and the number of accidents

I would rather stick a few miles onto a commute over using that monster, HOW could TFL even think that was going to work?

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posted by Gkam84 [8637 posts]
25th November 2011 - 1:59

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Good pics simon - show just how ineffectual the big blue line theory of cycle planning is. They don't make a blind bit of difference really.

I don't take this route but I do know that there are a couple of sensible alternatives higher and lower to cross the A12 but they are a looooong way from the ideal E-W route and would add a good 10 minutes for anyone going from Stratford to City (thinking of the new olympic bridge from viewtube or the pedestrian bridge to Victoria Park.) The road either side of this roundabout are horrible too, masses of traffic, lots of side roads and lights. If it were my route I would plan and ride a spaghetti route to avoid them (that's the fun of London commuting, finding ever quieter and safer routes home!).

If I were to ride this round about then looking at the proposal it would be down to the light sequence to me - if you could get a complete E-W in one change I would use the bike lanes, if you couldn't I would 'be traffic'.

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posted by alotronic [242 posts]
25th November 2011 - 8:14

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Remember - this is part of a cycle super highway. TfL has been promoting it. Rather than people avoiding the junction they have been led to beleive this is part of a cycle route into central London. It's not just a case of cyclists finding a quieter route; TfL has led people into the danger zone.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
25th November 2011 - 9:38

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(Not a Kenny Loggins Danger Zone. A horrible east London danger zone.)

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
25th November 2011 - 9:52

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I always use the flyover going east to west (or vice versa). Yes you have to move accross the traffic but at least everything is moving in the same direction and once you're on the flyover there is loads of space. Coming down the other side you're doing a similar speed to other traffic when the lanes merge. Not perfect but that roundabout is nasty.

posted by gifftopher [9 posts]
25th November 2011 - 10:52

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Coleman wrote:
Remember - this is part of a cycle super highway. TfL has been promoting it. Rather than people avoiding the junction they have been led to beleive this is part of a cycle route into central London. It's not just a case of cyclists finding a quieter route; TfL has led people into the danger zone.

Very good point.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7820 posts]
25th November 2011 - 11:16

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John Franklyn (Cyclecraft) and Dave Dansky both recommend that where a roundabout appears to be dangerous (either due layout or the ability of the rider) - get off and become a pedestrian - sometimes it's safer to go slow, especially as once back on the bike it's way faster than being in the car, stuck in a jam!

Not that I'm excusing bad layouts, there are plenty of those, as road design will always be a balance of cost vs "main" road user groups (motorised vehicles) vs "minor" road user groups (everyone else). Pedestrian islands are another example of where pedestrian safety has superseded the safety of the cyclist - The cyclist is now faced with either kerb hugging and being squeezed by overtaking cars (yes some driver will try it and some cyclists think it's safe) or taking the lane (in 30 mph traffic) which not all riders are physically capable of.

for me - The ride is about adventure, camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment that comes after a long day in the saddle.

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posted by Mountain-Nic [119 posts]
25th November 2011 - 11:20

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Mountain-Nic wrote:
John Franklyn (Cyclecraft) and Dave Dansky both recommend that where a roundabout appears to be dangerous (either due layout or the ability of the rider) - get off and become a pedestrian

One of the issues with Bow (and a number of other junctions in London) is that it's a nightmare for pedestrians too.

Further South on the A102, when they opened the Sainsbury's on the peninsula, no changes whatsoever were made to the roundabout on the Greenwich/Woolwich road.

So as a pedestrian, coming from Greenwich direction, you either took a 5-minute or so detour, or you clambered over the barriers, dodged the speeding traffic heading towards the tunnel, and headed to the supermarket.

Guess what everyone did? It wasn't the detour.

Then, to get to the supermarket itself, you had to head across a 'path of deisre' that was quickly trodden into the grass surrounding the car park because, apparently, no-one envisaged anyone wanting to visit the place on foot, or to want to take the most direct route when they did so.

Another roundabout where cyclists have lost their lives, by the way.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7820 posts]
25th November 2011 - 11:32

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Quote:
Pedestrian islands are another example of where pedestrian safety has superseded the safety of the cyclist

let's not forget that pedestrian islands have only become necessary because of an underlying belief that motor traffic shouldn't have to wait for someone to walk all the way across a road... traffic flow comes first, as ever

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7222 posts]
25th November 2011 - 11:39

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Yes coleman good point about TFL pushing people into these areas. Not reasonable or responsible.

Personally it took me one ride in London to figure out that LCC etc routes were often a waste of time and not to be relied on (and yes, I am a paying member). I enjoy sorting out new routes but appreciate that some people just want to ride to work in the shortest possible time in which case the provision in London is sometimes passable but often misleadingly dangerous.

Now ped islands. Yes they squeeze the traffic and are often bad for cyclists but when walking I love them. They often coincide with 'desire lines'. Overall I accept the compromise, however I am able to keep up the 20-25mph you need to get through those areas safely - pretty sure they are no good for slower or newer cyclists.

Which brings me to one of those commuting conundrums - it's often better to be going towards car speed, which is a lot faster than the ambient cycling traffic speed. This creates it's own danger, and something that has notably increased my stress over the last few years in London where cycling traffic is so much more than it used to be. I have now started to factor in popularity with cyclists as a negative on route selection...

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posted by alotronic [242 posts]
25th November 2011 - 12:04

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Yeah good points Simon and Nic (Hi mate, long time) et al.
On pedestrian islands....this from a clubride the other week, recorded on the GoPro : http://youtu.be/N3NkvH2RuUM . I've seen motorists cut in rather than stop or just drive right round the wrong side, even on large ones with a pelican crossing! Criminal.

I'll post some footage from the Gabalfa one later too. I much prefer the flyover or, if in a slower paced mood with no pressure, using the cycleways- the roundabout is horrible.

posted by IHphoto [75 posts]
26th November 2011 - 3:56

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Gabalfa, Cardiff in Rush-hour yesterday: taking the flyover:

http://youtu.be/4PDSZYm9qLc

posted by IHphoto [75 posts]
26th November 2011 - 14:57

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cat1commuter said:

"That design still looks a real mess to me. You can't mix cyclists and heavy traffic on a dual carriageway roundabout."

I think the point is that the current situation forces walkers and cyclists to cross the path of fast-moving heavy traffic...

whereas the LCC design takes the cycle lanes completely off the busy roads and adds toucan crossings to make sure cyclists and walkers can cross without danger.

True, the lights will slow cyclist journeys somewhat, but if the they're timed so you can cross in one go, this delay shouldn't be excessive.

There are perhaps even better solutions, which involve taking out the underpass and the flyover, but that's probably not realistic in today's economic climate

posted by fluffy_mike [79 posts]
28th November 2011 - 13:45

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Used this route for about ten years in the '90's and this is exactly how I remember it as well. The tricky bit heading west into town was always getting up to speed to cross the outer of the three lanes onto the middle which went over the flyover.

Heading home eastwards the problem was always on the descent off the flyover where the two flyover lanes met the third inner lane of fast moving traffic merging from the roundabout which seemed curiously/alarmingly blind to cycles moving at pace.

Truly shocked in a shivery sort of way to learn of two deaths here.

Must admit I never took the roundabout after a couple of trial goes unless I'd been completely balked in trying to get across to the middle lane. Just too slow a way round when that personal clock is always a-tick-tick-ticking inside one's head. One's commute can make even the mildest surprisingly competitive and thus at times make decisions that might appear rash or lay one open to being unlucky.

Is it likely that if the official cycle route runs round the roundabout then cyclist will be banned from the flyover itself?

cheers m'dears

2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Road
2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez Broken
1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/shopper
1980 Orbea project

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posted by daviddb [120 posts]
28th November 2011 - 18:42

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good video Ian. I generally find things move a lot slower in the very centre of London but have no experience out at Bow.

Pete

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posted by PeteH [159 posts]
28th November 2011 - 22:03

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