Sustrans has revealed a list of ten of the roads and junctions in Britain that according to National Cycle Network Manager Martyn Brunt are among those pose the biggest danger to cyclists and need urgent attention to improve safety.
The sustainable transport charity says it is “working flat out to improve the National Cycle Network to help provide safe alternative routes.”
The list is published at a time when The Times newspaper is calling for cyclists to identify the locations they ride through that they consider present the greatest risk using an interactive map as part of its Cities fit for Cycling campaign. Sustrans is encouraging cyclists to add their own blackspots to the map.
Some of the locations will no doubt be familiar to road.cc users who live or work locally, while others have been the subject of stories on the site. Here’s the list, in no particular order, together with Martyn’s comments and, where applicable, ours.
The list isn't a definitive one, and obviously there is a degree of subjectivity involved, and as the first comments below make clear, they may not necessarily reflect the priorities of cyclists living in the locations concerned.
If you have experience of any of these roads or junctions, or if you want to flag up another in your own area, let us know in the comments below – and don’t forget to add it to The Times map.
Tottenham Hale gyratory in London
MB “A massive race track of three-plus lanes. You take your life in your hands if you need anything other than the first exit.”
- Last month, Transport for London confirmed that the Tottenham Hale gyratory would be among the first of the junctions assessed as part of the safety review ordered by Mayor Boris Johnson following a series of deaths of cyclists in the capital during 2011.
A452 between Kenilworth and Leamington Spa in Warwickshire
MB: “The only route between these two towns, the traffic is fast and extremely heavy, and with large numbers of buses and HGVs. A single carriageway along its entire length, it has no cycle facilities except at one roundabout which is poorly sign posted, sending cyclists the wrong way. Should you survive the road itself, busy junctions await you at either end.”
Leith Walk. Edinburgh
MB: “Edinburgh has done, and is doing, loads for cyclists but Leith Walk remains a problem. It's a very popular route for cyclists as it links the Albert Dock and the city centre. But its shocking condition with potholes and rough road surfaces makes it a nightmare to cycle on. The traffic is busy and fast between junctions making the smallest swerve or stumble potentially lethal.”
York Street, Bristol, BS2
MB: “Unavoidable local distributor road which gets jammed twice a day with traffic. There's no provision for cyclists and a nasty mini-roundabout at one end.”
Hainault Road, London
MB: “A very narrow, very fast suburban road with 40mph speeds the norm. Cars totally rule, most cyclists avoid it and those that don't feel truly unwelcome and vulnerable.”
Belgrave Middleway, Birmingham
MB: “This ought to work well for cyclists because it's for buses and bikes only. However it's routinely abused by cars and taxis making it extremely dangerous. The nature of the junction and the access to the cycle path on the opposite side of the road means that if you cross on a bike and a car illegally crosses behind you, you are pitched straight into their path. A recent study showed over 300 motorists illegally crossing this junction every day.”
- Back in November 2010 we reported on how police had fined more than 100 motorists at this junction for offences including driving in the lane intended for buses and cyclists and ignoring traffic signals. Sergeant Danny Cooke of West Midlands Police said: “Drivers who are not paying attention to the lights controlling the cycle lane are posing a particular hazard for cyclists, and we are working with the council to make this area safer.”
Botley Road, Oxford
MB: “Cyclists have to give way on shared use path at multiple intersections, culminating in an accident black-spot at the railway bridge and a six lane motorway outside the station.”
- You could ride on the road, but that can be an intimidating prospect in morning rush-hour heading into the city centre. In any event, you’re forced onto the road ahead of the railway bridge, where the carriageway itself narrows. There are no viable detours, and that junction outside the station? Frideswide Square, where local cycle campaigners Cyclox say planned 'improvements "will almost certainly lead to injury and death to cyclists."
Oxford Street, London
MB: “How can the nation's premier shopping street be so dreadful for cyclists? Wall-to-wall buses and taxis and pedestrians who rarely look when crossing.”
- There are streets running parallel to Oxford Street on the North side in particular that provide a safer alternative, but taxis and other vehicles turning left still present a hazard. The situation on Oxford Street itself has been made worse by Crossrail works. Last year, a bus driver was cleared of causing the death of 25-year-old cyclist Jayne Helliwell in April 2010 by dangerous driving when the prosecution offered no evidence. Immediately after her death, Charlie Lloyd of the London Cycling Campaign said "there seems to have been a failure of organisation between the different arms of TfL in Oxford St."
Holyhead Road, Coventry
MB: "A nicely painted cycle lane lures you on to this road and gives you excellent separation (where it isn't blocked with parked cars) right up to a major junction where it completely abandons you just when you need it most. The road from there is first wide and jammed past a supermarket, then narrow and jammed under a bridge, before you're dumped on Coventry's major ring road. There's a lovely new cycling bridge nearby to help you cross the ring road and reach the city centre, but you'd never know it because it's not sign-posted from the cycle route."
Severn Street, Birmingham
MB: "A one-way street with a contraflow cycle lane. Simple enough, you'd think, but it's adjacent to the Mailbox shopping centre and the cycle lane is almost permanently blocked by delivery vehicles and taxis. Riding around these means you're cycling downhill into the path of oncoming traffic. At the end, there's a kerbed cycle lane to join the slip road, which is inevitably blocked by a taxi queuing for the ranks outside the mailbox. We've never seen any parking enforcement along this road."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.