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Local cyclists and activists hit out at design of new junction after Southampton hit-and-run

"Cycle-friendly" "Dutch-style" crossing doesn't appear to be either...

Police are appealing for witnesses after a cyclist was hurt in a hit-and-run crash at a controversial new junction in Southampton.

The 44-year-old man was knocked off his bike by a car at the Itchen Bridge junction at 8.45am yesterday morning, reports James Franklin of the Southern Daily Echo.

The driver of the car, a blue or black Mercedes estate, drove off and the cyclist was treated for minor injuries by paramedics at the scene. Witnesses are asked to contact the Totton Roads Policing Unit on 101.

Previously a roundabout, the lights-controlled junction was only recently reopened after being redesigned to make it a ‘cycle-friendly’ component of a £1.7 million bike route into the city. However, that seems to have comprised painting some strips on the road, a few bike silhouettes and some arrows.

Southampton City Council has issued a PDF and a video (below) explaining to cyclists how they should ride through the junction. Turning right is intended to involve weaving across the junction in a two-stage manoeuvre which could be seen as less ‘cycle-proofing’ and more ‘cycle inconveniencing’.

The council describes the junction as ‘Dutch -style’ but Mark Treasure, chair of the GB Cycle Embassy and a campaigner for improved cycling infrastructure, says he is not aware of any junction in the Netherlands that works this way.

“Even fairly poor cycle lanes have signal separation,” Mr Treasure told us.

On Twitter, Stewart Pratt (better know as Bez and @beztweets) commented: “I design user interfaces. If I have to write instructions for users, I consider myself to have failed.”

Other activists have savaged the new junction design. Cambridge campaigner Cab Davidson wrote: “You want a cyclist to turn left, looking away from the lights that might be about to go green, to then turn 180 degrees to then be able to head in to the desired direction? And you want the cyclist to perform this manoevre right in front of a motorist who may expect to go when the light goes green any moment?”

Local cyclists have also criticised the junction’s final state. Michael Andrews told the Daily Echo: “I remember when the plans were first revealed that there would be separate cycle lights to allow cyclists at the originally planned ASLs to cross the junction or make turns ahead of motorised traffic and then wide, shared, paths going from one end of the Itchen Bridge to the other, on both sides of the road, which would have been a semi-Dutch design.

“What we have ended up with instead is death waiting to happen.”

John Grant, from Woolston, said: “Approaching the junction it’s very unsafe to head towards the lights if there is a vehicle waiting to turn left stopped at the lights. The lights can change at any time and they wouldn’t see me coming up the inside on the cycle path.”

Speaking after the accident, he said: “If I hadn’t been vigilant I could also have been knocked off this morning. It seems like an awful waste of money for very little, if any, gain.”

Mark Stinchcombe, said: “To turn right at the junction to go onto Itchen Bridge, from any direction, means I have to fight across four lanes of traffic coming from two different directions and wanting to head off in four different directions.

“As a cyclist this junction has become, in my view, extremely dangerous and I much preferred the previous roundabout.”

However, Jacqui Rayment, Southampton City Council’s Cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Early indications from the investigation show that the new layout of the junction is not a contributory factor in the accident.”

She aded: “The design of this junction has been taken from a tried and tested Continental-style junction and passed several safety audits with one more taking place on the 10th.”

It’s not the first time a local authority has been pilloried for introducing a junction design that needs a video to explain it. Transport for London was widely criticised when a redesign of Cycle Superhighway 2’s notorious Bow roundabout was accompanied by an explanatory video.

After all, it’s not like you can watch a video or read a leaflet as you ride — not without putting yourself in even more danger than you already are.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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