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TfL unveils junction designed to eliminate left turn danger for cyclists

First of its kind to be built in the UK with "hold the left turn" and early release from traffic lights to protect cyclists...

The first junction in the UK to protect cyclists from being hit by left turning traffic has been completed in London.

Part of the Cycle Superhighway 2 (CS2) upgrade, the junction of Whitechapel Road and Cambridge Heath Road, holds left turning vehicles while cyclists and straight ahead traffic get a green light. The junction, which also features early release at the traffic lights and a two-stage right turn for cyclists, is the first of many to be rolled out across London.

The CS2 upgrade is now almost 50 per cent complete, with kerb separated cycle tracks and bus stop bypasses to protect cycles from motor traffic. 

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The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I made a firm commitment that we would upgrade Cycle Superhighway 2 to ensure that cyclists get the time and the space they need to cycle safely. That’s exactly what’s happening here in east London. The innovations we’re using at Cambridge Heath are a fantastic taster of the raft of improvements that are coming down the track, ensuring that people can cycle safely and more confidently in our city.”

Man cycles across new CS2 junction, which holds left turning traffic while bikes get the green light

CS2, in its earlier design, featured little more than just blue paint on the road, and the route became notorious when three cyclists died in three years 2011-2014 following collisions on the one mile route from Aldgate to Bow Roundabout. An extension, with segregation from motor traffic, was built in 2012 from Bow to Stratford. 

Around 85% of collisions in London occur at junctions and left turning lorries are involved in a disproportionate number of cyclist fatalities.  

Once work finishes five CS2 junctions will be built on the Cambridge Heath template, with 11 junctions improved along the upgraded part of the route from Aldgate to Bow.

New bus stop bypass, CS2, London

London's Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, told this is a significant day in the improvements to London's roads. 

He said: "This is the standard template for 'hold the left' junction which we're going to see at dozens of junctions across London.

"It's two years and five months since we launched the [Mayor's Cycling] Vision and in that time we have embarked on six major projects: the East-West and North-South [Cycle Superhighways], the upgrade of CS2, the CS5 across Vauxhall and then a couple of really big junctions."

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Gilligan says nine of the 33 most dangerous London junctions, identified as part of the Mayor's Cycling Vision in 2013, will be complete by the end of Boris Johnson's term in May, including Blackfriars, Tower Hill, and Parliament Square.

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at Transport for London (TfL), said: “It’s great to see once again that London is leading the way in bringing safe cycling infrastructure to our streets. This innovative junction, conceived and designed by our in-house team of designers and engineers, is a key part of the Mayor’s wider cycling vision."

Two stage right, CS2, Whitechapel Road, London 

Nigel Hardy, Head of Project Sponsorship at TfL, the department that negotiates details of the Cycle Superhighways with different stakeholders, told one of the key challenges was making sure every part of the route was safe for cyclists.

He said: "Whenever we construct an end to end cycling route it is always challenging because in order to make the route work we have to be able to fix every bit along the route because the route is only as strong as its weakest point."

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While the London Cycling Campaign welcomes the improvements, it points out one gap, beside Whitechapel Market, remains. The LCC's Rosie Downes told "Although we are pleased to see that TfL have taken this bold step of taking out the risk of cyclists being hit when travelling along the Superhighway we are quite concerned about the delays that cyclists will experience.

"There's going to be a gap in the segregation outside Whitechapel Market, which is a real concern - to have protection for much of the route and then expect cyclists to mix with traffic."

While Downes said cycles get less time than other traffic on the route, TfL engineers said cycles get the same amount of green time as motor traffic travelling straight, which is roughly 40 seconds along the main route.

Downes also raised concerns about the two-stage right turn which, she says, can take up to a minute to navigate, and if cyclists have to wait too long there is a chance they will take risks to get across the junction quicker.

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