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Could UK first CYCLOPS junction be "slam dunk" for cycling?

First of new CYCLOPS junctions in Manchester is hoped to improve crossings for walking and cycling, and shorten wait times for drivers

A UK-first junction design that protects people cycling and walking, while improving journey times for those in cars, and potentially saving time and money building, could be a “game-changer” for UK cycling safety, according to those behind the scheme.

The Royce Road junction in Manchester, due to officially open on Thursday, is the UK’s first “CYCLOPS” design – similar to the traditional Dutch junction, where cyclists and pedestrians cross in parallel, only in reverse, with cyclists on the outside of the two tracks. This reduces pedestrian crossing distances, and therefore time that can be given back to drivers.

Active travel schemes often fall foul of UK road construction business case assessments, which value the time of drivers above all other road users – meaning any delay to cars is a “cost” against the scheme. By giving more time to motor traffic, the theory goes, such schemes are far likelier to be green lighted by councils.

Greater Manchester's Walking and Cycling Commissioner,  Chris Boardman, shared a ride-through of it on Twitter on Monday. Boardman said: “Our minimum design standard: 'must be usable by a competent 12yr old' the only way to ensure 'non-cyclists' will use it. Nowhere is this more important than at junctions. This Cyclops junction, a UK first, is one of more than 20 going in to deliver that”.

Boardman has called the design “frankly genius”, adding junctions are where most collisions occur, and tackling that risk is a top priority.

Brian Deegan, Boardman’s technical advisor, said: “If you have a junction with 60,000 cars you aren’t going to justify a scheme that takes time out for a few hundred cyclists and pedestrians, and that’s the way everywhere but a few boroughs in London work.”

“With CYCLOPS we are getting capacity wins for cars, which means the difference between it happening now, or after a 2.5-year battle. That’s why we think it is a game changer for safety. I wish we had come up with this 15 years ago.”

At a major junction on Lea Bridge Road in North London, there was a two-year battle for approval of a Dutch-style junction with cycling on the inside of pedestrians, because of predicted traffic delays, according to Deegan.

He believes because there is no “cost” to car traffic, CYCLOPS could cut junction approval times by 18 months, while saving 10% of junction budgets, and adding 5-10% capacity for cars. The first junction will tell its success or otherwise over the coming months.

A further 20 CYCLOPS junctions are on their way in Manchester, and more are being designed, with the first of around six in Bolton alone soon to be delivered as part of a bus scheme. Other UK councils, including Cambridge and Aberdeen, were apparently looking to install these junctions. Deegan argues, these junctions can be built as part of congestion-busting measures, and even from growth funding.

At crossings, pedestrians are calculated to walk at 1.2 metres per second (m/s). At a traditional UK junction, with a cycle lane of at least 1.5m each side, moving the cycle lane to the outside of pedestrians, giving a three to four metre reduction in crossing distance, means five or six extra seconds for motor traffic.

A CYCLOPS gives all pedestrians and cyclists simultaneous green lights, allowing them to make multiple crossings at once. Deegan believes the design also reduces the temptation for those on bikes to take short cuts across the middle, by positioning them back from the junction – with an Advanced Stop Line or ASL for cyclists who want to cross the junction with motor traffic.  

Other benefits include wider turning circles for cycle traffic, which is particularly useful for non-standard cycles, such as trikes and hand cycles, and cargo bikes. It also means those on bikes can filter left at junctions without waiting at traffic lights, and with the “left hook” risk eliminated.

The UK government recently told councils to be more ambitious in planning emergency infrastructure for walking and cycling.

Until the UK has “turning the corner” legislation, where turning traffic gives way to those, including pedestrians and cyclists, going straight, as in many European countries, this is the next best option, Deegan says. “If you want to spend big across the country here’s your win-win. You could throw out thousands of these and you completely transform the UK.”

“It’s an absolute slam dunk.”

Some have criticised the design as too complicated, compared with the Dutch design, but Deegan argues it’s simple to use – with no more crossings for pedestrians than in Dutch designs. He says pedestrians also have more space to wait between crossings with CYCLOPS.

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16 comments

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Secret_squirrel | 4 years ago
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Looks good.   The only bit that bothers me a little is that Give Way for cyclists to pedestrians as in the bottom left.   I can see a constant stream of cyclists at rush hour not giving way?  I presume that they then get caught by the cyclist lights at the stop line a few yards onwards?

 

Good luck to it and them.  At least they are trying something new.

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LetsBePartOfThe... replied to Secret_squirrel | 4 years ago
1 like

I really like this junction: The go-left-to-turn-right is such a good idea. Basically every crossover is at 90 degrees, and most are controlled.

My only area of confusion is the beige Pedestrian Crossings.  What signage confirms that Pedestrians have priority on those ? Shouldn't there be a stop line, like there is at the cyclist entry to the orbital

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HarrogateSpa | 4 years ago
3 likes

It seems an ok junction.

It's a strange assumption to make, that people in cars are VIPs on vitally important errands, and sod everyone else.

When they change their formulae to properly value active travel, then we'll know we're winning and we can get some sense into transport in this country.

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embattle | 4 years ago
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You'll never make it safe enough for the most stupid, careless, ignorant users so ultimately you do the best you can and then let natural selection do the rest.

I did find it slightly ironic that at the start of the video on Chris Boardman's tweet that a cyclist comes across from the car lane is located.

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Prosper0 | 4 years ago
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Aren't CYCLOPS junctions already in use in Walthamstow?

 

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ChasP | 4 years ago
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So it's quicker for cars and cyclists have to go the long way round and wait at lights to cross the road? Sounds about right for 'cycling' infrastructure...

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Dao replied to ChasP | 4 years ago
4 likes

Faster signal loops and the less confident riders can go without having to dodge or wait for cars to clear their path. Overall, it is both safer and faster at busy junctions. This is a properly researched solution, with precedent. NOT a cop out brought in by a "motor-lobby" to pacify cyclists while favouring motor-vehicles. the result is that fewer cars and cyclists remain stationary over time and when you need to stop it's a short breather before you can get back on your way. No need to perfect timing the lights, or raise ire by running through them as a select few do.

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Philltrz | 4 years ago
1 like

Any chance you can put together (or point me towards) an explainer for how to use this in different scenarios? Do cyclists have free choice between taking the orbital route and the road (particularly when turning right)? And what are the right of way rules between pedestrians and cyclists specifically? Hopefully it's obvious in use, but I'm not getting all the individual scenarios/interactions just yet.

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hawkinspeter replied to Philltrz | 4 years ago
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As I understand it, the orbital route is "optional" for cyclists though some motorists may disagree. Pedestrians have priority in most situations, though I'd expect them to get some responses if they blithely use the 'cycle' sections (best not to Alliston them, though).

What looks useful is that you can bypass the red lights when it is safe to do so (or if you're adept at dodging other traffic).

Edit: Didn't see the little lights controlling the green sections.

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Dao replied to Philltrz | 4 years ago
3 likes

The design is to allow riders of all confidence levels to reach where they want to go. confident road cyclists can use the road as normal, waiting in the ASL to go straight or turn right, while turning left is faster and left-hook free by using the left turning cycle lane. There is a marking of cycle lane inside the junction on the left for those looking to go straight through without joining the orbital or being in front of a car.

The insecure would follow the orbital clockwise to which ever exit they need. And there are entry points after crossing the junction to allow the road cyclists to rejoin the cycle lane by filtering with any that are coming from the street cycle lane leading to the junction or from the orbital lane.

arrows on the orbital lane confirm it is clockwise only to cyclists and pedestrians have their own red-marked walkway where they can go in both directions to islands at the corners of the junction before rejoining the pavement.

Pedestrians keep priority, so cyclists stop before the crossing if there are pedestrians present. If the green lanes cut through, the priority would favour the cyclist above the pedestrian.

The orbital has its own light system for cyclists, so you know when you can or can't cross the road.

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Dao | 4 years ago
2 likes

Can it work? Absolutely.

 

Will it? Depends. How willing are we to believe motorists will obey the road markings and traffic lights?

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Secret_squirrel replied to Dao | 4 years ago
1 like

Ditto for the cyclists and pedestrians of course.....

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Hirsute | 4 years ago
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Is it clockwise only?

 

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luke.lon replied to Hirsute | 4 years ago
1 like

Yes, but all the cycle lanes get the green light at the same time. For example, if you want to go right (following the cycle lane) from the bottom of the pic  you can cross up and then right in one go.

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Awavey | 4 years ago
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I hope it's one of those types of junctions, which the flow naturally sorts the order out itself,a bit like those Dutch junctions where everyone appears on a collision course but just naturally avoids each other even if it appears impossible. As I wasnt expecting from the road layout to see a cyclist appearing from the right like that on entry.

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alexcr replied to Awavey | 4 years ago
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It looks like the other cyclist merged with the cycle lane late. I suspect they weren't quite as surprising as it seems in video, though – it looks like the person filming was already at the right speed to let them in without conflict. The curving nature of the cycle lane encourages lower speeds to make this sort of manoeuvring and negotiation easier. And once the junction is fully operational, those who know it well will probably do a better job of filtering into the cycle lane a little earlier to avoid this.

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