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More collisions at UK's first Dutch-style roundabout than old layout, figures reveal

There have been 10 collisions, three of them serious, since the infrastructure opened in 2020, however Cambridgeshire County Council also noted that cycling levels have risen by almost 50 per cent and pedestrian use is up 30 per cent

Collision figures from the UK's first Dutch-style roundabout show that there have been more reported collisions in the three years since it was installed than in the three years prior in its old layout.

A report by the BBC, using figures provided by Cambridgeshire County Council, showed that there have been 10 reported collisions, three of which were serious, at the Fendon Road roundabout in Cambridge since the new layout giving priority to cyclists and pedestrians was introduced in 2020, more than the six minor incidents that were reported between 2017 and 2019 with the old layout.

> Dutch research finds cyclists increasingly at risk at roundabouts

However, the council was keen to point out that the number of cyclists using the roundabout had also increased, by almost 50 per cent since 2017, meaning those on bicycles accounted for 11.4 per cent of all traffic users last year. Equally, pedestrian usage has also risen by about 30 per cent.

The roundabout has undergone three road safety audits since its installation and was forced to temporarily close within a few days of opening when a hit-and-run driver crashed into a zebra crossing beacon.

The infrastructure offers priority to cyclists and pedestrians, with motorists asked to give way to those more vulnerable than themselves on entering and exiting the roundabout, a style made popular in the Netherlands.

Dutch roundabout tutorial (Cambridgeshire County Council)

Between 2012 and 2017, the previous layout saw 12 collisions between drivers and cyclists, with eight involving cyclists since July 2020 and two involving a pedestrian being hit by a driver. Three of the collisions were described as serious.

With increased numbers of people using the roundabout by bike or on foot, one regular user told the BBC the roundabout is "very hazardous" for cyclists and pedestrians, suggesting motorists "use it at quite high speed" and "it's too much for even an experienced driver to take in".

Dutch roundabout tutorial (Cambridgeshire County Council)

Cambridgeshire County Council released a tutorial when the roundabout was installed and stress it is "designed to encourage motorists to drive at a slower speed".

"To me it is safe overall. I think it's an asset"

However, in contrast to the driver who told the report he thinks the design lacks "safety features for the people it was intended to be safe for", one local cyclist, 69-year-old Peter French, said the roundabout is "very safe".

"All of the traffic is watchful, everyone is on the lookout and stops for you," he said. "As a cyclist, as long as you approach with caution yourself and are watchful it's fine. To me it is safe overall. I think it's an asset."

Dutch roundabout tutorial (Cambridgeshire County Council)

The county council's chair of the highways and transport committee, Alex Beckett, said they have "received compliments on its layout" and "recently commissioned a study to look at the nature of the incidents which will help inform any changes we might wish to make to this roundabout or any future roundabouts with similar design characteristics."

The roundabout was installed after a 2015 consultation showed that 67 per cent of respondents felt the route needed improvements for walking and cycling, with the old roundabout layout attracting concern. A second consultation in 2016 then showed that 433 people supported the Dutch-style proposal versus 115 people who opposed it.

Its installation was welcomed by the Cambridge Cycle Campaign (Camcycle) who said it is "a joy to ride" but added that "it may take a while for everyone to get used to the new design so take care as you travel through the area".

"I'm absolutely delighted with the new roundabout," Camcycle's executive director Roxanne De Beaux said at the time. "It feels like a small piece of Dutch cycling heaven. I feel very safe with this layout, the geometry made it easy to see the cars leaving and approaching the roundabout and the people driving were all giving way to the people cycling and walking.

"This is a historic and internationally significant day for active travel and how wonderful for Cambridge, the cycling capital of the UK to be leading the way."

Have you used the roundabout? How did you find it? Would you like to see similar infrastructure built where you ride?

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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43 comments

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brogs | 11 months ago
1 like

The design doesn't solve the problem, it makes it worse. Roundabouts are designed to be used by looking right on the approach, adjusting speed and merging into the traffic already on the roundabout, giving way to your immediate right. The problem is that incompetent drivers (identified by those that stop at a roundabout when there is nothing coming) are incapable of looking right and creating a plan whilst simultaneously approaching a give way line. So they don't look until they have reached the line. Once stopped, it's harder to merge in because the traffic on the roundabout is moving. They are looking right and continue to do so when they eventually pull out. There is a cyclist or motorcyclist in front of them which they then t-bone. A lane of red paint does not make this problem go away. It just means the drivers are dealing with a double merge point. Roundabouts are genius, the users generally are not. The whole thing is primarily a driver competence problem, like most else. To deal with a driver competence problem without improving driver competence, you have to remove the vulnerable road user from the junction. Allow the cyclist to avoid the roundabout entirely. 

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Geordiepeddeler replied to brogs | 1 month ago
2 likes

I lived in the Netherlands for 3 years and cycled everywhere. These roundabouts work if driver's understand how to use them properly. Enough said.

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Krzystoff | 11 months ago
0 likes

Apparently speed is an issue, if so why are there no speed humps, speed cushions, or other features on the road prior to the roundabout?

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brogs replied to Krzystoff | 11 months ago
0 likes

Because you don't introduce hazards to make a road safer.

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hawkinspeter replied to brogs | 11 months ago
1 like

brogs wrote:

Because you don't introduce hazards to make a road safer.

Isn't that exactly the thinking behind speed bumps, bollards and road narrowing?

Mind you, the road was never really in danger.

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Geordiepeddeler replied to brogs | 1 month ago
2 likes

The only hazards are the drivers and they haven't changed.

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wycombewheeler replied to Krzystoff | 1 month ago
0 likes

Krzystoff wrote:

Apparently speed is an issue, if so why are there no speed humps, speed cushions, or other features on the road prior to the roundabout?

NCN has tought me that if you have a speed problem approaching a junction, the best solution is a pair of fences installed to create a chicane on the approach. Why does this genius approach never get applied to roads?

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wtjs | 11 months ago
4 likes

Last night I was cycling home about 22:30. I have bright, flashing front and rear lights. I was passing a junction on the left- a suburban cul-de-sac joining a more major road in a small town. I was already half way across the junction when a large Mercedes shot onto my road- if I hadn't been observing him closely he would have hit me. People like this either don't look for cyclists or don't care. Anything which relies on 'motorists are asked...' and 'drivers looking out for more vulnerable road users' cannot be trusted- if I'd had my camera running last night, the evidence would be ignored by the police. So-called Highway Code changes are worthless when they are ignored by the offenders and the police in collaboration.

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Secret_squirrel | 11 months ago
8 likes

So the actual headline is accident rates per user volume have stayed pretty much constant (and at statistically insignificant levels) but many more people are getting exercise and active travel has increased.  Sounds like a win to me!

Not as exciting a headline but more factual...  I'd personally like to see the true stats in accidents per usage....

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marmotte27 | 11 months ago
4 likes

This is what David Hembrow has to say on this roundabout design:
DO NOT COPY THIS EXAMPLE
This photo has featured on many blogs but they unfortunately picked a bad
example. This is the annular ring design with cycle priority at the crossings
which is seven times more dangerous than the design which I recommend.
This type of roundabouts causes between 52 and 73 extra injuries per year in the
Netherlands. Copy the safe design which is illustrated elsewhere inthis blog post.

https://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/05/the-best-roundabout-design...
More generally Hembrow warns about copying anything just because it is Dutch.

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chrisonabike replied to marmotte27 | 11 months ago
3 likes

Yes... I defer to David Hembrow in everything Dutch cycle infra.  I do note on this one that he's at variance with most of the Dutch also.

The usual rule is orbital roundabouts with cyclist priority in urban areas, cyclists don't have priority in less urban areas / where traffic may be faster.  BicycleDutch had an article a few years looking at this debate.  Most people, local authorities and the cycling standards authority came down on the side of "priority for cyclists in urban areas".  Only the national safety organisation and local authorities in the more rural North disagreed.  I believe (with exceptions like Assen and Groningen) it's the Dutch version of "driver country" there.

I suspect Mr. Hembrow may be technically right here.  For most people they may perceive the normal kind as "safe" - which it is, but it's possible the actual numbers show the other kind is safer.  Plus once it's "safe enough" that you and your contacts are unlikely to have a problem people will favour convenience.

It may be cyclists fear getting stuck waiting for cars (especially in denser areas where there are more cars).  People definitely like having priority (once drivers have "learned"...).  The "safest" designs are slighly less convenient for cyclists even with no cars - they're designed to slow you down by having you turn sharply.  They may take up more space also (not sure on this).

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chrisonabike replied to marmotte27 | 11 months ago
2 likes

On "UK designs" - we're really good at "cargo cult" stuff where it "looks like" a Dutch design but something important has been missed.  Or the design is OK but the conditions that are required (normally traffic speed / volume / sight lines) have not been met.

Not clear on the Cambridge case but it could be that the ring for motorists in the centre is too wide / not cambered sufficiently, so they can still keep too much speed.  It may be that the legal - or upper quartile - speeds on entry are too high, or the volume of traffic is too great.  The Dutch have standards for the maximum acceptable for these also.  Above that and this design is inappropriate and another is used - or the "traffic issue" is addressed!

Finally - even though it's been 3 years it could be that it's still too novel for everyone to have "learned" this.  It may be the only one most drivers see.  Finally it's still the case most UK drivers don't cycle - even in Cambridge I imagine.  Not so in NL.

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chrisonabike replied to marmotte27 | 11 months ago
2 likes

I forgot - Ranty Highwayman has done a good look at the Cambridge roundabout.  Given he's a UK civil engineer with an interest in these things it may be worth the time.  He does have videos and pictures though!  He also notes the points raised by David Hembrow vs. the Dutch standard.

It doesn't sound like the design itself is the main issue (though no mention of the camber).  I didn't notice if he had any info on traffic volumes.

Looks better than most UK roundabout designs to me.  Many of which will of course be "safe" by being so obviously forbidding no vulnerable road users go there.

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chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 11 months ago
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If anyone's still interested there's some more interesting info and videos here:

A bit of cycle roundabout history: https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/priority-for-cyclists-on-r...

Behaviours and interactions (on annular type) - good and bad - are shown here
https://youtu.be/XhqTc_wx5EU?t=95

An example of a large vehicle having to traverse slowly (coach):
https://youtu.be/564Yf6iWjUw?t=176

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Fursty Ferret replied to marmotte27 | 11 months ago
1 like

His alternative, preferred, design has a major flaw because it requires cyclists to give way to traffic exiting the roundabout. This means that they're giving way to potentially every single vehicle that enters the roundabout. 

This leads to decreased use of the bike path (because why would you take the slow way), installation of beg buttons (which often don't work and will then lead to a ripple effect), or people just ignoring them.

Maybe easier to set a maximum vehicular speed of 10mph on roundabouts. Going forward limit access to cars with high EuroNCAP pedestrian safety rating so that if a driver does screw it up, the car will intervene. 

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chrisonabike replied to Fursty Ferret | 11 months ago
0 likes

Fursty Ferret wrote:

His alternative, preferred, design has a major flaw because it requires cyclists to give way to traffic exiting the roundabout. This means that they're giving way to potentially every single vehicle that enters the roundabout. 

Correct - but it's definitely a deliberate choice rather than a flaw - you may have missed a couple of important points.

Fursty Ferret wrote:

This leads to decreased use of the bike path (because why would you take the slow way), installation of beg buttons (which often don't work and will then lead to a ripple effect), or people just ignoring them.

Citation needed!  However I would agree that this would be the likely effect in the UK if we imported these without paying attention to the following points.  The main one being "design requires a limit to the number of motor vehicles".  Of course in the UK we have that backwards - we maximise the motor vehicle capacity first then everything else comes a distant second.  Without tackling that I agree that this design would be less helpful - but if there are many motor vehicles the other design (with priority) is not suitable either.

a) With low motor vehicle numbers - as Mr. Hembrow shows in his video - it will be rare that you'll need to stop at all - even though you have to give way to traffic both entering AND exiting the roundabout.  With expected frequency you are at most likely just to slow slightly to allow a vehicle past.  This requirement is for very low (at least by UK standards) motor vehicle numbers in a given period (an hour?), not averaged over a whole day.  I think this is taken seriously, unlike the UK where we seem to set limits which we expect to be exceeded...

b) It's much better not to rely on drivers for your safety.  We all likely have experience of SMIDSY and that can happen on a straight road!  Roundabouts impose a higher mental workload on drivers - they're slowing or accellerating, checking for other traffic, preparing to turn or completing a turn.  They are simply more likely to be distracted here.  Even without satnav / passengers telling them directions / mobile phones...

With the alternate design you do not rely on motor traffic stopping.  That sounds like a regression - an inconvenience.  However when combined with "very few motor vehicles" this is actually empowering cyclists.  The "cyclist priority" annular design bakes in the assumption / requirement that motor traffic will see cyclists and will stop *.  The alternate design encodes "it's not your priority here" and so it's the responsibility of the cyclist to check if they can proceed.  Power is back in your hands.  (The design also slows the cyclist slightly with the approx 90 degree turn before crossing to encourage slower speed / more time).

Fursty Ferret wrote:

Maybe easier to set a maximum vehicular speed of 10mph on roundabouts. Going forward limit access to cars with high EuroNCAP pedestrian safety rating so that if a driver does screw it up, the car will intervene. 

Again, both designs should incorporate a) a small central section for a narrower radius and b) an adverse camber - the effect of both should be to enforce slow motorist speeds.  If you try to hoon it you'll get physical feedback telling you you're about to roll your car.  (This may be seen as unacceptably dangerous by UK road authorities of course...)  There is normally a steeper "overrun" section to allow longer vehicles to get round safely (but very slowly).

* This is a bit like unsignalised UK pedestrian crossings - the design says the vulnerable road user should proceed and the dangerous one should stop.  Now the annular cyclist priority design is pretty safe.  If at least one of the cyclist and the driver is paying attention and the annular roundabout is well-designed AND cyclists and motorist speeds are low it should be possible to stop safely if someone has made a mistake. 

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ktache replied to chrisonabike | 11 months ago
1 like

I like the idea of an adverse camber.

That and adding tighter corners, engineering solutions.

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chrisonabike replied to ktache | 11 months ago
0 likes

Apparently smaller roundabouts (without being "ignore it" mini roundabouts) are allowed by UK standards (see this technical article on a couple of points about roundabouts by the Ranty Highwayman) BUT it's "shutting the stable door..." because the whole point of roundabouts is enhanced motor vehicle capacity over alternatives (with a reasonable level of safety - for the motor vehicles...)  You can bet there are standards to achieve here and tweaking parameters to increase speeds and vehicle throughput is still going to be priority.

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chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 11 months ago
0 likes

I should add - the other issue with the "priority" design is that motorists may need to look in two directions for cyclists but this is not always the case.  There appear to be both single and two-way cycle paths used in this situation.  Of course if there's a single-direction cycle path it would be less convenient for Dutch cyclists who just want to turn left (same situation for a right turn in the UK) so there may be some temptation to go the wrong way.

In most (all?) of David Hembrow's examples there are two-way cycle paths so you can minimise the number of road crossings and because cars are not expected to stop for you there is no "will they remember to look both directions".  It's simply your job to check for cars - in one direction at a time (there's a central refuge between lanes).

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Geordiepeddeler replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
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Have you lived in the Netherlands?

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giff77 | 11 months ago
0 likes

I wonder how many of those complaining about this feature would feel about the Magic Roundabout in Swindon?  I had a look and the only figures I could find were 17 major collisions and 100 minor collisions over 30 years since its inception I think that there's only one fatality. Meanwhile they have now placed the cycle lane right round the circumference. The locals seem to take it in their stride and the rule of thumb is to take your time and move into the space available when freed up. Meanwhile the gawkers courtesy of You Tube can't cope with it. 

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Oldfatgit replied to giff77 | 11 months ago
1 like

There's a Magic Roundabout in Hemel Hempstead and another one in Colchester.

I'm not aware of any major issues on any of them.

I think, partly, as when a driver looks at the road signs, they are forced to slow due to the complexity of the signs.
It soon becomes apparent though that as long as you treat each mini-roundabout as a roundabout, you can go any direction around the central one.

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chrisonabike replied to giff77 | 11 months ago
0 likes

Hmm... Mixed about this one.  Pretty sure it's "shared space, but for cars" e.g. possibly works by making everyone a bit more wary.  (That works OK if there are no vulnerable road users in the mix - otherwise it's a pretty awful idea).

Again - devil in detail - or rather in the speed and volume of traffic.  I'm guessing there are lots of vehicles at some point otherwise why would the have this.  I suspect the traffic volume would prompt the Dutch to build a turbo-roundabout here.  That essentially means that a grade-separated level for cyclists and pedestrians is also built rather than at-grade light-controlled crossings.

Not sure I'd cycle in the big ol' concrete football pitch.  Apologies for the pedantry but if they've placed a cycle lane around the outside then even less so.  A cycle path (separate from the carriageway) would seem the minimum.  Given there appear to be multi-lane entries and exits I'm a little surprised at the low accident tally.  Or is it just "clearly not a good idea to ride across, so cyclists dismount and wait at the multi-stage pedestrian crossings"?  That may indeed be safe but it's hardly convenient.

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Creakingcrank | 11 months ago
3 likes

This blog (which is long) analyses various roundabout designs used in the Netherlands. It seems that this design doesn't have a brilliant safety record there either. 

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wtjs | 11 months ago
5 likes

motorists asked to give way to those more vulnerable than themselves on entering and exiting the roundabout

This is the bit I am suspicious about- it's an excellent idea, but we have to take into account the mentality of UK drivers and police. What prosecutions of offending drivers have there been?

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Oldfatgit replied to wtjs | 11 months ago
4 likes

I'm a firm believer in zebra crossings on entrances and exits of roundabouts. Seems to work in other countries, so the only thing stopping it working here is driver attitude

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Morgoth985 | 11 months ago
11 likes

'one regular user told the BBC the roundabout is "very hazardous" for cyclists and pedestrians, suggesting motorists "use it at quite high speed" and "it's too much for even an experienced driver to take in".'

Perhaps these drivers, experienced or otherwise, could slow the fuck down then and they might find it easier to "take in" their surroundings.

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Sriracha replied to Morgoth985 | 11 months ago
3 likes
Morgoth985 wrote:

'one regular user told the BBC the roundabout is "very hazardous" for cyclists and pedestrians, suggesting motorists "use it at quite high speed" and "it's too much for even an experienced driver to take in".'

Perhaps these drivers, experienced or otherwise, could slow the fuck down then and they might find it easier to "take in" their surroundings.

I see the cycle lane is coloured bright red, why?

Is this so that motorists, seeing that it is red, will mysteriously slow down? Experience suggests they don't GAF what colour it is.

Maybe instead the cycle lane should be raised. Motorists would then only speed over it once, before learning that dental work and suspension repairs are really expensive.

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Hirsute replied to Sriracha | 11 months ago
10 likes

So the blood does not show.

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NotNigel | 11 months ago
4 likes

You can feel the motorists' frustration oozing out of that video.

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