Mayor dithers while Transport for London advises cyclists to avoid Bow roundabout

 

In Wednesday's Mayor’s Questions, Boris Johnson refused to admit there are fundamental design problems at Bow roundabout, despite two cyclist deaths there in recent weeks.

His response contrasted strongly with advice from Transport for London director Ben Plowden who said next summer TfL “will be directing people deliberately away from the Bow Roundabout”, despite the fact that Cycle Superhighway 2 is the main cycling route between the city centre and the 2012 Olympic Park.

Debbie Dorling, widow of cyclist victim Brian, told LCC today: “The mayor has talked a lot about Bow, but the one thing we haven’t heard him say is that he will take complete control of the situation, and do everything in his power to make the roundabout safe for cycling.”

Speaking in the London Assembly, the Mayor used the fact that both recent fatalities involved large lorries to sidestep the issue of the flawed Bow junction design, which forces cyclists to share space with heavy volumes of fast-moving motor vehicles, including HGVs. 

Instead, the Mayor repeatedly mentioned his record on lorry safety, which has yet to deliver the expected reduction in casualties, and he refused to agree the roundabout must be redesigned.

The Mayor has agreed to meet Mrs Dorling, who has said numerous times that the layout of the roundabout must be changed to protect cyclists.

The Dorling family and work colleagues of her husband from the Olympic site will attend a candlelit vigil organised by local LCC campaigners at Bow roundabout this Friday at 6pm.

 

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At the London Cycling Campaign AGM on Wednesday evening we agreed to:-

i. Call upon TfL to immediately redesign the Bow Roundabout junction, providing continuous, safe East-West cycle crossings and safe approaches and exits.

ii. Call upon TfL to halt work on the remaining Superhighway routes until the issues of road space reallocation and junction danger are addressed and resolved.

iii. Call upon the Mayor to intervene and give TfL the mandate and political direction to provide clear space for safe cycling on London’s main roads.

iv. As part of our "Go Dutch" campaign, seek a commitment from the Mayoral candidates that the Cycling Superhighways will be completed (including resolving barriers on existing routes) to the highest international best practice standards, in accordance with LCC’s "Go Dutch - Key Principles" document.

The picture at the top of this article is excellent. It sums up all that is wrong about this piece of road/cycle design. An experienced and confident cyclist who intended to go straght on at this roundabout should be in the centre of the nearside lane, forcing traffic behind then to wait until s/he passed the first exit. The blue lane gives all the wrong signals - it suggests that is where the safest position is, leaving you totally exposed to left-turning traffic. And yet if you don't use it, I suspect you would be subject to a barrage of abuse from motorists you have 'held up'. The design here is quite literally lethal - it gives an illusion of safety that is more dangerous than if the 'cycle lane' did not exist at all.

This shouldn't necessarily undermine or devalue every aspect of the superhighways scheme. But as with every aspect of cycle infrastructure design the devil is in the detail.

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