TfL abandons flawed Lambeth roundabout in favour of trial of Dutch cycling design

Transport for London has decided not to proceed with its flawed proposal for the northern Lambeth Bridge roundabout, instead trialling a Dutch-style design suggested by us and other campaigners.

You can see how the roundabout works in the video above made by Dutch expert Mark Wagenbuur who blogs at Bicycle Dutch.

An off-street Dutch-style roundabout with segregated cycle lanes is being built at the Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire, where its safety and effectiveness will be tested by British engineers.

These roundabouts are extremely commonplace in the Netherlands, where they provide safety and convenience for people riding bicycles.

A workshop hosted by ourselves and the Dutch Cycling Embassy established that there is space for a Dutch roundabout at Lambeth Bridge

TfL's original design kept the dangerous two-lane entries to the roundabout, which encourage high speed motor traffic, and also proposed shared-use cycling and walking zones around the outside of the roundabout.

The idea was that 'fast' cyclists would share roadspace with the fast-moving motor traffic, while 'slow' ones would use the shared-use area, away from motor traffic.

Why most people won't use the shared use facility

Sadly, this type of design fails to provide a useful cycling facility for 90% of Londoners.

The shared-use facility would be too slow and inconvenient for anyone cycling at normal speed (12-15mph).

It's also potentially dangerous for these 'slow' cyclists to rejoin the carriageway into a stream of motor traffic immediately after the roundabout.

And mixing cyclists and pedestrians in a shared space on what's likely to be a commuter route also has the potential to cause conflict.

Why most people won't cycle on the carriageway

The two-tier approach from TfL envisaged 'fast' cyclists riding with motor traffic on a roundabout not dissimilar to the existing layout.

However, surveys have revealed many times that most Londoners are too scared to cycle in close proximity to fast-moving motor traffic.

For that reason, the assumption that a two-lane roundabout is adequate for cycling is flawed.

Replies

  • By GeorgeG at 2:17pm 11 January 2013
I like the design, but am wondering whether cars at Lambeth Bridge will give way to bikes anywhere near as cheerfully as they seem to in the Dutch video.
  • By Label at 3:23pm 11 January 2013

Lambeth bridge has zebra crossings at every entrance, unlik the roundabout in the video, which should help facilitate a "give way" mentality among drivers. Plus there are so many cyclists using it at rush hour that sheer force of numbers would probably get the message across - usually no fewer than 10/minute passing through heading East in the mornings, West in the evenings. 

Lambeth bridge is on my daily commute and it's a nightmare. The traffic races round at normal road speeds so you're forced to stop and then hurtle off as fast as you can. It's not pleasant. 

Although I am a very keen supporter of go-dutch and segragated lanes whereever possible I am not sure this is a good example. 

The video does not have a lot of bike or car traffic. In the rush hour at Lambeth there could be a continuous flow of bikes which would result in a major traffic jam. there could even be cars jammed on the cycel paths as they can't get onto and off the roundabout.

Does anyone have an exampe of this sort of Dutch roundabout with traffic flow similar to Lambeth?

  • By bigpete at 8:37pm 11 January 2013

This is genuine progress. I'm relieved that TfL have dropped their deeply flawed proposal.

I'm not sure whether the news that they are going to test segregated cycle lanes in a laboratory is sign that British transport planners are finally taking cycling seriously or whether it's simply a case of Not Invented Here!

  • By anita at 1:27pm 12 January 2013

Are English drivers perhaps still too infantile for the Dutch-style roundabout? Would they give priority to cyclists?

  • By Amoeba at 8:34am 13 January 2013

To get the full benefit of high-quality cycling infrastructure, it needs to form a continuous network. A patchwork of islands of 'good practice' separated by an ocean of hostile roads is unlikely to achieve anything significant.

Imagine a stretch of motorway with no access for motor-vehicles. It wouldn't be used because nobody could! Safe bicycle infrastructure accessible only by hostile roads is little different.

The detractors will predictably claim: 'see, we built it and they didn't come'.

At such times, it's important to remember the often downright mendacious and crepidatious 'reportage' (aka 'spin') about the alleged dangers resulting from 20 mph limits. It was debunked by BBC Radio Four's 'More or Less' programme. Listen from 12.20 onwards.

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/moreorless/moreorless_20120817-1630a.mp3

 

Promising. I'd like to know if they will be advised by Dutch experts during the lab trial, and if not why not, but I can't work out what they expect to achieve by trialling it where they can't get the same type and density of road user (much as raymondox comments on the situation in the video). The general effectiveness has already been proven in the Netherlands. I reckon they should just build it and see what happens - if going Dutch is an option to them, they'll have to bite the bullet at some point.

@raymondox - I think you'd get the jams when they were building it:  the period of installation would give people the chance to find alternative ways to get around the area before it was fully operational (bicycle perhaps?).

Well, we have to start somehwere, so this could perhaps be it. Although I am not sure that I will trust drivers to give way in the first few months, especially as it is not backed by the sort of Dutch legislation that makes drivers in Holland very careful not to hit cyclists (or pedestrians) - I shall be very circumspect on it...But this is extremely encouraging.

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