Major victory as Transport for London says Dutch-style roundabouts could be in London in 2014

Dutch-style roundabouts that separate cyclists from motor traffic could be installed in London as soon as 2014, according to Transport for London and the Mayor's Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan (BBC video report).

The news was welcomed by LCC's campaigns officer Charlie Lloyd:

"Our 2012 Love London, Go Dutch campaign is bearing fruit: anyone who's cycled through a Dutch roundabout with a segregated cycle track knows these designs offer comfort and safety for cycling far in excess of British roundabout designs, which often require skill and nerve to negotiate on a bicycle when there's fast-moving motor traffic.

"These Dutch designs also increase efficiency of the roundabout because bicycles use much less space than cars, which should mean less congestion and less conflict for motorists, as well as the safety benefits for those who cycle."

In 2012, we campaigned against a flawed shared-use proposal for Lambeth Bridge roundabout, suggesting precisely this type of Dutch roundabout instead.

Transport for London withdrew its proposal, and has promised to revisit the design, hopefully with one of the first Dutch roundabouts in London.

We also criticised the measures proposed by Transport for London for Waterloo roundabout, which we said failed to provide a safe and inviting envrionment where anyone could cycle.

The Transport Research Laboratory has set up a life-sized trial of the Dutch design at its facility in Berkshire (see photo above), with a view to rolling out the design in key locations in London next year.

The roundabouts - which are commonplace in Dutch cities, towns and rural areas (see the video) - ensure cyclists don't have to share roadspace with motor vehicles within the junction.

Where replacing roundabouts with conventional junctions isn’t a sensible option, Dutch-style roundabouts offer major safety advances over traditional British ones.

Dutch planners realise most collisions happen at junctions so they design roundabouts to slow down motor traffic and give priority to cyclists and pedestrian: the result is fewer crashes and fewer injuries.

The design makes sure bicycles and motor traffic cross perpendicular to each other, so motorists should always have a clear view of anyone potentially crossing their path.

Cyclists and pedestrians have priority at crossing points, where motorists are obliged to give way.

A major cause of serious injury and death to cyclists in London is when vehicles turn left across cyclists at junctions.

The design principles also recognise that starting and stopping on a bicycle is much more labour-intensive than maintaining cycling speed, so gives priority to the cyclist.

Transport for London is also testing cyclist-specific traffic lights, also common in the Netherlands, which would allow cyclists and motorists to pass through junctions in different phases, removing conflicts that are one of the most common cause of collisions.

London Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan told the BBC said:

"We've got a cycling budget of £913m over 10 years and it includes £100m to refit junctions. I'm really looking forward to seeing this [roundabout] on the road. I think it's going to be fantastic for cyclists."

Replies

OMG I tried to cycle across the Vauxhall gyratory the other day.  It's clear that there's cycling provision there - there are cycle traffic lights and cycle lanes going in every which direction.  The question is - which direction?  You need to have a MENSA membership to work out how they connect.  In the end I gave up and pushed my bike across the pedestrian crossings.

Have just returned from Amsterdam and used facilities such as the intelligently designed Dutch roundabouts as well as the superior cycle paths. The obvious difference between London and Amsterdam is the size of the city and population. However as a family who cycle everywhere in London we were amazed at the sheer number of cycles and cyclists in Amsterdam. Cyclists appeared to come from every part of Dutch society and bikes come in a variety of robust designs. We stayed in an area with a mix of ethnic backgrounds and the bicycle appeared to be embraced by all. I wonder whether Parliament will need to provide the same legal protection for UK cyclists (involved in collisions with other road users) as exists in the Netherlands. This would ensure that motorised vehicles in London give way at the new Dutch style roundabouts.

The other refreshing change in the Netherlands is that cyclists do not dress down to cycle, nor do they look like the people in the picture; who are dressed for a building site with flourescent jackets and hard hats.

It is a move in the right direction and I look forward to the day that Top Gear presenters enjoy the cycle faciliies in London as much as those in other European cities.

On my way in this morning (~12miles) I had two cars pass a little too close to me (I gave 'em a toot), huffed at three cars and numerous motorbikes in our area at the lights and saw one driver talking into a mobile he was holding away from his head, in front of his face (radiation worries?).

I also saw eight cyclists go through red lights, one zip through a zebra crossing with a pedestrian on the way (someone else almost collided with me as I slowed down), three riding on the pavement (ignoring a cycle path less than two metres away) and one on a mobile phone (held to his head, so probably no radiation worries).

We can and we must hold ourselves to a higher standard because I believe that, frankly, by getting on a bike we are better than everyone else.  Unfortunately, there is a sufficiently high population of selfish idiots within our ranks to maintain a simmering resentment among pedestrians and fellow road users.  As a cyclist, this roundabout development is very welcome, but as a pedestrian I see all sorts of opportunities to be terrorised by idiot road users.

This looks like a very sensible and innovative devlopment, however, the likelihood that anyone would cycle all the way round the roundabout instead of taking the shorter route when turning right seems remote.

Maybe this needs to be phased in. Cyclists in Holland seem to ride in the sure knowledge that cars will stop for them. If they did that in London they might well be run down until motorists get the message that they have to give way.

Transport for London is also testing cyclist-specific traffic lights. Now, this is really good news! Especially for trialling filtering in advance of road traffic.

Will be interesting to see how they test with real life city traffic conditions during “rush hour” or “late at night” with a mix of typical cyclists (and not on Boris bikes). In practice, on busy London commuter routes, the faster more competent cyclists are going to go straight over or when taking the 3rd exit, the weaker cyclists go clockwise all around the ring (noting the narrow width of outer cycling ring may frustrate the faster more competent cyclists if busy). Plus, in the UK, one of our biggest contributory factors for cycling “Serious or Killed” accidents is failing to look properly when cycling off the pavement and joining the road. These cyclists in such accidents simply do not “look” when cycling left out of side roads or left off pavements. So, I welcome this trial, but wary of how to best integrate such a design with our existing culture of cycling and driving practice, and poor deterrents in law (and in practice).

The design is co-dependant on all drivers exiting off the roundabout “yielding” to approaching cyclists (on the outer ring), which needs a change of the UK law and a total and absolute change in UK driving behaviour. I believe to make this work, we would need something extra, “like” Tiger crossing stripes painted onto the road to make clear where the segregated cyclist’s “path” crosses the road, and drivers educated and enforced to know to yield, and cyclists know they need to wait until it is safe to enter the road (from the outer ring). Such type of segregated Tiger “like” cycle crossings would have other users in other locations too and provide consistency of purpose. Plus, the penalty for drivers not to yield must be better recognised in UK law.

But more current UK roundabouts really could do with Zebra’s installed on each arm, and I like the “wide” width Zebras. And, I like the “perpendicular” entry arms, but in most town locations with existing dangerous roundabouts it is not possible to get this size of “footprint” available for such a Dutch design. However, as I tour across the UK there are many rural roundabouts on main/ trunk roads (with many HGVs) where this type of design would be invaluable and could be the norm.

This post was edited by Dont-be-furious at 10:25pm 4 May 2013.

An underrecognised elemnt is the fact that only one lane of traffic is allowed at each entry point.  Every effort is made by UK traffic engineers to widen the entry points so that traffic has to wartch for traffic moving alongside.  Little chance that they can concentrate on bikes or pedestrians at the same time.

Interestingly, The Times had a later photo of this roundabout trial and TfL are tweaking the road warning markings for UK regs... so.. if you look... they are now trialling “Give Way” markings on the “exist” arms for drivers (note the painted triangle on the road).  AND just out of frame there are “warning” lines to cyclists before crossing over an arm too.

This post was edited by Dont-be-furious at 7:08pm 13 May 2013.

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