TfL launches new 'hold the left' junction on Cycle Superhighway 2

Transport for London today unveiled its new 'Hold the left' junction on Cycle Superhighway 2, where the cycle route along Whitechapel Rd meets Cambridge Heath Rd.

We've welcomed the ambition to upgrade Cycle Superhighway 2. It's a notoriously dangerous route, on which six cyclists have died since it became a cycle superhighway in 2011 - and one which the Mayor promised Londoners he would improve as a result of LCC's Love London, Go Dutch campaign.

We're really pleased to see that at Cambridge Heath, the risk of cyclists being hit by left turning traffic has been designed out. Along Whitechapel Rd, motor traffic going left and going straight ahead is filtered into two separate lanes. When cyclists in the cycle track are going straight ahead on the green light, left turning motor traffic is held at a red light. The light then goes red for cyclists and left turning traffic gets a green.

This photo heading east along Whitechapel Rd shows the green lights for cyclists, ahead and right turning motor traffic while left turning cars are held on a red light:

Cambridge Heath junction


Here's a video going in the other direction from Youtube user and cyclist sw19cam:


The two stage right turn for cyclists is also a new feature. Transport for London has issued videos demonstrating how the 'hold the left' junction works. Here we see (at 0.35) how the cyclists light goes red to allow motor traffic to turn left:


This video shows the 2-stage right turn, compulsory for riders starting in the separate cycle track.

More of TfL's videos can be seen on their website.

While we're pleased to see progress to make junctions safer for cycling in London, the problem with the design of the junction at Cambridge Heath Rd is that it adds significant delay to for cyclists compared to other traffic - while cyclists are held when motor traffic is turning left, straight ahead motor traffic can still go ahead, meaning that cyclists get about half the 'green time' given to drivers.

There are significant delays for cyclists turning right, almost an extra minute for cyclists doing the two stage right onto Whitechapel Road.

Additional delay is a proven safety risk as cyclists are encouraged to join the main traffic flow in order to maintain a fair share of the signal timing. The junction would be much safer and more efficient if it was designed to give cyclists the same amount of green time as motorists - as per our own Cycle Segregated Junction designs.

We're also concerned by the lack of protection along the route to the east and west of the Cambridge Heath junction. While much of the upgraded CS2 route includes segregated cycle tracks, there is no segregation to the west of the junction by Whitechapel Market. Transport for London's original plans showed segregated cycle track along this section, but after Tower Hamlets Council backed market traders who opposed the proposals, those plans were axed. Instead, cyclists will be expected to leave the protected cycle track and mix with buses and vans while passing the market - a daunting prospect for many people who cycle, or who would like to start cycling.

To the east of the junction there is no protected space for cycling opposite the council-owned Ocean Estate. Transport for London have told us that they are exploring ways to address this gap in the segregation with Tower Hamlets Council. 

Other issues with the superhighway which TfL tell us they are looking into are a 'bumpiness' of the surface, and pooling of water along the track during wet weather.

We hope TfL are able to resolve these issues swiftly, and take the extra steps needed to make this a truly safe and convenient route for cyclists of all ages and abilities.