Month: February 2014

Where is the joined-up vision?

The Better Junctions announcement seems to have been timed to interfere with the London Assembly Transport Committee’s Cycling Report. Why make an announcement when the plans are not ready?

Here are two questions:

1. Why has the announcement been made before the London Cycling Standards Manual has been released?

2. How do these junctions relate to the Central London Cycling Grid?

Why for example has the St.Paul Gyratory been chosen, which does not form part of the Grid, and not the Holborn Gyratory which forms part of one of the most important Grid routes, the Clerkenwell Boulevard?

Similarly, what is the point of spending money on the Great Portland Street Gyratory? Would it not be much better to fix the Euston Road where the  North South Grid routes cross it, to ensure safety and speed?

Again, how do the half-baked designs for King’s Cross fit with the North-South Central Cycle Super Highway planned there?

I could go on. If there is no joined-up thinking, the Mayor would be yet again wasting millions of our money, with little improvement in cycling safety.

Site visit, Earl’s Court Road

On 03.02.14, a 75 year old woman was killed by a lorry on Earl’s Court Road, SW10.

Earl’s Court Road (ECR) is a busy one way trunk road, heavily congested at all times of the day. It does not have a 20mph speed limit.

Earl’s Court Tube Station as 60,000 users per day. Right in front of the exit, there is a traffic light which allows pedestrians to cross ECR. This pedestrian crossing has a number of negative features:

1. Phasing
The green light for pedestrians lasts only FOUR SECONDS. There is then an eight second period when pedestrians have a red light and motor traffic also has red light. There is then a 40 second green light for motor traffic. This extremely unfavourable phasing promote two types of risky behaviour:
A. When cars are stopped at red, many pedestrians, having missed their four seconds, and not wanting to wait 50 seconds, will initiate crossing with a red light

The man with the cane is walking very slowly and will reach the kerb only at the end of the “all red” phase. The woman in red has started crossing after the lights have turned red

B. When there are gaps in the oncoming motor traffic, some pedestrians will cross on red.

2. No yellow gridAlthough the next set of traffic lights is 300 metres away, the heavy congestion causes tailbacks up to the pedestrian crossing. Often there are motor vehicles blocking the crossing during the 4 seconds green pedestrian phase.

Taxi blocking the crossing when pedestrians have their four seconds of green.

This creates two problems.
A. Slow walkers will find it difficult to cross the street in time
B. Many pedestrians will attempt to cross the street when motor traffic is stationary. This is very risky, because motor traffic may start to move again while people are crossing; there is heavy traffic of lorries, whose drivers have limited visibility of someone standing immediately in front of the vehicle.

Four people crossing on red in front of big lorry, because traffic in front is stationary

In other words the traffic light is so pedestrian unfriendly that it encourages risky behaviour.

1. Paint a yellow grid where the pedestrians cross, and five meters before it, to take into account lorries’ blind spot
2. Change the phasing of the lights, so that pedestrians have at least 30% of the full cycle.
3. Substitute the “all red” phase with a clock.

The woman was hit about seven meters before the traffic light. It is unclear what has happened; the two people I spoke to, who attended the scene shortly afterwards, could not explain why an elderly woman would attempt to cross such a busy road so close but not at the crossing. It has been suggested that maybe she was inadvertently pushed. Her line of sight of the oncoming traffic would have been good. It is not known whether motor traffic was stationary or moving. We will have to wait for the inquest.

The woman was hit where there is the first gap in the zigzag.