TfL

Tale of three junctions – Part 1: King William Street

Three junctions, where people have lost their lives or severely injured, and the wrong lessons have been learned.

Part 1: King William Street

This is probably the most dangerous junction for pedestrians in the City of London. It is on TfL’s list of 73 killer junctions and apparently TfL is designing a new layout (we have not seen any plans yet). I have raised the lethality of the junction with the City of London Road Safety team more than two years ago, but they claim it is TfL’s responsibility.

It would have been kept in the back burner for years, if it had not suddenly sprung in the news, following a court decision adjudicating costs on a collision between Robert Hazeldean who crashed into Gemma Brushet while riding his bike.

However, as is usually the case in England, the wrong lessons were learned. Nobody has focused on the junction and people have tittle-tattled on the judge’s decision to ask Hazeldean to pay for Brushet’s cost even if blame was apportioned 50-50.

Even shabbier has been the behaviour of organisations such as British Cycling and London Cycling Campaign which used the opportunity to market their memberships with inclusive 3rd party insurance.

No one has spoken about the junction, the root of the problem.

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The key lethal feature of this crossing is that one arm has ALWAYS conflicting motor traffic. That is right: there is no phase when it is safe to cross.

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View from North

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View from South – Traffic stopped at red – but it is NOT safe to cross

To make things even worse, the Southbound motor traffic is most of the time stationary, thus giving a deceptive clue that it is safe to cross.

Add to this mix the English arrogance that who sits at a wheel (or rides a bike) has always priority over pedestrians and you have a death trap.

Now watch this two minute video, and you scratch your head: how can a civilised country design and refuse to alter something so dangerous and disrespectful to its citizens?

Notice from the beginning: motor traffic stopped at red, but West arm is not safe to cross.

00:35 Watch the speed of the bus – if a pedestrian had been confused and was crossing at that point, the driver would have had no chance to take evasive action -> death with 80% probability (and the pedestrian would have been blamed)

00:55 People crossing are given no clues that southbound traffic has now a green light and are taken aback.

01:05 Eight people squeezed between buses. Why do English people accept being treated with such contempt?

01:25 Pedestrians unsure about oncoming cyclists

The incident that had everyone fibrillating happened in 2015; in 2017 there was another incident where a pedestrian suffered serious injuries. We are now well in the second half of 2019 and TfL is still designing. They are in contempt of Section 39 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, which compels the relevant Transport Authority to take action when road design has contributed to serious incidents, to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

Our solution is simple: get rid of the traffic light and put a zebra crossing. It should not take two years to do that.

UPDATE 12.08.19 – As Robert points out in the comment below, motor traffic is forbidden from turning left from Cannon Street. So the green arrow from the West is not a legal traffic flow. However if one is crossing King William Street, one may not be aware of this prohibition and one’s attention may be split three ways.

 

Arriva and Metroline, the hooligans on our roads

Morgan Penn lives on Tollington Road, one of the few streets in Islington where the Borough’s 30kph limit does not apply because it is managed by Transport For London.

It is one way and it has four lanes. It has the feel of a motorway; almost all drivers put their foot down, including bus drivers.

One day earlier this year, Morgan, fed up with watching near misses every day, attached a sign and a bunch flowers.

Vision Zero - Morgan Penn, first sign

It didn’t make much difference, so Morgan prepared a bigger sign and decided to spend an hour a day flashing his sign to speeding drivers and recording the most egregious incidents.

His persistence has triggered a response from Transport for London, which is supposed to regulate the bus companies. Stuart Reid, the head of the Vision Zero, brought a couple of colleagues to examine the site; in a surreal exchange, as buses were hurtling down the road, just a few centimetres from him, he refused to take urgent measures to mitigate this clear and present danger. He had a different plan: do nothing for three-four years and wait for the Camden-Walthamstow route to go through its slow process of modelling, consultation, Sadiq Khan’s prevarications, and eventual installation.

TfL does have a programme to introduce 30kph on all his roads, but it is now focusing on Central London. When pressed as to why he wouldn’t bring Tollington Road to the speed limit of all the nearby streets (including Holloway Road an even wider road, which it intersects), Reid replied “Drivers would not respect it”. “Have you not considered speed cameras, in that case?” “We can’t do that”

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Morgan Penn with Stuart “Do Nothing” Reid, head of Vision Zero (or is it #ZeroVision?) at TfL

Morgan has written to all the bus companies involved in this “small children with big toys circus”. Only one company responded, GoAhead, the only company whose driving record is very good here. They have issued posters in their depots, and through their telematics, they are monitoring the speed on this stretch of road. The drivers know it and they drive responsibly.

The worst offenders are bus drivers working for Arriva and Metroline. The two companies  have a far higher injury rate in London than Go Ahead. The figures below, show the average number of injuries per bus for each company. Metroline and Arriva are considerably more dangerous than Go Ahead. So far they have refused to meet Morgan, to explain why their drivers behave in such an antisocial way.

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At a subsequent site meeting Jon Pike, HSE Senior Manager at TfL has promised to put pressure on Arriva and Metroline to respond. He has also given an update on the Intelligent Speed Adaptation system, announced three years ago, but still being tested.

TfL is committed to rolling out Intelligent Speed Adaptation on buses and we are up to over 500 buses (Volvo specific) with this technology and hope to have at least 1,000 such buses with ISA by the year end. This retro-fit will mean that buses will have to drive up the speed limit and will not be able to speed. Such technology is being developed across other bus types; as you will see on your road there are many manufacturers. In other words, ISA is not an immediate solution.

Exactly. We need an immediate solution. There is one: TfL must instruct the operators which it is supposed to regulate, to run the buses at 30kph. This can be implemented in a few weeks and dramatically improve the safety of the street. This is Vision Zero thinking.

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I leave you with an incident witnessed by Morgan and Pike, which I hope will stick to the latter’s mind until the right action is carried out:

While discussing the near misses at the crossing, we all witnessed that poor old lady who couldn’t get across the road in time, and the two buses moved forward towards her when the lights turned green, and then instead of patiently waiting, just belligerently jostled around her in a pack. It was lucky nothing more serious happened as they loomed over her. These near misses happen every day here, and this incident just highlighted the danger.

Waiting for someone to be killed is NOT Vision Zero.

Artwork by Morgan Penn

Seven minutes to cross a junction on Quietway 22

The Greenway is a stretch of traffic free cycle track from Stratford to Beckton on top of Bezalgette’s sewer.  TfL has recently spent £4.5m on “upgrading” the track and now calls it Quietway 22.

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Photo: Hackney Cyclist

As so much cycle infrastructure in London, it is very poorly executed as no money has been spent on the difficult bits. Hackney Cyclist has written an excellent report last month. Here I just concentrate on the TOTAL lack of intervention wherever the Quietway meets motor traffic. In other words, Will Norman is perfectly happy to treat active travel as a second class form of travel.

Western end

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Notice the absurdly wide pavement

The link with Victoria Park is the very unattractive and unfriendly Wick Lane, which has no safe cycling infrastructure. NO MONEY SPENT HERE

Stratford High Street

After five hundred metres the Greenway meets three obstacles: a railway, a river, and a main road; in spite of the £billions spent on the Olympic project, these obstacles have been deemed too formidable for the English urban planners. The Greenway just dies and resumes where it is easy. One can follow a lengthy link provided by Marshgate Lane and CS2, but crossing  Stratford High Street has not been considered at this point and one has to improvise. No wonder that very few West Ham fans cycle to watch their team. NO MONEY SPENT HERE

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2019 – A short stretch of old Greenway, West of Stratford High Street has been reopened. However the NEW crossing of SHS has been badly designed: first of all it is staggered, for no good reason; secondly and most important the new type of green man signals are extremely confusing and likely to confuse people and induce them to cross at the wrong time:

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It is worth noting that during the Olympic Games, the crossing was direct and additionally a bridge was built on top of it:

(2) Vision Zero London (@V0LDN) _ Twitter28

 

English people are not happy if they don’t erect barriers

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Photo: Hackney Cyclist

Along the 5km of the main stretch, the Greenway meets  five roads. In all occasions there are formidable barriers which are difficult to navigate with a cargobike. Money has been thankfully spent on lighting along the way; which means that the route is no longer closed at dusk as Newham used to do. But why not replace those horrible barriers with simple pillars?

The A117

The Greenway is interrupted by the A117 at its intersection with the A13. This junction exemplifies the English lack of respect, let’s call it disdain and utter contempt for ordinary citizens who don’t drive. To rejoin the Greenway, one has to negotiate SIX TRAFFIC LIGHTS. Naturally, this being England, no thought has been directed to synchronising these lights for the benefit of people walking or cycling. On the contrary they seem to be programmed to maximise the waiting time. On two arms, the conflicting motor traffic is stationary at red, and yet the pedestrian lights are also fixed at red. This may be an error, but this being England, nobody complains or the complaints are ignored. We tested the total time required to cross this junction:

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West-East:

Wait at 1: 1 minute 35 seconds; cross to island 5 seconds

Wait at 2: 55 seconds; ride to 3: 15 seconds

Wait at 3 20 seconds; cross 3 & 4: 15 seconds

Wait at 5: 1 minute and 15 seconds; cross 5 seconds

Wait at 6: 1 minute  and 35 seconds; cross 5 seconds.

Total SIX MINUTES AND TWENTY SECONDS

East-West:

Wait at 6: 1 minute and 5 seconds; cross 5 seconds

Wait at 5: 30 seconds; cross to 4: 10 seconds

Wait at 4 1 minute and 25 seconds; cross: 10 seconds

Wait at 3: 40 seconds; ride to 2: 15 seconds

Wait at 2: 45 seconds; cross 5 seconds

Wait at 1: 1 minute and 45 seconds; cross 5 seconds.

Total: SEVEN MINUTES

How can anyone think that this is acceptable?

 

 

Boroughs alarmed by Met’s collision data

One of the key principles of Vision Zero is learning from failure. In order to draw valuable conclusions and reduce the number of avoidable deaths, it is essential to have good timely granular data and have the willingness to analyse it.

In November 2016, the Metropolitan Police introduced a new input database for collision data. It seems that they did not ask themselves “What is this data for? What social good can we or others extract from it?” They certainly did not have any leadership from Transport for London, which, in spite of Khan’s stated intention of “leading the most transparent, engaged and accessible administration London has ever seen” see collision data as a dangerous weapon if it falls in public hands. In spite of continuous requests for the past four years, TfL refuses to publish a real-time database of KSIs of vulnerable road users on London streets. If we can do it, why can’t the organisation tasked to oversee the safety of citizens on London streets do it?

The consequences of the introduction of the new database have been pretty bad:

  1. For the past two years, the Metropolitan Police has been unable to meet the June deadline for reporting the previous year’s collision data, thus delaying by several months the release of national statistics
  2. London Borough engineers have noticed a reduction in data and data quality in respect to collision information sent to them via Transport for London.

 

TransportXtra reports:

“It seems that previously the Met had a designated team who would process collision data but it has now been disbanded and police officers are recording their own collision records electronically via COPA, the Case Overview and Preparation Application.”

Frost says boroughs are now receiving records “with no description of how the collision occurred”.

This makes it near-on impossible to identify patterns in the collision data or within clusters of collisions. Poor data quality is impacting on the level of analysis boroughs can undertake, making it harder to prioritise and plan our programmes, or to design effective remedial measures.

“Also, because the data is very delayed it is affecting reporting of annual and quarterly targets in a timely manner.”

Frost says injury severity reporting has also changed. “The criteria for severity categorisation has been altered in such a way that more collisions than in previous years are now being classed as a serious injury where before they would have been recorded as slight injury. This means, going forward, producing meaningful data comparisons with previous years and the tracking of year-on-year trends will be extremely difficult.”

 

Vision Zero or Zero Vision?