Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Balham Station Junction, CSH 7

As promised, we've been taking a look at CSH 7 to see what the problems are at the junctions prioritised by TFL for safety review.

The first one on our list is the junction at Balham Station.

The approach to the junction has all sorts of hazards.
Above, there's a side-road junction and a petrol station, which both have vehicles emerging from or turning into them. Additionally, there's a parking space just before which will impair the sight-lines of any driver trying to turn out of the side-road.

Above: More parking bays. If you look carefully, there's a vehicle about to emerge from the filling station, and the driver's view of the cyclist is obscured by the parked car. It's an accident waiting to happen.
Above and below: The blue lane stops and starts, punctuated by parking bays.

You'll notice in none of these pictures is there enough motor traffic to occupy the two northbound lanes, even though this is rush hour. Take note, people who think there isn't enough space on London roads for segregated cycle paths. Note also that TfL won't be reviewing the hazards you can see above, because these are minor junctions that don't count.

Now onto the junction itself.
The approach, above, is in a bus lane, which is wide enough to permit overtaking at the bus stop.
Above: However, the general traffic is then permitted to occupy the left lane, and there is no approach lane leading to the advance stop box for cycles.
Above: So this kind of thing happens.
Above: You can usually rely on the advance stop box being occupied by motors when the lights are on red (if you can get to it in the first place).

Above: The blue lane doesn't continue through the junction.

Above: the southbound approach. No separate approach lane; just a blue-coloured general traffic lane, which in the evening rush will be full of cars blocking your approach to the advance stop box (which will also be full of cars, so you're not really missing out on much).

Above: A car in the advance stop-box.

Above: There's a 4-way pedestrian phase where all the traffic lights are on red.

You can see that so far there's been no attempt whatever to improve this junction for cycling. Really the minimum that needs to be done is to have a proper approach lane in both directions. An advance green phase would allow cyclists to get away in advance of the general traffic. On the exit to the junction, in both directions there is space to have a mandatory lane. The cycle lane should continue through the junction, and there needs to be some attempt to prevent 'left hooks'. During the green phase, there are particular dangers from the high vehicle speeds that arise from the motorway-style road layout to the south of the junction; this needs to be addressed.
One innovative possibility that takes advantage of the existing 4-way pedestrian green phase is to allow cyclists to wait in a reservoir in front of the pedestrian crossing, rather than behind it. They could then proceed carefully through the centre of the junction during the 4-way pedestrian green phase, and wait behind the crossing on the far side until the lights change. That arrangement would give cyclists a considerable head start on motor traffic. Or even more radically (make sure you're sitting down now), the 4-way pedestrian green phase could simply allow cyclists to proceed at will, with pedestrian priority, turning the junction temporarily into a shared space.
Of course, with TfL in charge of the redesign, we should be careful to lower our expectations appropriately.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    I hope you will forgive the importunity, but I have uploaded all but one of the photos onto the bikemapper photomap. If this is a problem, I am very happy to remove them.

    I have also attached the relevant comment to each photo (attributed to you).

    For the record, I think your 'even more radical' suggestion is entirely reasonable. Bicycles and people are perfectly well able to share the same space.

    Just recently I was sat down on a bench, on the river path between Hammersmith and Barnes, having a leisurely gasper. Presently a North American gentleman stopped for a rest on the adjacent bench. He was out for a bike ride with his three young children, the eldest of which was only about six or seven. Each had their own bike.

    After they had taken a drink, they went off to throw pebbles in the river. As they went back and forth, the man told his children I don't know how many times to be careful of the cyclists, and I was absolutely delighted to see they didn't take a blind bit of notice to him.

    At one point, the next eldest stepped right out in front of a group of two or three cyclists, but they were easily able to avoid him, of course. Even if the young boy didn't have a care for them, they were alert to the situation. And yet, the dad made such a fuss about it, I thought he was going to insist that his son write out forty lines. I had to keep my hand in front of my mouth so he wouldn't see the big smile slapped across my face.