Saturday, January 12, 2013

Doing the Lambeth Walk - In Berkshire?

This blog lampooned TfL's bizarre proposals to tart up the Lambeth Bridge/Millbank roundabout back in October, and encouraged readers to make their views known via the consultation process. Well, it looks like a lot of people did exactly that, and the recently-published results of the consultation do not make comfortable reading for TfL. However, credit where credit's due, they are abandoning the original proposal and looking at a roundabout with segregated cycle facilities. Hooray!

The consultation report says:
"Some of the measures suggested by respondents, such as a segregated cycle track around the outside of the roundabout with cyclist priority at slip roads, would be new features on London’s roads, and therefore require off-street trials. We have started building the infrastructure for these trials at the Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire, and we will work with our stakeholders to ensure their views are considered as part of this work."

This is nonsense. Cycle-friendly roundabouts have been around for a while now on the Continent. We do not need to re-invent the wheel: and people do not cycle differently on the Continent (except they are rather more relaxed and less fearful. And they're on the other side of the road). So here's an idea. Given that this idea obviously works in practice, why not build it in London instead of Berkshire?

The existing roundabout is deadly. While the TRL are trialling something safer in a field out in the sticks, cyclists will continue to be at risk here in the smoke. Given the choice between something that is crap, and something else that has been proven in another country not to be crap, why would you want to put up with the crap for another year or two while a bunch of boffins in a lab prove that the new stuff  that isn't crap, is not crap, and spend a lot of your money doing so?

One other issue from the consultation report arises from the following sentence:

"we will concentrate our resources on developing more substantial improvements that meet the expectations of Westminster Council and other stakeholders"

Given Westminster Council's record on cycling, that statement is profoundly worrying. What exactly are their expectations? The opposed the shared space, like almost everyone else, but what else do they oppose? We should be told.


  1. It must be that although the junction is TfL's, I think 2 of the approach roads are Westminster's. Where there is a scheme which alters a junction like this and it 'affects' an adjacent highway authority, their views legally count.

    I don't think there is a 'Dutch' style roundabout in the UK and to go to the investment of an off-street trial, I think TfL is serious about getting it right. If just a junction was opened and a cyclist was killed (aside from the tragedy) it would stop innovation in its tracks. I for one am happy for TfL to get it right - it will help the rest of us engineers push similar...

  2. As a Dutchman I think it's a good idea to check what the effect is on British drivers caught unawares by a much slower roundabout than they're used to. After all, different road situations take some time to get used to.
    In any case, when it gets implemented at Lambeth, it would be wise to set up a sign warning drivers: "Caution! Slow roundabout ahead."
    Just for the first year or so, because the roundabout cannot be taken at "normal" speeds. Most driving is done by following expectations and visual stimuli, I think.