|An aspiration for London|
I first saw this image a few minutes after returning from the centre of Assen. As it happens, on our most direct route to the centre of the city, I pass a junction which looks remarkably similar to a mirror image of what is being proposed in London and I thought I had to write about the similarity.
|Real life in Assen|
The Assen junction solves problems which the London junction will suffer from - notably the ability of drivers to intimidate cyclists and to turn across their paths. The design in London requires drivers to turn left immediately after the traffic lights, crossing the route of cyclists, in order to reach some destinations. Cyclists are encouraged to take up position in a wide bike box depending on which direction they wish to cycle in.
The Assen junction is not part of a roundabout. Roundabouts in Assen have been described thoroughly before: Not one of them has bike lanes on road. Not one of them includes bike boxes. Not one of them puts cyclists in a position such as is proposed in London.
I don't much like advanced stop lines (aka "bike boxes"). Cyclists filtering through traffic to reach a bike box can find themselves an unpleasant situation on the wrong side of turning vehicles when the lights change. They can be subject to intimidation by drivers behind them, and upon reaching the bike box a cyclist can find that it is already full of cars or motorbikes. On a small road with few motor vehicles, they can just about work. On a multi-lane road like this, there are far too many points of conflict where cyclists and drivers will have to cross each others' paths and they should not be considered. It's a world away from sustainable safety:
|Bow redesign includes plenty of scope for conflict between cyclists and drivers "sharing" a giant roundabout together. Not only the routes but also the speeds are different, leading to many points of conflict.|
And that brings us to perhaps the most important difference between these two junctions. While the mega-city of London sees it as aspirational to install an advanced stop line on a roundabout on an incredibly busy junction to give cyclists a very slight advantage on the "superhighways", plans are afoot in small towns right across the Netherlands to make further improvements on what already are better junction designs at far less busy junctions. Bike boxes are not something which should still be part of new designs, especially on busy junctions. Rather, they're an idea which both campaigners and planners should be looking beyond.
Lessons still need to be learned even from what will soon be removed in the Netherlands, so I've documented some details of the junction in Assen below, showing why this junction works:
|Cyclists stop 13 m ahead of drivers. Click photo for larger size|
|All conflict is removed at this junction (some appears slightly later on, but it's certainly not comparable with Bow roundabout)|
|Drivers cannot turn right, but|
It is extremely positive that TfL seems to be thinking about cyclists. That they've proposed their redesign in the face of criticism is a sign that a positive change has taken place within the organisation. However, the proposal that they've put forward is inadequate.
|People feel relaxed enough to cycle|
through "no hands". Will this be true
at Bow roundabout in London ?
Exactly the same problems arise in the Netherlands as in the UK, however the approaches taken to deal with them, without putting cyclists into the firing line, are very much more advanced. We run infrastructure Study Tours here in Assen and Groningen and we demonstrate how the infrastructure in this part of the world works to keep cyclists safe and make cycling popular.
If anyone from Transport for London is interested in seeing a very different way of designing cycling infrastructure they might like to book a tour. Why keep trying to re-invent the wheel ?
Read more posts about Advanced Stop Lines ( Bike Boxes )