Love London, Go Danish? Or even Go Bow?

This is the final post in a series on LCC’s Love London, Go Dutch campaign – the previous three are herehere and here

I am not especially precious about the form of infrastructure that might be put in place on London’s streets to make them more inviting for cycling, as long as it works, makes cycling feel subjectively safe for people of all ages, is fast, smooth and continuous, and privileges the bicycle as a mode of transport over the motor vehicle. Good design is good design, whichever nation it comes from.

That said, given that the London Cycling Campaign’s Go Dutch Campaign does, self-evidently, title itself after a particular country, I would expect that country’s infrastructure and practice to be used as a reference point (although obviously not one that has to be rigidly and inflexibly adhered to).

But unfortunately, in suggesting that on-carriageway provision should be maintained on busier roads, or that ‘safety in numbers’ or ‘shared space’ could be an alternative to providing infrastructure where it is required, the LCC seem to be losing sight not just of Dutch practice, but European practice in general. The Danes, like the Dutch, do not rely on ‘safety in numbers’ instead of changes to the environment, nor do they use on-carriageway provision alongside off-carriageway provision to signal that cyclists can use road, if they so wish. Nor do they try to keep cyclists in the carriageway as a way of calming vehicle traffic. To this extent, these features of the LCC designs are not Dutch, or even Danish, but a curious melange that tends to resemble the type of provision that already exists in the UK, at least in outlook, if not in quality.

On top of this we have some misunderstandings about Dutch practice itself. Much weight is often put upon the Dutch ‘strict liability’ laws in explaining why it is so much more pleasant to cycle in the Netherlands, and indeed why cycle paths work safely there (and why they might not work so well here). This tends to ignore the fact that strict liability

 is only concerned with material damage and financial responsibility… this law is not concerned with allocating blame, or with imprisoning bad drivers.

Dutch drivers can, and do, drive badly. (A recent example is found in this Mark Wagenbuur video). It is unconvincing to suggest that being presumed automatically liable for the costs of a collision – and only in the absence of evidence – is sufficient to generate a far higher standard of driver behaviour than that seen in the UK. The reason passing through a junction on a segregated path in the Netherlands is safer than doing so in the UK is not because of strict liability, but because of better design. David Hembrow again –

There is no short snappy phrase for [strict liability] in Dutch because this is no more than an obscure part of the law which most people take little interest in. People don’t talk about this on a regular basis, any more than they do about other obscure parts of the law. Most people are not aware that the law here is different from elsewhere. Strict Liability has, at best, a very small role to play in keeping cyclists in the Netherlands safe.

So while Richard Lewis was correct to emphasise, in his talk for the Movement for Liveable London, the excellent way in which segregated paths are designed around and across junctions in the Netherlands, I think he was wrong to say, in this context, that

part of the problem we have in the UK is that we don’t have the same legal structure as they do on the continent, whereby drivers have more responsibility for the safety of vulnerable street users.

Keeping cyclists safe on segregated paths is dependent upon the quality of the design, not upon strict liability, which plays only a very marginal (yet overstated) role in the safety of Dutch cyclists. Tackling danger is achieved through the design of the environment, not through attempts to modify, in isolation, driver behaviour.

Richard also made a slight mistake in diagnosing how Dutch junctions work. The label on this slide

informs us that the kerb on the corner of junctions – marked in red – is designed to steer cyclists into a visible position, so that vehicles turning left will not miss cyclists as they cross the junction. Richard said that the kerb means

cyclists are taken around the corner so that drivers going around the corner see them, and they’ve got no choice but to see them.

This is true, but the main purpose of that kerb is to protect cyclists who are turning left from motor vehicles which are turning left at the same time. It is very important to emphasise that cyclists going straight on across the junction (from left to right across the image) will very rarely come into conflict with left-turning vehicles, because in the great majority of cases those left-turning vehicles will be held at a red light while cyclists progress in that direction. Turning conflicts like this are very carefully eliminated under Dutch practice. The lights will either be configured to ensure that cyclists are not crossing at all while vehicles will be turning left, or will given them a head start in those rare cases where the movements are simultaneous (see this Mark Wagenbuur video for a full explanation).

It is the ‘head start’ model that seems to be favoured by Richard Lewis, rather than the total separation of turning movements of Dutch practice. This is why the LCC model of Parliament Square –

does not have those protective kerbs seen in the Dutch design. ‘Head starts’ are, I think, the only way to keep cyclists safe under a design physically identical to this – it would certainly be quite dangerous to expect left-turning cyclists to move forward, from the cycle tracks, at the same time as (potentially large) left-turning vehicles, given the lack of protection seen at the junctions in this design.

But two questions immediately present themselves – how long would this head start have to be, and secondly, what happens when cyclists arrive at the junction, in the tracks, while vehicles are already moving through the junction? These are obviously pertinent questions now that Transport for London are implementing a design quite similar to this LCC one at Bow Roundabout.

The answer to how long the head start might be, is, for TfL at least, not very long at all. Their video of how the junction phasings will work suggests that the green light for vehicles will change about a second after that for bicycles. Indeed, the amber light for vehicles comes on at the same time as the green light for bicycles, which suggests that law-abiding cyclists would be moving off at the same time as more impatient motorists. Even allowing for a deeper ASL, I suspect this is not a sufficient amount of time to prevent ‘left-hook’ conflicts of the kind that claimed two lives last year – especially if the cyclists are slower off the mark.

Just as seriously, there is the second problem of what happens when cyclists arrive at junctions like Bow, or Parliament Square, when vehicles are already turning left on a green light. There is nothing I can find in the LCC material to suggest that cyclists will be held at a red light, so I can only assume that cyclists will be moving up the inside of vehicles approaching the junction, and executing simultaneous left-turns with them. This is not a move that is conducive to safety.

By contrast, the TfL ‘answer’ at Bow is to hold cyclists at a red light for the entire duration of the green phase for motorists.

This is a very blunt and inconvenient instrument indeed. Oddly, however, it’s a safer option than that suggested in the LCC mock-up for Parliament Square, which appears to allow simultaneous unprotected left turns. The TfL ‘Bow’ option would naturally eliminate these left hooks by stopping cyclists completely, assuming perfect compliance – but unfortunately it is very hard to imagine all cyclists choosing to obey what would at first glance appear to be a pointless red light. I suspect plenty would jump that light, and the problems that the junction design attempts to solve would simply reappear in exactly the same form.

Richard Lewis stated that the TfL design for Bow is ‘on its way to really good’, presumably on the basis that it superficially resembles his designs for other junctions.

I’m not so sure. I think it could be on its teetering on its way to quite bad. TfL has purchased some safety for cyclists at the cost of great inconvenience for them. You will always arrive at a red light here on a bicycle, if you use the segregated route. To put this in perspective, if you arrive at the junction just as the vehicles are setting off on their green light, you will have to wait until that lengthy green phase comes to an end before you are even allowed to enter the ASL, where you will have to wait again, your only reward being a one second head-start over the vehicles waiting behind you. The extent of the wait, while people in cars are free to move across the junction in the direction you want to go, will probably be sufficient to tempt cyclists into jumping the lights, creating exactly the same dangerous situations that prompted this remedial work in the first place.

Now that Boris has (in principle, at least) signed up to Go Dutch, it’s vitally important that these kinds of turning conflicts – and methods that attempt to solve them which involve great inconvenience – aren’t suggested or allowed by London Cycling Campaign’s own designs and guidance.

This entry was posted in Boris Johnson, Bow Roundabout, Cycle Superhighways, David Hembrow, Go Dutch, Infrastructure, LCC, London, Strict liability, Subjective safety, The Netherlands, Transport for London. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Love London, Go Danish? Or even Go Bow?

  1. Jim says:

    And that’s if no vehicles stop in the blue box, which they usually do.
    Incidentally, your first reference to a Mark Wagenbuur video is missing a hyperlink.

  2. Wyadvd says:

    Nicely explained , thank you. However those head start schemes and other ways of making segregated junctions safe will not work at the multiplicity of junctions that you get in London not regulated by traffic lights. When I integrate with traffic, I don’t need a head start by the way, I just take the primary and slipstream! But that’s me ( fit fast and forty)

  3. I think you’ve pretty much summed up what I thought of that Bow re-design quite well. They claim it makes it safer for cyclist (which is will do *if* people play by the rules…) BUT it’s at a huge inconvenience!

    The idea of have a “holding” area for cyclist still shows that the motorist is king as far as TFL are concerned and if I did approach there with that design I’d most likely just ignore the segregated path all together, take primary in which ever lane I need and go through using the same route as a car. This is almost the reverse of what you have asked for in that it punishes those who chose to cycle, pretty much UN-smoothing their traffic flow in an effort to smooth everyone elses.

    With regards to the corner kerb stones it had never occurred to me that are there to ensure riders are seen. Clearly a physically barrier is there to DIVIDE two streams of traffic and ensure they can’t conflict. Looking at the LCC design I’d say there is certainly room to implement something like that at the lower right corner (edge of the current PS island) as it has a rather wide pavement. The other corners may require a bit more thinking.

  4. Great explanation as always Mark. The UK has a long way to come with regard to traffic control systems (TCS, aka traffic lights) when it comes to providing for cyclists (and to a lesser extent pedestrians).

    When it comes to how Dutch TCS work in comparison to the UK, we actually have quite a different way of doing things. The most obvious is the instant switch from red to green without an amber warning that we have in the UK, but there is a more subtle and more important difference that effects all aspects of junction design and makes simple cloning of them into the UK difficult under the current UK practice.

    In NL it is not possible to get a green signal but still have to wait for oncoming traffic before making a turn (aka when turning right without a green filter arrow). A green light in NL means that the way is clear for you to go there will be no conflicts, whereas in the UK it means that you may proceed as long as the way is clear as there may be traffic coming the opposite way.

    This description makes the UK setup sound better, surely having drivers not having automatic right on way on green must be a good thing? The downside of this however is that it brings uncertainty into the system, something which Sustainable Safety principles try to remove.

    In practice what this means is that in the UK you get combined lights for many different traffic movements whereas in NL each flow of traffic will have it’s own green signal. This allows NL junctions to have an the easy separation in time of streams of motor traffic moving in different directions from each other, and also allows (importantly for us) the movement of streams of pedestrians and cycles to fit into this separation in time.

    As such you end up with junctions that have a straight on green phase for all modes of transport (motor, cycle and foot) without any turning movements, followed by the straight on phase being halted (again for all modes) and a turning phase started, this remove any conflict between any two streams of traffic no matter which mode they are.

    Whereas in the UK you get all modes of transport coming from one direction making every possible movement at once (straight on, left and right turns) and thus leading to conflict. If you then try to squeeze separate cycleways into the mix (or even on carriageway cycle lanes), the conflicts still exist and are magnified by the perceived safety of separation.

    IMHO you cannot have a safe TCS system for all road users with the current UK way of doing things. Luckily however, there is nothing in the UK rules stopping the redesign of junctions to provide exclusive phases for each stream of traffic movement.

  5. Thanks for this thorough blog. Just a couple of things:

    You said:
    “This is true, but the main purpose of that kerb is to protect cyclists who are turning left from motor vehicles which are turning left at the same time.”

    I have been told several times explicitly by Dutch professionals that visibility (i.e. the angle at which driver and cyclists meet) each other is the reason for the islands. So I think Richard is correct in asserting this. Of course it offers protection for left turning cyclists but so does any segregated left turning track, if not quite as much.

    You also said:
    “It is very important to emphasise that cyclists going straight on across the junction (from left to right across the image) will very rarely come into conflict with left-turning vehicles, because in the great majority of cases those left-turning vehicles will be held at a red light while cyclists progress in that direction. Turning conflicts like this are very carefully eliminated under Dutch practice. The lights will either be configured to ensure that cyclists are not crossing at all while vehicles will be turning left, or will given them a head start in those rare cases where the movements are simultaneous (see this Mark Wagenbuur video for a full explanation).”

    Clearly when you have a signalised junction you can have separate phases. This is very common in the UK, probably much more so than in the NL. I don’t think there is anything revoluntionary or creative about designing separate light phases. But how do you make it work when you have few cyclists and loads of motor vehicles? Wouldn’t you get long wait times as a cyclist (something I haven’t had in the NL possibly because traffic levels ore more evenly balanced)?
    I guess what Richard did mean by referring to the legal and regulatory framework (apart from stricter liability) is that in the NL and many other European countries you generally get priority at non-signalised (and many signalised) junctions. Priority for straight ahead traffic (incl walking and cycling) is a main feature of the driving test and you grow up with it when you walk and cycle.
    It is a key difference to the UK where you only have a small chance of getting priority under very specific and rare conditions. Otherwise it’s ‘might is right’. In the UK a highway authority can give priority to a cycle track if it is set at least 5m away from the carriageway (Most Highway authorities don’t do it even then). Perhaps ironically this is exactly for the same ‘visibility reasons’ (as well as stacking) as in the NL where they use those islands.
    I’m not saying it is therfore impossible to get a change here. But we do need to be aware of the different environments. I won’t even get into turning left on red; politically very difficult.
    I thought what was much better in the NL was that with the backing of this culture and regulation of priority, cyclists would always have priority at minor junctions and only wait a major junctions. This seems to make a lot of sense. They make you stop and look where it matters most and the small effort/time penalty is offset by gliding through all the little junctions.

    So as you suggest, in the end of the day it will have to work well. And I look forward to that.

    • “Clearly when you have a signalised junction you can have separate phases. This is very common in the UK, probably much more so than in the NL. I don’t think there is anything revoluntionary or creative about designing separate light phases. But how do you make it work when you have few cyclists and loads of motor vehicles?”

      Gerhard, I would disagree with your comment regarding to TCS phases, see my comment above but also this blog post

      The key when you have different volumes of different modes is to do with synchronising similar traffic movements of different transport modes into a single light phase rather than phasing by traffic flow or mode that is often done in London. This is what the Dutch do and the key aspect of TCS design that we should pushing for adoption here.

      • I agree that signalised junctions could be handled better than we currently do. The island as pictured is often used at non signalised junctions or at signalised ones where cyclists go together with turning traffic. That’s when the rules and regulations and the culture in the NL matter most.
        Again, doesn’t mean we should shy away from it. But it’s more than copying design drawings.
        Thanks for the link by the way.

  6. Paul M says:

    I trust your observations about the role of strict liability in cycle safety don’t imply that you don’t support a strict liability law here.

    The UK is one of only four countries in the EU (or is it the EAA?) which does not have a strict liability law for road accident civil claims, and we are not in illustrious company on this. That does not however make most of those EU countries a cycling nirvana. French drivers for example are not especially careful generally speaking, although in my own experience they tend to be more considerate than UK drivers.

    However, even with the best cycling infrastructure available, you still get cyclists killed or injured. That is how Penning and – to his eternal shame – Norman Baker managed to portray the Netherlands as less safe for cyclists than the UK. And top-notch cycle infrastrucure doesn’t necessarily mean enhanced pedestrian safety from motorists.

    When someone is badly injured in a road accident, however rare this becomes, they should be entitled to recover damages from the driver without having to go through the difficult, expensive and distressing processes of proving the driver’s neglect, and in turn having their own actions put through the wringer. Many years ago I knew someone who had been knocked down on a pelican crossing on green-man phase, and years later had still not succeeded in winning a claim because the driver’s insurers were obstructing her claim at every turn. She needed intensive therapy to recover from her head injuries, and she was not getting it. Dutch, Danish, Estonian or whatever standards we adopt, this scandal has to be addressed.

  7. Wyadvd says:

    Why can’t cyclists just wait in the middle of lane. They will never be slow off the mark because vehicles behind them will just have to wait. And the cyclists won’t be on the left side of any vehicle to be left hooked? Works for me!

    • Panjandrum says:

      Agreed. If you are confident enough to maintain position in traffic flow then being a vehicular cyclist is the best strategy. The key is to move over when you can no longer “hold the wheel”, unless you actively enjoy confrontation with motorists!

      • Wyadvd says:

        Agreed, when the car in front pulls away , I pull in if there is no other reason to be in the middle of my lane ( like being in a multilane environment in which case it’s primary all the way!)

    • You’re absolutely right, of course – for people like me and you – “fit, fast and forty”. But I wouldn’t recommend that to my mum, or my young niece. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend they ride a bike at all, as the UK infrastructure just isn’t good enough.

      Infrastructure should be for everybody, men and women, from toddlers to pensioners – not just us fit, confident men!

      • Wyadvd says:

        I’m very worried that along with a very expensive parallel network will come a compulsion to use it. I’m happy integrating, and would probably give up cycling if I were forced to weave in an out of grannies on bikes with baskets at every turn. My average speed on most rides to work is 18mph. What is hailed as the best cycling facility local to me (the Viking way in Thanet) makes it almost impossible to travel at 12! At the moment I avoid it like the plague. We might be a minority the fit fast and forty, but we deserve to be catered for too.

      • Gareth says:

        If there is congestion you slow down, if there is an open road you speed up, there is no inherent right to always travel at a given speed no matter how much we’d all like it. Considering the UK doesn’t have minimum speed limits like some Dutch roads (N or Autoweg roads) do, if we copied the rest of their regulations along with cycle friendly infrastructure, then you wouldn’t be bared from using the overwhelming majority of roads (other than motorways obviously and dual carriage ways at the national speed limit).
        Really, this old ‘if there are cycle lanes we won’t be allowed on the roads’ argument is tedious, unless there is something peculiar about the British way of doing things that will de facto result in cyclists being banned, which, I think if it were true, we’d be banned already.

      • Gareth says:

        Re dual carriage ways, providing there is a cycle path, otherwise your place would by default be on the main carriageway.

      • Wyadvd says:

        My dual carriageway has a cycle path. It looks good, but the surface is not as level as a road, it is finished as a pathway ie corrugated. And I cannot travel at full speed. The difference is about 5mph or 20minutes on my commute! So I ride on the dual carriageway and it’s perfectly safe believe it or not! Further down the cycle path it becomes a track made of crushed flint if you believe that. My 23mm tyres puncture every single time on that! And about once a week I get abused by motorists for not using the cycle path. If only they knew that i would not make it to pick up my daughter at after school club on time if i did! That will only get worse if segregation becomes more widespread. It all seems like an awful lot of money to invest to in my opinion placate worries about perceived risks not real ones. I’ll shut up now

      • Gareth says:

        You seem to be concerned about perceived risks, not real ones. A dirt trail wouldn’t be considered a cycle path if we ‘Go Dutch’.

      • While most of us here are focussed on making cycling a safe transport choice for everyone, Wyadvd does express the very real concern that many cyclists have – that the government will put in some terrible facilities and then force bikes onto them. The whole point of this “Go Dutch” thing should be that the facilities are world class! We shouldn’t accept anything less. (I’m sure you’ve all seen David Hembrow’s blog for examples of world class cycling facilities.)

        Consider a bike-only road with the following qualities:

        • Cycle path must have a smooth, continuous surface
        • Cycle path must have priority at unsignalled junctions
        • Cycle path must have good priority at signalled junctions (no waiting for ages!)
        • Single-direction cycle path must be at least 2 metres wide (room to overtake)
        • Two-way cycle path must be at least 4 metres wide
        • Cycle path must pass behind bus stops, not between the bus stop and road
        • Cycle path must be at least 500 metres long in built-up areas, 1500 metres long outside

        Would you choose to ride on it instead of the road? (None of this would be remarkable in the Netherlands, see here for an example of a 4m-wide bike path.) The final point is a rough guess based on a minimum useful length.

        Feel free to change these or add to the list, I’m genuinely interested – what would convince a vehicular cyclist to give up riding on the road?

        • The Dutch standards usually call for 3 metres minimum for bidirectional paths and indeed there are many examples of good cycle paths that are 3 metres wide. Depending on the volume and route importance, it is widened accordingly. Also, there are uses of cycle paths that are shorter, for example to provide a bypass around a traffic light. The transition must be very good, but they can be quite short, like when you ordinarily have a 2 metre wide cycle lane but you use a cycle path to go around bus stops.

          I also disagree to some extent on the priority, in the countryside it can be an OK thing to give way, but there should be at least 6-10 metres of space between the roadway and cycleway if this is the case to make it more obvious who must be allowed to go first.

          Also, I suggest prohibiting at grade crossings where the speed limit is 70 km/h or more (unless actual speeds are reduced at the crossing itself, like at a roundabout or the oval junctions like you see in Goes, Zeeland) and as much as possible, actual speeds at pedestrian and cycleway crossings should be 30 km/h and it’s likely that at grade crossings of roads with 50 km/h speed limits need traffic lights to control the crossing. Cycleway crossings with priority can only be built where the actual speed is 30 km/h or less, cyclists must give way if the actual speed will be over that without a traffic light.

          If there must be a traffic light, the junction shall be controlled with fully actuated signals that go to flash mode as much as possible (5 AM in my city and the lights are still red and green even when flashing them makes a lot of sense), with advance detection for cyclists is used and the junction control system is independent of other signals in the area or network. There will be a waiting time indicator, an eye level light and a full size signal (20 cm on the top of the pole), with a pushbutton just in case the loops don’t work. As many movements and routes a cyclist can take at the junction shall be permitted at all times as possible (like right on red, or in the UK, left on red).

      • Sir Velo says:

        Fairly exhaustive list sc! I would add the following:

        Regular “road” sweeping of cycle paths, and other ad hoc maintenance checks;
        Priority over pedestrians;
        No speed limits outside of residential and built up areas (come on, we can all exercise common sense and slow down when passing toddlers etc).

        Without these (and others which I may have overlooked and reserve the right to add to my wish list!) , and those you have already mentioned, I would be disinclined to give up riding on the road, for the reason that this would not be a pleasurable experience for me. This may sound selfish to some commentators but I doubt I am alone in expressing these views..

      • Great, so you *do* support Dutch-quality cycle infrastructure! (All of these demands are standard practice in the Netherlands, I believe.) I suspect the divide between vehicular and non-vehicular cyclists would disappear if the ‘Go Dutch’ campaign would lay down a minimum standard like this.

        The only point I would alter is “priority over pedestrians” – maybe it should be “the same or greater priority over pedestrians that motor vehicles have.” To demand permanent domination over someone on foot – we’re all on foot sometimes – is unreasonable. But if you’re just rejecting the typical UK infrastructure of cycling always being at the bottom of priorities, then I understand where you’re coming from!

      • Wyadvd says:

        Sc you have missed the general tone of sir velo’s post. Irony. I think he is gently trying to say that a British effort at going Dutch is never going to be as conveinient as just being a vehicle on the road. Like the cycle paths are going to be swept of p fairies every day ….. Yeah right!

        I note in the photos with the latest blog post there’s a nice Dutch picture of lorrys travelling on nice smooth tarmac and the sedate bikes wobbling along on rough pave! No thanks!

      • Are you sure he was being ironic? Pretty much every point mentioned wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in the Netherlands.

        Regarding track maintenance, see post here which shows that leaves, snow and litter are cleared from the cycle path, which is well maintained:

        Why is this impossible on British soil?

        Which photos (in the post about lorries) show rough pavement? Some of the tracks are brick rather than tarmac, but not all by a long shot. Having cycled on the UK’s roads, dodging around pot-holes and sinking manholes on a daily basis, all those Dutch cycle roads look wonderful!

      • Wyadvd says:

        Wow! Those videos are pretty amazing! I’m convinced the technology is there! Now we need cycle paths wide enough for them. ……lasers to analyse surface for cyclist comfort sounds impressive!

        • I think your being a bit facetious now, bike paths should be very low maintenance repairs wise due to the minimal wear and tear from being used by bicycles. They’d also avoid the majority of the usual rubbish build-up we often get on the on-carriageway cycle lanes (those bits of white paint….) that we get over here as most of that is caused by the sweeping effect of heavy and fast vehicles blowing it there. Again this wouldn’t be a problem with separate lanes.

          • Wyadvd says:

            Most of my responses are facetious to be honest ( but not been called that since mr Ingram double english on Wednesday’s 1983!)

            In the name of devils advocate etc…..

            But really, the Dutch machine sweeps the cycle roads, checks for tree root ingress, and uses a laser to check for levels! I’m genuinely amazed!

            Would a British authority reAlly invest in that sort of care of cycle roads before sorting out the potholes on the car roads? This is Britain here! Hello!

      • Sir Velo says:

        To clarify: I wasn’t, pace Wyadvd, actually being ironic (for once!) in my list of additional requests for infrastructure improvements to sc’s original fairly comprehensive list. However, I do recognise the improbability of their being implemented in the near future in this country, without a complete revolution in policy from TPTB. SC, I would accept your amendment to my demand that cyclists have priority over pedestrians in all instances. However, I’m sure we all accept that many of us are going to be disinclined to use cycle paths if we are constantly having to dismount or give way to pedestrians every few hundred yards.

      • @Wyadvd: Maybe I *am* Mr. Ingrams..!

        That machine really is brilliant, isn’t it?

        I think that however improbably it is that a British authority would provide this level of service today, it shouldn’t prevent us from wanting it and demanding it. If we ask for less (such as LCC’s “Go Dutch” campaign, with it’s watered-down designs which aren’t very Dutch really) then we’ll get even less – probably just some more paint on the road. We need to ask for the best infrastructure possible.

        As for “cyclists dismount” signs, they’re a definite no-no (we’ll put it on the list!). It’s very rare to see one in the Netherlands. It took David Hembrow years to find one!

        • Wyadvd says:

          Ahahh….no you would be Mr Harlow double physics Thursday mornings! Being a conceptual experiment kind of gives you away!

  8. It seems to me to be obvious that the main purpose of the islands at corners is physical protection of cyclists and prevention of the left-tuning lorry type incident. Gerhard may have been told certain things by Dutch professionals, but I have noticed that there is often a “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” effect operating when the British discuss cycle traffic designs with the Dutch or Danes. The two sides are speaking a slightly different language and not comprehending that the other has a different background of underlying assumption, or “givens”. I think the protection function of physical segregation for cyclists is so obvious to the continental professionals and cyclists, so much a thing they have grown up with, that they don’t comment on it – not realising that is is not an agreed or shared concept in the Anglophone world, indeed, a largely alien one.

    It is like, as so often, when Anglophone and European experts discuss “cycle lanes” and they are not actually talking about the same thing – so confusion ensues. Important things are lost in translation. The other thing that has sometimes come up in LCC discussions, the idea that the Dutch believe in “integrating where possible, separating where necessary”, I believe is another “lost in translation” thing. It conveys totally the wrong impression to a British cyclist or traffic planner, compared to what I believe the Dutch speaker meant, because to the Dutch, never in their wildest dreams would they conceive of integrating cyclists with motor vehicles in most of the places the British do it. So I think it is a good idea not to take these conversations too literally sometimes, but just look at what the Dutch actually do, that works, and try to copy it.

    • David, I’m not sure if I’m anglophone or European. I think we were all perfectly capable of understanding each other. I did not mean segregation in general but the oval shaped islands as in the drawing in particular. Could it be that the starting point for this design was actually the path that is convenient for cyclists? You get a gentle curve with good visibility and drivers get a (for them) tight corner. Convenient for cyclists designed with cycling in mind – something the Dutch have become quite good at.
      Integrate where possible, segregate where necessary is a nice common sense phrase. What’s possible and what’s necessary is not explained and is therefore in the eye of the beholder. However the London Cycling design standards have long used the same principle as the Dutch Crow manual to establish what’s necessary. Except nobody bothered to adhere to it. And if they did they put cyclists on the pavement. But I’m sure you would have written one or two blogs about this 🙂

  9. Koen says:

    If you’d only lay out ONE roundabout, ONE busy crossroads or ONE new development to the highest standards, and look at the reactions to it from all road users, a lot of the discussions would instantly be ended, for things would be so obvious. What I now see over and over from the UK is endless discussions of them vs us. The highest standards are a lot more expensive, true, but work for all road users much better. Stop discussing and make a pilot project, is what I think. Nothing beats hands-on experience. Best of luck from NL.

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