Transport for London have created a video to explain how you turn right on a bicycle at major junctions on the Superhighway 2 Extension on Stratford High Street.
It is described as a ‘two stage right turn’, but in reality it looks a bit more complicated than that. In fact, much more complicated than that.
- to progress through the junction – indeed, some distance beyond it
- to turn left and mount the pavement
- double back on yourself
- to rejoin the carriageway in the ASL, before proceeding on the next green signal.
It goes without saying that this is far from obvious. Indeed, the fact that a video explanation has had to be prepared about how to ‘use’ this junction shows how complicated it is.
There is absolutely no reason why a two-stage right turn – the standard way of making these kinds of movements on equivalent Danish or Dutch junctions – needs to be this counterintuitive. What is being created here is a mess, that puts those on foot, and those on bicycles, into conflict.
It should surely have been simpler to provide a direct route to the ASL on the south side of the carriageway. This is, in fact, the kind of arrangement that is being proposed at a junction in Southampton, with a ‘waiting pocket’ that you can enter easily, and wait for a green signal to make your second crossing (thanks to Phil Marshall for reminding me).
This is close to the Danish approach of simply waiting at the side of the road for your second crossing. Now I don’t think it is anywhere near as good as the Dutch approach, which protects you while waiting, and also allows ‘free’ left turns at all times. But it would be really easy to implement, and would involve no conflict with pedestrians, as well as being much more direct and understandable than what Transport for London are currently going to build.
TfL can’t say they weren’t warned; the Cycling Embassy response to the consultation had this to say –
The method for making right turns at the large junction of Rick Roberts Way appears to be by progressing through the junction, then mounting the pavement to enter the ASL in the side road, and waiting for a green signal. While this allows right turns to be made without having to negotiate across multiple lanes of motor traffic, and resembles (in principle) the Danish ‘left hook’ method of making these turns, we feel that there is possibility for confusion, and conflict with pedestrians. We would like to see dedicated cycle-specific waiting areas for those on cycles waiting to complete the second stage of a right turn, either on the Danish model, or the superior design of the Dutch model, which incorporates protected kerbs.
These suggestions have obviously been ignored.
The presence of ASLs on the main carriageway itself is revealing, because it demonstrates that Transport for London do not expect people to use this design. The ASLs are there for those people who, quite reasonably, do not want to waste their time faffing around doing 270° turns on the pavement. But this is what happens when you design for two different categories of cyclist.
As I wrote in a long post way back in May last year, if you start from the assumption that ‘fast cyclists’ won’t want to use what you are designing before you have even built it, then you open the door to compromise. Namely, the construction of slow, fiddly rubbish just like what we are seeing at this junction, ‘designed’ for those ‘nervous’ or ‘less confident’ cyclists who apparently don’t mind being unnecessarily inconvenienced (it is curious why it is nearly always assumed that people who don’t like cycling in motor traffic are happy to take so much longer to reach their destination).
The Dutch, by contrast, design infrastructure that everybody on a bike wants to use, and will use; infrastructure that is both objectively and subjectively safe, and fast and convenient for all users, regardless of age, speed or ability. Quality is ensured when you create designs that cater for everyone.
Is this lesson being learned?