On 6th August 2011, Samuel Harding was killed on Holloway Road in north London. As he passed a parked car, the driver opened his door without checking, striking him, and sending him into the path of a passing bus, which crushed him. From the reports, the dooring and subsequent collision appeared to occur at approximately this location.
In the days after Samuel Harding’s death, his father pleaded for improvements to the layout of Holloway Road.
Retired teacher Keith Harding said he did not blame anyone for the death of his son, Sam, 25, in a collision with a bus in Holloway Road on Saturday afternoon. But he added that as a society we are encouraging more people to cycle while not providing sufficient safety.
“Something needs to be done for cycling,” he said. “It may be reducing the speed limit to 20mph or dedicated cycle lanes. But some of our roads are not designed for cyclists.”
Two years later, and TfL are now consulting on some changes to Holloway Road – ones that will ‘improve road safety for pedestrians and cyclists’. Not at this precise location, but only a few hundred feet to the north, between the Camden Road and Seven Sisters Road (two large one-way roads that run in opposite directions).
What is being proposed? Here’s a section of the plans –
A new loading bay (previously just a portion of the footway), with a cycle lane running outside it. And on other side of the road, a cycle lane is being painted, again right next to the outside of the existing parking bays.
If you were seeking to encourage the kinds of conflict that resulted in Samuel Harding’s death, just a short walk down the road, this is precisely the design you would put in place.
Now of course responsibility lies with the driver to ensure that when he or she opens their car door, they are not endangering someone (the driver in this case was charged – and cleared – of manslaughter). But some responsibility must also lie with those who design streets where the consequences of inattention will be serious injury or death.
It is clearly unacceptable to propose cycle lanes running down the outside of parked cars on Holloway Road, purely on grounds of objective danger, to say nothing about the attractiveness of such an arrangement for the people who don’t currently feel able to cycle in London.
Transport for London have a concrete example of how lethal it is for people to cycle in this position on the road, in the tragic form of someone’s death just yards away, only two years ago – yet, apparently oblivious, they are creating a design that makes this kind of death more likely than doing nothing at all.
Holloway Road is enormously wide in this area. Six lanes in total, with a median, and parking, and fairly substantial footways.
The obvious answer here is to move the parking out and to create a protected cycle track on the inside of any parking or loading bays, instead of just painting a 1990s-style stripe down the outside, and hoping for the best. That’s not good enough any more.
This is an area of significant bus movement, so a cycle track would have to run behind large bus stop islands on both sides of the road. The principle of bus stop bypasses is already in place on Stratford High Street, and it can be implemented here, with the design failures of that approach ironed out.
TfL are also proposing ridiculous, tokenistic ASLs across the front of three lanes of motor traffic.
The example on the left is quite interesting, given that you can’t turn right at this junction – it seems that these ASLs are being installed purely to create a semblance of something being done.
As Shaun McDonald wrote yesterday, many aspects of this proposal are actually dangerous; the cycle lanes directly outside parking, or the ASLs that encourage you to squeeze up the inside of vehicles. These are not proposals that should be seeing the light of day in 2013. If TfL can’t design properly yet, then they just shouldn’t bother here. This is a waste of time.
The consultation is only open over the holiday period, until the 6th January 2014 – please have your say.