The Nag’s Head scheme – are TfL paying any attention at all?

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.

Screen shot 2013-12-15 at 23.16.59

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 –

Screen shot 2013-12-15 at 23.44.25

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.

Screen shot 2013-12-15 at 23.48.22So the existing, deeply inadequate, cycle lane will be extended along the road, running close to these parking bays on a fast road with heavy traffic.

The current arrangement

The current arrangement

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.

Screen shot 2013-12-16 at 00.05.52

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.

Screen shot 2013-12-16 at 10.33.13

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.

This entry was posted in Car dependence, Infrastructure, London, Space for Cycling, Subjective safety, Transport for London. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to The Nag’s Head scheme – are TfL paying any attention at all?

  1. Nicky says:

    “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, ”

    I rode on something like what you propose here for 2 1/2 years and it was no fun. Pedestrians kept walking onto the cycle path. People crossed the cycle path to get to their cars.
    Pedestrians crossed the cycle path to get to the tram stops. Co-drivers can also door you but at least you won’t get run over by a bus if they do.

    Cars coming out of parking lots crossed the cycle path to get to the street and never checked for anyone on the cycle path.

    If you are on the cycle path and need to cross a byroad you have two chances of getting run over, once from a turning car whose driver cannot see you because you ride behind parked cars and a second time from someone coming out of the byroad.

    We need to get onto the street where we are visible!

    • The safest country in the world for cycling positions cycle tracks on the inside of parking. Where there are parking bays, this is the proper place for cycling.

      This is not to say that such an arrangement can’t be designed badly – but the principle is correct.

      • Nicky says:

        I don’t live in the safest country for cycling so I can only tell you what happens here.
        Getting you off the street and out of the sight of drivers leads to a perceived safety which just does not exist.

        When you ride on cycleways that are behind parking bays you run the risk at every corner of getting run over from left and right. Drivers who are heading in the same direction as you and then make a turn cannot see you.

        I much prefer cycle lanes on the street in clear view of drivers to cycleways behind parked cars.
        Then again, the cities I cycle in have different traffic than yours and definitely not as many big buses!

        @Tim, I agree with you that cycleways need to be separately kerbed.

        More than anything else our countries need an attitude change. It’s always just about cars it’s never about people.
        The Dutch managed to change that but our countries still have a long way to go.

        As long as it’s OK for drivers to claim they did not see the cyclist they just killed, on a straight street in broad daylight, as long as police reports end with “cyclist did not wear a helmet” as long as we have media outlets touting high vis for cyclists and lately even for pedestrians we still have a long, long way to go.

        Just for the record, I wear a helmet and I wear high vis (in the winter) just so when some driver does run me over he will look extremely idiotic when he claims he did not see me.

        • OnlyAnotherAndy says:

          Parking should be ended near sideroads with double-yellow lines to let drivers see anyone cycling. The kerbs at sideroads should have tight corners too, forcing drivers to slow down to make the turn. Usual practise in Britain is wide, gentle turns that you can sweep through at speed.

          The cycleway itself should be of good width, the Dutch prefer 2.5m+ (minimum 1.5). Width allows someone cycling more space to swerve out the way of an opening door, pedestrian, etc.

          Cycleways should have colour and kerbs, they should look like a mini-road in the pavement. This helps keep pedestrians out as walkers are used to staying out of roads marked by kerbs.

          I agree the culture needs to change. We need driver training and enforcement: currently penalties handed down to bad motorists are just too lenient. Police even side with motorists a lot of the time; this has to change.

          • Andy says:

            “Usual practise in Britain is wide, gentle turns that you can sweep through at speed.”

            Usual British practice has been to accomodate the turns of large vehicles within the entry lane, so they don’t impinge on the opposite lane and come into conflict with vehicles exiting the minor arm. 10 or 15m is not (or should not be) ‘sweeping’. This approach has been deemed to be overprovision in the latest guidance, Manual for Streets 1 and 2, etc., meaning it is now accepted that large vehicles will use both lanes of the minor arm to make their turn.

            • Herbie says:

              …oh great, and wow-betide anyone in their way!

            • OnlyAnotherAndy says:

              In the general case, HGVs should be removed from city streets anyway. What’s the problem with insisting on vans near the centre of large cities?

              As Herbie said, safety needs (both objective and subjective) of pedestrians and cycles should be considered before the convenience/capacity of motor traffic.

              Separate light phases for left turning motor vehicles and cycles would of course eliminate the conflict, but TfL seem reluctant to do this even in December 2013 with the Mayor’s Cycling Vision soon to be implemented. Campaigners asked for separate phases at Bow Roundabout in 2011, TfL refused and gave us the current botched solution.

              There are many examples that illustrate the complete lack of cycle safety standards when it comes to roads and even cycling-specific infrastructure. Here, a road gauranteed to carry high motor traffic levels as it is one of the few A3 crossing points for cars:

              • Andy says:

                “In the general case, HGVs should be removed from city streets anyway. What’s the problem with insisting on vans near the centre of large cities?”
                In principle that’s fine, but how is anything going to get demolished/built/redeveloped? No city in the world has yet pickled itself in aspic, unless it wants to function solely as a tourist destination. It’s alright having a banksman, or somesuch, getting out at every turn to make sure no-ones in harms way, but its not exactly practical.

                “Separate light phases for left turning motor vehicles and cycles would of course eliminate the conflict…”
                I am not a signals specialist, but I am a road safety auditor, and I see no safety problem with introducing a ‘scramble’ phase into traffic signals for cyclists only. It obviously wouldn’t work with conventional ASLs, but they seem to be largely abused by drivers anyway, though solving this may lead to issues of reduced capacity (ironically, including cyclist capacity), it would certainly separate cyclists from motor vehicles in both time, and to some degree, in space.

    • Tim says:

      In my experience, the cycleway needs to be a decent width and be separately kerbed (ie not be “on” the pavement). And of course it should have priority at minor junctions. If that happens, especially if you have sufficient numbers of cyclists, then pedestrians soon learn not to step into the cycleway, any more than they would into the road.

      Of course with so few cyclists in the UK, pedestrians often rely entirely on audible cues to alert them to oncoming traffic. Electric cars have the same problem, to the extent that fake engine noise has been suggested. It’s crazy.

      I’ve been doored before in a cycle-lane like the proposed ones and it was only luck which meant I didn’t go in front of a bus. Even so I spent a merry afternoon at A&E getting my shoulder x-rayed and I still can’t swing on monkey-bars.

      Anyone who argues cyclists should be forced into the main carriageway with fast busy traffic is happy for cycling to remain an option for a minority because that minority includes them.

      • Herbie says:

        In situations like this I ride expecting to be doored! I have in the past had to crunch to a halt into the driver who has flung their door open and started getting out. They then had the gall to have a go at me! Why should any cyclist be put in this position as a matter of design? It is disgusting!

  2. fishdart says:

    What strikes me about this sort of thing is that it is the flawed process that creates such schemes in the first place. We need a better system: it is the failing design culture and inertia of such authorities that often prevents progress.. ‘Brain in neutral’ ‘this is the way we always do it’ type mentality. The person draughting such a proposal has, no doubt, a certain knowledge of road design but is evidently not a cyclist or cycling ‘expert’. His briefing has not included the details of the previous accident. He clearly has ‘no idea’ based on the published drawing. His brief is to do the least possible for minimum cost. Tick box; move on. The public ‘consultation’ is potentially tokenism. It would be far better to have proper consultation at an earlier design stage, so that a local forum of users (cyclists, pedestrians) could comment on sketch scheme proposals before they reach Public Consultation and avoid the now inevitable negativity. Not dissimilar to the way in which Design forums (architects etc.) sometimes assist more enlightened planning authorities on design aspects of Planning proposals. Draw in local knowledge and cut down on wasted time and piss-poor schemes. Talking of which, this is not a drainage scheme we need creative types!

    • John Ackers says:

      TfL normally consults early on with local stakeholders including ourselves ‘Islington Cyclists Action Group (LCC)’ about schemes like this. This is a small scheme and I guess they decided to limit the early consultation.

      TfL is currently undertaking a major review of all the junctions in the Nags Head gyratory and the roads between. The designer(s) and his/her boss of this scheme would have been aware of that and, I think, deliberately constrained its scope. I think there is no lane or capacity loss and therefore no expensive signal re-timing (not sure about the impact of the ASLs). Having said that, the lack of car door zone buffer is a big issue.

      I think it would be confusing to segregate cyclists from traffic flow for 200m when the cyclists are in the motor flow along the rest of Holloway Road. It would be a piecemeal solution.

      • Rostopher says:

        But does that not beg the question: Why is any time/effort being wasted on this at all? In the knowledge it will need reworked within 2-3years? Especially when the only gain seems to be a sub-standard staggered pedestrian crossing.

    • Andy says:

      “…this is not a drainage scheme we need creative types!”

      Ironically, what you and most others here want, a fully kerb segregated cycleway, is a drainage scheme. It is also potentially a services (water, gas, electric, telecoms, etc.) redirection scheme, certainly a fairly hefty and lengthy traffic management scheme, and a resurfacing scheme. Then on top of that comes a lining scheme (essentially, the proposed scheme).

      And in terms of costs, if it’s ‘putting a bit of paint down’ vs. the requirements of ‘simply’ relocating or putting in a new kerbline then there’s no contest, unless TfL have a money tree secreted somewhere.

      As a traffic engineer (thankfully not for TfL) I like to think I have a good idea of what would be the ideal provision both for existing and latent cyclists; full separation from motor vehicles, priority at side roads, etc., etc.; as a profession we aren’t stupid. But please, tell me where you think the money for these schemes will come from and who you think creates the scope for them in the first place?

      • Herbie says:

        If these things are planned in from the start of a road layout, they don’t cost that much more than the whole scheme without them – the costs do mount when they are done as an afterthought!

        • Herbie says:

          Quite frankly that’s what most schemes for cyclists are – afterthoughts!!

        • Andy says:

          And how many new urban roads of this character are being built from scratch, that we can include cycle facilities in them? They do seem to be where most of the requirement is, after all.

          • Herbie says:

            While it would be nice to have complete roads properly planned and considering all road users from the start, I agree not many are being completely overhauled in their entirety, but very many junctions and sections of road are being revamped progressively, and everytime they are the needs of cyclists are still ignored! It is these opportunities that are being squandered! When a roundabout is becoming a 4-way stop, often the ‘new’ cycle path consists of sweeping the cyclist off up onto the pavement and dumping them again round the corner, or finishing an existing cycle lane before the new junction and not bothering to cater for it in the new provision at all. It’s at these times when costs would be minimal to do something at the time.

            • Andy says:

              This I agree with. Local Authorities should be much stricter with Developers, particularly, and stress the need to account for cyclists in their designs when some site is redeveloped (hopefully to some overall plan created by the LA in the first place).

      • “Ironically, what you and most others here want, a fully kerb segregated cycleway, is a drainage scheme. It is also potentially a services (water, gas, electric, telecoms, etc.) redirection scheme, certainly a fairly hefty and lengthy traffic management scheme, and a resurfacing scheme.”

        I’d like to see proof that it’s a services scheme, especially since we’re not talking about using more than ~.7m of pavement at any given point. Drainage is of course important, as TfL proved on CS2X. ( I assume there is already drainage on the road, though perhaps it’s inadequate. And as for resurfacing, TfL’s already planning to do that. I can’t comment on traffic management, but it’s possible to provide what we’re after in the space provided by just taking a meter from the median, meaning the number of lanes need not be reduced at peak times. See here:


        I appreciate the moving kerbs isn’t free, but moving kerbs is what this scheme as proposed by TfL is all about. They’re subtracting one at the NW corner, but they’re actually removing too much of it when they could have left in a kerb between the bike lane and traffic at a no-left-turn junction. And they’re raising 3 loading bays to kerb-height.

        The more I look at TfL’s proposal, the less sense it makes. It takes a huge space with lots of opportunity for a piecemeal cycle safety improvement and gets almost nothing right.

        • Andy says:

          “I’d like to see proof that it’s a services scheme, especially since we’re not talking about using more than ~.7m of pavement at any given point.”
          Urban footways (and carriageways) are a minefield of all sorts of equipment. Look how the costs of Edinburgh’s tram spiralled because they had to start moving kit no-one knew was even there.

          “Drainage is of course important…I assume there is already drainage on the road, though perhaps it’s inadequate.”
          We drain the carriageway to the kerbline and use either gullies or combined kerbdrains to take surface water away. Moving the kerbs in to mae a segregated cycleway requires, at the least, the gullies to be relocated, perhaps replaced. Their connections to the main carrier drain will probably need replacing, and possibly the carrier drain itself if it’s not in good nick, or new connections cannot be made. Again, something no-one notices, and everyone takes for granted, but vital to the fabric of the carriageway and a cost that can also spiral if you encounter problems with ageing infrastructure.

  3. You could make the Holloway road like the Amsterdamsestraatweg in Utrecht, so simple and effective. Both roads are incredibly similar.

    • Jitensha Oni says:

      Here’s a StreetView image of the Utrecht street
      TfL would no doubt go on about junction capacity, measures to maintain motor traffic flow, striking a balance and the like, but the Utrecht image can also be used to demonstrate how such considerations are model/ideology-driven and that a different balance not only can be, but actually has been, struck in the real world.

      • kraut says:

        There’s only one measure that will actually improve traffic flow in London: Have fewer cars on the road.

        Even if you covered all of London in urban motorways like the westway, you’d still get congestion. So the only solution is to get people out of their cars and either onto public transport (expensive, and lack of capacity) or onto bikes (cheap, healthy, plentiful capacity).

        Imagine how much nicer driving in London would be if 80% of the school run was done on foot or by bike. But people aren’t going to cycle, and they are definitely not going to let their kids cycle, until there is proper, safe, and yes, segregated, provision.

    • While I would love it for TfL to make this two or even one lane in each direction, doing that on just this block would add a choke point here which would have major knock-on effects on traffic in the surrounding area. Especially considering that apparently the whole gyratory is slated for re-visiting by 2015, we should our efforts at this stage on changes which improve safety but don’t reduce traffic lanes.

  4. Immediately after reading this I read David Hembrows –

    Which criticises exactly this kind of infrastructure.

    • Good point, though I’d say that the TfL example is much, much worse than the road in David Hembrow’s post. It’s so much wider, no doubt faster, will carry much larger vehicles and much higher volumes of motor traffic, has parking and loading along it, and has plenty of room for improvement. It’s also a brand new scheme, whereas the Oostrum example will probably be a decades-old design!

      That TfL are still designing roads like this shows how all the Mayor’s promises have been worth nothing so far. 18 months into his second term as mayor and we’re still getting dangerous rubbish.

  5. I’ve commented “This proposal is an embarrassment. On a road with plenty of opportunity to provide high-quality modern facilities for non-motorized users, it offers them minimal benefit and significant elements of worsening (such as extra loading bays). The cycle lanes are a classic example of how not to do it; they are not segregated from the fast and heavy traffic and they are right in the door zone, which recently killed a young man not far away. Can TfL find the capability to design and deliver a very different, good-quality scheme? If it is fit for purpose, TfL will do so.

  6. Maybe a way to to eliminate dooring entirely; (driver and passenger) would be angle the car parking spaces so that drivers enter the parking space and park at say a 45* angle to the pavement. With a kerb protected cycle lane running in between the cars and the pavement.

    • kraut says:

      excellent idea. Of course that takes more width and more parking capacity, so maybe doing it only one one side would work.

      The problem with segregated cycle lanes is the visibility at junctions, as others have pointed out. IMHO that can be worked around to a large extend with proper engineering: Stop the parking bays a good distance from the turning, raise the cycle crossing so drivers have to slow down properly.

  7. Herbie says:

    TfL are just paying lip service to ‘doing something’, in an attempt to get the focus off them. They are playing for time, assuming the fuss will die down, and hoping they don’t really have to any special effort or money into sorting out the dangerous sites they are responsible for. This whol scheme just puts cyclists and motorists into more conflict than ever. It is rubbish! Point solutions like this are useless, and what is needed is radical rethinking and wholesale alteration to the approach for the whole of London. There needs to be serious schemes that alter completely how the transport infrastructure is laid out. Some dedicated routes as a backbone network need to put aside for cyclists, radiating and criss-crossing London as a joined up scheme. With some use of narrow streets wholly given over to cyclists, while others are dedicated routes for HGV and commercial vehicles. Consider lifting the night time ban on HGVs also, as this will elleviate day time volumes of dangerous vehicles. Consider some pavement being made for pedestrians only on one side of roads, while the other side is converted to 2-way cycle lanes.

  8. This kind of design uses the bike lane as a buffer zone to give drivers a bit of space from moving vehicles when they’re getting in and out of their cars. They work on the assumption that the bike lanes will carry a lower volume of traffic than the general traffic lanes, so the bike lanes are being used to protect drivers from each other, rather than protect cyclists.

    Clearly a physically protected solution would be better here, but even if TfL just used paint, there are plenty of examples of how it could be done better. For example, on Lambeth Road here: a buffer zone between the parking bays and the bike lane means that bikes aren’t guided into the door zone.

  9. Rostopher says:

    It is a shocker, I’ve also put in a negative response for all the good that will do. The daftest part of all this is that they need to look at the wider area soon anyway as the gyratory around Tollington Road and Seven Sisters is one of the junctions identified for the Mayor’s (ever shrinking) review.

    Any suggestions on why this section needs the extra traffic lanes and central median? whereas 500 yards in either direction Holloway Road lacks these things.

  10. Any chance of removing parking entirely?

    • michael says:

      Yeah, that would be my plaintive wail as well!
      Probably utterly hopeless to even suggest such an idea, but I just don’t get where this ‘right to on-street parking’ came from.

  11. Agree re lunacy of bike lane up against the parking. More equivocal re bus stop by passes in a location with very heavy pedestrian flows. On pavement provision in busy shopping areas like the Nags Head needs very careful design to avoid conflict.

  12. This is slightly, but only slightly, off the topic of this specific TfL scheme: the thing that interests me is that these roads are part of a large and very obvious gyratory system.

    I have been using it for 35 years, but even as an experienced vehicular cyclist it is pretty unpleasant. This applies if you are turning south down Holloway road from the east (Camden Road), and even more so if you are going west across Holloway Road.

    Essentially, what needs to be done is an examination of this system as a whole by TfL and the Boroughs concerned. I understand that it was such an obvious problem that it was under consideration right at the beginning of GLA/TfL but nothing was done.

    • Fred Smith says:

      Islington claims to be a pro cycling borough, but I never saw much evidence for it in the 28 years I lived there – especially not when you compare them to their neighbours Hackney and Camden.

      I agree about removing the gyratory system, going down past the Sobel and then trying to make a right turn on to Holloway Road is just a nightmare cycling wise and the whole format of the roads is not bike friendly and not safe.

  13. michael says:

    I don’t really understand why TfL can’t be held legally liable for dooring accidents that occur in such carefully baited traps. They are deliberately trying to lure cyclists to their doom – how do they sleep at nights?

  14. Rob says:

    Merton Council/TfL are also consulting on some ‘improvement’ works in Colliers Wood (just before the start of CS7) which are equally absurd. In some places, despite the road being 5 lanes wide, there’s not even enough space to ‘squeeze in’ a single advisory cycle lane – instead cyclists are pushed onto a shared use path.

    Overall it’s a hodgepodge of on road mandatory, on road advisory and shared-use paths which is ridiculous given the space available. How cyclists are expected to link these together is beyond me.

    The changes are being implemented to improve the public realm but are completely ignoring the fact this area is unpleasant due to the huge amounts of traffic squeezed through the junction (OK – and the ugly Brown & Root Tower). The consultation closes on 20th December so please look and respond!

  15. Fred Smith says:

    I grew up just off the Holloway Road and I used it a lot when I live with my parents. It is awful and the improvements are a bit of a joke. Trying to turn right in to Caledonian Road going south was always fun – trying to cross 3 lanes of fast traffic without getting hit.

  16. Richard Walter says:

    Thanks for highlighting this consultation at the Nag’s Head – I have submitted my response to TfL. It is disappointing that engineers at TfL still think that is an acceptable design in 2013. It is clearly an obsolete design that prioritises motor traffic flows at the expense of the sustainable modes.

    It’s high time now that our traffic engineers and planners start observing the Manual For Streets ( and especially the hierarchy of users defined on page 28:

    Table 3.2: User hierarchy

    Consider first
    Public transport users
    Specialist service vehicles (e.g.
    emergency services, waste, etc.)

    Consider last:
    Other motor traffic

    Regarding the Colliers Wood CS7X consultation (, yes, please all do comment before the 20th December as here again there is plenty of room for improvements, but I do welcome the traffic light bypass and the new mandatory cycle lanes, that were made possible by removing a motor traffic lane. Merton is one the 8 boroughs shortlisted to become a Mini Holland, so it is all the more important that this key extension and junction be properly implemented. The Merton Cycling Campaign will be writing to London Borough of Merton with an offical response.

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