Last year, Stop the Killing held a protest at Elephant and Castle following the death of Abdelkhalak Lahyani, who had been killed in a collision with a left-turning HGV at the junction shown in the photograph below. Both he and the lorry were emerging from the junction at the bottom of the picture, and turning left.

2The purpose of the demonstration was to illustrate that this collision need not have happened; a cycle track could have been constructed across the apex of the corner, allowing left turns to be made by people without coming anywhere near HGVs.

But the curious thing is that left turns by bike are already possible like this, at this junction – which remember is relatively new, only a few years old.

The short strip of cycle lane (or track) visible in the photograph above, which appears to end at the traffic signals, actually merges, ambiguously, into a large area of shared use, right around the corner. Of course, the only indication that this is ‘shared use’ is a small blue sign on a lamp column, as well as some tactile paving. That blue sign can just about be seen above; it’s clearer on Streetview.
Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 12.02.31This shared use ends around the corner.Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 12.03.31 No cycling is allowed on the footway beyond this point. There’s a dropped kerb to allow people to rejoin the carriageway, and tactile paving, again, to denote the end of the area of shared use.

So it is entirely possible, and legal, to bypass the signals at this junction to turn left, and to avoid ‘hooking’ conflicts with HGVs.

However this is not entirely obvious to anyone waiting at the signals – the area just looks like a pavement, and not the sort of place someone should be cycling. Likewise, the entry point to the ‘shared use’ is via the short strip of cycle track on the footway; not particularly intuitive to enter, and once you remain on the carriageway, you can’t mount the kerb easily.

How obvious and/or accessible is that entry point?

How obvious and/or accessible is that entry point?

This could have been designed properly; cycling legally around the corner could have been an explicit part of the design for this junction, rather than a vague bodge which isn’t easy to enter and exit, and puts people walking and cycling into conflict. Perhaps something like this arrangement in the city of Gouda, which I’ve flipped to a British left hand turn –

Notice there is a small child turning here,, at this busy junction.

Notice there is a small child turning here,, at this busy junction.

If the Elephant and Castle junction had looked something like this, Abdelkhalak Lahyani would have been using this cycle bypass, and would not have come anywhere near the HGV that killed him. He could – of course – have used the pavement ‘bodge’, but if it doesn’t look like somewhere people should be cycling, or cutting through, he – like many other people – waited at the lights, on the road, with fatal consequences.

It doesn’t make any sense to allow people cycling to behave in a way that will keep them safe, but then not make that option explicit. Why bodge it?

This entry was posted in Elephant and Castle, Infrastructure, London, Sustainable Safety, The Netherlands. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Bodging

  1. Indeed why? It appears to come out of the tradition in UK highway engineering that a cycle path or track should not cross the path of pedestrians at a point where they are supposed to cross a road: that is, out of the avoidance of what people in the trade call ‘sub-conflicts’ at junctions.

    Of course, this is just a bit of dishonesty, because exactly such crossing-over is being encouraged here, just not explicitly. The ‘shared use’ paradigm somehow is taken to suspend clear thinking about exactly what happens, like a black box in electronics is a place where we know what goes in and comes out, but not what happens inside.

    The thinking clearly is to leave everyone in ‘doubt’, so there will be no ‘assertion’ of a cyclists’ right of way and, ostensibly, less intimidation of pedestrians, who would also believe they had right of way. The designer of the Cambridge Perne Road roundabout argued exactly this about his shared-use tracks round the edge, on this very blog, if I remember right.

    The disadvantages of this strategy are clear for all to see. Forcing tentative, slow cycling in shared areas makes cycling less attractive, and makes those who wish to cycle efficiently avoid such facilities, putting therm at much greater risk from motor vehicles, with the tragic consequences we see at this junction. It also splits streams of cyclists up, so makes it seem less worthwhile to provide properly for them anywhere: the ‘two-track’ infrastructure failure.

    Ultimately I suppose it come from the mistaken idea that many high in UK transport hierarchies who don’t themselves cycle have long held, that cycling is almost the same thing as walking, and so should be treated similarly. The process of re-eduction that is needed has only just started.

    • Jitensha Oni says:

      Pretty much spot on, but I’d just like to query the “have long held” statement. To some extent it depends on where you are (and I’ll grant it’s probably true more often than not). So, here is Kingston-upon-Thames by the station now:

      But here is how it was from 2008-2013 (and I’m not sure how far back we go):

      So the paths were fine for at least 5 years (they were removed in 2013). Similar removal of paths has occurred elsewhere on the margins of the Kingston gyratory and there is now a massive tract of shared footway – linked by this 1 pedestrian-wide shared use bridge.

      Now of course Kingston has been deemed worthy of mini-Holland funding. Wonder which paths they will remove as part of that.

      Anyhow, in addition to your points, there has been, I believe, an element of one-size-fits-all shared use planning dogma in operation in the past few years – and not just in the UK – some of David Hembrow’s latest posts show this blight is even infecting the Netherlands, where anti-cycling sentiment is probably quite low.

      Meanwhile in New Malden (OK it links into zebras, but hey)…

  2. I’ve stood and watched people sat in the ASL waiting at a red light to turn left at this junction, and so few are aware of TfL’s shared footpath bodge here. Even I didn’t spot it at first – though I’ve never felt riding a bike around there is actually an option for me.

    This should be a sobering moment for the jokers responsible for this crap. Somebody died because of their incompetence. Whoever ruled out marked cycleways has blood on their hands.

    It’s especially inexcusable here, as there’s just so much empty pavement space to play with. I actually find the expanse of flagstones a little bleak – a red tarmac cycleway would liven it up nicely.

  3. Maybe we need a prosecution or two of the designers of awful infrastructure. They have a legal duty to ensure the safety of users so far as is reasonably practicable. And they also have a duty to ensure cycle tracks are fit for purpose. Fail on both counts here.

  4. Tim says:

    But hold on – the sign you show which indicates the end of the shared use is facing away from cyclists turning onto Newington Butts. Once I’m on the pavement – sorry, “shared use” facility – how am I to know the shared use bit has ended (apart from less than obvious fancy paving)?

    A guy from TfGM told me this pavement outside the TfGM offices in Manchester has a TRO making it shared use, which kind of fits in with the toucan crossings at the end, and means it works as a contra-flow option alongside a busy one-way street. But, if true, there are no signs anywhere to tell anyone. And anyway, how far is one allowed to cycle onto the pavement after crossing a toucan?

    Shared use pavements really are a bodgy cop-out lazy option which don’t work well for anyone, especially when signed this badly.

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