I’m currently working my way through a DVD set of films from the BFI on cycling in Britain. One of these films is called ‘Free Wheeling’, which you can watch yourself on the BFI site (although it will cost you £1).
The film was produced for the Department for Transport in 1979, and appears to be aimed at councils and local authorities, showing them what can be currently be designed for cycling, based around Local Transport Note 1/78, Ways of Helping Cyclists in Built Up Areas, which we see, and is referred to, several times in the film.
It’s quite eye-opening – there are some things in there that were obviously radical at the time, like contraflow cycling on one way streets (something that, ridiculously, we still struggle to implement with any consistency 36 years later!).
What really caught my eye, however, was this short section on signalised junctions.
To my (untrained) eye, at least, this looks remarkably like, well, a simultaneous green junction – two of them.
In the first section of the clip, we see a man on a bike setting off from a bicycle-specific signal, heading diagonally across a junction, while other people cycling emerge from the road he is heading towards.
And indeed this is precisely what happens – the man and the woman emerging from the junction opposite do head off in different directions, the woman ‘yielding’ to the man in the blue jumper.
There are many variations [of this type of junction] possible, depending on local circumstances
which funnily enough is exactly what David Hembrow has been saying about ‘simultaneous green’ arrangements for cycling – that they can work at junctions of different sizes and shapes.
The second junction in the clip is even clearer. We see two people arriving at the junction, waiting at the corner on cycle-specific infrastructure, for a green signal to progress across the junction.
Note that this ‘corner’ arrangement is precisely the same as that at ‘simultaneous green’ junctions in the Netherlands.
As the two cyclists get a green signal, all motor traffic at the junction is held.
As in the previous example, people cycling emerge from the opposite side of the junction – not directly opposite, but from a cycle track at 135° to their own entrance to the junction.
Note, again, that there is nothing to stop people choosing whichever exit they please. All these (conflicting) options are possible.
I’d love to know where these two junctions are – my guess, from the rest of the video, is somewhere in Peterborough – and indeed what happened to them, Do they still exist today?
An eagle-eyed Jitensha Oni has spotted that the second junction is indeed in Peterborough, near the railway station. It looks to have been replaced with a large roundabout, albeit with some pretty decent-looking grade-separated cycling provision.
As others have pointed out, these aren’t strictly simultaneous green, as while any exit can be chosen by people cycling, there are only two (opposed) entries to the junction at the same time. Still, I imagine this was pretty radical at the time, and still is now!