Is it possible to build 4 miles of ‘cycle route’ with £300,000 of investment?
Obviously not; the answer is plain from a brief glance at my post from Monday. Spreading small amounts of money thinly will unfortunately achieve absolutely nothing. Problematic junctions and genuinely hostile roads will remain problematic and hostile, and crap bodges put into place in a half-hearted attempt to deal with those roads and junctions will amount to a waste of money; redundant, confused designs that would immediately be ripped out and replaced under any genuine cycle-friendly design.
Sadly, in most of Britain, this is where the ‘investment’ in cycling (what little of it there is) is going – down the plughole, on these crap bodges. There are undoubtedly countless examples of this kind of waste, but for me one design in particular exemplifies it. The ‘jug handle’ turn.
The ‘jug handle’ also features (inevitably) in Sustrans’ latest design guidance –
… and in a slightly different context (but equally ‘bodge-like’) in Transport for London’s new Cycle Design Standards.
Here is the description of this piece of design from LTN 2/08 –
Where cyclists travelling along a busy carriageway need to turn right to join a cycle track on the opposite side, it may be appropriate to get them to the central refuge via a jughandle turning on the nearside (see Figure 10.4). This gives them a safe waiting area away from moving traffic and provides good visibility for crossing the carriageway.
I’d disagree immediately with the final part of this paragraph; waiting in an almost parallel position to motor traffic thundering over your right shoulder does not give you ‘good visibility’. Genuine ‘good visibility’ would be supplied by a perpedicular crossing arrangement, like this –
… and not by something that requires you to crane your neck to look backwards over your shoulder.
But this isn’t my main issue with ‘jug handles’. It’s that, in their own terms, they are set up to fail; to be redundant pieces of design.
Note first of all that they are to be employed on ‘busy roads’; roads where it is difficult to make right turns. Allegedly the jug handle makes it easier to cross, but in truth all it does is provide a safer place to wait than simply parking at the side of the road (as shown in this fairly horrific British safety film from 1983).
So, really, these are roads that should have some form of cycling infrastructure alongside them. If they are busy (and hostile) enough to merit a ‘jug handle’, then – in the interests of making cycling genuinely safe and attractive – these roads should have cycleways running alongside them, or motor traffic levels should be reduced to make cycleways (and indeed ‘jug handles’) unnecessary.
The ‘East-West’ route in Horsham has a number of new ‘jug handles’. The one that has been installed on North Street by the railway station is clearly somewhere that needs cycleways instead of ‘jug handles’.
This road is very busy; the main route north out of the town centre, carrying HGVs, buses, and plenty of general motor traffic. So the small number of people who are confident enough to cycle along it in the existing 80cm cycle lane will not be slowing down to bump up onto a cruddy piece of tarmac plonked in the verge, coming to a complete stop to make a right turn; they will just turn right regardless, avoiding it. And anyone who doesn’t fancy cycling on this road (the vast majority of people) won’t be helped by this new bit of infrastructure, because they won’t be cycling here in the first place. The ‘jug handle’ is therefore utterly redundant; a complete waste of money.
And there’s another ‘jug handle’ on Blackbridge Lane. This road is not as busy as the former example, but still carries enough motor traffic to merit (in my view) some kind of protected space for cycling, or (failing that) measures to reduce through traffic.
This particular jug handle requires you bump off the carriageway, give way at a minor side road…
But as with the North Street example, I cannot see anyone actually using this bizarre bit of design. Why? Because anyone cycling along Blackbridge Lane will, by definition, be confident enough to make right turns from the carriageway itself, without inconveniencing themselves by going onto a bit of ‘infrastructure’ that requires them to give way to traffic from four directions (two on the side road, two on the main road), rather than just one.
This much is plain from the approach to this ‘jug handle’, where people cycling are already expected to cycle in the middle of the road, to negotiate a parking bay.
The hostility of this road means that the people the ‘jug handle’ is intended to help simply won’t be cycling on it. They will be on the footway here –
… or they simply won’t be cycling at all.
Perhaps ‘jug handles’ – like similar kinds of bodges – allow councils to pretend that they are actually achieving something, or making a difference. But in truth money is being poured down the drain. Do it properly; or don’t bother.
I should, of course, have included an example of how the Dutch would design for travelling along busy roads, and how to cross them. This cycleway in Rotterdam fits the bill.
It is continuous along the length of the road; turn off it are made via pockets, which allow people to wait perpendicular to the road, with good visibility.