Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network – Junctions (1)

This post is part of a series looking at new Highways England standard on designing for cycling, Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network, or IAN 195/16. The previous two posts can be found here and here.

This particular post will look at how junctions are covered in IAN 195/16. Junctions are important, and this is clearly recognised in the document – dealing with them accounts for around half of its 68 pages. For that reason I’m going to break up my assessment into two posts.

IAN 195/16 starts by giving an overview of the various design options that can be employed to minimise or eliminate the ‘significant conflict’ that can arise between motor traffic and cycling at junctions, ranging from grade separation and ‘unravelling’ (i.e. putting cycling onto completely different routes), right down to slowing motor traffic when turning on ‘low volume roads’. In other words, the full spectrum of approaches employed on Dutch cycle networks.

On page 32 we have this large, clear table of what kind of junction treatment is appropriate (and indeed required) for cycle traffic, given the speed and volume of motor traffic.

Suitable Types of Cycle Crossing, IAN 195/16

Some things immediately leap out from this table. If motor traffic is travelling at 60mph or above, any crossings of these roads have to be grade separated – i.e. in an underpass, or by means of a bridge.

The table also (importantly) stipulates the maximum number of lanes that should be crossed in one movement, again according to speed and volume. So for instance, above 6,000 motor vehicles per day on a 40-50mph road requires a refuge, allowing one lane to be crossed at a time.

The design options are split into ‘preferred’ and ‘other possible’ crossing types, with this stipulation –

Designers shall use the “preferred” option in Table 2.4.2 unless there is a need to provide continuity with other existing cycle route provision and where agreed with Highways England.

The word ‘shall’ being a requirement; ‘preferred’ options have to be used unless continuity is necessary.

The document then looks at the various types of crossing in turn. We’ll start with ‘signalised’ crossings. Unfortunately I immediately find something to disagree with!

Cycle traffic may be controlled by low and high level cycle signals at the cycle stop line. Secondary high level cycle signals should be considered where there is a risk for approaching cyclists of poor visibility of low level signals, or obscuration, due to layout constraints or high levels of demand.

I think this gets the importance of high and low level signals the wrong way round. Low level signals should not be the ‘primary’ signal, with high level signals an optional ‘secondary’ signal, something merely to be ‘considered.

Low level signals are essentially provided for convenience – for people waiting at lights to avoid having to look upwards. They should not be viewed as the ‘primary’ signal for reasons given in the paragraph – they can be obscured easily (by people waiting, for instance), and are smaller than high-level signals. Low-level signals are much harder to see on the approach to a junction, even if they are not obscured.

Low-level signals and high-level signals, both showing red. Which one is easier to see from a distance?

Low-level signals and high-level signals, both showing red. Which one is easier to see from a distance?

A low-level signal in isolation is not a good idea; it means people approaching the junction do not have an indication of whether they will have to stop until they are only a short distance from the junction – or no indication at all, if the low-level signal is obscured. For that reason the high-level signal should always be employed, with the low-level signal as the ‘optional’ extra. IAN 195/16 gets this the wrong way round.

IAN 195/16 does however suggest the use of cycle detectors on approaches, and synchronising lights so people cycling get smooth journeys through junctions, which are obviously sensible recommendations.

It also makes clear that the ‘default’ design option for cycling should be a single-stage crossing, ‘without the need for cycle traffic to wait on islands in the middle of signal controlled junctions’ – mainly because cycle traffic is faster than pedestrian traffic, and can cross junctions relatively quickly. There are clear stipulations for signal timings to ensure that slower-moving cyclists can safely clear a crossing, depending on its length and gradient. For instance, a 36m crossing of six lanes (2 x 3) on an uphill gradient requires 16 seconds, from a standing start.

IAN 195/16 is clear that ‘Toucan crossings’ (essentially, cycling bodged onto a pedestrian crossing) are inferior –

Toucan crossings are less comfortable for both pedestrians and cyclists than separate crossing facilities. They shall only be used where it is necessary to share the same space at the facility, for example where there is a shared path leading to the crossing or where there are complex off-carriageway pedestrian and cycle movements that are best accommodated in a shared use area.

… although I’m not quite sure this is clear enough to avoid them still being used as a bit of a lazy bodge, in combination with shared use.

Staggered crossings are essentially ruled out, unless they can accommodate the ‘cycle design vehicle’ (1.2m x 2.8m) on an appropriately-designed two-way cycle track.

The dimensions of refuges (which are very important for ‘priority’ types of crossing) are stipulated; they must be at least 3m long in the direction of travel for cycle traffic. Here’s an example of a 3m refuge at a Dutch roundabout on a rural main road.

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-12-44-12

Refuges should be able to comfortably accommodate cycles of all types in this kind of situation.

We then come to a longer section on priority junctions in general, and how cycle movements should be handled at these kinds of junctions.

‘On carriageway’ cycle provision – i.e. painted lanes, or simple ‘combined traffic’ is, as per earlier requirements in IAN 195/16, only appropriate on roads with 30mph limits and with traffic flows under 5,000 vehicles per day. Roads with traffic speeds of 40mph or over require cycle tracks. Given these constraints, there isn’t a great deal to say here, beyond ensuring that junction geometry is tight to ensure lower motor traffic speeds at the conflict point – although I’m not sure the reference to a minimum 10m corner radii in rural areas (Section 7.17 in TD 42/95) is appropriate.

IAN 195/16 does also stipulate that if slip roads are present under these speed/flow conditions, cycle traffic ‘shall be accommodated using off-carriageway facilities’, regardless of the lower speed limits and motor traffic volumes.

The aforementioned corner radii recommendation also means that IAN 195/16 is stipulating that any ‘physical separation’ of cycle lanes on these kinds of roads has to end a minimum of 20m from the junction, which is poor. It essentially leaves anyone cycling on these lanes feeling dreadfully exposed on the approach to, and at, the point of conflict, and won’t do anything to slow turning speeds. Just like these bad examples on the Leeds-Bradford ‘superhighway’, below.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 02.35.20

Where ‘off-carriageway’ provision is employed (i.e. cycle tracks), IAN 195/16 gives us a choice between ‘bent out’ and ‘bent in’ crossings of side roads.

‘Bent in’ crossings are defined as –

‘bent in’ towards the major road so that cycle traffic crosses the mouth of the minor arm as a mandatory cycle lane

I have to say I have never seen this kind of design employed anywhere in the Netherlands – it essentially involves a cycleway, at distance from the road, moving onto it and becoming a cycle lane at the junction, as per the diagram in IAN 195/16.

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-13-03-29

Perhaps this kind of design has been used somewhere in the Netherlands, but it must be very rare and I think it is inferior to maintaining a cycleway across the junction, even if that cycleway is only a short distance from the give way line. Maintaining a cycle with visual continuity affords more comfort and safety than reintroducing people onto the road, on a painted lane.

With the caveat that this is a two-way track, this kind of design is clearly more appropriate than a cycle lane crossing the side road on the carriageway

With the caveat that this is a two-way track, this kind of design is clearly more appropriate than a cycle lane emerging onto the carriageway to cross the side road

The ‘bent out’ type of crossing recommended by IAN 195/16 is obviously far more familiar, and ubiquitous in the Netherlands, employed either with simple painted markings, as in the example below (which is a non-priority crossing for cycle traffic) –

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-13-13-53

… or with more ‘visual reinforcement’ – coloured asphalt continuity, and a hump, and give-way markings.

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-13-15-38

And it’s here that we hit a bit of a snag with IAN 195/16. It stipulates that this ‘priority’ form of crossing is only appropriate on roads with a 30mph limit, or below. (And the same applies for the less preferable ‘bent-in’ crossing).

That means that any main road with a 40mph limit or higher cannot have any priority crossings for cycle traffic along it. It will involve giving way at any side road, regardless of how well that side road has been designed, like the example above. All crossings in this context have to be ‘non priority’.

This might not be a particularly onerous problem for the kinds of roads that are – at present – covered by IAN 195/16. That is to say, trunk roads that mostly go through rural areas, with few side roads, and where having to yield isn’t too much of a problem. In my experience cycling along 80kph roads in rural areas in the Netherlands, non-priority crossings are reasonably common alongside priority ones, depending on context, and they are not noticeably frustrating. The photograph above of a non-priority crossings is fairly typical.

However I think this stipulation is too rigorous – simply applying a blanket ‘non-priority’ rule above 30mph quite obviously rules out priority anywhere alongside faster main roads, even where it can be designed for safely, or where it simply makes sense.

Another photograph of a priority crossing alongside an 80kph road, so new it is still under construction!

Another photograph of a priority crossing, this one next to a section of 60kph (40mph) road, so new it is still under construction! Note this crossing has nothing more than simple give-way markings for motor traffic. Finished crossing here

So overall, although there are good design recommendations (and requirements) in this part of IAN 195/16, I think it is one of the weaker sections of the document. Some of the design ideas (the ‘bent out’ crossing; the removal of separation 20m before junctions) are not really good enough, while other requirements are too severe. There is definitely room for improvement here.

We’ll wrap up this look at IAN 195/16 in the next post, with a look at other ways of dealing with cycle traffic at junctions!

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18 Responses to Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network – Junctions (1)

  1. Pingback: Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network – Junctions (1) | As Easy As Riding A Bike

  2. adoapplemac says:

    The low-level signals in NL are very small, low down and not very bright, so they’re no good by themselves. The low-level signals approved for use in the UK are the same as the ones used in Denmark, Germany and elsewhere, which are quite a bit bigger and brighter and seem to be placed closer to head-height. Low-level signals are already used by themselves in London, and I think it works well in certain contexts.

    I’m slightly concerned about the signal timings section. I think they’re suggesting extending the green time for longer crossings, but it’s the all-red time that matters, because someone who arrives at that 36m long crossing in the last second of green still needs plenty of time to cross before motor traffic gets green. When I used CS6 for the first time, I was shouted at by a taxi driver because I went through Ludgate Circus southbound about 1 second after the lights went amber. I was cycling at a normal pace, faster than a casual tourist would. But the taxi received green to turn left across the CSH before I was able to clear the junction. I think you’d have to be cycling at 20mph to clear the junction in time, which is rubbish.

    The Netherlands often provides separate facilities for pedestrians at junctions, even if they’re sharing the cycle path with cyclists on approach. I’ve never seen a shared crossing in NL. I agree toucans should be avoided completely.

    I think bent-in crossings are sometimes used in Germany. They’re a bad idea and, like is standard practice in NL, I think even a small gap is better than no gap.

    • The low down ones in the UK might be more visible than the ones in the Netherlands but in my experience the nearside indicators for the opposing (crossing) traffic stand out more http://kjs.me.uk/3rdparty/vlcsnap-2016-11-04-20h41m14s521.jpg
      shows a typical layout in Nottingham – heading down hill (you’re approaching the bottom here) the high ups are the most visible but after that the nearside indicators (for crossing traffic) are the second most visible. At a pedestrian crossing not too far from here it’s even worse as the nearside indicators are closer (narrower crossing) and appear bigger than the low down lights!

      In fact, the visibility of the nearside indicators is obviously so good that the city council have no issues in using them as regular lights on shared use paths… http://kjs.me.uk/3rdparty/vlcsnap-2016-11-04-20h51m41s872.jpg

  3. Paul Luton says:

    The good thing about Toucans is the absence of a red bike. If the road is empty you can legally cross straight away.

  4. What does it suggest doing in say a countryside or exurbs with few to no pedestrians? Does it still suggest a toucan or is it just a bicycle signal with no pedestrian signal? Oh, and the Dutch sometimes build 60 km/h roads next to 80 km/h ones and more commonly next to 100 km/h roads and motorways which in low volume is where cyclists also might be required to go too (if they don’t have their own cycle path), so the correct traffic signal aspect is a normal red green amber light not a cycle shaped light.

  5. Commenter says:

    “That means that any main road with a 40mph limit or higher cannot have any priority crossings for cycle traffic along it. It will involve giving way at any side road,”
    which is crazy, because if I’m not very mistaken, a cycle path within a certain distance (6 meters?) next to a priority road, is essentially part of that road, including the priority over the sideroads. And then still, doesn’t the UK have that same rule that traffic going straight on has priority over traffic leaving that road?

  6. Andy R says:

    Quote “Bent-out crossings of minor roads are suitable for roads with a speed limit not greater than 30mph. They shall not be used for stepped tracks….Bent-in crossings of minor roads are suitable where the speed limit on any arm of the junction does not exceed 30mph. Cycle tracks at bent-in crossings shall be one-way. ”
    Hopefully Phil Jones will clarify as the wording is unclear but, based on the second statement which stipulates a speed limit of 30mph or less on either the minor arm or mainline, I’d interpret the first statement as referring to 30mph as the minor arm speed limit only, i.e.

    “Bent-out crossings of minor roads are suitable for (minor) roads with a speed limit not greater than 30mph”.

    May be worth a tweet to the man himself?

    • Andy R says:

      Well, turns out my interpretation is wrong and Mark’s original assertion was correct.

      Got to agree that only having priority where the main road has a 30mph limit is very onerous, particularly given we’re talking about trunk roads – even Local Access Roads adjacent motorways and expressways will have 60mph limits.

      As a safety auditor I would like to see the research showing this is unsafe.

  7. Mystery Machine says:

    “That means that any main road with a 40mph limit or higher cannot have any priority crossings for cycle traffic along it. It will involve giving way at any side road…”

    This is very bad. One of the major problems with one of the only bits of protected infrastructure near me, the cycle path on the south side of the A316 between Richmond and Mortlake, is that the bloody thing keeps giving out at side roads, with give way lines. This means that anyone using the cycle lane who gets hit by a motorist turning in to a side road too fast will be treated as being to blame – hey, there were ‘give way’ lines there! I suspect this is why the council and TfL keep them there – it’s a good opportunity for some teflon-coated victim-blaming!

    In order to avoid having to constantly shoulder-check 135 degrees every time you get to a side-road (which is stressful and difficult if you don’t come to a full stop, thereby being massively inconvenient), it is safer for fast cyclists to use the main carriage-way – at least they don’t lose priority over motor vehicles when going straight on.

    This nonsense needs to be rejected, otherwise it is likely to mean that protected infrastructure next to larger urban roads is never properly built, and that people on bicycles will continue to be forced to submit to their ‘betters’ in cars ad infinitum.

    • HivemindX says:

      I agree strongly with this. I don’t accept that the ‘bent out’ style is inherently preferable at all. My experience in Ireland is that rejoining the main road in advance of the junction is far better. Regardless of what the rules on priority are my experience is that motorists are far less likely to see you when you are not on the road and even if they do see you they assume that you MUST yield and drive accordingly.

      Every time I use a junction like this I must check carefully for cars approaching on the side road, who will not stop until they get to the main carriageway (often blocking the cycle lane when they do stop) and check over my shoulder to determine if any of the cars approaching from the rear are going to turn across me. They will not yield to me either no matter what the road markings say. When I am on the main road it is far less likely that cars will pull out in front of me from the side road, or cut me off by turning immediately after passing. Obviously both those things still happen. I don’t consider having to stop and wait for traffic to clear at every side road a good solution to that problem.

      The N11 in Dublin has both of these designs. The ‘bent out’ ones were put in first and the ‘bent in’ ones later. Anecdotally I see far more cyclists rejoining the carriageway at these junctions that I see going down the side road and yielding to turning and exiting traffic.

      • Mark Williams says:

        My experience of GB is that plenty of motorists will just always seek to left-hook or bully you into yielding to save themselves a few milliseconds, irrespective of whether they’ve `seen’ you/ track bent in/ track bent out/ advisory lane/ lane completely absent. Nothing less than continuous [& differently surfaced, as mentioned in the post body] cycle track bordered by ≥100 mm ~45° kerbs and tight turning radii is likely to discourage most of that. Even primary position in lane 1 of carriageway (for those of us prepared to do so) only stops some of it.

        There is no such thing as a mandatory bent-in cycle lane in UK, not that they would be even vaguely honoured if there were. Of course, all this talk of any kind of `bending’ is mostly for the benefit of motor traffic capacity—likewise in NL. Why should cycling have all these dog-legs added and associated loss of momentum or priority at all?

  8. Jitensha Oni says:

    The Fig. 2.4.12 diagram for bent-ins indicates 20m min approach; the text says 70m; which is correct? And how does that square with the stipulations of Fig. 2.4.9 (straight across) where the end of the cycle track is meant to be 5 or 20m from the junction (depending on corner radius). You could generate a Fig 2.4.9 situation near the junction in the Fig. 2.4.12 case, and I don’t quite see why curving the track towards the carriageway some way back should make any difference to the design close to the junction.

  9. Bmblbzzz says:

    I’ve got a general question on this topic: what roads does (will) this actually apply to? Is it actually only the roads on this map? https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585330/s160588_Network_Man.pdf
    From this page of roads managed by Highways England: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/roads-managed-by-the-highways-agency

    In which case it’s remarkably few, and even fewer that are not motorway. And of course excludes the A38 and A44 which I mentioned a couple of posts ago. I had, I think, confused the Strategic Routes with the Primary Routes; the Primary Routes are the major roads connecting “primary destinations” (some of which are relatively small towns, such as… Evesham!), in other words anything with a green road sign. But the SRN turns out to be much smaller.

    Is this correct?

    • Andy R says:

      It is, except…The IAN is officially part of the DMRB. The DMRB is used by Local Authorities particularly when designing junctions (traffic signals and roundabouts). So, if they are introducing or upgrading either then they will likely use DMRB for the geometries, etc. If they use DMRB for one part of the junction design then the argument could be made that it should be used for other parts, including cycling provision. A bit tenuous, but it is a valid argument.

    • Mark Williams says:

      Yes, as Andy R says, you were right with the former as discussed in a previous post from this series. It is, while it lasts, compulsory for SRN managed by HA only—including motorways, where cycling will (still?) be prohibited.

      Local highway authorities, who are responsible for pretty much everything else, have a habit of cherry-picking the bits from these documents which they like and ignoring the remainder—because it is entirely optional for them. The bits they do like include 120 km/h design speeds, six wide lanes of motor traffic, signs with ~300 mm x-height lettering, bulldozing their way through prime farmland and wildlife habitats to cut microseconds off [motor] journey times, etc. The bits they don’t like include any meaningful provision for NMUs, painted cycle lanes wider than 500 mm, reducing CO2 as required by the Kyoto treaty, motorists ceding priority under any circumstances, etc. You might be able to spot a pattern there…

  10. paulrichardmason says:

    I agree with the direction of Mystery Machine’s remarks. A few years ago I wrote a letter to the Times which was published alongside some others on a related theme (Times, 10th November 2012):
    —————————————-
    Sir,
    I cycle to work. Most of the journey is along a cycle path parallel to a main road. If I adhered strictly to the double white lines painted across the path at the seven side-turnings along the three-mile route it would be barely worth bothering with.When I do cross a side road in front of a motorist he or she invariably hoots loudly at being made to slow down momentarily.
    The white lines should be in favour of cyclists for the simple reason that cyclists may pay for any collisions with their lives, not just a scuffed bumper.
    What is needed is a change of attitude whereby pedestrians come first, then cyclists and finally motorists, who should be made to wait respectfully for their quiet, non-polluting fellow citizens.
    —————————————–
    IAN 195/16 will not help much with this as two of the side-roads are in 40 mph limit areas and the rest are private driveways.

  11. Pingback: Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network – Junctions (2) | As Easy As Riding A Bike

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