London road junction redesign: what's at stake

Will TfL take notice of cyclists' wishes?

London Cycling Campaign has outlined just what is at stake as the process of drawing up plans for the redesign of 100 London junctions becomes clearer.

There was great fanfare earlier in the year as 500 junctions were reviewed for cycle safety and boiled down to a 'priority list' of 100 by July.

Of the 100 junctions work on 50 will be complete by the end of 2013 say Transport for London. A detailed list and map can be found here.  

There is still much detail about the nature of the redesigns to be decided though; TfL is to meet with all 'stakeholders' before it draws up plans for each particular junction, with cyclists represented by the London Cycling Campaign (with input from relevant local branches) and Sustrans. Other groups with input include the police, Living Streets and the Freight Transport Association.

Speaking to Bikeradar, LCC Cycling Development Officer, Gerhard Weiss, said of the forthcoming meetings “The main issue will be balancing the demand from TfL to keep motor traffic capacity against taking space from drivers to make cycling safer. This is what it boils down to in most cases, though in a few cases it may be simply obtaining funding to do what is needed.”

Weiss did question the much-written about approach of TfL and Boris Johnson in particular of “not pushing junctions over capacity" and avoiding "significant delays to traffic" when redesigning (both quoted terms here are Johnson's reasons for not ordering a full cycle-friendly makeover of the Bow Roundabout where two cyclists died in 2011).

“Computer models used by TfL may predict more traffic tailbacks but this is not the same as it really happening,” said Weiss. “These computer models measure the capacity of a junction … but we would argue the model is flawed. These models tend to ignore bicycle traffic and do not allocate enough time and space for the predicted flows by bike.

“We don't agree with the assumptions often used by the programs to aid junction redesign. They are based on avoiding worst-case scenario queue lengths rather than looking at the benefit gained by reallocating road space to cyclists.”

Despite these concerns Johnson has recently endorsed LCC's Love London, Go Dutch campaign which is pushing for European-style infrastructure and TfL has said junction measures will include “adopting best practice from other European countries” with segregated cycle lanes, 20mph speed limits and bicycle phase traffic lights being considered.

The first completed redesign on the list, Bow Roundabout, has come under considerable criticism from LCC. Sites earmarked for redesign include some identified as the most dangerous in London by cyclists such as Elephant and Castle, Blackfriars Bridge and Swiss Cottage.   

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