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London to spend £300m overhauling ‘biggest and nastiest’ junctions

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More than 30 of London’s ‘biggest and nastiest’ road junctions are set to be transformed as part of a £300 million programme to improve the capital’s roads for cyclists

The controversial Elephant and Castle roundabout – London’s highest cycle casualty location – is set to be removed as part of the shake-up.

Gyratories at Archway, Aldgate, Swiss Cottage and Wandsworth will be ripped out and replaced with two-way roads, segregated cycle tracks and traffic-free public space.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: ‘These road junctions are relics of the 60s which blight and menace whole neighbourhoods. Like so much from that era, they’re also atrociously-designed and wasteful of space.

These road junctions are relics of the 60s

‘Because of that, we can turn these junctions into more civilised places for cyclists and pedestrians, while at the same time maintaining their traffic function.’

Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, said: ‘For over a year our designers and engineers have been working flat out to develop new junction designs for these 33 locations to completely change how they operate, transforming their areas for cyclists, pedestrians and the wider local community.

This work has been complicated

‘They are some of the busiest traffic intersections in Europe, so this work has been complicated. But we are now fully committed to delivering these junction improvements as quickly as possible, making London safer and more inviting for all.’

The London Borough of Southwark contains four out of the 33 road junctions which are set to be improved. Councillor Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for transport, environment and recycling at Southwark Council, said: ‘The council has had a long-term ambition to transform Elephant and Castle’s northern roundabout and has been working with TfL and the GLA for some years to make this a reality - the southern roundabout has already seen the unpopular subways filled in and a new road layout put in place.

‘Cycle and pedestrian safety is a hugely important issue for Southwark and improving the transport network around Elephant has been central to the £3 billion regeneration plans for the area which will also see new homes, better shopping, a brand new leisure centre and park space.’

In the last three years, more than 150 cyclists and pedestrians have been killed or seriously injured at the 33 junctions set to be revamped. 

Improvements are also lined up for Boris’ flagship Cycle Superhighways, despite not being included in this £300 million of funding. Six junctions on Cycle Superhighway 2 will be improved as part of its upgrade which was announced after five people died in bike accidents on the capital’s roads in just nine days last November.

Work will begin on the junction improvements later this year.

The full list of 33 sites set for improvement (see map attached)

  1. Aldgate Gyratory
  2. Apex Junction
  3. Archway Gyratory
  4. Blackfriars
  5. Borough High Street/Tooley Street Junction
  6. Bow Roundabout
  7. Chiswick Roundabout/Kew Bridge Junction
  8. Elephant & Castle Northern Roundabout
  9. Great Portland Street Gyratory
  10. Hammersmith Broadway Gyratory
  11. Highbury Corner
  12. King’s Cross
  13. Lambeth Bridge Northern Roundabout
  14. Lambeth Bridge Southern Roundabout
  15. Lancaster Gate Gyratory
  16. Marble Arch Gyratory
  17. Nag’s Head Gyratory
  18. Old Street Roundabout
  19. Oval Triangle
  20. Parliament Square
  21. Rotherhithe Roundabout
  22. Spur Road Gyratory
  23. St Paul’s Gyratory
  24. Stockwell Gyratory
  25. Stratford Gyratory
  26. Surrey Quays Gyratory
  27. Swiss Cottage Gyratory
  28. Tower Gateway
  29. Vauxhall Cross Gyratory
  30. Wandsworth Town Centre Gyratory
  31. Waterloo Roundabout
  32. Westminster Bridge Road
  33. Woolwich Road / A102 Junction

Previous story (AJ 15.11.13)

Architects join calls for action on London’s cycle routes

Cyclists are calling for urgent action on Boris’ Cycle Superhighways after five people died in bike accidents on the capital’s roads in just nine days

Three of the deaths have occurred on London Mayor Boris Johnson’s flagship Cycle Superhighway 2, between Aldgate and Bow.

A coroner’s report into previous accidents on the route claimed the painted cyclepaths ‘could pose a future risk to life unless action was taken.’

As a result of the recent deaths, the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has demanded that the Superhighways be upgraded to meet continental standards – widening and segregating cycle routes and better planning road junctions.

LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said, ‘We warned the Mayor about the potentially lethal flaws on Superhighway 2 over a year ago. The Mayor must now signal that he wants to eliminate such avoidable fatalities by transforming the route – including the junctions at Bow and Aldgate – into an example of the highest standards in cycle safety.’

The industry has backed the campaign, calling for better segregation between cyclists and other road users and further investigations into the planning of cities for cycling infrastructure.  

Anna Surgenor, of the UK Green Building Council, commented: ‘We need to learn lessons from our European friends like the Netherlands and Scandanavia and invest in proper infrastructure for cyclists. Cycle highways should be physically separated from vehicles – a bit of blue paint and confused systems won’t solve the problem’.

London-based architect and cycling enthusiast Andy Matthews, added: ‘The Mayor’s policy of smoothing traffic flow is completely incompatible with the number of people cycling in London. Combining lorries and other large vehicles with cyclists on the same stretch of road has been proved to be lethal time and time again.

There is plenty of room in London for proper segregated infrastructure

‘The design of the Superhighways has long been criticised for leading cyclists into the danger zone on the left of vehicles. Proper segregated infrastructure would go a long way to avoiding this issue and there is plenty of room in London for such infrastructure.’

Tom Dollard, head of sustainability at Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects and one of the riders in the Portland to Portland charity cycle ride, said: ‘Cycle Superhighway 2 has dangerous roads at either end, and it lulls cyclists into a false sense of security. Segregated bike lanes must be introduced in its place.’

But architect and cyclist Nic Crawley, who also took part in this year’s Portland to Portland cycle ride, said the problem was more about behaviour. He said: ‘As s a cyclist and an architect, I think the behaviour of cyclists and drivers is the issue too often overlooked.’

‘I’ve ridden 6,000 miles this year, including right across the US, observing cycling in major cities and road users in London are certainly more aggressive - while infrastructure design is a key factor in road safety I’d say that mutual respect between all road users is a bigger safety issue.’

Last week, former secretary of the Royal Fine Art Commission Francis Golding, was killed in a cycling collision in Holburn. AJ editorial director Paul Finch blamed the ‘awful and unnecessary death’ on ‘London’s inadequate rules, conventions and infrastructure in respect of cycling.’

Hitting out at the deaths on twitter, Lord Adonis said: ‘The Mayor should appoint a rapid independent review of Superhighways after the horror of all these cyclists deaths in London.’

The Cycle Superhighways were first launched in 2010 to provide cyclists with ‘safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city’. There are currently four routes, with another eight planned by 2015.

Further comments

Joe Morris, director, Duggan Morris Architects

It’s a real and desperate shame that the ambition Boris has shown to convert London into a city of cyclists has resulted in so many tragic deaths and injuries. I have cycled the length and breadth of London for many, many years and have had three significant accidents that I can recall, all of which precede the Cycle Superhighway scheme Boris has implemented.

There are several which work really well. For example those along the Embankment between Lots Road and Westminster, and a new one near my home in Queen’s Road Peckham. These roads are ample in width and seem perfectly at ease with the various modes of transport running side by side. 

There are many instances however where the experience of the cyclist is hazardous (at best) and I’m unsure if it’s a symptom of road and safety engineering, coupled with location and spatial dynamics or simply a lack of care and thought which creates the dangers we as cyclists all to often encounter. I refer to now infamous black spots including Blackfriars Bridge and the environs in and around Clerkenwell where ghost bikes can be found in abundance.

Clearly the issue is complex and often highly charged. The road networks are hugely strained and under massive pressure, never helped by the seeming plague of road works and diversions which reap havoc on drivers and their short fuses.

Perhaps we all need to go on a course in anger management if we are to reside in this wonderful city of ours and prosper in this shared realm.

Ann Bodkin, consultant and architect

Having cycled daily for over 25 years in London, there has never felt a greater need to urgently address our roads.

An easy no cost solution would be to ban HGVs at rush hour. We had a condition added to a local planning application that prevented HGV movements at school arrival and departure time. It just takes a bit of organising from the powers.

As for junctions, we should look overseas where a number of measures achieve success, ranging from segregation to presumed powered vehicle always at fault.

I have huge admiration for London Cycling Campaign with their agility and common sense strategy. There has to be London leaders from all organisations who stand up and say I want my employees to get to work safely.

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