Monday, 31 March 2014

Crossrail through Parliament Square (April Fools 2014)

Download link here

If Boris is to be believed, then "Crossrail for the Bike" is going to be going through Parliament Square. This is an important route, and hopefully a chance to set some high design standards. I used satellite imagery to map out Parliament Square and used the same colours as TFL consultations to mark out pavements, road and road markings ect. My finished version can be found below:

Segregation to keep safe

One of the key features of my design is the use of segregation to keep cyclists safe on the busy gyratory. It is important that some segregation is provided to  keep cyclists safe when navigating such a junction. In other places, segregation has not been used because blue paint has been used instead.

Double or Nothing

Another key feature is my use of an innovative new idea. The double advanced stop line will mean that when the first advanced stop line is blocked by motor traffic, cyclists will still be able to get ahead of other traffic in complete safety. Quite frankly I don't understand why nobody has come up with this idea before.

To conclude

I feel that my design is the best that could fit into this location, after all there is only room for 5 motor traffic lanes around Parliament Square, so I feel I have done the best I could given the circumstances. I have shown my design to two other people (See responses from Rick and Eduard) and received positive responses, and I hope you agree.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Upper Thames flagship

PDF download link here.

The original consultation for changes to Upper Thames Street was a while ago, but I decided to change this one as my third attempt at improving a TFL consultation. Even though the consultation is closed, it is still relevant, because firstly it is the end of a superhighway, a so called flagship route, and secondly Upper Thames Street will carry the "Crossrail for the Bike". Therefore this location is of great importance.

While the consultation says Safety Improvements, in terms of cycling all that has changed is some extended ASLs and a facility for those confident enough to cross two lanes first to access it. The end of the Superhighway, probably the most dangerous location here due to turning HGVs, has been left completely untouched. Below is my amendments:


Along Upper Thames Street, I have added a one way cycle track on each side. By removing the central reservation (traffic should be able to drive within a lane at 30mph), and using the existing cycle lane space, I have added cycle tracks on either side of the road. The pedestrian crossing has also had a parallel cycle crossing added, to allow cyclists to access places on the other side of the road or to U-turn.

End of the line

Let's face it, the end of CS7 at Upper Thames Street is probably one of the most dangerous sections of Superhighway. There are plenty of locations where cyclists have a turning conflict on the Superhighways, but not one where cyclists will be making a potentially unexpected movement with all trucks making some sort of turn, either left or right. I've added cycle tracks along CS7 and added cycle crossings where it crosses Upper Thames Street. North of Upper Thames Street, shared use has been replaced by a cycle track, better for pedestrians and cyclists. Queen Street has very little traffic so it can be shared between cyclists and motor traffic, with CS7 extending further into the city rather than ending just outside as it currently does.

And everything else

Finally, bus stop bypasses and zebra crossings are other things I have added. We should see quality cycling infrastructure here with the "Crossrail for the bike" soon at some point. But this area is currently dangerous for cyclists in an area that cyclists are encouraged to go. There is a chance for this junction to be a real flagship. Come on TFL, make it so.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Kings Cross can be cycle friendly

Download link in PDF file format can be found here.

Following how well received my amended version of the Elephant and Castle consultation was, I decided that I should give another TFL consultation the cycle infrastructure it deserves. Kings Cross seemed an obvious choice, because TFL had said that cycle tracks had been ruled out due to space constraints. The original consultation is below:

There are some improvements to the current situation. For example, a widened cycle lane, the addition of ASLs in some places, and a tiny bit of segregation. But while these are improvements, these will only improve conditions for vehicular cyclists, and will not attract new cyclists. This scheme is a step in the right direction, but only just, and comes at a time when London is going to need to take huge leaps forward if we want to become a true cycling city.

Therefore in my version, I wanted to be able to add cycle tracks where possible. And this was possible in most places.

Space for Cycling

TFL had rejected the idea of putting a segregated track down Pentonville Road due to losing a vehicle lane being unacceptable. This made me really want to be able to add segregation along here without losing a vehicle lane, to prove to TFL that there is space. The space for the cycle track was created from the existing cycle lane (widened in the TFL original consultation), the hatched out space between the loading bays and the road, and a small amount of existing pavement. At first I was hesitant about removing any pavement, however I think the cycle track increases the amount of usable pavement, since walking next to a cycle track is pleasant, whereas walking directly next to a main road is not.

(Kings) Crossings

Junctions are the most vital part of any cycle infrastructure. A single bad junction could put someone off cycling for their whole journey, so safe crossings are vital. The most straight forward crossing is the one at the top of the picture below. Two cycle specific crossings are provided, which allow cyclists to cross parallel to the adjacent traffic lanes. Personally I don't like how the tracks cross at the top left corner, as it doesn't allow much space for cyclists to wait for the crossings. However, in the limited space, I felt this is the best I could do.
I went for two separate crossings at the Southern end of Kings Cross Bridge for two reasons. One, providing one cycle crossing would require joining up the two tracks round the corner. This would inconvenience pedestrians and potentially make the corner too tight for vehicles. Secondly, few cyclists will need to go round this corner, since the layout of the junction means that this turn would not be made unless cyclists were accessing a place on Grays Inn Road. Therefore I chose the dual crossing design, as odd as it looks.

Safe turns

It was relatively easy to provide safe crossings here. A traffic lane can be removed after the junction with Kings Cross Road because there is no creation of a bottleneck. Therefore no extra queues should be created. The right turn bay bay has been removed also, since not much traffic needs to make the right turn. The cycle track along Pentonville road passes the side road with priority, and also with space for traffic to turn before giving way to cyclists, increasing cyclist visibility. I have also created a waiting area for cyclists to cross to reach the track on Kings Cross road, via a dedicated crossing.

To conclude

Again, TFL have produced small improvements for existing cyclists, but their design will attract no new cyclists. Only complete segregation on main roads will attract new cyclists, not bits and pieces of unconnected cycle lanes and Advance Stop Lines. TFL is still learning, and I still think in terms of UK cycling, they are relatively progressive. Expect more amended consultation diagrams from me in the future, and I look forward to advancing my skills forward.

Update 30/07/2014

TFL have sent out an e-mail to those who responded to the consultation saying this:

Dear stakeholder
 Thank you for taking the time and providing us with your views on our proposals to improve safety in King’s Cross for cyclists. After carefully considering all of the feedback received, we have made the decision to proceed with the proposals.  Please view our consultation and engagement portal to view a copy of our engagement report. Following comments received about the provision of a segregated cycle lane on York Way, we have revised our plans.  We are now proposing to introduce a semi-segregated cycle lane which will allow cyclists to move onto the main carriageway and overtake stationary buses and taxis if necessary. Construction of the scheme is expected to start in October 2014 and last for approximately six months. Please feel free to email the TfL Customer Services Team via the web form on our website if you wish to discuss plans or our decision in further detail.
 Yours sincerely Claire AlleguenConsultation SpecialistTransport for London

So we are getting some shit, but with some semi segregation so we can overtake buses and taxis who enter it. Wonderful.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

"Improving" Elephant and Castle

UPDATE - I've created a PDF of my amendments, which looks much prettier, and can be zoomed in without a loss of quality. This can be found by clicking here.

TFL has released a consultation on "improving" Elephant and Castle roundabout. The full details can be found here here, but I have included the plan of the junction below

I reckon the cycle facilities were added last

Who is this for?

TFL has essentially thrown in Shared use, cycle tracks, cycle lanes and vehicular cycling into one horrible mess. The type of cyclist who would like to ride on the cycle tracks (whom we should be encouraging more than any other) will be put off by the vehicular cycling required on the approaches and the exits. The type of cyclist who is is comfortable with vehicular cycling will be put off by the cycle tracks. Finally, the shared use will conflict with everybody.

Cycling wise, this junction has been designed for nobody.

Alright, you do better then!

Before I show you the designs I've come up with, some disclaimers:
  1. I'm a 17 year old sixth-form student, not an experienced town planner
  2. I'm using Paint.NET, far better than Microsoft Paint, but nowhere near the software the pros use
  3. Some of my design may not fit in this area perfectly
My design has used the base TFL plan for the junction, and then added more cycle tracks, remove ASLs and relocated certain crossings and bus stops. Interestingly though, this design doesn't remove any motor traffic lanes. I have also not added any new crossings, only added cycle crossings to existing pedestrian crossings, so this design would in theory be possible without disrupting motor traffic (whether that is a bad thing or not is up to you).

Not perfect, but I would like to think its an improvement

Who has priority?

The easiest place to start was St. Georges Road. The cycle track in the original gives way at what looks like a side road. On closer inspection on streetview, this is actually a driveway.

Immediately the original plans have lost credibility. This is a brand new cycle track being built and we are still having to put up with this crap. 

Makes sense for the track to bend away and have priority. Giving way here is absurd

Sharing really isn't caring

The next section was pretty simple to improve as well. I've added a bi-directional cycle track which connects to the original TFL added crossings. However, both of these are now bi-directional, and my track connects to my other new tracks on New Kent Road and Newington Butts (heading south). Cyclists heading south no longer a set of traffic lights, but give way to cyclists heading East-West.

Cycle tracks are safer for pedestrians and cyclists

Why not both?

In the original consultation, this area is a bit of a mess. Sure, some cycle tracks have been provided, but to access them you may need to cycle on a strip of paint down the middle of four lanes to get there.

I've provided full cycle tracks around this area, and added a cycle track crossing to a pedestrian crossing. I've eradicated all evidence of the ASLs, since they are not needed with cycle tracks. I've had to shorten the bus lane but now left turning buses no longer have to share space or time with cyclists going straight ahead. Again, all cycle crossings have been attached to existing pedestrian crossings, so there should be no extra delays for motorists.

To conclude

Elephant and Castle is currently a horrible junction for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, and something does need to change. TFLs plans however do not cater for any sort of cyclist, even someone who is willing to trade safety for directness (which is a bad policy anyway). While my designs are nowhere near perfect, something has to change at TFL. Their whole design either shows huge incompetence, or simply that they want to do something to shut the cycle campaigners up.

That will never happen.