Friday 11 April 2014

Bow Roundabout

As always, a download link can be found here

I'm sure there isn't a cyclist in the country who hasn't heard of Bow Roundabout. There have been 3 deaths since Cycle Superhighway 2 was introduced here. It took two of those deaths to introduce an "innovative" early start system, which is about as innovative as the double ASL I made for April Fools. Personally I think this should be renamed to delayed start, since a red light is always guaranteed for cyclists.

If the lack of cycling facilities on a flagship route isn't bad enough, there is no safe way for pedestrians this busy junction whatsoever. This junction is probably worse for pedestrians, but they stay away because this isn't a flagship walking route, it's a flagship cycling route. 

Bow roundabout is a horrific car dominated landscape in the middle of a residential area, and involved knocking down whole houses and streets to build it. While this is an important junction and motor traffic capacity should be considered here, it should by no means be at the expense of pedestrian and cyclist safety.

There are two options at Bow Roundabout, sending cyclists over the flyover, or a separate light phase at the roundabout. TFL did a consultation when they introduced the delayed start system, with the other option being 4 toucan crossings at the base of the flyover. Diamond Geezer wrote about this concept at the time 

Not great, but better than what exists

However, I went for a segregated light phase on the roundabout. I feel this is better, because:
  1. There is no incline
  2. It doesn't give cyclists a guaranteed red light
  3. Pedestrian crossings are easy to add
The finished result
I've made the Roundabout more rectangular rather than round, which means that the wasted space in the middle of the roundabout can be moved out to the sides, where it can be used for a cycle track and more pedestrian space. 
Lots of wasted space which is no use to anybody

An additional light phase is needed to accommodate the cycle and pedestrian crossings, however traffic could still continue around the roundabout during this phase.

Red, Green, Orange, repeat.
Bow Roundabout is a deathtrap for cyclists and pedestrians, yet this continues to be ignored by Transport for London to keep the traffic moving. Changing this junction should be a priority, yet all that has been done is some superficial changes to make it look like something is being done. This isn't good enough.


  1. I admire the design, well done. My cynical side says that the extra traffic light phase would have too much of an adverse effect n TfL's eyes for it to be worth considering now that their superficial sticking plaster approaching has already burned a large hole in their budget. My sensible side say why couldn't they come up with this first time, as an example for the other cycle superhighway designs to follow?!

  2. Of course, it gets even worse: Bow Roundabout is one of the trial locations for bicycle-shaped traffic lights. The DfT is monitoring them, and depending on how well they work at this location (and hopefully some others), they will either approve or reject bicycle-shaped lights. This really is terrible. They should be being used to create a cycle-only light phase, not the current confusing "early start" system in place that has already killed people.

  3. Great post. I would argue that the organisation of the light stages should be done slightly differently, have the straight on's in both directions going at the same time, and then the turns going at the same time.

    So in the above example:
    A12(S) straight ahead + cycleway
    A12(N) left turn + A118 right turn
    A12(N) straight ahead + cycleway (+ A118 right turn as a bonus due to no conflicts)

    You still have 3 stages, but you have more traffic lanes moving per stage.

    The downside of this arrangement is that you need dedicated lanes per movement, but this is already the case in your plan and a good idea anyway due to the removal of uncertainty.

  4. A new consultation is open

    "new island would be shared by pedestrians and cyclists to enable cyclists to cross Stratford High Street to access the towpath"

    No mention of making the 'stop twice' facility into a real 'early start' !