Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Crossrail through Parliament Square

Download link here

"Crossrail for the bike" is important. If this scheme can be done right, it should show that segregation is the key to get London cycling. However, the proposed route goes through some very dangerous junctions. One of these is Parliament Square.

Parliament Square is horrible in two respects. Firstly, it is bad for cycling, with multiple lanes, fast moving traffic. I have cycled it a few times when I've been in London and it is at best intimidating. What is worse however, is that the Square named after the birthplace of Parliamentary democracy is a roundabout. Even putting cycle safety to one side, this should be a good enough reason to reduce the dominance of motor traffic in this area.

Below is my take on the junction:

Bye bye roundabout

Clearly, the first step here was to remove the roundabout nature of this junction completely. I've closed off Great George Street to motor traffic completely, and replacing two sides of the square with wide cycle tracks only, and increased the pedestrian space as well. This means motor traffic navigates two T-Junctions as opposed to the roundabout, with one lane for each direction. 

Closing Great George Street to through traffic should also have the effect of reducing traffic on Birdcage Walk and Horse Guards Parade, which will make the surrounding area pleasant as well. 


I've included a Zebra Crossing with a cycle track, to give priority to cyclists and pedestrians. These are better than traffic lights because they remove pedestrian and cyclist waiting time, as well as reinforcing the idea that motorists should wait rather than pedestrians. It bears similarities to the Zebra found in this proposal for Cambridge


Where cyclists do have to interact with traffic, it is best to include separate crossings for cyclists. This is similar to how the Dutch would handle a T-Junction, however the pedestrian crossings and the cycle crossings would swap places. Personally I don't feel as if this matters too much, as it means that pedestrians crossing the road twice don't have to unnecessarily cross the cycle track.

To conclude

Hopefully you'll agree this is better than the proposals from yesterday (which may have been an April Fool :P). While TFL are not consulting on changing Parliament Square yet, it is important this junction is done well, and that the "Crossrail" route is easily accessible. It's no good having a good cycle route if it doesn't connect to anything, or the surrounding areas are bad for cycling as well.

1 comment:

  1. There is a flaw that I realized with your proposal of having the pedestrian crossings on the inside of the junction using those corner refuge islands. The Dutch design to the greatest possible extent to make it so that if the traffic lights fail for whatever reason or are turned off, the junction can continue as normally as possible. Those corner refuge islands are used to create a ~6 metre wide area between the cycle and motor vehicle crossings so that you only have to deal with a single action at a time and have the room to turn 90 degrees to face the crossing first. The Dutch have give way signs and priority road signs and the markings to match on the road for this reason, which take over if the lights go to flashing amber or are dark for any reason. The idea is getting popular in the UK as some sort of shared space thing, and given the low volume conditions that normally happen during the night, if the volume is low enough then the traffic lights turn off and go to flashing amber mode. There would need to be a regulations change to reassign the meaning of flashing amber in the UK to that of warning that the junction signals are not operational and that you are to turn to give way / priority road signs (which would need to be installed), and not use them any more for pelican crossings, but that is a small change.