Monday, 7 September 2015

To cross a superhighway

A short section of the East-West Superhighway has opened on the Embankment in London. And it is fantastic.

There are plenty of informal crossing points for coach passengers, but this blog post is to focus on how TFL have designed the pedestrian crossings at junctions, since we now have one operational example of it.

And they are terrible.

Great to see TFL designing cycle infrastructure to the same standard as the road alongside, but we don't need
car specific infrastructure here.

TFL has opted for signalised pedestrian crossings where the road alongside also has one. I can see why this approach is necessary in some locations, such as on Cycle Superhighway 5, where space is limited

I can see why TFL would opt to signalise the cycle track here on CS5, even if I don't agree with the decision
But this treatment on Embankment is bad for cycles and pedestrians.

They are bad because they cause unnecessary delays for cycles and pedestrians. While cycles have to wait a short period for the signal to turn green after pedestrians have crossed, when I timed how long it took for pedestrians to cross it took 57 seconds for pedestrians to get a green man. With a zebra crossing here pedestrians and cycles would barely have to wait for each other at all.

Pedestrians who wait for a green man may have to wait up to 57 seconds to do so.
Also, few people wish to use TFL's stagger arrangement, because it is unnecessary and indirect. Most pedestrians vote with their feet and don't use it. This isn't some form of protest, it is just people following the most direct route. Fully expected behaviour that TFL attempts to deny the existence of.

Pedestrians who want to walk Eastbound here aren't going to go in the wrong direction to use a staggered crossing

Even for westbound pedestrians, the crossing is unattractive and off the desire line.

This is a negative blog post about an otherwise fantastic piece of infrastructure, but problems like this need to be addressed, because otherwise this will become the standard design for London. We can't ignore problems like this just because it is better than before.


  1. You don't actually need to have separate signals for controlling ped/bike interactions. Even a small island will work. Not very big, but still just enough to work. I also suggest you edit this post about the splay kerbs.

  2. Seriously, signalised pedestrian crossings on a cycle path?! I'm aware there may be issues with zebra crossings in The Netherlands (see this from a IMO somewhat Dutch anti-cyclist viewpoint) but traffic signals I imagine would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds which should be used for adding to the length of cycle tracks in London.

  3. I suggest examining the LCC's Better Junctions design: It wouldn't actually be too bad if they used simultaneous green for bikes instead of using two stage right turns, or left turns depending on what direction the cycle tracks and what angles they approach each other at, though I want to see at least 2.5 metres of width guaranteed for cyclists, 4 metres for two directions, and a median between cycle track and roadway of at least 35 cm, preferably at least 1.5 metres, of space, but if you made those two simple additions, simultaneous green (and removal of the two stage turn area) and more of a barrier between track and roadway, then I could get behind that plan. Especially given that it has a good plan to allow turns on red by bicycle.