Council goes Dutch to improve cycle safety at busy roundabout
Bedford Borough Council is to apply Dutch experience to improve cycle safety at a busy roundabout in the town.
Traversable plastic lane dividers will be installed on the roundabout to encourage vehicles to follow the correct lane and reduce speeds. These will be complemented by spiral lane markings to lead vehicles off at the appropriate exit.
The design, dubbed a ‘turbo roundabout’, aims to reduce traffic speeds while maintaining vehicle capacity. Bedford says the layout has “revolutionised roundabout design in the Netherlands”, with more than 160 built there since 2000.
The DfT this month awarded Bedford £300,000 from the Cycle Safety Fund to implement the scheme. It should be installed this summer and the council believes it could be a template for other authorities to follow.
The roundabout is a busy intersection of Union Street-Tavistock Street-Roff Avenue-Clapham Road in Bedford. The council says the site had the highest concentration of cyclist accidents between 2004 and 2010.
A 2012 traffic count recorded 25,000 vehicle movements in a 12-hour period (7am-7pm), together with 550 cyclists and 2,500 pedestrians. About 200 of the cyclists avoided the roundabout carriageway by cycling on the shared paths round the edge and crossing the junction arms.
Patrick Lingwood, Bedford’s walking and cycling officer, said there were currently no lane markings on the roundabout and traffic typically passed over at speeds of 25-30mph.
The redesign will create a tighter geometry and is predicted to reduce traffic speeds to under 15mph. The plastic lane dividers should ensure that cyclists don’t have to contend with conflicting traffic movements. Bedford says the new design will maintain vehicle capacity, with two lane entries and two lanes on the roundabout itself.
To ensure drivers use the correct lane on the roundabout, Bedford is to apply to the DfT for permission to install road signs on approach roads indicating that the lanes on the roundabout only give access to certain exits.
Zebra crossings will be installed on the roundabout arms to assist pedestrians and those cyclists who use the shared paths. The council plans to seek permission from the DfT to install new blue ‘Cyclists give way to traffic’ signs at the crossings. Lingwood explained that, whereas pedestrians have priority over vehicles on a zebra crossing, vehicles have priority over cyclists.
Bedford looked at a number of other possible redesigns for the junction, including creating single lane entries and a single lane on the roundabout. But Lingwood said Paramics modelling showed this option would cause unacceptable delays.
Lingwood authored the first draft of the roundabout section of the DfT’s local transport note 2/08 Cycle Infrastructure Design when working as a consultant with Transport Initiatives. He was a member of the DfT’s now defunct English Regions Cycling Development Team.