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Cycle infrastructure guidance: welcome, but many flaws

Rik Andrew London SE6
21 August 2020

The DfT’s new Cycle Infrastructure Design Local Transport Note 1/20 (‘Making streets safe for cycling’ LTT 07 Aug) contains much good advice – it’s a great improvement over previous Transport for London and DfT guidance – but some of its recommendations are flawed.

Figure 10.29 shows how NOT to install two-stage right turns at junctions – how did this get past the DfT's ‘expert’ panel I sincerely hope that whoever is appointed to Active Travel England has a better understanding than this. 

Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) for cyclists are rightly rubbished as providing no protection elsewhere in the Local Transport Note, and the ‘two-stage right turn’ junction design is a much safer alternative to them.  You do not (ever) use both two-stage rights and ASLs at the same junction! 

The whole point of installing a two-stage right turn facility at junctions is to deter cyclists from swerving out across two or three lanes of faster traffic, then waiting in an exposed position on the centreline for a gap in the oncoming traffic, and then dodging across two or three lanes of opposing traffic. 

This behaviour is exactly what ASLs encourage cyclists to do.

The ‘Hold the left’ junction layout depicted in Figure 10.27 also shows a very poor understanding of latest / best practice. The example shown here is unsafe and confusing to all road users. Pedestrians should and could have a one-stage crossing here. There are now much better examples of this junction arrangement, such as at Whipps Cross and Highbury Corner in London.

Meanwhile, Figure 10.18 illustrates an inconvenient slow multi-stage crossing, 

The Junction Assessment Tool contained in Appendix B of the Local Transport Note is also way out of date. It is taken from Transport for London’s 2014 London Cycling Design Standards and junction design has moved on significantly since then.

Junctions and crossings are vital to safe cycling, which is why I have raised the above points first. The Local Transport Note should not relegate the topics to chapter ten.

Elsewhere, Figure 6.9 shows a bad example of a very old segregated cycle track in the London Borough of Camden – it is too narrow for overtaking and cyclists are at risk from ‘right hook’ collisions with vehicles. There are plenty of much better more recent examples that could have been used as illustrations. 

Figure 6.17 is a bad example of a mandatory cycle lane – the lane shown is much too narrow.

Paragraph 6.2.16 is too negative about two-way cycle tracks, which are widely used in countries sich as the Netherlands and Denmark.

Paragraph 6.2.17 recommends providing a one-way cycle track on each side of the road. But this requires 4.4 metres – i.e. more than one traffic lane needs to be reallocated, which is rarely possible in the UK on our narrow Victorian secondary distributor roads. A two-way track on one side only would only require 3.0 metres of space. 

Paragraph 6.4.21 recommends a general presumption for two-way cycling in one-way streets. Yes, okay, but contraflows should be the last resort. They are unsafe, especially after dark, are often abused by vehicles parking/loading, and they confuse pedestrians. It’s better in most cases to change the road back to two-way operation, calmed by a modal filter if necessary.

It’s very important that Local Transport Note 1/20 does not perpetuate old bad practice. Inexperienced designers will continue to get it wrong if it’s ‘in the manual’.

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