Friday 3 May 2013

Would a Dutch-style roundabout work in London?

On 29 April 2013, Danny Williams of the Cyclists in the City blog posted this on Facebook: 
Coming to a street near you soon.
At long last. Transport for London is testing real,
proven bike infrastructure for rollout in London
over the next couple of years.

More here
I've been collecting responses (samples below) from friends on Facebook. These are all experienced, skilled and confident "transportational" cyclists. Their views range from very much in favour to very much against, with lots of healthy doubt and skepticism in the middle. 
So what do YOU think? 
(You may like to read Danny's full blog post on this for more information and background.)
  • [LC - Male in 30s] It would be great to see the Dutch style roundabout work in this country but I can't see it working unless there is a change in attitude from certain drivers.
    I like the low level signals with separate timing though.

  • [Me] It certainly won't work overnight - it'd be a cultural change not just infrastructure. That takes time. But nobody will get used to something that isn't there. So bring it on, I say! BTW, the BBC has now published:

  • [AM - female in 30s] Personally I don't feel segregation is the right way for the UK. If it's an "encouragement" to those less willing to cycle on the road why not just legalise riding on the pavement? Segregating within cities doesn't lead to an increase in driver/rider experience so they're likely less able to negotiate infrastructure safely together outside of the cities.

  • [Me] I used to feel that way, very strongly. In the past year I've got a bit more... cynical AND idealistic? i.e. I want the best possible for ALL cyclists and potential cyclists, so I'm now willing to throw in my lot with those demanding segregated infrastructure *where it makes sense* (and that's certainly not everywhere) while at the same not holding out much hope that (a) it will in fact happen without a lot of unsatisfactory fudges, or (b) that it will make significant difference. Sometimes I think cycling is becoming more popular in spite of anything anybody does to try and "help" it along.

    You say "Segregating within cities doesn't lead to an increase in driver/rider experience so they're likely less able to negotiate infrastructure safely together outside of the cities." I take your point. I think the rationale is that, the more current non-cyclists that look at segregated facilities and decide to give it a try, the more (eventual) drivers there will be on the road who have at least SOME cycling experience as well.
  • [AM - same female in 30s] For the record I'd not oppose such infrastructure but I do grumble about it. Segregation is the solution to a cause but what I feel needs to be addressed is the cause rather than separating groups. Currently cycle-structure is so sub-par and poorly maintained it's safer to ride on the roads but due to the structure the roads are now narrower (Spaniard's Road, Hampstead for example) making it harder for cycles/cars to co-exist. As we as a country can't even maintain our highways I can't imagine any money ever being spent to maintain our cycle-structure. The only problem is I've not as yet come up with a viable alternative other than legalising pavement riding. Pavement riding is something that everyone bar a small handful do around Watford due to it being very car centric and requiring strong road craft to ride on the road.

  • [Me] I'm with you on most of that. Impossible to 'trust' proposals for new infrastructure of any kind really when authorities don't maintain the roads and paths we've got to an acceptable standard. Legalising pavement riding is a solution I haven't heard anyone else mention! Will have to think about that one. It certainly was popular in Mitcham where I used to live - lots of migrants and shift workers who couldn't afford cars!

  • [CB - 2nd female in 30s] Shit, that looks terrifying. Give me Hyde Park Corner, Hanger Lane or Silicon Roundabout in the rain any day. Eughh.

  • [AB - male in 40s] There's been something similar on a roundabout in Luton for a few years. Totally daft. No way is a car going to give way on a roundabout to a cyclist trying to trundle past. You can't import a Dutch design without also changing British driver's attitude to be like the Dutch. And sadly that's not going to happen.

  • [Me] The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the only chance of success is to change the liability laws to a presumption of error on the part of the driver. They have that in the Netherlands (indeed in much of the EU) but not here. I can't see that happening and all the cycling campaign groups seem squeamish about pushing for it.

  • [JA - female in 40s] To be able to see the cycle ring the cars will have to stop on the zebra crossing and to see the cars on the roundabout they will have to be stopped on the cycle ring. Long vehicles will be stopped on both.

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