Pedestrianise London

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Going Dutch in Parliament Square

Today sees the launch of the LCC’s Go Dutch campaign, something which I whole heartedly support and is a long time overdue. Along with a place to pledge your support, they have two more great visualisations of how parts of London could be, one being of parliament square.

These visualisations are brilliant. They show in simple terms that anyone can understand how great our streetscape could be, not just for cyclists but for all people getting around town.

So although I agree with the campaign and like what the LCC are doing, I am a little disappointed by the lack of ambition and “Dutchness” in the visualised design of the square. Obviously, the design is much better than the 5 lane roundabout that currently exists, here’s my list of bugbears:

  • ASLs, lots of ASLs. As have been often pointed out ASLs are dangerous for cyclists as they promote left-hook danger and many less confident cyclists won’t move out to the right when turning for fear of cars rushing away from the lights. The Dutch have phased out ASLs and only use them on access road junctions where traffic is low and there’s no room for separate paths.
  • ASLs also get encroached by cars and lorries, making them useless to cyclists. The problem is repeater traffic lights across the junction or ahead of the stop line that enable the lights still to be seen by drivers even when they have crossed the stop line. In Holland, there are no repeater lights, and as a result, vehicles always stop before the stop line.
  • The junction designs offer no protection for cyclists. Once at the junction, the cycle lanes vanish unless you are going straight on against the curb (where the lane is superfluous anyway). Junctions like these are very un-Dutch, instead protected lanes would be provided around the junction and the light phases for each direction of motor and bicycle traffic synchronised.

So with some quick and dodgy editing, I’ve updated the LCC visualisation with the way the Dutch would design it.

As you can see, at the tricky parts (the junctions), bicycles and pedestrians are totally separate from motor traffic, and yet it takes up no more room than before, all we’ve done is lost the central lane divider and given the space to protect the bike lanes.

For example, as a cyclist coming from the bottom of the picture (Victoria Street), you can turn left along the side of the square without having to stop at any lights (but having to give way to crossing pedestrians and cycles coming from the right) and without having to worry about left turning vehicles due to the curbing. Then turning right into Bridge Street we stop in the dedicated waiting area to the left of the junction for the cycle lights to change in unison with the right turn motor traffic lights while the straight on motor traffic heading into Parliament Street is held at red so there is no conflict.

Lets hope that not only does the campaign gain huge support from London cyclists and others alike, help push for change by the Mayor and TFL, but also strive for going the whole hog, going 100% Dutch, and not a watered down British version that requires huge changes but not the truly required benefits.

Read on to see how traffic flow should be controlled through this junction.