LB Camden has been concerned for several years about the number of collisions involving cyclists in Royal College Street at the junctions of Pratt Street and Plender Street.
This spring, they commissioned Brian Deegan to carry out a feasibility study for making improvements. His report discusses safety issues in Royal College Street and then goes on to propose a solution. Although there is a 20 mph limit, speeds are closer to 30 mph, so speed reduction is important. After previous studies regarding safety of cyclists at the junctions, a number of measures were taken: flashing lights and signs about 2-way cycling as well as red surface on the approach and the raised tables at the junctions. In spite of these precautions, there were 12 collisions involving cyclists in the last three years including two serious ones. It was noted that southbound cyclists were the more vulnerable because drivers emerging from Pratt and Plender Street tended to look the other way. The report proposes to move southbound cyclists into a segregated contraflow track on the east side of the road. This will reduce carriageway width to one vehicle lane and should reduce speeds. It can be seen on our website.
Royal College Street Cycle track proposed changes (17th September)
At meetings with Camden officers during the summer we were shown drawings of the proposal as it developed and were able to provide input into its development. We presented a drawing at the Camden Cyclists meeting on 17th September. This drawing showed a segregated 1.5 m wide track on the east side of the road from Baynes Street as far as Crowndale Road. The existing track was narrowed north of College Place.
The signals would be removed at Royal College Street/Georgiana Street, allowing southbound cyclists to turn left immediately into the segregated track.
A new signal would be needed at the southern end and it was proposed that as an interim measure, cyclists would cross over via a ‘Give Way’ and rejoin the existing track at College Place.
Discussion identified the following problems:
i) Vehicles emerging from Pratt Street (west) and going straight across to Pratt Street (east) would not notice the contraflow cyclists on the other side of the road as they will have been looking for a gap in the traffic on their right. In addition, they will have gathered speed in crossing the road, so the impact of any collision would be worse.
Jean and George subsequently did a quick 30 minute survey (16:50 to 17:20 on 18th September) and got the following statistics:
Vehicles exiting from Pratt Street at Royal College Street (cars and motorcycles): Turning left into RCS: 48 Straight across into Pratt Street East: 19
They also observed driver behaviour and this confirmed the concerns; nearly all of the drivers proceeding straight ahead did not look left, and they would have had great difficulty in doing so, because they needed to keep their eyes continuously on the vehicle flow coming up RCS (which was almost continuous). George said: ‘Had I been driving one of those vehicles, I would have felt in a bind trying to avoid southbound cyclists on the opposite side while also avoiding the vehicles coming up RCS’.
ii) Concerning the southern end of the route. People didn’t like the right turn across Royal College Street by College Place and stated that the scheme should be delayed until a signal is in place to allow them to join the entrance to Goldington Street via the track normally accessed via the existing toucan. It was felt that an early crossing detracted from the continuity of the journey as well as to the safety currently provided by the Toucan crossing.
Other issues raised were:
– prevention of parking across the contraflow track by the entrances south of Pratt Street
– making the new track wider (to allow overtaking) within the constraints of road width. Note that the Dutch CROW standard would demand a 2m width.
Following the discussions at the September meeting, we contacted Brian Deegan regarding the safety issue at Pratt Street, the objections to SB cyclists having to cross over at College Place, parking over cross overs and to the narrow (1.5m width of the track).
Pratt Street issue
Brian wrote: I understand the concerns about drivers not seeing contrtaflow cyclists but it should be noted that the introduction of the contra flow track will take Royal College Street down to one running lane. This coupled with the replacement of cushions with sinusoidal road humps should reduce the speed of vehicles along Royal College Street so that the exit of Pratt Street West to East will not have to be so opportunistic and require aggressive acceleration. Also vehicles waiting at the junction will have a clear view of the cycle track on the opposite side of the road and one of the main aims of the scheme was to put cyclists in a position where they would be expected. We would argue that motorists are much more likely to see and anticipate them on the far side rather than the nearside at present which is the source of many of the accidents. The introduction of the contraflow cycle lane on Pratt Street east should also effectively narrow the road meaning that motorists will not have such a wide road to aim at and may take more time. The conspicuity of cyclists around this junction should be increased greatly and so motorists will have to make adjustments to look at for more than one stream of motorised traffic.
Meeting with Camden officers 9th October 2012
We met with Brian Deegan, John Futcher and Simi Shah. The meeting covered the following issues:
– Safety/collisions. They presented the issues with Royal College Street (12 collisions involving cyclists in 3 years, failure of motorists to obey 20 mph limit..) and outlined the proposal (to narrow the roadway to a single lane and to put SB cyclists on the east side of the road. We commented on the detailed portrayals of the collisions in the diagram on page 20 of Brian’s report; pointing out that if half of them were due to road users making illegal moves, then they were not valid evidence as to the need to make radical changes. They said that the diagrams often contain nonsense due to police mixing up north/south. After some arguments, we accepted the need to make changes. They a argued that closing Pratt/Plender was not an option.
– Track widths. Brian Deegan presented a diagram comparing two options:
- Option A (full segregation – i.e with 0.7m kerb)
- Road width 10 m = cycle lane 1.5m; kerb 0.7 m; NB vehicle lane 3.6m; parking bay 2m; kerb 0.7m; cycle lane 1.5m
- Option B (light segregation – i.e with 0.2m separator e.g. studs, strips)
- Road width 10 m = cycle lane 2m; separator 0.2 m; NB vehicle lane 3.6m; parking bay 2m; separator 0.2m; cycle lane 2m
We rejected the 1.5m lanes as it would be impossible to overtake. But we said that we could not commit that cyclists would accept the lighter form of segregation. They suggested a survey of cyclists on the route as well as the consultation.
Brian is looking into options, for example an alternation of cats eyes and rubber strips. See the photo on the right for an example of a rubber strip. We pointed out that a good white line should also be painted to ensure the meaning is ‘mandatory’. See photos of examples of lightweight segregation.
– SB cyclists having to cross over at College Place. We argued that such a crossing would be unsafe and like a give-way and that cyclists should be able to cross at the signal over into the existing route via the north end of Goldington Street. Officers agreed this would be feasible and Brian promised to amend his drawings.
– safety issue at Pratt Street We had been convinced by the earlier email from Brian. But we asked that if the safety audit following the building of the scheme showed the dangers still exist then Pratt St east should be reversed in direction.
There will be a consultation, but we will also be shown some alternative possibilities for use as the segregating strip.