A view from the cycle path)
Sunday, 16 February 2014
Before starting his own blog, Mark Wagenbuur made videos for some of my posts and then became a regular guest blogger here. Some of the blog posts and videos that he made for this blog are still quite popular.
In April 2011, Mark wrote a blog post in which he criticized a dangerous junction design suggested by the then new and claimed to be “state of the art” US NACTO design guide. I thought this to be a very good blog post. At that time we would discuss posts before publication and the only thing that I asked to be changed was that the article should include a reference to other types of junction such as the more modern simultaneous green design. That was added before anyone read the post.
Mark’s approximation of Dutch ideas
applied to a hypothetical US junction
seems to have been misinterpreted as
a design which should be copied.
Mark tried to demystify how traffic light junctions in the Netherlands worked and he sketched out how Dutch ideas could be applied to the mock-up American junction from NACTO in a video. The object was not to design a real junction. His approximation consisted of on-screen graphics based upon the dimensions of the original NACTO graphic in order to try to show that a safer type of junction could be built within the same dimensions.
Many people misinterpreted what Mark had written about and between us we wrote some additional notes which were added to the blog post in order to try to explain.
This confusion continued so Mark wrote a second post to follow the first a month later in an attempt to explain yet more misconceptions. This again included information about more modern solutions, referring to the simultaneous green design and the use of roundabouts instead of traffic lights.
Sadly, the confusion continues
I’ve re-read both of Mark’s blog posts and I still see nothing wrong as such with what he said. Perhaps the problem is what he didn’t say. Somehow people keep reading something other than what was written. Rather than seeing Mark’s sketch as an approximation of a Dutch junction created with the aim of dissuading NACTO from promoting a dangerous design, people now appear to be using his sketch as a design guide in itself.
At first sight, this looks remarkably
similar to Mark’s sketch: A design
proposed for Christchurch in New
Zealand, heralded as “safe”, but they
have misunderstood. Cyclists are not
supposed to stop at the same stop line
as cars and traffic lights need to be
positioned so that they are visible to
cyclists making the second part of a
right turn. Also, the geometry is wrong.
This would require sharp turns.
Versions of this junction “design” now pop up everywhere. They’ve even reached the opposite side of the planet.. Unfortunately, as the idea that this is somehow a good design has taken hold, many of the key points of the real design and of Mark’s argument were lost. What’s more, alternatives that are more common in the Netherlands, safer and more convenient for cycling are being ignored in favour of pursuing this one design.