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Fitzroy Street/Howland Street/Charlotte Street – local safety scheme
The Council intends to improve the pedestrian and cycle facilities
at the junction of Fitzroy Street / Howland Street / Charlotte Street, thereby reducing the number of accidents involving cyclists.
This junction has traffic signals, and a segregated westbound cycle lane runs along the southern side of Howland Street, which is one way westbound. All other roads are two-way. High numbers of pedestrians use this junction.
The Council says they are concerned that there are no dedicated crossing facilities for pedestrians (no push button to activate the “green man”) to cross all the roads except on the eastern arm of Howland Street.
In the 36 months to end of May 2006, there were six recorded accidents at this junction. Of these, three involved cyclists travelling west along the cycle lane on Howland Street who collided with vehicles turning left from Howland Street into Charlotte Street. One accident involved a
pedestrian walking into the path of an oncoming vehicle and two involved vehicles hitting the rear of other vehicles. Between the end of May 2006 and April 2007, there were no recorded accidents, however, the conflict between cyclists and vehicles still exists.
The Council would like to improve this junction by providing the following facilities (as shown on the attached drawing):
• New pedestrian crossing facilities across the junction of Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Street and Howland Street (west side) (At present, Howland Street (east) is the only arm of the junction with a ‘green man’ pedestrian crossing facility). This will allow pedestrians to
cross all four roads at the junction by activating the “green man “ signal and making all traffic come to a stop.
• A new cyclists’ stop area across Charlotte Street and Fitzroy Street This will allow cyclists to get ahead of vehicles waiting at the junction, improving their safety, as they will have a greater chance of being seen by drivers.
• Change the way the traffic signals operate by having separate traffic lights for vehicles and cyclists travelling on Howland Street (east) This will result in vehicles and cyclists being allowed to travel through the junction at different times, removing the conflict between
cyclists travelling ahead on Howland Street and vehicles turning left from Howland Street (east) into Charlotte Street.
Description of existing and proposed signal phases
This is the breakdown of the staging for the existing and proposed situations.
Cycle – 40 seconds
Number of Stages – 2
Stage 1 (north/south) – 10 seconds
Stage 2 (east to west) – 16 seconds (westbound cyclists included in this stage)
Cycle – 80 seconds
Number of Stages – 4
Stage 1 (north/south) – 13 seconds
Stage 2 (east to west vehicular) – 27 seconds
Stage 3 (east to west cyclists) – 6 seconds (cyclists turning into Charlotte St/Fitzroy St are included in this stage – only 2 cyclists were recorded turning right in the am peak
Stage 4 (pedestrians) – 5 seconds
The figures do not add up to the overall cycle time of the junction because the intergreens have not been included.
One days’ counts were carried out (but no date supplied).
Cyclists travelling on Howland Street
- ahead 592
- turning left 87
- turning right 4
- Although we are pleased that Camden want to do something for cyclists’ safety, we strongly oppose the proposal to reduce the green phase for cyclists from 16 seconds in every 40 to 6 seconds in every 80. To do this on such a busy and key route for cyclists is surely contrary to the purpose of the route, as well as impractical. It represents very low cyclist priority on a route that was supposed to have very high priority for cyclists and, in any case, cyclists will not wait for up to 74 seconds for a 6 second slot; they will either jump the lights or abandon the lane and go with the rest of the traffic, or both. The proposal will encourage cyclists to break the law and could result in more conflicts rather than fewer.
- As an alternative, we suggest an early green phase for cyclists, possibly subject to detection of cyclists by an induction loop, to allow those waiting to enter the junction before motor traffic sets off. The green phase for cyclists would then continue throughout the green phase for motor vehicles. This would also help those cyclists turning right at the junction and should alert motorists to the presence of cyclists. This could be coupled with improved road markings as in suggestion 3 below.
- If the early green for cyclists is ruled out, then leave the traffic lights as they are and concentrate on better road markings such as
elephants footprintsand signage. The accident statistics appear to be improving, and improved signage and markings should help continue this improvement.
CCC March 2008