Letter from Joanna Alker and Dave Stewart:
I am writing to gain CCC’s comments on a proposed alteration to the SW corner of Gordon Square.
As you are aware, this junction is a concern for the council, as we are informed that collisions and
near misses between cyclists and turning vehicles are recurrent, although they are rarely reported
to the police.
Since the introduction of the E-W cycle track, this junction has been regularly reviewed, with
alterations carried out to try and improve safety for cyclists and awareness to drivers. The
following modification is more significant as it actually takes the priority away from the cyclist.
Although this goes against our policy, we feel that further alterations of the existing design will not
make any significant improvement, and a complete rethink is necessary.
I appreciate that CCC may not welcome this design in the sense of cycle priority and speed, so
please try to concentrate your comments to the issue to increasing cycle safety and driver
Please note that due to movements of large vehicles at this junction, it is not possible to narrow the
mouth of Gordon Square any further. Also we are not considering the removal of this 2-way cycle
track at this time.
Please also take a look at the improvements suggested for access into Malet Street.
All comments and any alternative suggestions for both schemes will be considered.
I have included a sketch plan of the proposals,
plus a plan of the existing layout, for you to present
to your members. Please can we have any feedback returned to us before the end of July 2009.
If you require any further information, please contact, Joanna Alker, on the number above.
Junction at South West Corner of Gordon Square
This junction has had many modifications which were intended to enhance safety but there still are many collisions between vehicles and cyclists. We agree that further changes are required to make the junction safer. We understand that the majority of the collisions occur when a cyclist and a right turning vehicle are proceeding in the same direction along the south side of Gordon Square. We note also that the junction at the south east corner of Gordon Square has similar problems, but on a smaller scale.
Summary of responses from survey
We carried out an on-site survey on 24th July from 4-6pm, resulting in 44 responses. The questionnaire and an analysis of the responses are attached separately. We also carried out an online survey between 23rd June and 22nd July: the 23 responses produced similar results.
- over 85% said it was unacceptable to do nothing
- over 75% said it was unacceptable to introduce Give-Ways for cyclists on the cycle track
- over 65% said they think introducing Give-Ways would be dangerous because cyclists would not expect to give way to cars
- over 50% said (if Give Ways are introduced) they would stop using the cycle track and use the road instead
- over 75% are in favour of forbidding motor vehicle entry into Gordon Square from Torrington Place
- over 80% are against removing facility altogether
- considering making the cycle track eastbound only:
over 75% said it was acceptable to ride in a westbound segregated track on the other side of the road
and 58% said it was acceptable to ride with general traffic westbound
CCC’s position on Give Ways, following the survey
In your letter, you have proposed that cyclists should Give Way “in the same way as pedestrians”. However, the Highway Code Rule 170 says “watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way”. Therefore, we’re not sure exactly how that is going to change the situation from the present where cyclists should have priority.
Although we would not rely too heavily on comments from a small sample of cyclists at Byng Place we do feel that the above results back up our objection to the introduction of Give Ways and indicate that many cyclists will prefer to ride in the road, in which case they will be at a disadvantage due to lack of space and drivers thinking they should be in the track.
Furthermore, the London Cycling Design Standards (4.1.4) says:
Cyclists expect to have the same priority as general traffic moving in the same direction. Cycle lanes or tracks should not be introduced where they result in disbenefits to cyclists such as a loss of priority or time penalties. TfL research confirms such facilities remain unused and the investment has been wasted.
The same standard should be applied to the modification of existing facilities as would be applied to installation of new facilities.
⁃ Southbound vehicles on Gordon Square will be waiting over the cycle track as they give way, potentially causing a blockage, or requiring cyclists to weave round them with a poor view of the right turning vehicles coming over the cycle track
⁃ Fast cyclists may run into the back of cyclists who Give Way – and may be involved in a collision when taking avoiding action.
⁃ There is still scope for cyclists making mistakes, e.g. with those who give way being unsure when to start up again.
⁃ The junction at the south east corner of Gordon Square is similar; might the differences cause confusion?
We therefore think it likely that the introduction of Give Ways will lead to just as many, if not more, conflict accidents. The difference being that they will all be blamed on the cyclists for not giving way!
CCC’s position on other solutions
Our clear preference is for the banning of turns from Torrington Place. If this is not possible, then we would recommend the removal of westbound cycling to the other side of the road.
The only safe way to retain the two-way cycle track and deal with this junction is to stop motor vehicles turning north across the cycle track. If motor vehicles are forbidden north-bound entry into Gordon Square, they can enter the area via the east side of Tavistock Square and Endsleigh Place or Endsleigh Gardens (both routes would allow taxis to get to Melton Street).†
As a last resort, and failing other solutions, we would propose the conversion of the cycle track to one-way eastbound, with westbound cyclists using the main carriageway.
Crossing over Byng Place
We are pleased that this drawing recognises the need for cyclists to cross over Byng Place before entering Malet Street. However we would like to see a more detailed design: a mere dropped kerb is not adequate. The current unmarked raised pedestrian crossing with islands works well because it can be seen as a barrier by drivers. The angle of the left turn into Malet Street should be modified to enable to comfortable left turn.
Jean Dollimore, Stefano Casalotti, John Chamberlain, Meade McCloughan.
† This idea is not new: it was explored by Camden Council as part of the Bloomsbury Clear Zone in 2003. ( see our record at).