Simon MacMichael December 4 2017
A report published today by the London Assembly’s Transport Committee says that cyclists should be allowed to turn left at traffic lights when they are on red, and has also urged Transport for London (TfL) to trial 20mph speed limits on main roads and at busy junctions in outer London to protect vulnerable road users.
Called Hostile Streets – Walking and Cycling at Outer London Junctions, the report highlights how the design of many junctions in the city’s outer boroughs prioritises motor vehicles and makes people of travelling to work or school or going to the shops on foot or on a bike.
Among the issues highlighted are poorly thought our cycle lanes that mean riders are forced to share the junction with motorised traffic, and inaccessibility of many junctions to wheelchair users.
The report also highlighted how major junctions can divide communities as well as forcing people to use a car for short trips due to the intimidating prospect of having to cross busy junctions on foot.
According to TfL statistics, three in four of the 9,718 pedestrian and cyclist injuries in London during 2016 took place at a junction. They were also the location of seven in 10 of the 1,287 incidents that resulted in the death of or serious injury to a vulnerable road user.
Among the report’s recommendations are:
TfL should look beyond collisions data and consider potential to increase walking and cycling when selecting junctions to improve.
TfL should review the speed limits on all its roads in line with its new Healthy Streets check.
Whilst on site carrying out standard and major roadworks, TfL and its contractors should check and resolve critical safety issues for pedestrians and cyclists.
It also called for a trial of the approach adopted in a number of continental countries where cyclists are permitted to turn right (equivalent to a left-hand turn in the UK) when traffic lights are red, which has also been urged by British Cycling under its Turning the Corner campaign, launched earlier this year.
Green Party Assembly Member Caroline Russell, who sits on the Transport Committee and drew up the report, said: “The reality our investigation uncovered, is that many roads in outer London sever communities and are hostile places for people getting about on foot and by bike.
“While I’m pleased to see walking and cycling is at the forefront of the Mayor’s Healthy Streets approach and draft Transport Strategy, there is a lot to be done in outer London where most of the untapped potential lies.
“In recent years most of the Mayor’s funding has been spent in inner and central London and decisions around new road schemes have prioritised car use and inappropriately high-speed limits have been all too common.
“If the Mayor is going to meet his target to get 80 per centof journeys made by walking, cycling and public transport by 2041, he must make it safer and more convenient to walk and cycle.
“This means changing the culture at TfL and prioritising people, not cars, on London’s streets.”
Chris Boardman, British Cycling policy adviser commented: “When cycling and walking is prioritised, it becomes safer and a more attractive option.
“More people that are enabled to complete short journeys by foot or on their bike rather than behind the wheel of a car is the most positive step we can take towards a long-term reduction in congestion on our roads.”
The report reflected the view of the majority of the committee, on which 10 Assembly Members sit – four Labour, three Conservative and one each from the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and UKIP.
Conservative Assembly Members disagreed with some recommendations and in particular the proposed trial of 20 mile an hour speed limits and cyclists being able to turn left at a red light.
UKIP also failed to support either of those recommendations, as well as the one calling on TfL to look at the potential for cycling and walking, and not just collision data, when reviewing junctions.