Saturday 14 January 2012

Smile - it could be worse...

... and then I smiled and it steadily got worse...

Not only have we the insipid Bow Roundabout design from TfL - one that delays cyclists twice as long as other traffic yet gives them barely any extra protection anyway -  but there appears to be even more bad news.

I was reading a blog on the Bow Flyover by "Over The Hills and Faraway",  which was commenting on the proposed Bow Flyover changes. (I am reading all I can about the changes in the hope that TfL are actually playing an early April Fools joke and I have missed the announcement that they were only kidding, and will, of course, be implementing something half reasonable.)

So imagine my concern when I read in the blog:

The Highway Authority for the Bow Roundabout Flyover and the road immediately to the east of the roundabout (Stratford High Street) is the London Borough of Newham. TfL has commenced discussions with Newham to seek approval where changes to accommodate these options may be required on their roads.

So, decisions to implement the flyover plan will rest with Newham council. Remember them? Yes, the  oligarchy run by Sir Robin Wales - the mayor who hates cycling enough to block the Cycle superhighway extending to the games for the Olympics (although they say they can look at it after the games - yeah, great). The mayor that banned the woodcraft folk, from a council cabinet meeting because they were going to protest about the laughable cycling facilities in the borough. I mean he actually barred the woodcraft folk! Maybe the council cabinet were too busy polishing all those chandeliers...

So it is probably fair to say that if you are a cyclist who needs to negotiate the Bow junction... well we are truly f*ck*d.

Call me Nostradamus if you wish, but I have some predictions for the future of cycling at the Bow Flyover:

TfL will implement the bow roundabout "early start" cycle "facility" as is, despite protests from cyclists and cycling groups. Meanwhile the Bow flyover plan will fall into the pit of despair that is Nehwam council's transport department, never to be seen again. Or maybe it will end up in cubicle 3 of the bathroom facilities, where its absorbency qualities are thoroughly tested...

Meanwhile motorists will continue to disregard the bow roundabout ASLs - especially since the traffic will be queueing at peak times anyway and no-one ever polices ASLs - so even the minuscule advantage given to cyclists with the scheme will be lost. Cyclists will get royally p*ssed off waiting twice as long as the motorists at the junction in order to be left hooked anyway, and will decide to jump the filter lights or ignore the filter lane altogether. Near misses will continue. People will complain. Police will clamp down at the junction - not at ASL encroaching motorists - but by fining cyclists not availing themselves of the magnificent facilities bestowed by TfL. Meanwhile TfL will put on their worried face again and drivel on about "cycle training" and the London Mayor will explain how he has absolutely no issues with the junction, positively enjoys it, and is stunned that anyone "with their wits about them" would have a problem. Most cyclists will continue ignoring the lethal roundabout and negotiate their way onto, and over, the flyover with absolutely no help from the road layout at all. TfL will announce the cost of the scheme implementation, which will be at least three times as much as any reasonable person could conceive it could possibly cost. Since computer modelling to ensure motor vehicles aren't inconvenienced in the slightest costs serious wedge. And then everyone carries on as normal with TfL slipping their time-scale for 5% model share by another 20 years, and hoping that some more promotional videos with minor celebrities will get everyone leaping on their cycles.


  1. It will be hell on wheels. Drivers will be livid that cyclists aren't using the facilities put in place for them, cyclists will be livid that the facilities are dangerous, someone in control of large amounts of metal will lose their temper and someone else will die.

    Again, and again, and again.

    And TfL will basically go "ooops. More driver and cyclist education is what we need here, clearly, here, have a big sign telling drivers to look out for cyclists."

    1. The more I think about it, the more I believe it will be an utter disaster. The only solution are proper cycle only lights - which could also resolve the pedestrian issue by having a green pedestrian light for the A12 slips (where cyclists aren't allowed I think). I will continue using the flyover I guess.

      (Like your blog BTW!)

    2. They need to get the cycle superdeathway off the road so it's segregated from traffic and put toucans at all entry and exit roads on the roundabout. If it delays traffic, too bad.

      The pedestrian footfall round there is increasing due to new builds and conversions. It is absurd that people take the bus one stop because the junction is too hazardous to negotiate on foot.

      (thank you!)

  2. Hello from small town Canada. I have looked at the photos and studied the plans and I will say without qualification:After seeing what you poor buggers go through in "Jolly Olde" (no offense intended my brothers in arms), I will NEVER complain about the situation in my neck of the woods again! I am shocked and nearly catatonic at the extraordinarily casual approach taken by those in positions of power. "Another dead cyclist? Oh dear thats too bad. Will the bloodstains be faded by the Olympics?" I have no more words just "I'm so sorry" :(

    1. Cycling in London isn't bad. With the huge amounts of traffic things tend not to be going too fast in general, and most drivers are fine. The real problem are difficult junctions like Bow, and the complete inability for TfL and local councils to see beyond trying to minimise traffic delays - including compromising safety on junctions which have already been shown to be problematic. What really winds me up (maybe you have noticed?!) is the utter hypocrisy of organisations like TfL that "encourage" cycling with little videos and other crap, write reams of documents about "modal share" aspirations etc. but actually don't want to do anything on the ground except wish it better.
      Even so, in London, there are few better options (in terms of speed and convenience) for local journeys than cycling, a pity that this isn't encouraged by those who own the roads.