Friday, 21 October 2011

12 November: A tour of Transport for London's 10 most dangerous junctions for cycling in central London - in honour of Elephant & Castle roundabout

Elephant & Castle master plan. Cycling around here is not
going to get any easier

Today is the last day of the public consultation to transform the Heygate Estate at Elephant & Castle.

Pictured left, is a picture from the Concept Masterplan on display today and showing facilities for cycling around the northern junction at Elephant.

As a colleague pointed out, you will have to cross eight lanes to go from south to east. Eight lane changes. On a bicycle. Surrounded by HGVs, buses, minicabs all weaving around you, undertaking, overtaking.

Here's what Peter Hendy, London Transport Commissioner said earlier this month about how Transport for London designs London's roads these days:

"cycling is now part of transport planners' 21st century lexicon of solutions for improving urban spaces - giving town and city centres back to the people as shared and green space, instead of more roads for more cars, 'bringing the village back into the city'".

Well that's clearly pure wishful thinking in south London. Elephant & Castle is THE top danger spot for cycling in London. And it looks like it's not going to get any better. Ever.

Southwark Council decided in 2002 that the only way to improve the Elephant and Castle was to remove the physical barriers blighting the area by resolving the following points:

•a community physically divided by the area’s layout;
•heavy volumes of traffic;
•high levels of pollution;

In other words, time to get rid of the killer roundabout. But if this is anything to go by, then nothing is going to change.

I have decided a ride around London's top 10 killer junctions is in order. I am asking as many people as possible to join me. It is an informal ride, to take in these horrific junctions we all have to cycle through every day and to stop and take photographs and film just how awful they are.

I don't really fancy taking on the might of Transport for London's killer road designs all on my own. So I am asking for people to join me. I hope perhaps 40-50 people will turn up.

If you fancy joining, here are the details:

A tour of Transport for London's 10 most dangerous junctions for cycling in central London - in honour of Elephant & Castle roundabout

10.30am Saturday 12 November

Meet by the stairs at the front of St. Mark's Church, The Oval, Kennington, SE11 4PW

And we'll take in the following sites, en route to a late lunch for those so inclined finishing up at Clerkenwell.

Further info?

It won't be a massive distance and I suspect we may stop regularly to enjoy the quality cycling infrastructure, take photographs and films that show just how hazardous these junctions are. The purpose is to highlight that Transport for London isn't 'bringing the village back into the city'. Transport for London is building massive obstacles to people cycling in the city.

1. St. George's Road/London Road/ Elephant & Castle Junction Southwark
2. Clapham Road/ Kennington Park Road/ Camberwell Road Junction
3. Strand/Northumberland Avenue/Whitehall Junction
4. Waterloo Road/ Stamford St/ York Road Junction
5. Mansion House St/Princes St/ Threadneedle St
6. Elephant & Castle/Newington Butts Roundabout
7. Hyde Park Corner Westminster
8. Millbank/Lambeth Bridge Junction
9. Clerkenwell Road/Farringdon Road Junction (via Kings Cross)
10. Albert Embankment/Kennington Lane/ Wandsworth Road Junction


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  2. I go through this junction frequently and I hate it. My route goes from North East to South and vice versa. This redesign offers no improvement to the current situation.

    The only way to get through this junction at present is to aggressively control an entire lane, blocking all following traffic behind, and to get out of there as soon as possible.

  3. Albert Embankment, Kennington Lane, Wandsworth Road is Vauxhall Cross, I assume.

  4. This is a great idea; a chance to highlight the worst junctions in the city, as well as actually ride them safely in a group and meet other people who also care about this issue. I'll be there!

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  5. bloody hell

    i was wondering where i'd seen that roundabout before, and then i realised, it's remarkably like this:,-0.508896&spn=0.002754,0.006201&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=21.48829,50.800781&vpsrc=6&hnear=Heathrow,+Hounslow,+Greater+London,+United+Kingdom&t=h&z=18

    yes, people, they're importing the m25 to lambeth

  6. This is an excellent idea. I'll be there.

  7. I'm really struggling to see how traveling south to east means crossing eight lanes of traffic. Just two, surely, on the exit from the main body of the roundabout?

  8. Interesting idea. I'll try to come along to this. I cross the E&C junction on my daily commute, at the moment it's not too bad coming from the south to the north (the road up to London Bridge), but going back south again in the evening, I have to admit it's pretty ridiculous. You basically have to get next to a bus or a van, wait until they push forward to cut across the traffic, and then madly cycle in its shadow - with the obvious danger that if you can't keep up with the bus, someone already on the roundabout (who has presumably been cut up by the bus) will speed round the back of the bus and hit you.

  9. My friend Laura did a similar ride when she was writing this article:

    She said she felt pretty ill by the end after breathing in all the fumes

    gas masks might be a good idea...

  10. We have to remember that if cyclists do not feel confident enough riding around the E&C roundabout, there are safe cycle paths that exist in the quiet streets around it, meaning you can completely cut it out if you want to - it takes longer, but that's a small price to pay for safety.

  11. This is great. I will try to be there.

    @Jon: Safety is key, for sure. But people will always want to take major arteries, whether they’re in a 4x4 or on a bike as they’re often the most direct route. I used to regularly get myself lost wheedling down the Euston Road in side streets because I couldn’t face the madness. The positives of this is that I still get to my destination quicker than I would have done in a car, and I get to traverse parts of the city that I was previously unaware of. However, if we want London to be truly cycle friendly we can’t expect every cyclist to be an intrepid psychogeographer with plenty of time on their hands. The majority of commuters and tourists want to navigate a city with ease and convenience which necessarily means sticking to the main roads. Safety is certainly top priority but shouldn’t obfuscate other issues which are almost equally as important. Addressing both motorists’ concerns and cyclists’ concerns somewhere in the middle will require a bit of give and take certainly, but I don’t think we should be compromising on such important points when there are, or could be, perfectly viable solutions.

  12. Make the cars take the longer route, don't punish cyclists.

  13. Fantastic idea - will try and come along.

  14. I'm surprised the Aldwych end of the Strand isn't on your list - coming round Aldwych trying to get to Waterloo Bridge is a nightmare of busses and taxis crossing over.

  15. im on it
    and ill have my camera in situ!

  16. Think I've managed to get this OK'd with the missus so count me in! Will have the helmet cam so can get footage of each junction :-) Done about 80% already however this is my first time on Hyde Park Corner - should be a piece of cake after tackling E&C so often ;-)

  17. I too am 80% certain to be coming as well. Thankfully i don't have to commute and only ride on the roads for "pleasure". However I too am finding the traffic, especially at dangerous junctions, Marble Arch, Hammersmith and Swiss Cottage getting worse.

  18. I pass elephant and castle everyday on my commute but have only gone around the roundabout at most 5 times. There are routes to avoid it, that can actually be quicker, and are of course safer. What is needed is better sign posting telling cyclists where the back routes are, and how to use them to get around it. Elephant and castle will always be a nightmare junction. You have so many roads meeting. Yes it does need improving, but integrating cycle lanes I don't think is the answer.

  19. Manchester Carry Commissioner said earlier this month about how Carry for Manchester designs London's roads these days.

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