Wednesday, 19 October 2011

TfL at Kings Cross: plans for safer cycling much delayed and almost pointless. They won't make a difference. Time that TfL changed its tune and caught up with New York

Yesterday, Tom Edwards at the BBC covered the death of another cyclist, crushed by an HGV at Kings Cross. It's an excellent video and you can watch it here.

If you scroll right to the end of the piece you'll hear the TfL representative (Garrett Emmerson, chief operating officer of Streets) talking about how TfL is consulting on schemes to represent the needs of 'all road users' and 'deliver schemes on site very soon'.

What are those schemes? Well, those are shown in detailed maps on this PDF here. I wouldn't get too excited. They consist of a couple of advance stop lines and some tactile paving.

What does the 'needs of ALL road users' mean? I think it means the junction will be designed, just like every other central London junction. It will be designed to 'smooth the flow' of motor vehicles and some paint will be put on the road so that you can stop in front of the HGVs at the traffic lights. Which is seemingly what another woman who was run over by an HGV yesterday did at London Bridge. And the HGV seems to have just driven straight into her, nearly killing her.

Typical bike lane in New York
It's taken four years of obfuscation just to get a handful of advanced stop lines at Kings Cross. During that same period, New York has built 250 miles of bicycle lanes, most of which are kept apart from motor vehicle lanes.

Compare and contrast: a) New York implements wide, separate paths for cycling with separate phases at traffic lights. b) In the same period, TfL builds four Super Highways which consist of bus lanes, some blue paint and almost no thinking about how to keep motor vehicles and cyclists separate at junctions. And it takes four years to deliberate about putting in a few advanced stop lines at Kings Cross.

The TfL spokesman actually continues to say he thinks that a three year time period 'is a pretty typical time' period to build a few small changes like this. Three years to build three advanced stop lines?

TfL doesn't seem to get it. What people want is proper, safe facilities for cycling. Especially at junctions. At places like Kings Cross, Blackfriars, Vauxhall, Oval. There seems to be a swing among more and more people who are realising that cycling isn't about using the roads the same way as a motor vehicle. And that at junctions, the flow of cycle traffic should be kept apart from the flow of motor traffic. At junctions in particular.

TfL thinks that by putting some advanced stop lines at the junction that will sort things out. It won't. It won't make the junction any safer than the advanced stop lines at Blackfriars or at Vauxhall. Or at London Bridge.

Have a look at this video, first featured yesterday on Vole O'Speed's blog. It's fascinating. It shows the evolution of one bridge, how it goes from London-style 'designed for all road users', ie for motor vehicles, to 'designed for each type of road user'. They're very different concepts.  Towards the end, the commentator makes one very important point:

'This way no flow of traffic interferes with the flow of another type of traffic', says the commentator. 

Transport for London doesn't understand this exact point. New York does. Paris does. Berlin and Frankfurt do. Rotterdam does. In London, the Mayor and his Transport for London bureaucrats choose not to. I think there's every case for increasing the heat on TfL and the Mayor about this.

If you want to contribute to changing Transport for London and the Mayor's minds, spend two minutes reading about Kings Cross here and adding your story about why you hate cycling there.


  1. I'm getting so fed up with reading about the incompetence of TfL, that I'm getting a slowly greater urge to lie down on the road or outside the TfL offices randomly.

    The unfortunate problem if I did that is it would probably would just be me getting arrested rather the people allowing corporate manslaughter to happen on our roads.

    I wonder if there is a way of wording an FOI to find out why TfL reject segregating cyclists from other motor traffic on main roads as happens elsewhere.

  2. Kings Cross: community wants changes. Four years for TfL to think about putting in some ASLs.

    Blackfriars: Network Rail wants changes. Six months for TfL to ignore two consultations, three community protests and a vote in the London Assembly.

  3. "I'm getting so fed up with reading about the incompetence of TfL, that I'm getting a slowly greater urge to lie down on the road or outside the TfL offices randomly."

    sadly that was just the kind of protest I was thinking of this morning… really need something visible to express disgust at unaccountable TFL… laying down bikes en masse in the road in front of TFL was my thought too.

    What about a flash ride at Kings Cross to block that junction for a bit?

  4. Wish I was down in London (OK, not really), I'd be down there in a shot to protest this with you. How much do those idiots get paid to put a few lines on the road? Meanwhile people are getting killed by psychopaths in lorries.

  5. Iam Dutch born and have lived in the UK for over fourty years.I have visited family in Rotterdam and Assen the Netherlands.I enjoyed cycling with my brother in Assen and it was a safe experience.I am male and 62 years.Cycling in the UK is a dangerous bussiness and it has to change.Boris Johnson in my opinion talks the talk lets wait and see if he has any guts to make the changes.