Thursday, 4 October 2012

Doing the simple things well with road design for cyclists

Below is a picture of Storey's Way, Cambridge (googlemap street view:,0.107503&spn=0.017303,0.0318&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=47.483365,65.126953&hnear=Cambridge,+United+Kingdom&t=m&layer=c&cbll=52.213776,0.104975&panoid=-l2D8TEtu8I4pkMgJsVPPg&cbp=12,20.89,,0,1&z=15)

Cycling right-turn cycle safety box outside Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

The very simple cycle 'box' painted on the road provides greatly increased safety to any cyclists turning right here. Drivers on both sides of the road are alerted to the potential presence of a cyclist by the red paint on the road and cyclists are therefore much less likely to get hit by a vehicle while waiting to turn right.

Moreover, this kind of cycle infrastructure costs virtually nothing; it's just some red paint, a white cycle sign, and some chevrons.

What is surprising though is that this kind of street layout is still a comparatively rare sight in the UK.

Equivalent situation street design in London (Ladbroke Grove). The road is blocked with paving in the middle, but no effort has been made to make this permeable for cyclists or to use the road space which is being taken up anyway to provide a safe box for cyclists turning right. I imagine this design was put in during the 80s.

It's up to all of us to help inform our local planning officials and let them know about the little things like this which can make a cyclists journey so much safer and are so easy to implement!

(Obviously much bigger elements of cycle infrastructure are crucially important too. But it really does surprise me how many local planning officials would - if they knew it existed - be happy to implement smaller elements of cycle infrastructure like the cycle-box in the first photo. It's our job to make them better informed so we don't get more of the second photo.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi George, I really must comment on your post about the cycle "safety box" at the Fitzwilliam and New Hall: I used to use it as I too thought it was a good idea. But I had to stop after two incidents when a car making the turn towards Churchill College (coming out of the picture) while cut the corner too tight and headed straight for me. On each of these occasions it was broad day light (lunch time) and the driver saw me with only a couple of meters to spare. Both times the driver made the turn while apparently admiring these very modern college buildings.

    I now stay in my lane (not the bike lane) and wait for traffic to clear before making the turn. This may annoy drivers behind me, but it seems far safer.

    Why doesn't this safety box work?
    * It's too narrow. A driver making an error in the turn can easily drive over the box.
    * Shoddy driving skills.

    Anyway, great posts.