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Dangerous Junctions

Junctions are the most hostile and dangerous points for cycling. It’s why we campaign to make taming the worst and enabling better designs a priority.

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LCC’s Dangerous Junctions campaign

LCC has been campaigning around junctions for many years. We’ve protested at Bank, Bow and more. We recently ran a major protest at Holborn at the junction of Southampton Row and Theobalds Road where Dr Marta Krawiec, a 41 year old, popular children’s doctor was recently killed, and following the protest, handed to Caroline Pidgeon MBE, in the London Assembly, a petition of over 7,500 signatures calling for rapid action on every dangerous junction in London. The junction that Dr Krawiec was killed at, as is so often the case, was known to be lethally dangerous for years prior to the fatal collision in August 2021. Yet nothing was done, despite promises, and even funding. And even now, Dr Krawiec’s death has thus far resulted in one temporary (and very welcome) change to the junction. A very partial fix.

It is time to recognise that while each of our protests have won action and change on the lethal junctions we have gathered at, there is a systemic issue that has now dogged multiple Mayors over decades in terms of rapid and bold action on what are the biggest risks to those who currently walk and cycle and the biggest barriers to more people embracing active travel.

LCC’s campaigning work during Boris Johnson’s tenure as London Mayor resulted in his “Better Junctions” programme, which has now become Sadiq Khan’s “Safer Junctions” programme. As a result of our work, some of the biggest and nastiest junctions in London have seen action – iconic and infamous junctions such as Highbury Corner, Bow and Archway have schemes because of LCC. And both Mayors have recognised the real issue junctions represent. But for the handful of junctions that have seen really good fixes, we can see hundreds more, known to be lethally dangerous for years, even decades, left untouched, and the majority of Better or Safer junction schemes completed have been very partial – one arm, one turning movement, one part of a junction, but not the whole thing.

It’s not just the weakness of schemes, the dangerous parts often left in – the pace of progress on junctions is also lethally slow. Even after a fatality, it can be years before we see even a partial fix, if one comes at all. Why is the pace and boldness of progress so far from what they need to be? It’s still far too common that concerns about motor traffic congestion, and buses getting caught in that congestion, are trumping the need for good, protected junction designs.

It’s also too common that stakeholders such as boroughs or landowners and property developers seem to have far more sway over junction design than safety. And this has continued under a Mayor, Sadiq, who has pledged under his “Vision Zero” approach to eliminate all serious and fatal collisions on London’s roads in 20 years. This will never happen unless we can dramatically accelerate the roll out of far safer junction designs.

What we are asking for

We want TfL, the Mayor and boroughs to put an end to junctions that TfL and the DfT under its new LTN 1/20 guidance rates as featuring “critical” fails and put safety above motor traffic flow. And we want all stakeholders to move fast and be bold. The “Streetspace” response to the Covid crisis on our streets saw a rapid and bold rollout of trial walking and cycling schemes using temporary materials. That approach isn’t always available at junctions – but recent improvements at Holborn’s Southampton Row and Theobald’s Row junction following the fatal collision with Dr Krawiec has shown it often is.

TfL, the Mayor and the boroughs must sweep aside the systemic barriers slowing and weakening progress and rapidly prioritise the worst junctions for not just urgent (and temporary/trial if necessary) improvements, but full ones that cover every walking and cycling movement, every arm, remove every “critical” fail.

What is needed

In order to make junctions far safer, what is needed is to build junctions that separate those cycling and walking from turning drivers – drivers shouldn’t be turning left across cyclists going ahead, and pedestrians need green person signals on all arms to cross safely. On top of that, we need to give more time on signals to walking and cycling – we know those walking and cycling largely don’t wait for minutes at a junction before they move – so we need to cut wait times and ensure enough capacity for those modes. We also need to build junctions, including side road turnings for calm interactions – the Dutch build roundabouts for slow movement and good sightlines, on ours we splay entry and exit arms so drivers can move on and off faster.

We need to use more “Hold The Left” designs at signalised junctions, but also more of what Manchester is dubbing “CYCLOPS” designs, originally trialled in the UK on Waltham Forest’s mini-Holland schemes on Lea Bridge Road (and Argall Way and Orient Way) and at Blackhorse Road tube. And we need to use more trial schemes such as the new island that separates ahead and left-turning motor traffic at Theobald’s Road/Southampton Way.

What LCC will do next

Keep an eye out for more work on junctions. We’ll be keeping the pressure on the Mayor and boroughs to act, we’ll be highlighting the worst junctions and presenting expert-backed tools and approaches to fixing them faster. Sign up below to keep up to date and please consider donating to our current appeal to help us deliver key campaigning outcomes including:

  • Individual campaigns to target the most dangerous junctions for immediate action.
  • Work with consultants to identify quick, affordable solutions for the most lethal junctions.
  • Develop tools to show politicians and decision makers how junctions can be fixed faster.
  • Widen the campaign to identify the most dangerous junctions in outer London as well as inner, and spot junctions that fall outside the current criteria, but are dangerous.
  • Create an interactive map showing dangerous cycling locations.

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