Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Rights of passage.

This is simply to add to Deptford Dame's blog post about a very dangerous junction.  I've seen a number of near misses and come across scary accounts from cycling forums.  I've even seen a copy of an email from TfL which appears to explain why this dangerous junction exists:

''We have considered changes to signal timings but we found this to be detrimental to overall junction capacity''

Actually, this statement is a little misleading - it reads like they're talking about considering making a change, whereas in fact it's really a question of changing back, because they've already changed it from a three-phase traffic light to a two-phase one.  And they're not going to change back because it would be detrimental to overall junction capacity.

I could always approach this from a cyclist's point of view but, you know us cyclists, we're always moaning and jumping red-lights and knocking down old ladies in Westminster.  Well perhaps the reason why it's not worth arguing from a cyclist's perspective because traffic engineers have a very limited understanding of cycling.

So let's look at how it is for cars, vans, people-carriers - they might understand the problem better.

This is the junction:

 To the right there are two vehicles stopped, the people-carrier waiting to go straight on, the van waiting to turn left.  They are on a green light so both waiting vehicles should have priority over oncoming traffic because technically the oncoming traffic is crossing a lane of traffic.  But a car has started to turn right in front of them and claimed priority.  Behind the turning car in the middle of the picture, back at the traffic island there are two cars and a van approaching.  But there's a bit of a gap - the van can go safely after the car has passed...

So the van has now gone yet the people-carrier driver hasn't made much progress because the 2 cars and a van have advanced and claimed their apparent right to the road by driving across his path.
 Right, there's now no oncoming traffic, maybe it's safe to cross now....well, almost.  From where the driver got stopped there is no way of knowing whether it's either legal or safe to cross because there are no traffic lights visible from where he got stopped.  Would you drive across the A2 without knowing what the lights were doing?

In the face of a stream of traffic turning across your path when you want to turn up the hill you may want to drive on the other side of the road.  Illegal but possibly the safest option.

 Here's a rarity - I've only ever seen it happen once.  A particularly vigilant driver has seen and waited for the car to emerge from Deal's Gateway and pass on towards Greenwich.  Tip: if you want to see this happen again, you might want to bring a chair, some sandwiches and a Thermos along with you.

Ok, I give in, here's a cyclist after all....he got across alive but not without having to swerve onto the wrong side of the road to avoid the white van seen passing out of shot on the left.

I thought it might be a good idea to see whether the residents of Deal's Gateway, who must repeatedly have to face this situation, so I wrote.  No reply.  Today I spoke to Gareth, the Estate Manager for Deal's Gateway, and he obligingly came out and had a look with me, seemed sympathetic and understanding of the problem but .... 

Tomorrow then, if I get the time, I'll see whether it's possible to drag some police/wardens on bikes out to have a look at it.

EDIT: due a spot of confusion on my part I mistakenly demoted Gareth - I've corrected the error.  Congratulations on getting your old job back.  Gareth also asked if I would remove part of the text which I have also done....

1 comment:

Headhunter said...

Love the quote

''We have considered changes to signal timings but we found this to be detrimental to overall junction capacity''

Oh, OK then. As long as a few car drivers get to their destinations a few seconds early, what are a couple of cyclist deaths among friends?