Bedford Borough Council traffic department, you are a bunch of cretins

This is part one in a series of three posts about the Bedford turbo roundabout and the funding behind it (AKA “Turbogate”). You’ll find part two here, and part three here.

I have one word to say to the people who chose to spend cycling infrastructure money on a “turbo” roundabout – resign.

Please, resign now, and let somebody who knows what they’re doing take your job. For the good of those who live in the areas you control, leave and never go back.

That might sound like an extreme thing to say, but I cannot comprehend how anybody with even the most miniscule knowledge of Dutch traffic design can describe a turbo roundabout as “a significant improvement in cycling provision.”

There are only two possible conclusions. Either you know what you’re doing and are installing a design which was never intended for cycling and is dangerous, or you have no idea what you’re doing and think you’re actually installing something useful.

Neither option shows those responsible in a favourable light.

(I’m sure that not everyone at Bedford Borough Council traffic department is responsible for this, so this is only aimed at those who made the decision to install this thing. The rest of you aren’t cretins. If you had to work on this under pressure from your bosses, this isn’t aimed at you.)

What’s wrong with Bedford’s plans?

Firstly, turbo roundabouts were never meant for cycling on. The purpose of a turbo roundabout is to get motor vehicles through a junction as quickly and efficiently as possible. Part of the fundamental concept of the Dutch turbo roundabout is that cycling is kept away from it. It would be like allowing cycling on a motorway.

(If you want to know more about turbo roundabouts and why they’re not cycling infrastructure, then read these excellent posts: “Turbo Roundabouts: Be Careful What You Wish For” and “When ‘Going Dutch’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means” by David Hembrow, and “A Modern Amsterdam Roundabout” by Mark Wagenbuur, also inspired by this dreadful decision.)

Secondly, this design which benefits motor vehicles is being paid for with £300,000 of money from the Department for Transport’s Cycle Safety Fund.

That’s so insane that I can hardly believe it. It’s like the Church of England investing in arms manufacturers. It’s completely inappropriate and goes against the whole spirit of everything that money is meant for.

In a further bout of insanity, Sustrans – fucking Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity! – are actually supporting this thing (see this Word DOC) making bold claims that turbo roundabouts in the Netherlands “function like compact roundabouts, where cyclists take primary position in the lane”. What the hell, Sustrans? This is blatantly untrue, and you’ve used it to get £300k from a cycling safety fund. What’s next – are you going to suggest that London’s 1960s Ringways urban motorway scheme is implemented as shared space?

And all this at one of the busiest junctions in the borough!

Aerial-view design of Bedford's turbo roundabout

The clue is in the name, you jerks!

Failure designed-in

The worst thing is that they’re hyping this scheme as being good for cycling, yet go on to say that “cyclists will also have the option of using new shared paths around the roundabout leading to zebra crossings” (see this PDF).

If the turbo roundabout is so great for cycling, why would they need to install a shared-use footpath alongside it? (Also, what good are zebra crossings to someone riding a bike, which they cannot legally use without dismounting?)

What we have here is another case of the disastrous “dual network” concept, a proven failure. So the roundabout is meant for fast, confident cyclists taking the lane in front of lorries, and anybody not willing to do this can meander slowly along the footpath getting frowned at by people on foot. What we end up with is infrastructure which is no good for anyone.

They claim “Studies and experience in other countries have shown that this type of junction can improve pedestrians and cyclist provision while also reducing potential safety issues.” But if there is such a study, they have not provided a link or reference to it. I’d love to see these studies, especially with regard to people cycling on the roundabout, as that is not how it is done in the Netherlands, the world leader in mass cycling.

And yet they can’t come up with any convincing reason why a turbo roundabout is safer for cycling on than a regular roundabout, except the claim that “cyclists will find it easier to cycle through the roundabout due to the reduction in vehicles making last minute lane changes” which is rather weak, to say the least.

And anyway, if a driver really wants to change lanes where they shouldn’t, it’s still entirely possible. Look at the diagram. Imagine you’re in the straight-on lane and want to go right. It’s perfectly possible to cut across where you shouldn’t.

Designing for cycling, or designing for cyclists?

I also note that they’ve mis-typed the DfT’s Cycle Safety Fund as the Cyclist Safety Fund. I reckon this is a Freudian slip, which shows that rather than thinking about designs which the whole population can use to cycle on, they are thinking about the needs of the few “keen cyclists” who are the only ones brave enough to cycling in the UK right now.

This whole way of thinking is a throw-back to the past. It ignores the massive benefits that everyone from every section of society would gain if our roads were designed so that anyone could use a bike as a fast, direct and efficient mode of transport, as they do in the Netherlands.

Cycling isn’t just for enthusiasts, it should be for all of us. Designs like this are the reason so few children cycle to school. They’re the reason so many more men cycle than women. They’re the reason so few elderly people cycle. They’re the reason so few people cycle at all.

So while this new roundabout might slightly improve conditions for existing cyclists, the idea that Bedford’s design is good for cycling is absolute nonsense.

A montage of six Dutch cycling scenes: two young ladies, an older man, a woman with a child in a box-bike and another child riding alongside, a group of teenagers, an older woman, and two young children.

Will Bedford’s new £300,000 cycling roundabout enable people like this to cycle?

What now?

Bedford, it’s not too late to stop this and design something suitable. The work has not started. Do not spend £300,000 of taxpayers’ money on this.

Also, stop designing for cyclists and start designing for cycling. Ask yourself if you’d be happy for young children, or your parents, to use your completed schemes.

I’d also request that you stop cynically dressing up motor-centric designs as being good for cycling. If motor vehicle throughput is your main concern, just admit it.

But most of all, please resign, for the good of the nation. Quit your job now, as you clearly are either 1960s motor-centric relics, dedicated vehicular keen cyclists who can’t comprehend ‘normal’ people riding bikes, or clueless incompetents.


PS, added at 3pm: If you want an example of the real thinking behind this project, look no further than the new sign that Bedford wants to install at the zebra crossings:

A blue roadsign which says "CYCLISTS GIVE WAY or dismount"

This, apparently, is how Bedford council chooses to encourage cycling.

About these ads

50 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

50 responses to “Bedford Borough Council traffic department, you are a bunch of cretins

  1. Jim Moore

    Yup. I think it’s time to start naming names of bad designers and their superiors who sign off on this BS.

  2. Bez

    I’ve not really paid much attention to this roundabout until now.

    As an experienced cyclist I don’t see how it improves over a normal roundabout; in fact I would have thought the safest shared solution – which of course only works for those of us who are willing and able to keep up with the traffic – would be a single-lane roundabout.

    If I think about my wife and kids having a pop at it, it’s a non-starter.

    And even as a driver, I’m looking at some of the routes and scratching my head. Going from Union Street to Tavistock Street, for instance, looks particularly awkward.

    The markings on the roundabout don’t seem to be consistent as you come from different directions, either: in some cases (such as the above) you clearly have to cross the thick dashes whilst in others they’re clearly not intended to be crossed – I’m unsure what their meaning is, relative to the thinner dashes.

    Hmm. It doesn’t look awful – it just looks like it’s designed for motor vehicles alone. I can’t see anything that benefits cycling in the slightest. In fact the shallow bends and the delineations make me suspect drivers will be approaching rather quicker and with more assumptions than they would a more conventional roundabout with more pronounced corners to enforce more braking on approach. I dunno, I’m no highway engineer. But as an above averagely interested user it just looks like a roundabout where the cars go even faster than normal. If that’s what cycling money is being spent on then we’re into despair territory for sure.

  3. Back in 2011 I had a long discussion online with a planner for Bedfordshire about a “Dutch” roundabout which he was planning (he came to me to boast about it) which lacked any cycle facilities at all. Of course, I immediately pointed out that he’d missed out the one feature which really defines roundabouts in the Netherlands so far as cyclists are concerned… that you never actually ride a bicycle on Dutch roundabouts, but the conversation fizzled out along the lines of “I’m right, you’re wrong and there’s nothing you can do about it”.

    This same chap also described himself as ‘a fire-brand campaigner who would “design the impossible”, not compromise quality, and not give them all of the excuses as to why it couldn’t be done.’

    Frankly, I was not impressed at all.

    Of course, this could be another Bedfordshire roundabout and it could be another planner…

    • I exchanged many emails with the Bedfordshire planner in 2011 and he made several points to me which didn’t make sense.

      One of his claims was that on-road cycle-lanes (of which I’m not a fan) could not merge with cycle-paths at a Dutch roundabout. I made a video and blog post which show how they can (it includes my comment to him at the time that what he was doing in creating a “Dutch” roundabout without cycle-paths was akin to making a cheese sandwich without cheese)..

      The second point he made was the he thought that Dutch roundabouts often didn’t have cycle-paths. This is also incorrect so I wrote a blog post which featured every single roundabout in Assen in order to show him that every single one has separate cycling infrastructure.

      I also suggested that he would benefit from a study tour in order to find out what real Dutch cycling infrastructure actually looks like before designing his roundabout. He declined, telling me that he already knew.

  4. When you have people talking down separation with the main thrust of their message being that separation is not a panacea for cycling, you end up with Dutch pick and mix like this. Without the separate and properly designed cycle path which are a feature of the original Dutch design, this design does nothing at all to benefit cycling.

    At least zebra crossings on the arms are a welcome feature for those on foot.

  5. If the responsible person at Bedford BC is reading this, the blogger is correct, you are wrong, scrap the plan and start again.

  6. GareThugHowell

    cycling is kept away from it. It would be like allowing cycling on a motorway.
    A new, fast ,dual carriageway bypass was built near here down west, and a non cycling woman who ran a B+B campaigned for the cyclists to be sent along the bypass then off past her house.(because it was good for the cyclists). They incorporated her scheme in to the bypass design, with official signposting.

    Regarding the Church of England and arms dealing, the bomber pilots of the RAF have strong links.
    The misuse of public funds described above is a fairly typical scenario of
    dullard transport and highway department thinking, wider and wider roads for more and more cars, and heavier and heavier lorries, through smaller and smaller villages!

    You can’t win! just take the by ways and forest tracks and forget about roads at all!

  7. Paul Gannon

    Agree with everything you say, but ‘cretin’, ‘jerk’ & ‘fucking’ are certain to be counterproductive and I strongly advise re-working this post to remove those words while letting the sentiments stand. The outcome will be a much more powerfully expressed argument.

  8. If you think that’s bad then you should have seen what Surrey Council are proposing at the Runnymede Roundabout. The consultation is now closed and so I really hope there was sufficient negativity to scrap their plans as they are the most dangerous for cycling I’ve ever seen.

    http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roads-and-transport-policies-plans-and-consultations/major-transport-projects/runnymede-major-transport-schemes

  9. Defrauding funds allocated specifically for cycling and using them for other purposes, mainly for the benefit of motor traffic, is of course not new. As I am getting on in years I am tending to repeat myself so it is quite possible that you have heard this from me not very long ago in which case I apologise, however: one of the individuals who participates in campaigning with the City of London, mainly from a pedestrian perspective, a retired executive with a property company, analysed all the minutes and reports of the City’s Planning & Transportation Committee to extract the numbers relating to deployment of Transport for London grant money awarded for the London Cycle Network.

    In this context, bear in mind that the City is one of the wealthiest boroughs in the UK, with significant incomes from endowments such as the Bridges fund, and one of the healthiest surpluses on the parking account with some £114m budgeted in the first three years of the current Local Implementation Plan, compared with about £16m in Lambeth.

    There were two key findings: firstly, significant sums of LCN grant were spent on street treatments which had at best tenuous connections with cycling. The City has an obsession with “Street Scene” (for which read, granite setts) and it installed numerous “side entry treatments along Fleet Street, Ludgate Hill and around St Pauls Churchyard. These are raised tables in the final 5 or so metres of a side street as it contacts the main street, prettily laid in granite setts. Their function is to slow down traffic approaching the junctions and so reduce conflicts with traffic in the main streets. Certainly cyclists would benefit from not having white vans and taxis short out straight in front of them, but clearly the main benefit is for the general traffic, and to reduce congestion caused by incidents. The most breathtaking bag-snatch however was the scheme to instal a low concrete wall along each side of the road over Southwark Bridge and so reduce the lane width. The primary reason for this was to prevent coaches from using the bridge as a parking zone – apparently the bridge is not considered strong enough to support this while carrying traffic as well – but a peripheral benefit was that a narrow strip of road remains inside the concrete barrier now designated as cycle track, more or less the last stretch of CS7. Needless to say, the respite offered by this track is purely temporary – cyclists are thrown to the wolves at either end as they re-emerge. This way, an entire year’s LCN grant of some £200,000 was spent on at best incidental benefit for cyclists.

    Secondly, however the money was actually spent, the pot was divided roughly into three: one third for consultants’ reports, one third effectively subsidising the borough Highways Department (remember what I said about the City’s wealth) and only the third third actually going on truckloads of concrete and men with spades.

    I am guessing that the City, and here Bedford, are really quite typical of local authority misuse of the miserably poor provision of cycle-related funding to prop up their own overheads or deliver schemes for their favoured causes (ie definitely not cycling) while insincerely pronouncing how the scheme will “benefit cyclists”. What staggers me, but somehow doesn’t surprise me here, is that the specific scheme was apparently approved by the grantor the DfT as an appropriate use of the grant fund. Sounds like the local and national bodies are in cahoots here.

  10. Everything you said above and more. Evidently this stuff is hard to get right, as they’ve not even managed to get the design right. Someone has done a cut and paste job without looking correctly at the context in which these layouts are suitable.

    Turbo roundabouts are not suitable to urban environments, they are strictly only used in rural settings on through routes and distributor roads as a high throughput alternative to a signalled junction. The corner radii in the Bedford plan are far too lax, they should be tight to reduce the speed of vehicles entering the roundabout to that of the vehicles already circulating around it.

    (Unfortunately, all the small turbo roundabouts I know of in NL are too new to appear on Google Maps, I guess people should just go and take a look for themselves).

    It is as though they have taken the picture of a turbo from a autoweg junction and transported it into an urban setting. So not only have they ignored cycling while using cycling money, but they’ve also misinterpreted when to use this design and how to implement it. A very expensive fail.

    • kraut

      “Evidently this stuff is hard to get right, ”

      No, it isn’t. “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Picasso.

      Go to the Netherlands. Copy the layout. The whole layout. Not just one small bit of it.

      Make sure to flip it to deal with driving on the wrong side.

      Done.

  11. MGFW

    I emailed Bedford’s cycling officer Patrick Lingwood and asked what type of crossing it was & about cyclist priority and got this response:

    [quote=patrick.lingwood@bedford.gov.uk wrote:] They are Zebras that we will be installing.
    You are correct that cyclists do not have priority over vehicles when they cross a Zebra. Whilst they do not have priority, cyclists can legally cycle across a Zebra without priority, though it is against rule 64 of the highway code.

    However, TfL/TRL research showed that 92% of cyclists at six sites surveyed for TfL cycled across Zebra crossings

    These findings are consistent with the previous Shared Zebra Crossing Study (Greenshields et al., 2006) which concluded that “the high number of cyclists presently riding on zebra crossings suggests that a change in the regulation to allow mounted use of zebra crossings may not have a significant upward effect upon the numbers presently doing so, simple because so many are already doing so”.

    In 56% of the cases where the waiting cyclist is dismounted the first vehicle to approach stops, while for mounted cyclists this drops to 33%. 87% of first vehicles stopped for a waiting pedestrian.

    Further calculations revealed that 4% of the total number of those who cycle across were involved in a conflict. Cyclists who were dismounted appear to have a far higher level of conflict (8%), however this is massively skewed by one site, Bayswater Road. If Bayswater Road is excluded, the percentages are 3% (mounted) and 1% (dismounted)

    The Zebras have been design in accordance with the recommendations of the TRL/TfL study, ie 4 m wide rather than the typical 2.4m wide.

    There is currently no legal way of giving both pedestrians and cyclists priority at crossing (other than a Toucan crossing which is inappropriate at this kind of location)

    The design is a balance between the needs of pedestrians and cyclists and motor vehicle flows. Cyclists will have a choice of dismounting with priority, or negotiating priority with oncoming motorised vehicles.

    Currently at the roundabout, there are no facilities and both cyclists and pedestrians have to find gaps in traffic to cross at the arms of the roundabout.

    I hope this answers your query

    Best wishes

    Patrick[/quote]

    • I wonder if Patrick has ever asked himself why cyclists ride over zebra crossings though it’s against highway code…

      The answer of course is that poor infrastructure leads to poor behaviour. What Bedford is about to do is to add more poor infrastructure which will lead to more poor behaviour.

      In the Netherlands people have to do the wrong thing far less frequently than in the UK because the infrastructure actually supports the needs of cyclists.

      What Bedford could have done was to send people to come and see how Dutch cycling infrastructure really works before presenting their faux-Dutch design to the world… but they didn’t…

      • GareThugHowell

        “why cyclists ride over zebra crossings though it’s against highway code…
        The answer of course is that poor infrastructure leads to poor behaviour”

        It may be poor highway code. Most cyclists who use pedestrian crossings are doing so for their own safety, although it may veven be quicker. Many pedestrians are aware that it is behaviour of a certain kind, which may not necessarily be poor.
        If the high way code declassified bicycles as vehicles at all on the pavement or footpath, as they so wisely are in France, unless otherwise stated, things would be much more sensible.
        If you are still determined to go with motor traffic then you have only got yourself to blame if you have an accident.
        You and the bike should be a vehicle when on the road, and not a vehicle when off it.
        A good many motorized wheel chairs can cause much damage, and are still considered to be pedestrian, non vehicles.
        Cursioulsy enough the boffin who deals with it at DfT, deals with both wheelchairs and all classes of non-motorized vehicles, including the motorized wheel chair.

    • Thanks for posting that email from Patrick Lingwood. Essentially he seems to be saying that the existing layout is so awful that anything would be an improvement. Hardly a springboard for excellence, is it?

      I’m quite puzzled by the zebra crossing statistics. What’s a dismounted cyclist but a pedestrian with luggage? Yet while 87% of first vehicles would stop for me alone, only 56% would stop for me if I was stood beside a bike. If the study is reliable, then that shows an awful anti-bike prejudice amongst drivers.

      It also doesn’t do much to back up Patrick’s suggestion that people can use the zebra crossings on a bike, if they’re getting a raw deal from drivers.

      His main goal seems to have been to maintain the current high level of motor vehicle flow. In fact, in his comment on Mark Wagenbuur’s post, he claims to have increased the number of motor vehicles this junction can handle. That seems to be a strange thing for a cycling officer to spend cycling money on.

      • kraut

        ” Yet while 87% of first vehicles would stop for me alone, only 56% would stop for me if I was stood beside a bike. ”

        I was under the impression that drivers HAVE TO stop at a zebra crossing.. are you telling me that between 13% and 56% (depending on the luggage the pedestrian carries) don’t?

        Where’s the “*(!^!”*&£^”& enforcement?

    • MJ Ray

      There is currently no legal way of giving both pedestrians and cyclists priority at crossing (other than a Toucan crossing which is inappropriate at this kind of location)”

      Yikes! Would someone let this asphalted expert know that tiger crossings exist and have been used in neighboring Buckinghamshire? Although I think Bucks replaced them with Toucans in the end.

      • T.Foxglove

        Apparently the Tiger crossing was a very short-lived TRL experiment. It was installed in Aylesbury sometime in late Spring/early Summer 2006 and was replaced by a Toucan crossing by the Christmas.

        Current ‘best practice’ (sic) is like this one (http://tinyurl.com/mh7tcc9) in Chaucer Road, Cantebury or the Bedford abomination which will encourage less confident cyclists to cycle out in front of cars expecting them to stop.

      • kraut

        Put in separate pedestrian and cyclist traffic lights. With zero delay. Not the usual “If it takes 5 minutes for the damn pedestrian light to go green I’ll just cross when I get a chance”.

        If we can get men to the moon, I’m sure we can get them across the road safely. But you’d have to want to first.

  12. Jitensha Oni

    Turbo markings aside, the rationale as I understand it was that since most cyclists use the footway that is where the focus of improvements should be. It’s like saying since most cars park on the footway let’s draw some parking bays there. Crazy. Er hang on…

    http://goo.gl/maps/rlRcj

    The Runnymede Roundabout is going to be awful by any transport method whatever you do to tweak it. Someone really messed up in the original designs in in siting motorway slip roads over an already complex junction. For bicycles it needs a completely unravelled paths network, but in the plans at least they are putting in traffic lights. I haven’t read anything by way of actual expalantion from the Bedford guy about why he thinks either that and/or Toucans are not appropriate for his roundabout. As it is they’ve come up with something that’s even a step backward from this

    http://goo.gl/maps/T6aKP

    and this

    http://goo.gl/maps/OGz57

    Note, however, as David Hembrow points out for the Netherlands, you can, even in the UK, have a cycle path join a lane and vice versa.

    The problem with many consultations is that there isn’t a facility to upload images like this to show them what it could be like. Even if we’re dealing with xenophobes, there are a few UK examples round the place that could be used.

    But remember… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wKi9FyxkKs

  13. Earlier today I emailed Paul Hilton of Sustrans and after pointing out that all Dutch roundabout have cycle-paths and that Turbo Roundabouts are not for cyclists at all, I asked ‘Why on earth are Sustrans involved in building “Dutch” infrastructure in the UK which would never be built by the Dutch in the Netherlands ?’

    A reply has been received:

    Subject: RE: Bedford Turbo Roundabout
    Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2014 14:36:10 -0000
    From: “Paul Hilton”
    To: “David Hembrow”
    Cc: <Glenn.barcham@bedford.gov.uk,

    Dear David

    Thank you for your e-mail. Firstly, allow me to point out that an
    integral part of the scheme is a peripheral cycle track with zebra
    crossings (where nothing currently exists), providing an alternative for
    cyclists to the roundabout itself.

    The scheme was selected through the following process:

    Schemes submitted to Sustrans and reviewed internally.

    Schemes recommended for approval/non-approval by the Cycle Safety
    Stakeholder Group. This group was made up of the following:

    Tony Russell (Sustrans)
    John Franklin (Cycle Nation)
    Chris Peck (CTC)
    Ruth Jackson (British Cycling)
    Ralph Smyth (CfPRE)
    Robert Semple (Transport for London)

    The scheme was developed and is being delivered by Bedford Borough
    Council, with funding from the Department for Transport. Sustrans are
    only managing the programme, so therefore I feel it is more appropriate
    for Bedford to argue for the scheme.

    Kind Regards

    Paul Hilton

    Senior Project Officer, Links to Communties and Cycle Safety Fund

    • My full question was as follows:

      Paul,

      Way back in 2011, I was contacted by a planner in Bedfordshire who had somehow fixated on the idea of designing a “Dutch style” roundabout which did not include cycle-paths. This seemed rather akin to making a cheese sandwich without any cheese. Dutch roundabouts always have cycle-paths. Cyclists do not ride on the road around them. I live here in the Netherlands and I can tell you that none of the roundabouts in the city where I live, nor any that I’ve ever seen require cyclists to ride in the main traffic lance.

      Last year, I found that Bedford was in fact going further and had decided upon a “Turbo Roundabout”.

      Turbo Roundabouts are used in the Netherlands where there are huge traffic volumes and where cyclists do not use the road at all. They are mostly used at such places as motorway junctions and there are usually bypasses by bicycle at some distance from these roundabouts. Hundreds of metres away. It’s rare even to have to cross the road as a pedestrian near such a roundabout.

      Today I was forwarded this link, where your email address is given as a contact:
      http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:q_R4CNVDitgJ:www.bedford.gov.uk/transport_and_streets/transport_policy/idoc.ashx%3Fdocid%3D64d4c9d5-0ebc-4c92-9391-544ac5e0c48c%26version%3D-1+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

      Why on earth are Sustrans involved in building “Dutch” infrastructure in the UK which would never be built by the Dutch in the Netherlands ? Frankly, I’m disappointed in this. It’s dangerous. Nothing more.

      When I was contacted by the Bedfordshire planner back in 2011 he insisted on trying to convince me that the Dutch cycle on their roundabouts even though this is not true. My response was to document every single roundabout in the city that I live in to show that every single one has separate cycling infrastructure. You can see these real Dutch roundabout designs here:

      http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/search/label/roundabouts

      A selection of representative Turbo-Roundabouts can be seen here:

      http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/search/label/turbo-roundabouts

      Note that none of the Turbo Roundabouts is within 50 km of my home. Far from now being standard as your document insists, Turbo Roundabouts are actually still very uncommon. They have a roll to play where there are many cars and no bicycles or pedestrians. They do not have a roll to play where people walk and cycle. We have seen the building of many roundabouts in this area over the last six years. Not one has been of the Turbo design.

      Yours,

      David Hembrow.

      • And here’s my further reply:

        Dear Paul,

        Why would any well designed cycling facility require two different ways to navigate it ?

        You are suggesting that cyclists either “man up and take the lane” if they want to get somewhere efficiently or that they should travel around the roundabout, cycling a bit, walking a bit over the zebras, if they require safety.

        No-one should be given a choice between convenience and safety. Cycle facilities should be convenient enough for the fastest of cyclists at the same time as being safe enough for the least confident or able cyclists.

        This is not an impossible dream – I ride on conditions like this every single day. That is the reality of the Netherlands, a country which I emigrated to because frankly, after many years of campaigning and struggling to cycle in the UK, I was getting rather bored of waiting for organisations like yours to finally get around to demanding good infrastructure instead of rubber stamping what isn’t so good.

        The Netherlands began its modern transformation in order to become a true cycling nation 41 years ago. Progress was quick. Even after just 8 years, it was obvious that large changes were being made. Sustrans has been in existence for the last 37 of those 41 years.

        You don’t appear to want to defend this infrastructure. Why is Sustrans’ name involved if you do not approve of this junction such that you will defend it ?

        Yours,

        David.

        Cycling Study Tours: http://www.hembrow.eu/studytour

    • Hmm. So Paul Hilton is saying “we only gave it the thumbs up, it’s nothing to do with us.” I’m sorry, but Sustrans can’t wiggle out of it that easily. He implies that Sustrans recommended this scheme for approval by the Cycle Safety Stakeholder Group.

      Also, mixed-use footpaths are not cycle tracks. Surely a Senior Project Officer at Sustrans would know this? I wonder what his salary is, a man who doesn’t even understand the difference between a cycle track and a shared-use path!

    • It strikes me that there’s a lot of research here that makes for a wider and more concerning story. What I don’t understand is if the ‘Cycle Safety Stakeholder Group’ above is related to, separate from or a subgroup of the one that appears to also include IAM, CPRE and many other bodies.

      https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Cycle+Safety+Stakeholder+Group&oq=Cycle+Safety+Stakeholder+Group&#q=%22Cycle+Safety+Stakeholder+Group%22

      Ralph Smyth’s views we can start to see in the open because he objected to the plans for CS5: http://www.southwark.gov.uk/download/8814/3e-streets-ralph_smyth_response

    • Thank you for writing this piece. It is sobering to realise that, whilst we might be able to persuade ourselves that things are moving forward in some parts of the UK, there are many other parts which are closed to new ideas.

      Taking money from cycling, and giving it to motoring, is like a Robin Hood in reverse. Dressing it up as a benefit to cycling demonstrates either a lack of understanding, or a lack of integrity. Rejecting other models on the basis that they “would cause unacceptable delays” [to motor traffic, presumably] is backward-thinking and wearisome.

      All of these points have been made above. But it was the make-up of the Cycle Safety Stakeholder Group which prompted me to comment.

      To remind you, Roger Geller from Portland famously identified four types of cyclist. The Strong and Fearless group (who make up about 1% of the population, and who cycle regardless of the conditions – or rather, they are more concerned about pot-holes than heavy traffic) is represented above by three organisations: Cycle Nation, CTC and British Cycling. The Interested but Concerned group (who make up about 60% of the population, and for whom this design would probably work okay – most likely for leisure purposes) is represented above by Sustrans (we might say).

      Between these four organisations, and a strong desire to enable the smooth movement of motor traffic, we have ended up with a ‘dual network’.

      The Enthused and Confident group (who make up about 8% of the population, and who sit on the margins, but who hold the key to making mass cycling a real possibility) is represented by no one.

      In this regard, Bedford is no different to London or Manchester.

      • As a volunteer for one of its local group, I disagree with your characterisation of Cycle Nation. I feel it’s for everyone who wants to cycle as transport: the whole range from children starting off to fast commuters. We want to see space4cycling in general, for all types, which may well mean several alternative routes in some places, say one good for commuters, one good for children and another for trade bikes.

        I think most of CTC is similarly universal, although I realise some of its core membership strongly believes in riding on the road no matter what.

  14. petestevens2012

    Fuck me. Talk about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.

  15. fonant

    This isn’t even a turbo roundabout, as motor vehicles are not forced to decide their turn direction before entering the roundabout. A turbo roundabout forces vehicles on it to take one, and only one, route to exit: this means entering vehicles have a very clear view of which vehicles they need to give way to, and which they don’t.

    This design allows motorists to change their mind when they’re on the roundabout. A vehicle entering the roundabout doesn’t know for sure whether a vehicle coming towards them will go straight on or will turn right across their path. In fact this will work no different to a standard UK roundabout without any lane markings!

    A complete and utter waste of money, pretending to benefit cycling when it does nothing of the sort.

  16. Roggie

    I did wonder if it was Patrick as I read the start of this. I guess that there are some improvements for cycling over the existing layout but £300k’s worth? Inventive use of external funding and pretty typical of how to get anything unusual in, the scheme text makes much of it not costing Bedford residents anything directly. Telling. Unfortunately this is how it works these days and we will never get many advances this way – why is the roundabout so wide is the obvious question, reduce and tighten would be my first thoughts and this would help make the zebras safer with lower speeds. Cyclists give way or dismount… I wonder if the DfT will approve that sign. I always understood that nowhere in Europe do you have the same rights cycling over a zebra than walking, I may be wrong there. Certainly in Strasburg they painted the road surface next to a zebra a contrasting colour. Interestingly Transport for London came out with some ‘turbo’ roundabout designs in their junction review process, these were very definitely in ‘urban’ areas (not too far from the River Thames). This was a few months ago. I guess it was the traffic design of the moment back then. Don’t think these were taken forwards but when we discussed them (LCC meeting) we couldn’t see too many advantages. As stated in comments this isn’t a real turbo and you have left and straight on arrows giving a choice. Who fancies ‘taking the lane’ with a left turn only lane inside you.

    All pretty crazy but I am not surprised….

  17. Fuck cyclists.. This is a great idea. Roads are for cars this is 2014 not 1892 we shouldn’t be accommodating cyclists in this day and age.

  18. Pingback: This isn’t a Cycle Safety Fund, this is Space for Motoring | The Alternative Department for Transport

  19. TomP

    Well, I’ve written to the DfT to complain. One email won’t make a difference but the only way we’ll get decent facilities is by being forcing them to do it right and making sure they get masses of complaints when they build rubbish is one small step.

  20. Pingback: As Turbogate trundles on, people wonder what is being done in their name | The Alternative Department for Transport

  21. tim

    Has anyone (do they ever) think about the other cyclists the MOTORcyclist this roundabout with its raised kerbs is an absolute killer as a bedfordshire motorcyclist I would sue their socks off if I had an accident on their raised kerbs in the middle of the road

  22. Pingback: Bedford’s turbo roundabout plans get even worse | The Alternative Department for Transport

  23. Pingback: Bedford use cycle fund for turbo roundabout—DarkerSide.org

Leave a reply...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s