Britain can do it!

My last post — the one about bus stops — turned out to be very popular for some reason. Thanks to all who shared it, and hello, new readers!

One thing that I discovered as a result of that post is that bus stop cycle bypasses already exist in the UK — they’re not a new thing, they’re just very rare. (Do they even have a more concise name? I think I’ll call them BSCBs.)

Here’s a new example in Brighton:

A bus-stop cycle bypass in Brighton. The bus stop is on a pedestrian island between the cycle path and the road.

New BSCB on Lewes Road in Brighton. (Photo courtesy of Mark Strong)

Three cheers for Brighton & Hove City Council for installing this, and for the cycling advocates (including Mark Strong) who pushed for it!

There’s another photo here. I don’t know what the rest of the road looks like for bikes, but this is much better than the old design, which can still be seen on Google Maps:

A photo of the same bus stop before the cycle bypass was installed. Buses crossed the cycle lane to pull in, and people riding bikes were expected to pass stopped buses on the outside.

If you prefer this then you’re insane. (Photo: Google Maps)

The old design really is awful. Buses have to cross the cycle lane to get to the bus stop, and bike users have to overtake a rumbling bus (which will almost certainly not be stopped perfectly within the bus stop, but sticking out across the cycle lane). That’s not going to convince people to start using a bike for transport.

I also received word (thanks to Ambrose White) of a BSCB in Sheffield:

A bus-stop cycle bypass in Sheffield.

A BSCB in Sheffield. (Photo: Google Maps)

It’s rather odd that this exists at all, as the road it’s on is very wide and yet there’s only a poxy advisory cycle lane for the rest of its length. (At least, that’s what it looks like on Streetview, maybe it has changed since.)

But this BSCB does the job pretty well. I like that the cycle path is red, which alerts pedestrians. And the priority is unclear but well marked, too – there are bike icons (as well as the red surface) which tell pedestrians that they’re crossing a cycle-path, but there’s also a give way which warns bike users to be careful of pedestrians. It looks fairly decent to me.

Either way, I know that one place which is never pleasant to be is on the right-hand side of a rumbling bus.

(Stop press! I found another BSCB example on CycleStreets.)

Cycles and buses and lights, oh my!

While I’m on the subject of Dutch cycle infrastructure which can be done in the UK but rarely is, here’s a traffic signal bypass:

A rare example of infrastructure which enables a bike rider to continue while motor vehicles are held at a red light. This is possible because the cycle path runs to the side of the lights, and a bike user is not interacting with the conflicting flow of traffic.

“Bloody cyclists, always riding through red lights! Oh…”

As Mark Wagenbuur explains, bike users heading straight on at a T-junction aren’t actually interacting with the junction so there’s no reason to hold them at the red light. (They should give way to, and merge with, bikes coming from the right, however.)

And it turns out there’s lots of other Dutch touches around the UK, too. Here’s an example of a “free left” in Cambridge, combined with separate signals for bikes heading straight on:

Traffic lights in Cambridge, with a bypass for bikes turning left so they don't stop. Bikes going straight on are held at a red signal while motor vehicles turning left have green to go, and vice-versa.

It’s a bit too British, but Dutch enough. (Photo: Google Maps)

So bike users turning left aren’t held at the signals (but they must give way to traffic coming from the right, ideally the bike lane/path would continue around the corner), while bike users going straight on have their own traffic lights. When the bike lights are green, motor traffic in the left-turn lane is held at a red signal. When the left-turning motor traffic gets a green light, straight-on bike traffic is held at a red. So no conflict – they’re segregated in time.

Again, it’s odd that such good infrastructure exists here at all (though it could be better). There’s nothing behind the camera but to regular vehicle lanes, and the only way to turn right is to get into the right-hand lane (one thing which I’m sure puts off many would-be bike users). But it’s still an improvement over the usual UK habit of ignoring bike users altogether.

So it seems that almost everything we desire is already legally possible in the UK, but there’s often just not the knowledge or the will to do it. If the DfT produced clear national guidelines on how to provide these facilities – and made them mandatory, too – we would start to see them appearing all over the place.


Sorry, Northern Ireland — this post should have been called “The UK can do it!” I’d change it, but once WordPress has sent out the feed to other blogs, Twitter, etc., it causes all sorts of problems. At least I didn’t just say “England” though, eh?



Filed under Uncategorized

21 responses to “Britain can do it!

  1. Koen

    Seeing photo number 2, I thought ‘What’s he complaing about? That cycle path looks fine, if a little narrow…’ Until I realised I was looking at the foot path! Oops, definitely room for improvement there, yes.

  2. I am a geek, but these cheered me up after a shit week in the office where we had a pro-cycle scheme binned by the politicians (that post I will have to leave to local campaigners!) Rather than posts like the Warrington monthly piccies, we need these types of things being promoted. Highway engineers would love these. Great post!

  3. mark frost

    On the brighton scheme, do cyclists have to give way when they rejoin the carriageway past the stop, or does it continue as a segregated track? Personally i think the bus side island is a bit narrow to be comfortable for boarders, but i suspect the number of passengers here is relatively limited? How replicable in a more urban setting is this approach do you think?

    • The cycle track continues on the road (as a cycle lane, I think) so bike users don’t have to give way after the stop but just continue riding on. The island looks pretty large to me. There will of course be some interaction between bike users and bus users, but this works fine in the Netherlands so I can’t see why it wouldn’t here. Of course, the fast and the furious are free to use the main carriageway if they so wish!

      As for having them in more urban settings, there is nearly always space — but sometimes it means taking some away from motor vehicles. (Again, they work well in the Netherlands, even in busy city centres.) The problem is nearly always one of politics, rather than engineering.

  4. That Cambridge example has been altered somewhat since the google car came by, but it retains the “free left”

  5. PaulM

    There is a sort of example at Blackfriars Junction (London), on the turn into New Bridge Street. I’m not sure this pic is up to date – May 2012 and things may have changed since. Pathertic perhaps as I pass this point five times a week on the way to work, but I don’t really pay attention to the structures, as keeping both eyeballs peeled for stray pedestrians and agressive van drivers is as much as my visual processing system can handle at one time. There used to be a separate cycle light on the pavement, with the main traffic light on the island. Never really understood the need for the cycle light as you were passing around close to the kerb anyway. Now of course this is a pedestrian crossing so the cycle and traffic lights need to be merged.

    The main hazard, as ever in London, is the kamikaze pedestrian. He, or less often she, will launch out into the road without looking, ear glued to mobe or eyes glued to PDA. The City Police reckon that 66% of all pedestrian injuries in traffic arise due to the pedestrian’s own error, in a minority of cases inebriation but mainly inattention. In fact, peds cause more cyclist injuries than vice versa!

    There is also that much smaller band of “f*ck you, I’m crossing, I dare you, after all you’re only a bike so you can’t squash me the way a car can” pedestrian who will step into the road while eyeballing you directly. Unfortunately, this little bypass is no protection against such cases.

    • Bizarrely narrow for the amount of peak-time cyclists, but very useful to have physical protection on a left-curve, to stop drivers straying into the path of bike users. Heading south on Baylis Road SE1 there are two points where this happens all the time (here’s one), a nice bit of concrete would make it much safer.

      With regards to pedestrians and bike-haters, I think this will become less of a problem as cycle-paths become more common and people become used to them being there.

      It’s odd, but a friendly ding of a bike bell is seen as an act of aggression, whereas a toot of a car horn is given gravitas and respect – “mustn’t impede the motor vehicle, quick, run!” I quite like the bell rung at a distance (up close it can be startling, but from further away it’s useful).

  6. 3rdWorldCyclinginGB

    While the Danes will when they can: (but note the tiny “island” for bus passengers cf your Sheffield example), they don’t always put cycle paths behind bus stops:

    To continue what Koen writes, though, on the Brighton photos there appears to be no physical reason preventing the construction of a straight segregated cycle path behind the bus stop alongside the footway, thus almost completely bypassing the bus stop and road.

    So regarding “it’s odd that such good infrastructure exists here at all”. No – it’s odd (or maybe the word should be disgraceful) that such good infrastructure isn’t more widespread given that the legal framework seems to exist. Even where there is plenty of room for safe solutions in the UK the opportunty is rarely taken. Hence the 2% national modal share.

    • Looking at the bigger picture, you’re absolutely correct — there’s more than enough space for a fully-separated Dutch-quality cycle-path here. Even just a small kerb would be better than the white line (like this), but there’s room for the best, so that is what we should ask for in these situations!

      So my “good infrastructure” comment refers to the bus stop only. It’s a step in the right direction, and we can’t expect everything overnight.

      Regarding Denmark, I know everybody goes on about how great it is, but having seen the bus stop treatment and the way they handle junctions, I have my doubts. I need to visit to find out for myself before commenting too much though! (I’m nothing if not thorough.)

  7. Pingback: Britain can do it! | The Alternative Department for Transport | cyclesheffield |

  8. I agree that riding on the right (my left) of the stopped bus is unpleasant, even though I have to do it all the time. Riding between the bus and its passengers I find, however, even more discomforting. I have to do that as well, in the morning in front of a school, with about two classrooms full of kids tumbling out of the bus looking neither left nor right, headphones on, fighting, pushing each other, whatever. It almost always means dismount, so I take on the motorists any time.

  9. It is perfectly fine to call it “Britain can do it.” Our cycle lanes tend to dead end at bus stops:

  10. “The old design really is awful. Buses have to cross the cycle lane to get to the bus stop”
    Don’t forget that the bus stop indents were there before the cycle lane. I live in Brighton and they are doing this in all the bus stops down Lewes Road and soon there will be one lane for cars and the will be a bus lane.
    The cycle lane on Lewes road is used a hell of a lot and this ‘outdent’ idea is working pretty well.

    However the queues because of the the road works are brutal, I should know as I go up and down each day on the bus pictured (24)!

  11. Bobby

    Now that the Lewes Road bus lanes are live, one of the fatal flaws of the built out in the middle of the road bus stops is apparent where with general traffic now solidly queuing in the one remaining lane, buses are unable to overtake other stopped buses, so the buses too end up queuing, negating any marginal benefit the bus lanes might have brought.

    The irony is that along much of Lewes Road, there is room for a segregated cycle track behind the footway, avoiding the needless conflict with crossing bus passengers, but the opportunity to reduce the available road space for general traffic trumped the idea of removing conflicts with the upgraded cycle lanes, and now motorists, bus drivers & passengers, cyclists, pedestrians and the greens who forced the scheme through are all at loggerheads.

  12. only a little out of date (a year) but just for the record the bus stop example i suggested is actually in Rotherham, not Sheffield, although it is close to the boundary.

  13. That left turn with separate light staging looks a bit similar to what the LCC posts on it’s better junctions page. A left turn bypass lane, a two stage right turn, separate left turn/bicycle stages, they probably ask for a 2 metre wide cycleway, maybe 2.2 metres, with a Copenhagen curb to marginally protect it. The Dutch have better ideas, though the right turn bypass lane could be a useful idea in some situations. Widen it out to 2.5 metres with 1.5 metres of curbing, sorry, kerbing, and use a protected intersection/simultaneous green and it would be quite nice.

Leave a reply...

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s