diamond geezer

 Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In words I thought I'd never write, TfL have announced plans to introduce pedestrian crossings at the Bow Roundabout!

They haven't announced this especially loudly, hiding the news inside a mundane press release about the upgrade of Cycle Superhighway 2. But a transformation of the roundabout is promised, subject to public consultation, this time with the emphasis on pedestrians rather than cyclists or vehicular traffic. It's been nearly 50 years since this motorway-standard roundabout was carved into my local neighbourhood, and this will be the first attempt to provide those on foot with a safe way to cross. I should be absolutely delighted... so long as the proposals hold water.

These plans are the first fruits of the Vision for Bow, a partnership between TfL, Newham and Tower Hamlets to deliver "a place which all road users, passing through, find accessible, safe and connected." There are many conflicting interests here - safety for cyclists, the need to keep traffic moving on the A12, and local people trying to get around. Now TfL hope they've finally found a way to weave pedestrians into the mix without overly upsetting those on bikes and cars.

Below is the current situation, with a total of eight slip roads for pedestrians to negotiate. The four entry roads have traffic lights but not pedestrian signals, so can be crossed by paying due attention (the blue arrows on the map below) (safe-ish). Meanwhile the four exit roads have no aids to crossing at all, and a vehicle could turn off the roundabout at any time (the brown arrows on the map below) (very unsafe). As you can see it's impossible to walk around the roundabout without having to negotiate at least one brown arrow, hence every pedestrian attempting to pass between Stratford and Bow risks taking their life in their hands.

What's promised by mid-2016 is the Bow Vision Interim scheme, pictured below This is a 'quick fix' solution to create safe pedestrian pathways across a a roundabout where currently none exist. Four of the existing traffic lights will gain pedestrian signals, and three additional crossings will be added, potentially impacting on traffic trying to exit the roundabout. What's cunning about the new scheme is how it uses the centre of the roundabout (currently off-limits) as a hub to help pedestrians make their way across. And what's intriguing about the new scheme is that I suggested something remarkably similar three years ago, although I'm sure that's entirely coincidental.

The proposed new scheme facilitates walking journeys in two distinct ways.

Pedestrians trying to cross Bow Road or Stratford High Street get the most direct outcome, simply nipping across the two slip roads via two new signalised crossings. Allow me to illustrate with a crossing of Bow Road (that's W to S on the map).

I tried this last night, and had to start off by stepping into the cycle early start zone where I was almost mown down by an approaching bike. In future cyclists will be held back from the blue painted area while pedestrians cross, before proceeding forwards to the next set of lights to wait before entering the roundabout ahead of other traffic. (Hang on, does this mean cyclists will be stopped twice before proceeding onto the roundabout, rather than the default once today... I don't think that's going to be logical, or popular!) The second half of my crossing last night involved trying to judge whether traffic orbiting the roundabout was about to come off or not, then nipping across inbetween, which is always a risky proposition (and would be pretty much impossible in a wheelchair). In future there'll be a signalised crossing here so that I can halt traffic exiting the roundabout, which at busy periods introduces the very real possibility of the roundabout grinding to a halt. It's precisely this intervention that TfL had previously been very keen not to introduce, but now it seems pedestrian safety has finally trumped any perceived need to smooth the flow of traffic.

Pedestrians trying to walk between Bow and Stratford are being offered a much more round-about route. Currently they cross two slip roads, one reasonably safe and one recklessly hazardous, but in future they'll be asked to use four separate (safer) crossings. Allow me to illustrate with a crossing of the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road (that's W to N on the map).

Today's route, following the yellow arrows, is direct but dangerous. Next year's route (following the green arrows) is safer but far less obvious and will take much longer. It starts by crossing to the central reservation, beneath the flyover, then heads out across the main circulation to the centre of the roundabout. This will become a new public space, assuming the public can be tempted to use it, linking diagonally to another crossing on the opposite side. Interestingly all three crossings thus far mentioned already exist, either to halt traffic on or entering the roundabout. What'll be new is the introduction of a drop kerb, and a red/green man combo to tell pedestrians when it's safe to cross (which I can assure you is sorely needed). Only the fourth crossing, across Stratford High Street, will be a completely new intervention. This signalised crossing will be located some distance down the road, but still introduces the potential to back up traffic attempting to exit the roundabout. A similar additional crossing is being added on the approach road opposite, but as this can be synchronised with the main lights immediately ahead, it's unlikely to cause any significant delays.

What particularly interests me is how strongly TfL are going to nudge pedestrians to use the centre-of-the-roundabout route. They say they're going to "resurface the traffic islands and install new lighting... to encourage pedestrians to use the dedicated signalised crossings", as well as attaching additional signage to the flyover columns. They're also planning to remove the unsignalised crossings around the top and bottom of the roundabout, above the A12 underpass, which is the route pedestrians follow today. But unless they barrier this route off, or add unfriendly cobbles, I suspect most of us are still going to take our chances via the quick route - rapidly across in two, rather than a slow relay in four. The millions spent to finally offer safe passage to pedestrians at the Bow roundabout might simply be ignored because the nanny-route takes too bloody long.

And is there anything for cyclists here? Well slightly yes, but mostly no. The two new crossings to the east of the roundabout will allow westbound cyclists on Stratford High Street to pass safely beneath the flyover to reach the cycle link along the River Lea towpath. But as they can already do this via the floating towpath underneath the road, this isn't so much of a gamechanger. Instead cyclists are going to find themselves held up at precisely the same new pedestrian crossings as will cars, one on the western exit road, and two to the east. And the net result is that "journey times for cyclists using Cycle Superhighway Route 2 are expected to increase by one minute".

Other road users don't necessarily get away scot free either. TfL have engaged in some serious data analysis, full details here, which suggests that traffic heading west along Stratford High Street is likely to be most seriously impacted. Westbound bus journeys will take two or three minutes longer at peak times, with similar additional waiting time for drivers approaching the roundabout from the east. And all this arises simply from adding three new sets of traffic lights for the benefit of pedestrians who live locally. I think I can safely describe this as a "transport policy shift", simultaneously a recipe for congestion and an absolute miracle.

And that's not all. You'll remember these plans were described as the 'Bow Vision Interim scheme'. That's because there's a much longer-term vision around here, probably requiring a decade to come to fruition, which would bring total transformation rather than just low level tinkering. Firstly TfL would like to remove the roundabout(!), which at a stroke would simplify (and make safe) crossings for both pedestrians and cyclists. And secondly they'd like to remove the Bow Flyover(!), in order to better connect new communities along the southern fringe of the Olympic Park. Plans for this Vision for Bow are still being developed, and it's hoped they'll be put out to consultation next year.

In the meantime the Bow Vision Interim scheme is now up for consultation, with full plans here and a survey to complete here. There'll be drop-in sessions to meet members of the project team at St Mary's Church on Tuesday 24 February (1530-1930) and Saturday 14 March (1100-1500). The consultation closes on April Fool's Day, which might make you imagine the whole thing could be an elaborate joke. But as a very-local pedestrian I'd like to strongly urge you to take part and have your say, because it'd be nice to be able to walk to the shops without living in constant fear of being knocked down.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Wed 19th - Sun 23rd October
Bloomsbury Festival
It's free to visit the Foundling Museum this weekend.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards