With minimum fuss, TfL have taken action to promote cycle safety at the Bow Roundabout. They haven't altered the road layout. They haven't upgraded the traffic lights. They haven't repainted anything. But they have put up some very big signs. Here's one, on the eastbound approach to the roundabout at the foot of Bow Road. [photo]
DRIVERS LOOK OUT FOR CYCLISTS AHEAD. I assume that's a request, rather than a statement. Indeed all the evidence is that drivers haven't been especially good at looking out for cyclists in recent months. Brian Dorling's death occurred a hundred yards down the road because a truck driver wasn't observant enough when turning left at the roundabout. Will this big yellow sign, freshly erected, help to reduce the risk of a repeat tragedy? If not then there's a second sign, aimed at a different category of road user, located further down the road beyond the bus stop. [photo]
CYCLISTS BEWARE VEHICLES TURNING LEFT. I will confess I'm baffled by the spacing in that message. Of course there are vehicles turning left - it's a roundabout! I'm also baffled by the positioning of the sign. The really dangerous thing at this precise point isn't vehicles turning left, it's vehicles ramming bikes from behind. Cycle Superhighway 2 has been skimming along in its own lane, out of the way of other vehicles, when suddenly the blue line veers right to become part of the left-hand lane of traffic. "Cyclists beware, superhighway disappears" more like. For good measure, the yellow sign is repeated a few yards later. [photo]
Here's the spot where cyclists really do want to avoid vehicles turning left - the entrance to the roundabout. It's a much more sensible location for a new sign, although the ghost bike leaning against the traffic light is a far better clue that this isn't the safest junction in London. Ride carefully, because these road markings place you at risk.
No big yellow signs have been installed on either of the slip roads from the A12, so lorries from those directions are free to ride round the roundabout unwarned. But there are another three big yellow signs on the westbound approach, because that's the other road where a vulnerable cyclist has been killed. DRIVERS LOOK OUT FOR CYCLISTS AHEAD comes first, some considerable distance before the roundabout. CYCLISTS BEWARE VEHICLES TURNING LEFT comes next, immediately before a slip road on the left which isn't the left turn the sign is warning about. Installed by cretins, this one [photo]. And then DRIVERS LOOK OUT FOR CYCLISTS AHEAD again, nearer the roundabout, in case drivers didn't get the message the first time. [photo]
To complete the package, TfL have installed another DRIVERS LOOK OUT FOR CYCLISTS AHEAD sign on the westbound slip road as you exit the roundabout. Goodness knows why they bothered. The killer junction is behind you and there's a perfectly decent separate cycle lane for the next few hundred yards. Maybe they had a sign left over.
Will seven big yellow warning signs be sufficient to prevent another tragic death on Barclays' painted stripe? I hope they're only an instant response, a quick sticking plaster, rather than the complete extent of TfL's mitigation of the Bow Roundabout junction. Because there's a heck of a lot still to be done to make this interchange safe for cyclists and pedestrians alike. Erecting signs at a death trap doesn't actually improve anything, it merely highlights how bloody dangerous the design was in the first place.