To start with, I must say, I’m more than pleased to see actual real cycle infrastructure being installed in Manchester. I’d be even more pleased if it were installed where I live. But hey ho, you live and hope.
Unfortunately, this video from That’snotmy Name of a rider being left-hooked and knocked off her bike at the junction of Wilmslow Road and Mauldeth Road West, shows it takes more than investment to provide safe cycle infrastructure.
Taking a still from the video, it’s clear to see why the design of this junction played a big part of why this accident happened (the other big part being the driver not indicating or checking before turning).
- The kerb separation finishes some way before the junction, with the cycleway continuing as a mandatory cycle lane, then ASL, then advisory cycle lane. This gives no protection and means there’s confusion on who has right of way.
- There’s no raised table or give way road markings. A raised table may or may not be appropriate for this particular junction. But it should be clear to motorists they need to give way to bikes when turning left.
- There’s no separate phase in the traffic lights for bikes. At busier junctions, having a separate phase or an advance green for bikes would significantly reduce the likelihood of left-hooks.
- Other than the paint on the road, there’s no visual indicators to the presence of the cycleway at the junction. Having this, particularly at eye-level, would help to warn drivers that they need to give way.
If you compare the Wilmslow Road junction with a typical junction of a similar size in The Netherlands, you can see how the design of this junction includes elements that reduce likelihood of a right-hook.
- The kerb continues as close to the junction as possible. This provides more protection to bikes and ensures that vehicles turn at 90 degrees, so drivers have more visibility of oncoming bikes.
- The give way markings on the road clearly say that bikes have priority and vehicles need to give way.
- The traffic lights include an additional warning light, instructing drivers to give way to oncoming bikes. A blue “LET OP” warning sign is often included, when a warning light isn’t present, see image below from Pedestrianise London blog.
- There are a number of visual indicators at different levels to the presence of the cycleway. The additional set of traffic lights close to the junction, the road markings and signs in combination help to warn drivers that they need to give way.
You could say that the accident above is partly due to there being a new layout and that over time, all road users will become familiar with it. But I think it’s pretty clear that there’s more that TfGM need to do to make these junctions safer. Including a full review of the current design and work to improve safety. As this will take some time, a short term measure should be to improve signage.
As with many others, I welcome the introduction of dedicated, segregated cycle infrastructure in Manchester. But it’s clear more needs to be done to protect people on bikes, when they’re at their most vulnerable, at junctions. TfGM need to address this now, before further junctions are built, and before a more serious accident occurs.
Perhaps we need to take a leaf out of the book of many riders in New York, who’ve taken to placing traffic cones to improve safety of cycling infrastructure. A couple of strategically placed traffic cones and signs could make this junction much safer. Who’s for some guerilla traffic cone and road sign placement?
I recently had opportunity to visit Wassenaar again and make a video of the traffic light shown in the Google StreetView picture above. As you can see, this features a flashing “LET OP” / “LOOK OUT” sign that’s activated during the forward/right turn motor traffic and cycle phase.