CCNB Responses

Union Street Roundabout - 2 July 2014

The Bedford Union Street roundabout has a history of accidents so when the DfT in 2013 requested bids for grants from its Cycle Safety Fund it was an opportunity for Bedford Borough Council to submit a scheme and be awarded a grant.

The main criteria for the scheme was to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians without reducing vehicle capacity. CCNB believes the final design selected and approved meets these requirements.

The roundabout is generally very busy mainly in the short morning and evening rush hours. The area concerned is fairly small and it is not possible to have Dutch style off-road cycle tracks along any of the four roads involved. The roundabout is on ‘The Avenues’ on-road cycle route from the north and north east residential estates of Brickhill and Putnoe. It is used on a daily basis by 550 cyclists (200 off-road), mainly commuters to the railway station and students to the schools and colleges on a north to south route in the morning and a south to north route in the evening. The south arm only, Union Street, has on-road cycle lanes.

CCNB believes that the dual use scheme will improve the safety of all types of cyclists (and pedestrians). Experienced cyclists will use the on-road carriageway around the roundabout while the less confident, new and young cyclists will use an off-road shared use route using four zebras is a good compromise.

The tighter geometry and enforced lane discipline should slow down traffic over what it is at present. An experienced cyclist adopting the primary position should thus avoid being overtaken or cut-up and as a consequence feel much safer. The lane discipline should also ensure that most motorists know what cyclists are doing and in the same way cyclists should also know what motorists are doing.

Current regulations stipulate that cyclists can cycle across zebras if there is a dual use path on either side but unlike pedestrians must give way to motor vehicles. The zebras will be wider than normal and the design will allow easy modification to a more traditional Dutch style junction when the DfT allows cyclists to use them in the same way as pedestrians, hopefully sometime next year.

If a toucan crossing had been proposed on each arm they would have had to be sited much further away from the roundabout and, apart from the time waiting for the green signal, would not be on a cyclist’s direct desire line.

Obviously only the future will tell if the right design choice has been taken. CCNB looks forward to its implementation and will be monitoring the junction closely to see if it achieves its objectives of improving cyclists’ safety as well as encouraging more and new cyclists to use this popular route.

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