Monday, 25 August 2014

Traffic Calming - Pedestrian Refuges

Motorists Please do not overtake cyclists through pedestrian refuge
You would think a council would re-think dangerous features, instead of erecting 9-word signs.

Pedestrian refuges are certainly an aggravating factor when motorists want to overtake cyclists.
I would be interested to know if they are actually useful to pedestrians, and whether they have a positive or negative effect on overall safety. I suspect that their only effect is to bring traffic speeds down, but at the cost of cyclists' safety.

Sadly, even a well-meaning motorist, that tries to give as much room as possible to the cyclist, risks clipping the kerb of the island, with fatal consequences.
... Skoda car clipped the kerb of the reservation as he tried to pass. His car turned slightly towards Michael and lightly clipped his handlebars.

See also Virtual Reconstruction of Cycling Death - [Gecko Cycling]

Here's an interesting one - is there really a need for three crossings at 10-second intervals ?
If it's busy, they can walk to the light-controlled crossing : if not busy, they can cross anywhere.

If you look closely, both drivers miss the chance to overtake in the gaps when the oncoming lane is empty.
Instead they both end up choosing to be four-abreast passing two bikes against an oncoming car - the only explanation I can think of is drivers trying to intimidate the cyclists with a 'punishment pass'.

Frustration caused by infrastructure causes animosity towards the cyclists. It doesn't help drivers judge when to pass, just makes some 'opportunities' risky.

The complaining cyclist further confused the yellow car by giving a spurious signal. He was just pointing out the bollards, but the driver backed off as though the bike was about to cross the road or do a U-turn.

It's interesting that CyclingMikey has also had a right-arm signal misinterpreted : the car thought his 'moving right' signal meant 'please overtake' !

I've met a white van that decided to overtake on the wrong side of the refuge, but this is not to be recommended ! (Supposedly she got away lightly with a 2 year suspended, 200 hours community service, 2 year ban and had to pay the victim £500 compensation.)
Apparently it's really not all that unusual !
Just putting [overtakes cyclist wrong side island] into YouTube search finds 430 videos. I haven't checked them all.
This one got a 'Section 59' Warning.

It looks as though a police driver killed a pedestrian while driving 'wrong side'.

See also CycleChat Cycling Forum
Rule 153 Traffic-calming measures. On some roads there are features such as road humps, chicanes and narrowings which are intended to slow you down. When you approach these features reduce your speed. Allow cyclists and motorcyclists room to pass through them. Maintain a reduced speed along the whole of the stretch of road within the calming measures.

"Allow cyclists and motorcyclists room to pass through them."
is too vague and weak.
Add "Do not overtake cyclists or motorcyclists at road narrowings. Wait until it is safe to overtake - where there is plenty of width, and no oncoming traffic."

And IMO we should never have cycle lanes continuing through a pinch-point : that just invites overtaking and inhibits cyclists from properly positioning themselves to discourage overtaking.

Feeling the Pinch – [ Beyond the Kerb ]

Having written that, I went to Google Images to look for an illustration of how not to do it : I saw a beautiful one online last week.

I found this one <image deleted>, but then I noticed this was LCC Camden's example of good practice !
They argue,
  1. It reinforces cyclist priority in the case of car/cycle conflict at the pinch-point, and encourages motorists to think in terms of lane discipline when overtaking.
  2. Loss of cycle facilities just at the point where they are needed most is responsible for some of the loudest and most legitimate complaints from cyclists. The cyclist is left wondering where they are supposed to go, and what they are supposed to do, at this point.
  3. Loss of lane markings subconsciously inform the motorist that cyclists will conveniently de-materialise.
I don't trust that bus, though.
Then I found Harrogate town cycle routes - [Hedgehog Cycling]
The carriageway narrows where there are pedestrian refuges, so this is where a 'squeeze' comes, ie where cyclists need protection most. What happens to the cycle lane? It just stops, then starts again after the refuge, each time. There has to be a better solution. ... Perhaps the council could consider cycle bypasses of the refuges? In our opinion, the current situation, where the cycle lane just stops, is the worst option.
They may be considering those with little-or-no Bikeability training, ie lacking the confidence to 'take the lane'.
But 1) priority is meaningless if each has their own lane, and 'motorists thinking in terms of lane discipline' in practice means
"What do you mean, 'Too close!' - I was in a different lane so it must be OK - therefore I was nowhere near you."
It is dangerously naive to think of a cycle-lane as 'protecting' cyclists.

Drivers’ perceptions of cyclists - [ DfT ]
"drivers in Leamington Spa may act less cautiously"!

Feeling the Pinch - [ Beyond the Kerb ]
Discusses Hawthorne Avenue in Gloucester
Street View panel will appear here.

Mark also discusses lanes and refuges here:
Tipping Out The Paint - [ Beyond the Kerb ]

For a motorist viewpoint :
Cyclists Should Be Banned From Our Roads Immediately! - [ Mack's Craic ]
"I realised I was going to pass this bloke in the narrow section. He must have heard me coming, I was doing at least 50mph (the speed limit is 60) but he didn’t pull closer to the curb so it would be safer for both of us, he stayed at least two yards from the curb the whole time as if he was the only vehicle on the road. I couldn’t give him anywhere near as much room as I would have liked to without hitting the bollard head-on."
"I have to drive at the speed limit all the time, so cyclists should get out of my way. I identified that I am dangerous, but I was not willing to lose a second or two to ensure our safety."
Note that a car clipping the central kerb killed a cyclist - see 'reconstruction' linked above.

This is precisely why we take primary position - to prevent this kind of dangerous overtake.

And an example where a cyclist died, on Stroud Road, Gloucester.
Note the cycle lane on the East side disappears before the refuge, and becomes a shared-use pavement - physically a blue painted spot. Note that the dropped kerb comes after the pinch-point - too late for a 'cyclist-refuge' ! Wrong !
Street View panel will appear here.

Some examples from CycleStreets

Almost wide enough for a van; railings are bad. Not really wide enough for comfort or safety.

Not wide enough - but a mandatory cycle lane. Is that really the cycle lane going through the trees ?
Or have cyclists been forced off the road ?

Do we expect cyclists to 'take the lane' here ? But not here ? Unless there's a bus or lorry ...

600mm cycle lane in 3.6m width

In its defence, the footways either side seem to be shared-use, so there is a 'segregated' option (although one is blocked by a fallen barrier and hosepipe below !).

Street View below is clickable and draggable ...

Street View panel will appear here.

If these things are needed for pedestrians crossing, fine.
If they are only intended as 'traffic calming', then if they are wide enough to be safe, they are too wide to be effective. Unless there is a cyclist there, to create an additional hazard.
Should the authorities be deliberately risking cyclists' lives to tame driver behaviour ?
If the cyclists are unwillingly pressed into service as the Council's 'traffic calming agent', is it surprising that drivers hate them ?

I think these refuges should only exist where pedestrians really need them.
Probably 70% are just hazardous.
There must be better ways to control speeds.

This one dumps traffic into a bus-stop and the lane disappears !
(Click to run the video ...)

The rule on the sign in the first photo should be added to the Highway Code.
Do not overtake cyclists or motorcyclists at road narrowings. 
Wait until it is safe to overtake - when there is plenty of width, and no oncoming traffic.
Highway Code - Rule for pedestrians
7A ( Green Cross Code )

A. First find a safe place to cross and where there is space to reach the pavement on the other side. Where there is a crossing nearby, use it. It is safer to cross using a subway, a footbridge, an island, a zebra, pelican, toucan or puffin crossing, or where there is a crossing point controlled by a police officer, a school crossing patrol or a traffic warden. Otherwise choose a place where you can see clearly in all directions. Try to avoid crossing between parked cars (see Rule 14), on a blind bend, or close to the brow of a hill.

Is it clear that a 'pedestrian refuge' is a crossing ? Mention explicitly ?
Are they sited in places where it is safe to cross, or places that are (otherwise) dangerous ?
Is it clear that they do not give pedestrians any more priority ?

Where there is an island in the middle of a zebra crossing, wait on the island and follow Rule 19 before you cross the second half of the road – it is a separate crossing.
Maybe every island should be a zebra ?

There's an interesting analysis 'Drivers’ perceptions of cyclists' by Basford and Reid (2002), investigating how and why motorists behave.
Around a quarter of respondents (26%) mentioned that the behaviour of other drivers would cause them to change their own behaviour. This indicates that drivers can regard themselves as trying to adhere to cautious behaviour around cyclists as an accepted response to the situation and yet still feel themselves to be pressurised by other drivers into behaving incautiously. This suggests that the perceived ‘social norm’ legitimises incautious behaviour, but leaves individual drivers free to attribute the cause of that behaviour to external influences rather than to their own attitudes.
They found that the presence of a pedestrian refuge caused both cyclist and motorist to act inconsiderately, while considering that the other was being inconsiderate. They are a cause of universal aggravation.
The study finding that drivers tend to blame cyclists for the difficulties they experience when encountering road narrowing suggests that certain highway features may increase tensions between the two types of user.
Where such features are considered unavoidable, adequate space should be allowed for cyclists and vehicles to use them without undue stress. Measures that deliberately require cyclists to obstruct traffic in order to produce a traffic calming effect should be avoided. The strategies adopted by some cyclists to deliberately hold up drivers until the cyclist believes it is safe for them to pass are likely to provoke particular hostility. Designs that require such behaviour are likely to cause particular frustration to drivers.
Further research into the behavioural response of drivers to frustrating conditions, including encounters with cyclists, should be conducted in order to establish whether the frustration experienced by drivers is expressed as negative behaviour. 
Here's an historic clip from 1993

Pedestrians have learned not to trust drivers - refuges do not give as much 'protection' as zebra crossings.
Notice also the spare illuminated bollard in a front garden, and the bollards on pavement build-outs - illuminated but knocked-over on one side : black iron bollard untouched on the other.

People walked away from this flipped car on a Cardiff road with only minor injuries - [ Wales Online ]
"On pulling out to pass a cyclist the vehicle was in collision with a central island and turned over. No further action will be taken. It has been reported that the sun was low in the area at the time."
Bollards are tall and visible, but they and kerbs are distinctly unforgiving. Not sure how low the sun is at 11am on the 9th December. At least they missed the cyclist. I guess the police judged the inconvenience, expense, pain, trauma and insurance premiums will be sufficient punishment.
Is it dangerous driving if you only endanger yourself ? I would think so - you can be convicted for Criminal Damage to your own property.

Driver unhurt after car flips onto roof in Rise Park - [ Nottingham Post ]

"Brand new road. That is a cycle lane on the right" - [ Mark Treasure on Twitter ] - Horsham in West Sussex

See also

Tapering Lanes - [ Motorism - a failure of democracy ! ] - Dyke Road Brighton
The possible versus the acceptable - [ As Easy As Riding A Bike ]
Hand Signals - [ Motorism - a failure of democracy ! ]
Safety Theatre - [ Motorism - a failure of democracy ! ]
Cyclists! Why do they ride in the middle of the road? - [ ]
Cyclists: claim your lane - [ Institute of Advanced Motorists ]
Parsonage Road – Where’s our cycle lanes? - [ Horsham District Cycling Forum ]
People walked away from this flipped car on a Cardiff road with only minor injuries - [ Wales Online ] - map
Impatient Dangerous Driver Y263 OEV, who feels saving 2 seconds is worth taking people's lives. - [ YouTube ]
British Driver Chases Hit And Run Driver - [ ]
an *awful* example - [ David Hembrow on Twitter ]

Pinch Points - [ +hushlegs  Cycling and road safety ]
Feeling the Pinch – [ Beyond the Kerb ]
Heaton vicar died after bike hit by moving car - [ The Journal ]
Cycle-safe re-design of Heaton Road in Newcastle four years after vicar is killed - [ Chronicle Live ]
National, pinchpoints and cycling safety – [ NewCycling ]
Sharing videos with Roadsafe - [ MrDrem's ramblings ] - numpty overtakes wrong-side
The effect of road narrowings on cyclists - [ TRL ] - download
Driver jailed for 18 months for vicious strangling attack on cyclist who caused imaginary wing mirror damage - [ ]

1 comment:

  1. Good to see this: "Our smart solutions improve safety and prevent accidents at entryways, in facilities and on roadways of all kinds." traffic calming, traffic calming devices".