A more general look at roundabouts
There was some confusion in the United Kingdom about ‘Dutch style roundabouts’ now that two different developments are going on at the same time. On the one hand Transport for London (TfL) has had a life size Dutch test roundabout built for them in the Transport Research Laboratory and on the other hand Bedford plans to build a Dutch ‘Turbo-roundabout’. In the Netherlands these two types of roundabouts are two completely different design solutions for very different situations. To get right to the point: in my opinion the Bedford situation could be very bad for cyclists as they are planning something “Dutch” without the Dutch solution for cyclists. On the other hand the TfL development could be very good for cyclists, because that is a complete Dutch solution translated for the UK. In the boxes below you can read details about the different types of Dutch roundabouts. But first I would like to show you a roundabout in Amsterdam that is a real version of the test roundabout built and tested for TfL.
This roundabout can be found in an older neighbourhood of Amsterdam, built shortly after 1900. It was a normal cross roads junction re-designed for the last time in the 1970s. It was traffic lights controlled and there were multiple lanes for motor traffic. There was no separate cycle infra at all. Because the junction was over 30 years old it was due for maintenance. The junction had been a black spot (because in three consecutive years there had been over six accidents with personal injuries), so the city took the opportunity to completely re-design the junction.
Neighbourhood residents came up with the idea to build a modern roundabout that would give pedestrians and cyclists priority over motor traffic. At first the city and road designers were skeptical about the implications that would have, but after a lot of thought and elaborate plans for both a roundabout and a cross roads junction (so the consequences for both could be compared well) Amsterdam decided it wanted to build the first roundabout with a tram track.
It wasn’t legally possible to give the tram priority on the tracks cutting through this roundabout. But a solution was found in traffic lights for the tram. These are only red lights that stop all traffic when a tram approaches. Making it officially a “rail road crossing”. Once the tram has passed, the lights go out and it becomes a ‘normal’ roundabout again.
The roundabout was constructed in 2007. At the same time all the streets leading to the roundabout were reconstructed and they got separated cycle paths as well. As is usual in the Netherlands, this was combined with a renewal of the sewer pipes, water works and cables. Right from the beginning people using the roundabout were generally pleased with it. Compared to the junction with traffic lights, traffic seemed to flow a lot faster. In 2011 a survey showed that people in Amsterdam named this particular junction as one of only few in the city where they thought safety had improved considerably. So the roundabout can be called a success. The only remaining complaint is that sometimes cyclists are not given the right of way by motor traffic.
But because of the design, the speed of motor traffic is reduced to an almost equal speed as that of cyclists. This makes negotiating the right of way a lot easier. In the video you can see that traffic flows very smoothly and motor traffic and cyclists really take turns. Cyclists sometimes even adjust their speed so they can just pass in front of a motor vehicle, or right behind it. The Dutch generally don’t like to come to a full stand still and they try to make sure that others don’t have to stop either. This type of junction makes that possible in a safe way, even with high volumes of very different types of traffic. Trucks, buses, cars, scooters, pedestrians and cyclists interact in a safe way and the traffic flow is very high even though the speeds are relatively low.
The video explains how the modern Amsterdam roundabout, with considerable traffic volumes, works.
Hierarchy in the right of way
The Tram has priority over all other traffic that is stopped on the roundabout with red lights so the tram always has a free passage
The tram excepted, the rest of the priority is organised as follows:
Pedestrians: on the zebra crossing pedestrians have the right of way over all other traffic
Cyclists: right of way on the circular cycle path, including priority over motor traffic entering and leaving the roundabout. Cyclists must give way to pedestrians on the zebra crossings and cyclists entering the roundabout must give way to other cyclists already on the roundabout.
Motor traffic: right of way on the roundabout itself, but on entering the roundabout motor traffic has to give way to pedestrians on the zebra crossing, cyclists on the cyclists’ crossing and other motor traffic already on the roundabout. When motor traffic leaves the roundabout again, drivers have to give way to cyclists on the cyclists’ crossing and pedestrians on the zebra crossing.
View from the saddle. Four left turns and going straight-on the fifth time.
In an earlier post I had already shown you this type of roundabout, but the Amsterdam roundabout is an example in a more urban setting.
Different types of Dutch roundabouts
A turbo-roundabout is usually several lanes wide and has a very special spiral shape. The aim of turbo-roundabouts is to get the traffic flow into a higher speed. For that reason it has been made impossible to change lanes on the roundabout itself with a physical division between the lanes. Sometimes with only a narrow divider, but sometimes simply by (a lot of) space. This eliminates weaving conflicts and that makes that traffic can flow very fast. That high-speed motor traffic makes cycling on such roundabouts impossible. So in the Dutch situation a turbo-roundabout always has separate cycling infrastructure at some distance, often grade separated. Sometimes, on level crossings, cyclists have to give way to motor traffic entering and leaving the roundabout. Because of the high speeds and the multiple lanes, that can be a difficult undertaking. The Dutch Cyclists’ Union is therefore not happy with turbo-roundabouts combined with at-grade crossings, especially in the built-up area. One such Turbo-roundabout in Eindhoven is notorious. The turbo-roundabout proposed in Bedford doesn’t even have separate cycling infra! Cyclists are expected to use the roundabout. Given the fact that due to the dividers and the narrow lanes, traffic is unable to overtake cyclists, that is a recipe for disaster!
‘Ordinary’ Roundabout (without priority for cyclists)
Normal roundabouts in the Netherlands are usually only one lane wide. They are kept small, so the radius is tight. That decreases speeds. When they are built outside the built-up area cyclists do not have priority. Cyclists cross the entrances and exits at some distance. That is easier because of the low speeds and because of the fact that cyclists only have to cross one lane at the time. To make clear cyclists do not have priority, the shape of the cycle tracks is not circular. Of course there are also shark-teeth on the surface and give-way signs to also make the priority clear.
‘Ordinary’ Roundabout (with priority for cyclists)
The roundabouts inside the built-up area are generally built with a separated cycle path in the shape of a perfect circle. This makes clear that cyclists have priority. This is the type of roundabout that TfL is testing. One important feature is the space for exactly one car between the cycle path and the roundabout itself. Cars entering the roundabout can wait there to give traffic on the roundabout priority, without being in the way of cyclists. Cars leaving the roundabout can wait there to give passing cyclists priority without being in the way of motor traffic on the roundabout.
The flow of all different types of traffic is best observed from one point for a longer time. The bonus video gives you that opportunity. Over 12 minutes in two long segments.
Bonus video: to get a long good look at the traffic flow.
107 thoughts on “A modern Amsterdam Roundabout”
Do you know of any similar roundabouts to this or junction designs that accommodate a T-junction tramway? Fitting a half grand-union into a roundabout seems like it would be doable but only under very specific circumstances and with rolling stock with a tight enough turning radius.
The idea of turbo roundabout with raised lane dividers would also not please motorcyclists I think for once push bikers would get some support from the BMF (british motorcyclists federation) in their oposition
I think you might have replied to the wrong comment mate.
Thank you so much for all your wonderful blog posts. I’ve left a little donation.
I have shown the Amsterdam Roundabout video in this post to a local group of County Highways councillors who were enthusiastic and will take the ideas to a more senior committee in the County Council to see if it could recommend that the single-lane Dutch layout can be used in the whole of the County.
Now there is one thing you say in your commentary to the video that I am puzzled by: “Cars only have to yield to bikes when they leave the roundabout.”
Is it not true that a car approaching to enter the roundabout sees shark’s teeth on the carriageway just in front of the pedestrian crossing and then the cycle path?
I have seen on the Purmerend webcam cars approaching the roundabout from the top left corner, slowing and occasionally having to stop momentarily to let a pedestrian/cyclist past.
I ask this because the Highway engineers in the County Council may well ask me about this when I give evidence to the senior committee, and I need to have an authoritative answer!
I would be most grateful if you could enlighten me.
With my Very Best Wishes & Thanks in Advance, Julian
Hello Julian thank you very much for your generous donation! Good that you could get some interest from engineers for my posts!
If I say that in the video I must mean something else, because you are right that drivers do have to give way when entering the roundabout, because there are sharks’ teeth and normal give way signs. To organise the priority for drivers exiting the roundabout you will also see sharks’ teeth pointing at drivers leaving the roundabout where they cross the cycleway. The latter is to emphasize the general priority rule that traffic going straight (on the circle of the roundabout) has priority over turning traffic. Traffic leaving the roundabout is considered to make a right turn and therefore must give way to cycling and walking. So indeed, drivers will be giving way entering and leaving! Hope this helps.
I think Marc had an unlucky choice of words there. When he said “Cars only have to yield to bikes when they leave the roundabout,” he meant “Cars on the roundabout only have to yield … “.
Do you have any video clips of bike riders using the Weteringcircuit roundabout in Amsterdam?
Any further pictures of the forgotten users* falling off on the raised ‘motor’ ways?
Its not good enough to consider motorcycles or scooters in the same breath as ‘motor traffic’ they have different needs, strengths and weaknesses(but they are like push bikes part of the solution to congestion) any raised surface in closely contested areas are a danger if it were not so push bikes would not be segregated and yet I can see not a mention of their needs in this forum
Not specifically. But the Weteringcircuit can be seen quite often in this video about mopeds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul5UpaZbLRg it starts with it.
How you car drivers and cyclists forget us motorcyclists! just imagine hiting those deisel soaked mini ‘lane walls’ on a dark wet night Push bikers think they are not considered by the road designers-its motorcycvlist that are really forgotten you only have to see the miles of wire rope that still exist on dual carrigeways to know that
I belive that the idiotic “Dutch roundabout ” scheme for my home town of Bedford has been scrapped, Good now a few MOTORcyclists can ride in peace
I see http://www.transportxtra.com/magazines/local_transport_today/news/?ID=37469 reporting it has been delayed not scrapped. Do you have a source for the scrapping?
You are right it says Halted.
Thanks. By the way, the comments on that website are awful – road tax and worse. I suspect this delay won’t stop it being constructed – they’ll simply argue that motorcycles use turbo roundabouts abroad safely, stick up a few more warning signs and then proceed.
There are a lot of cyclists on here who do not believe that acycling Utopia does not exist. I am a Brit living in Denmark and it does exist here. Cyclists are top of the food chain here. We have courteous drivers as most Danes also cycle and our cycle path networks both in towns and countryside is superb.
Hi John. You pointed me to this post a few times, I think. I don’t see anything new here, to be honest. Knowledge has always been distributed. Learners have always had choice, and learning has always been learner-centred too. A claim that any pedagogy is wholly learner-centred is extreme, I think. Try to envision a continuum of any of the above three qualities of learning.
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Just to set the record straight, the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL – see http://www.trl.co.uk) does not belong to TfL as implied in the article. It is an independent and, in the transport world at least, highly respected research establishment. Also the roundabout was not built by TfL, it was built by TRL on TfL’s behalf, and all testing is being undertaken by TRL.
Thanks for this information. I changed the text slightly to make it more accurate.
Hat dies auf Jochens Computer Blog rebloggt und kommentierte:
Da können sich unsere Städte- und Verkehrsplaner ein paar scheiben abschneiden!
My attempt at increasing the capacity of the basic Dutch roundabout:
The CROW manual refers to bypass lanes as a possible combination option, but I’m not aware of any examples with an extra unsignallled lane through the middle (might be a bit too radical!)
What is usually done in such a case, which is much safer, is to build an extra lane on the outside, as this leaves no conflict. This extra lane would only be for that left turn. With the addition of traffic signals and with a larger setup, other lanes on the outside can be constructed as well, but then it’s best to provide for cyclists going under or over the roundabout
Yes, as the discussion develops we see that “equalling out speeds” and a culture of courtesy between users of different modes are the important things. Naturally I am in favour of both. Painting white lines on the road is good for a 2-3kph reduction in speed due to drivers’ perception that the road is narrower, so I guess that’s all to the good; unless it lures the inexperienced into the door zone, or down the left of HGVs at junctions…
As for a culture of courtesy, you can’t legislate for it. Or can you? The French ‘Loi n° 85-677 du 5 juillet 1985’ puts the onus on the motorist to show that s/he was not negligent in the event of a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist. I believe the motorist has to show gross negligence of the other party to escape liability. In other words, it’s the motorist who is presumed to be at fault in any crash.
The French even an officially promulgated slogan, “Partageons la route !” [Share the road!] which is widely seen on signs on routes départementales (~B-roads) in tourist areas. It is perfectly functional. They have also got the message that speed kills: 30kph zones are proliferating in town and country here.
So the problem is not in road design; the problem is in driver behaviour. You don’t solve that with fancy roundabout designs. You solve it on the one hand by encouraging driver education and training (esp for HGVs) and on the other by exposing motorists to the risk of expensive insurance and driving bans unless they are very careful indeed.
I would rather be protected from slow learning and agressive motorist by a fancy roundabout. Your Utopia where everyone is well educated and socially adept does not exist.
Well, even with a fancy roundabout you still rely on the motorist to give way appropriately. Your desire for ‘protection’ is understandable but childish. Yes, your life depends on the sanity of others everyday in every way, at junctions, in nuclear power station control rooms, in air traffic control towers. Get over it. Rights are lost unless exercised. Demand and expect the respect entitled to you as a citizen using the road, by whatever mode.
As you raise the notion of utopia, might I enquire in which parallel universe your protected full width cycle lanes will be installed? In most 19th or older European cities, street widths are such that hard choices have to be made between motor and cycle traffic. **Providing speeds are low** cycles and cars can mix, though of course the cars do smell bad…
I like how you talk as if the Netherlands doesn’t have any 19th century or older cities, and as if childish people (such as children?) don’t have a right to safe access to a road.
you are a troll
Interesting to see how much fear this evokes from Vehicular Cycling-minded riders. To put all of you at ease: Amsterdam cyclists don’t feel second class to cars because of the infrastructure. Instead, the infra gives them a safe space, and fast as well, and offers a lot more routes than cars have. Anyway, I think it’s rather selfish to defend your ‘right to the road’ to an extent that it blocks dedicated cycling infrastructure from being built. Not everyone is fast, agile, young, male and overconfident, you know. Think how you would love being able to cycle still when you are 84, without fear of fast traffic!
Amen to that.
(Speaking as one starts drawing his state pension in a few days time.)
I agree. I was just in Amsterdam for a week of biking (and I am not a serious cyclist) and I must say that they are doing something right. The streets have a heavy emphasis on sharing the space with the cyclist and the pedestrian, and the motorists are cognizent of the potential conflicts, patient and courteous. We need this shift in our auto-oriented culture.
It is good to see a debate on the acceptability of different infrastructure for cyclists. However, with regards to the Bedford turbo-roundabout, it is easy to misunderstand the impact of a design on the basis of a short article in LTT (Local Transport Today). The overall concept indeed was inspired by the examples in The Netherlands, but the concept has been adapted to the local environment.
First you need to understand the current arrangement in Bedford. It is an English-style roundabout in the middle of a very Victorian town. The roundabout itself is relatively small but has a relatively wide unmarked circulating carriageway where traffic either circulates as single lanes or doubles up depending on flow. Vehicles circulate too fast, entries are too close and it is difficult to predict vehicle paths, so that other vehicles, including cyclists, find it difficult to safely enter the roundabout. There are several circulating vehicle-colliding-with-entry-vehicle collisions as a result.
Most cyclists are also following a different path from most motorised vehicles. So there are conflicts as cyclists move across the different paths of vehicles. And of course there are the typical entry – circulating collisions where vehicles enter the roundabout without noticing the circulating cyclist.
On top of this, there are high pedestrian flows. There are 2500 pedestrian crossing movements of the arms without any assistance apart from the central islands, with several accidents resulting as crossing pedestrians are hit mostly by exiting vehicles.
So with 32 injury accidents, including 8 serious, over 10 years, at a cost to society of nearly £2 million, there was an urgent need to do something. The roundabout lies on an important route to the town centre and station for cyclists with over 500 cyclists a day, but it is also on a key interurban and intra-urban route with 25,000 motorised vehicles a day.
The council’s first choice was single lane compact (Dutch-style) roundabout. This was modelled but was found not to cope with the vehicular capacity, because whereas compact roundabouts can cope with those kinds of flows, the junction flows at this roundabout are not balanced. This is where the turbo-roundabout concept came to our rescue.
Ignoring the type of cycle provision for the moment, the essence of a turbo-roundabout is that it can cope with higher flows than a compact roundabout (up to 35,000 vehicles per day) because of 2 lane entries and 2 lane circulation. Secondly the raised circulating lane dividers prevent straight-lining through the roundabout so reduce vehicular speed entering, circulating and exiting the roundabout, thereby creating a safety benefit. Finally the spiral lane marking through the roundabout reduces the conflict points as vehicles enter, circulate and exit.
Our estimate, based on the radius of curvature of vehicular paths, is that in Bedford this will reduce motorised vehicle speeds from current 25mph to around 10-15mph, approximating much more to cycling speeds. The lower vehicle speeds allow us to put Zebras on every arm which will further change the way motorists use the roundabout, becoming more aware of vulnerable road users, and further reduce entry and exit speeds.
So with motorised vehicles and pedestrians now catered for, that leaves what is the best solution for cyclists. First it should be understood, notwithstanding the Dutch style preponderance of cycle tracks, if vehicle speeds are low enough, it is safer for a cyclist to go round a roundabout in the primary position. Annular cycle tracks create additional conflict points. In primary position on the road, a cyclist is most visible and has least conflict points, especially so in a single lane compact roundabout or turbo-roundabout.
Secondly, you cannot legally create a non-signalised annular cycle track and a pedestrian crossing in the UK context. This is the significance of the TRL work. It is the first stage in seeking a change in Government regulations to allow this. So either pedestrians get priority at a Zebra or cyclists have priority using Give Way markings (not a feasible option in this context).
Thirdly and most importantly, a cycle track is neither the safe nor correct solution for the Bedford roundabout. The four roads that lead to the roundabout have very high flows of pedestrians with adequate footway widths, but certainly not shared path widths. Most cyclists approaching this junction are on-road, using the cycle lanes on the most congested link. Cyclists going through the roundabout in primary position, i.e. taking up the whole lane, will have no more conflict points than in a Dutch-style compact roundabout, and around a third of the conflict points under the existing design. A detailed analysis of the accidents suggests a 75% reduction in serious accidents and 40% reduction in slight accidents for all modes, including cyclists.
So as long as cyclists are happy to take primary position in front of traffic, they will be safer and get through the roundabout faster than in an annular design. The conflict is between perceptual safety and real safety. The big question is whether cyclists will feel safe in primary position in front of slow moving traffic.
This is where personal feelings often cloud professional judgements. An analysis of Bedford data is that there are 2 types of cyclists – “Quick” cyclists happy to share with traffic and “Quiet” cyclists who want to be segregated from traffic as far as possible. The current division of cyclists in Bedford is around 60% Quick cyclists and 40% Quiet cyclists (on the basis of a survey of station cyclists and an analysis of road usage). Currently at this junction, 350 are on-road and 200 off-road (a lot of those are child cyclists).
So for Quiet cyclists we are creating a cycle track which leads to the Zebras. They will be able to go round the roundabout using the Zebras, 2 of which have been widened to maximum of 4m (on the main cycle crossing flows) to create as safe a crossing environment as possible.
In summary, the roundabout should definitely be safer for all users – pedestrians, cyclists and motorised users, than the current layout. Secondly, unlike now, cyclists will have a legal choice, depending on their nature, whether to go through the roundabout on-road or off-road. Hopefully this will create a virtuous circle of happier cyclists, eventually leading to higher cycle usage. We are thankful that the DfT Cyclist Safety Grant has been awarded to allow us to trial this innovative design.
Whilst the long and detailed reply is welcome, the section on motor vehicle capacity belies the bias inherent in most UK road projects- they must always increase capacity (encouraging more car use), not decrease (discouraging it). Fundamental problem right there.
Agree with Al Storer. Would also add that the needs of cyclists who are too intimidated to use a roundabout today also needs to be considered.
Yep, Al get’s it right in few words. A great example of exactly what is wrong with road design in the UK and it starts with the engineers and designers.
Fundamentally flawed designing with cycling last not intrinsic will ensure this country remains a mess of a traffic jam. Maybe a little faster at first, then trapped as more cars encouraged to come out and the perfectly viable alternatives designed out.
“So as long as cyclists are happy to take primary position in front of traffic”
So even before you have started you have effectively designed out any possible use by most elderly people, most women, all disabled and all children.
“There are two types of cyclists”, No, there is one type of cyclist, the type that want to get where they are going safely and conveniently. You’re not putting in two roundabouts for cars, one for experienced drivers and one for learners, why think of cyclists any differently?
Very interesting to read the detailed explanation, thanks for that. Sadly it does come down to “be a vehicular cyclist or take a walk (on the zebra)”;it won’t encourage many people to join the group of ‘quiet cyclists’.
So the design is intended to accommodate motor traffic levels increasing by 40%, but provides nothing for the vast majority of people who want to ride bicycles but who don’t want to ride amongst heavy motor vehicles. I wonder how easing motor traffic flow at this junction will affect other junctions and roads nearby.
Where do children ride their bikes here? Illegally using the zebras? Amongst the cars?
While you note that the current division of existing cyclists is 60% Quick and 40% Quiet, that only accounts for perhaps 10% of the people who would like to ride their bikes for local transport if only it were safe enough. That includes children, the elderly, and the vast majority of ordinary people (who pretty-much can all ride bicycles, and who pretty-much all have bicycles).
Quick cyclists perhaps account for 60% of 10% of the traffic here: or just 6% of the traffic. Quiet cyclists could account for 40% of the traffic here, if only visibly safe facilities were provided. Why invest so much for the 6% when a similar investment could satisfy 40%, reduce congestion, pollution, noise, danger and lead to a healthier population (obesity being a HUGE and increasingly expensive problem in the UK).
If the junction isn’t safe and easy for people on bicycles aged 8 to 80 to use, then it’s not a Dutch junction.
Why not wait a year or two for the TRL study to confirm that a Dutch design is safest and best (they’ve done the real-world testing over 40 years!), for the highway rules to change, and then implement a proper Dutch solution? The current solution is a typical UK “people on bicycles don’t matter” botch job.
Sad reply for me, which in one post encapsulates the issues with transport planning in the UK.
“So with motorised vehicles and pedestrians now catered for, that leaves what is the best solution for cyclists”…. the scraps, as usual….
This will be a typical botch job which reduces cycling to largely the fearless, and then (like has already been done in the planning) uses that as statistical evidence that it was the right approach, since mostly it’s the fearless who are using it…
Why not plan for the those that you WANT to cycle? Why make the the distinction between those on the road and those off the road? STOP expecting and planning that people on bikes will take primary. Yes some will. Ignore them! If you put in proper infrastructure they will be a tiny minority. Worry about the masses who have no desire to do that, whatsoever..
And why on EARTH are people still planning, in 2013, for an INCREASE in traffic??
I do appreciate the long and detailed reply, but honestly this is twenty-year old thinking, with a “turbo” spin.
Patrick – very honest and open of you to respond in such detail. However, I second the flaws identified by other commenters: in effect, you’re reinforcing the way that transport choices are framed in Britain, by making it clear to any potential cyclist that they would be (in travel terms) a second-class citizen.
Why not try a completely different starting point? Identify the thousands of journeys made every day by car of, say, less than 5km that pass through this roundabout. Research with residents to find out what the barriers are to cycling or walking on these journeys. Then design accordingly, to make walking and cycling easy and normal. Then you’d be responding to *latent* demand and making Bedford healthier (your NHS partners might be pleased with this), rather than existing demand which fuels unpleasant environments and unhealthy living (not to mention climate change).
“Ignoring the type of cycle provision for the moment …”
“So with motorised vehicles and pedestrians now catered for, that leaves … cyclists.”
That’s of your key problems right there.
Quite how you can use money for cycling to build a roundabout where cycling is the last thing to be considered is beyond me.
“There are 2 types of cyclists – “Quick” cyclists happy to share with traffic and “Quiet” cyclists who want to be segregated from traffic as far as possible.”
I should point out a subtle, but *incredibly* important issue with that statement: You need to replace the word “happy” with “willing”. I cycle in both of the above modes and, believe me, if I can be a “Quick” cyclist without having to share traffic, I will be.
“Hopefully this will create a virtuous circle of happier cyclists.”
If you ask me (and you didn’t), it won’t, and it can’t, because the two-tier approach breaks the circle. You’re either sharing and thus doing walking pace (or, in the case of the zebras, possibly even walking), in which case why not walk, or you’re fighting traffic – and anyone who’s prepared to do that is already doing it.
If you’re aiming for greater cycling uptake, as you claim, there is nowhere to go: people will either be eternally frustrated by a slow, pedestrian-filled route that requires frequent stopping and dismounting, or they will have to suddenly take a leap of faith and start doing battle with traffic. And we know with near certainty that they won’t do the latter because if they wanted to do that they would be doing that now.
It’s the middle ground, of safe-enough and fast-enough infrastructure, that’s absolutely critical to increasing cycling and reducing traffic. And it’s the middle ground that is constantly rejected by designs such as these.
The zebra crossings are definitely welcome, for pedestrians. A shared pavement is a flawed compromise, but it’s an improvement over the current situation.
However, most people are terrified of the idea of cycling on multi-lane roundabouts with lots of cars. This conflicts with any general policy of making cycling accessible to all, which I’m sure Bedford has.
You are completely wrong on Dutch advice about motor traffic speeds and cycling. Dutch expertise makes it clear that people cycling do not want to (and should not) share a road with high levels of motor traffic, regardless of speed. This is unsafe, as drivers will want to get past people on bikes, and often overtake them dangerously.
I see a lot of cyclists riding on the left hand edge of roundabouts, due to fear of traffic. The Bedford turbo-roundabout design does not make this any safer.
High pedestrian flows make cycling on a shared pavement around the roundabout unsuitable. This slows down people cycling to walking pace and makes pedestrians feel threatened.
There is another option available to the British planner right now in this kind of situation. A single lane roundabout, with signalised toucan crossings. This allows space for a pavement and cycle track (with kerbs on both sides) around the roundabout itself. At the crossings, paint could be used to keep cycles and pedestrians separate. Toucans allow a higher motor vehicle capacity than zebra crossings, as multiple people cross at once. The crossing timings are important. Many British junctions with signalised crossings maximise motor vehicule capacity by making pedestrians wait a long time to cross, and making them wait again in the middle of the road (staggered crossings). That would be completely unacceptable.
“Secondly, you cannot legally create a non-signalised annular cycle track and a pedestrian crossing in the UK context”
“Quiet cyclists we are creating a cycle track which leads to the Zebras. They will be able to go round the roundabout using the Zebras,”
But cyclists are not allowed to use Zebras – the highway code says they must dismount and walk across.
How can you not create the first item here but can implement a solution that requires cyclists to dismount?
The numbers don’t seem to add up. Manual for Streets suggests that 7m radius allows 20-30mph turns, so how is a wider 15m radius going to result in slower 15mph turns?
And there may be two types of cyclist CURRENTLY using that junction, but what about the others? In addition to fast and child, there’s also usually utility, leisure and specialised cycles – section 1.3.8 of LTN 2/08 – are they missing or have you lumped them into your two overbroad categories?
I summarised a bit of this at http://cycle.travel/by/mjray/bedford_turbogate but this is really disappointing.
While I thank you for your explanation, it remains shocking to see cycling money used to improve a roundabout where cycling is the last user group considered! The UK desperately needs to get people out of cars and to active travel. (You must by now be aware of the benefits so I will not enumerate them here.) The group that new designs need to cater for are the not-yet-cycling. This design does nothing for that group. If you are a rider happy to mix with traffic you could stick with the current design. If you’d rather stay away from traffic you remain a third rate citizen in the new design; someone who cannot legally use your chosen form of transport to traverse the junction.
Here is a Southern California’s version of an Roundabout/Traffic Circle In Long Beach, CA. You can see it through the eyes of cyclists here on Youtube @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZkhgXaR064 Note how the cyclists have no special paths or even painted lanes for them. You are placed right in the path of the cars and other motorized vehicles unlike The Netherlands’ Roundabouts or most other roadways. .Now don’t be so surprised the lack of serious commuting/utility cyclists around here. Most limit their cycling to recreational use only in far more protected areas.
Hmm. Please do not forget, amidst all the enthusiasm for the ways of the country that invented cycle apartheid, how much it sucks to ride a bike in Holland because cyclists have *no right to use the road*.
What you get on the cycle paths is a cobbled bumpfest that fusses around the houses, garages and bus stops. Meanwhile the motorists enjoy the direct route on pleasantly smooth tarmac. Try to ride on the road, and you’ll get a lot of fisht-waving aggreschion, and a ticket from the cops when they catch up with you.
So they can stick their fancy roundabouts up their gouda-heavy rear-ends as far as I’m concerned. Why anyone would think they were the example to follow I do not know. This British fetish for admiration of their “separate development” should be recognised as the covert motor-fascism that it is.
If you’d like to do something more effective, and less annoying, impose a 30kph speed limit in built-up areas. Oh look: http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/30kmh_making_streets_liveable.htm
You forgot to mention that ‘apartheid’ is a Dutch word! It came to the English language via Afrikaans, which is closely related to Dutch.
And I’ll let you in on another little secret (but don’t tell anyone!): all the videos and pictures on this site of the smooth red asphalt are CGI’ed into them! It’s one big conspiracy to cover up the narrow bumpy cobbled paths all Dutch cyclists are forced to use daily. I’m glad there are heroes like you telling the Truth though. Keep up the good work!
Interesting. Probably wouldn’t harm to send road-users to sharing-101 either.
My, that must make things difficult for cyclists! About 80% of Dutch roads don’t have “aparheid” cycle paths, of the bumpy-cobbly variety or of any other. What do they do then? Get off and push?
I’m going to the Netherlands (spit!) next week to suffer their horrible bicycle routes. All those children riding to school! People riding to the shops! Pensioners out together! Awful.
None of that casual safe stress-free rubbish for me – I’ll be cycling *PROPERLY* in full Lycra® in the middle of the road, dominating the motorists (spit again!) with my teeth gritted London-style. Let’s see how those Gouda-bums like that!
If you did that, you would be promptly fined or told by the police to go to the cycle path. And once you got there, you would find that your life would be much easier, even in lycra with a race bike.
Nah, Dutch police is not that much into fining cyclists. More likely you’d get off with a warning rather than a fine.
Oh, and if you know Schrödinger’s Cat a bit, you’d realize he was being ironic/sarcastic there 🙂
Yeah, you must be right. Hardly anyone rides bicycles in the Netherlands. 🙂
Also, the Netherlands obviously is rubbish when it comes to competitive road cycling (am I doing this right?).
“These roundabouts have existed since 1992 when the first one was built in Enschede.”
Last night, or more precisely, early this morning, I questioned the claim that Enschede implemented the first roundabout with priority for cyclists in 1992. Certainly, until then in the Netherlands traffic joining the roundabout had right of way over traffic on the roundabout, and perhaps the one in Enschede was the first to be built under the new rules.
In the 1970s in primary school in Venlo we learnt the above priority rule, with an exception for two roundabouts in Venlo, and one in Zaandam. For these 3 roundabouts the traffic on the approach roads should yield to traffic on the roundabout. When the teacher asked which roundabouts they were, we all knew the right answer: the rotonde at the Station (Koninginneplein) and the one on the Krefeldseweg on the northern edge of town. We also knew why they were different: they were “German rules” roundabouts because of the large volume of border-crossing traffic in Venlo.
In an old photo I linked to on Twitter, dated to 1957-1960 (because of the newly built station in the background) it shows the bicycle lanes with zebra markings where they cross the approach road. There are no markings compelling approaching cars to yield at the roundabout, suggesting that circling bicycles had priority, but circling cars didn’t (!)
Certainly in the mid-1970s the roundabout at the station had priority rules as we know them now. As now is common, pavements and cycle lanes were bundled with the circle and so pedestrians and cyclists continued to have priority over any traffic on the approach roads.
It was quite a unique roundabout in the Netherlands, because of its sheer size: 3-rings of rotating traffic plus a cycle lane and pavements. Negotiating it during driving lessons was a baptism of fire.
In 1992 I left for Belfast and I have only been back to Venlo occasionally. Due to 50,000 vehicle movements a day across the circle and the large volume of cyclists and pedestrians accessing the station, plans were made to by-pass the roundabout. Work was completed in 2011. Now there is a 130m-tunnelled section taking traffic from Koninginnesingel to the Burgemeester van Rijnsingel (and vice versa).
“These roundabouts” refers to single lane roundabouts in a perfect circle with the circular cycle path all around it. Built after the law change in the priority rules on roundabouts (early 1990s). While the example you give in Venlo did give priority to motor traffic on the “roundabout” (before that was the rule in the Netherlands, because of the many German drivers in border town Venlo) it was not a roundabout under Dutch law, but a ‘traffic circle’. Furthermore it was 3 lanes wide! I don’t think it is right to assume the cyclists had priority there from the 1970s. I know this point very well and I have cycled there in the early 1980s. I am pretty sure the cycle paths around this traffic circle at the time did not have priority. I can clearly remember long waits to cross the multiple lanes of fast moving traffic (the traffic circle was also very wide so traffic could drive fast.) The priority for cyclists is a later change, I am sure. And that that is not always a good idea proves the Utrecht roundabout (example from Herbert Tiemens) where cyclists now have priority while that was not the case during the design of the roundabout. With the higher speeds of motor traffic that has now become a black spot. Roundabouts have to comply to all the design specifics to be safe enough. Key is the low speed of motor traffic. If you don’t have that, motor traffic is less inclined to give the cyclists the priority they should have and things go wrong.
I accept your point about the roundabout being a circle rather than a modern roundabout.
I am pretty sure we had right of way over cars on the approach roads. It was always quite exhilirating as a child to approach the roundabout, because we had the power to stop traffic! Although we were warned about “Hollandse” drivers who didn’t know the rules.
The difficulty in getting across the road was more because of cars blocking the pedestrian and cycle crossings. It was busy in the 1970s and I remember the endless jams of the early 1990s, with traffic backing up as far as the Krefeldseweg in the north and the Koninginnesingel being a car park even in off-peak hours (with traffic backing up across the road bridge and into Blerick on the western bank).
And when the Germans closed their borders for freight traffic for whatever reason traffic could be snarled up until the small hours of the morning.
intrigued, I looked for old pictures and found one. Seems my memory played a trick on me and you were indeed right about the priority. Very interesting how they achieved this. They created a never ending circular one-way priority road (indicated by the orange squared signs and the blue round signs with the white arrow). To which all “side streets”, the entrances, had to give way (you can see the extra large yield signs from the back even in the far distance). Since the cycle paths belonged to the circular priority road they would have to have priority over the side streets as well. This was an exceptional situation created for the exceptional conditions in Venlo (with so many German drivers who were used to priority regulations similar to these). But all this has very little to do with the designs of modern roundabouts I discuss and show in this post.
Reblogged this on nürnberg2rad und kommentierte:
Ein Beitrag von der Seite bicycledutch auf English. Es lohnt sich die Filmchen anzusehen. So gut kann Verkehr fließen, ohne Ampeln!!! Will ich auch haben in der Stadt. Weg mit den Ampelkreuzungen!
What surprises me every time, is the fact that traffic flows and flows, even when sometimes there is only a little space between cars and bicycles. But still everyone tries to keep the flow moving. It is really amazing if you are not used to it. It is a different attitude to what I see in German traffic every day. I wished, we would have these kind of traffic solutions one day…
You have to laugh at the English, really. Now they are testing a roundabout that has been proved for years – they certainly know how to waste their money and procrastinate!
My back-of-the envelope calculation (assuming that last video wasn’t peak time) is that the Lambeth Bridge North roundabout carries 50-100% more traffic than that (DfT figures give it as about 50,000 motorised vehicles per day). There’s a distinct risk it would seize up in the peak if you tried that layout, unfortunately.
This was all filmed last Friday afternoon between 1:30 and 2:30 so yes off peak time. This design can handle 25,000 vehicles per day (1,500 per hour peak time). Numbers of 50,000 vehicles per day are virtually unknown in Dutch inner cities. Partly also because of the high numbers of people on bicycles. For roundabouts/junctions with that many vehicles there are only few safe solutions. This one got a tunnel.
As Mark said, if the volume of cars and cyclists is such that they get in each other’s way, separate them. For major river crossings, cyclists have either a separate track and/or a separate bridge so that cyclists don’t have to navigate the mayhem that’s motorized traffic moving on/off a bridge.
For example, check the two major bridges across the Rhine in Arnhem: note how cyclists have separate infrastructure not just on the bridge but also on the major junctions to the north of the bridges (Roermondsplein and Airborneplein, respectively). On topic of this post, Airborneplein is a roundabout with a grade separated cycling roundabout below the roundabout for cars.
Could it be worse than http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St38cQVgpRY which shows that very roundabout ????
Another view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxkNaTKUOAY doesn’t look much different to the Amsterdam example in terms of amount of traffic and that’s at 5:30 pm.
I’m glad you mention that the pauses and “let op” of the users in their varying modes (sometimes cyclists give up their right to cross) is a benefit of a design that gives direct, face-to-face communication. And vice versa: the design allows people to “let op” to other users as a way to speed (really, smooth out) the others’ travel, or their own.
The Dutch have designed intersections that places users – cyclists and drivers alike – at angles where they can see each other.
Yes, that is right. You do have to pay attention but the almost equalled out speeds make that so possible that it almost comes naturally. Even to the point that very few pedestrians ‘take’ the right to cross the zebra. They may just stop for a second to get in between gaps in traffic. It is really give and take between the very different types of traffic, that is made possible and even encouraged by the design. Levelling out speed differences is key here. That makes all types of traffic equal. So this interaction takes place.
Amazing. I don’t think I heard a single honk, shout or see any sort of agitation in the vids. Can’t you compile a vid of “Dutch road-rage” clips just so we can feel a bit better about ourselves for once? ;^)
Would I be right in saying that due to the way it is designed you cannot physically do a u-turn on a turbo roundabout – that is, loop round and head back the way you came?
Yes, that is right: that is made impossible. You would have to break rules and/or risk damaging your vehicle if you wanted to do that (by “zig-zaging” between the divisions in a forbidden way, or by driving over them).
In some configurations, yes, in others, no.