Friday, 3 August 2012

Deal's Gateway - cycling suicide

Cycling has been very much in the news the last week or so, both positively, with medals for our track and road cyclists, and negatively, with the sad news that another cyclist has been killed on London's roads.

Regular cyclists will know that the main changes that are needed in order to reduce road deaths are improvements in the design of junctions and road layouts, with the safety of cyclists in mind.

Anyone who rides the same route regularly becomes familiar with the junctions, and if they are anything like me, subconsciously builds up a safety rating for each part of the journey. Sometimes it's not the actual layout of the junction that's at fault, it's the fact that the relative direction or volume of traffic has not been considered by whoever designed the traffic phasing. Usually the main consideration in terms of traffic is to keep the cars moving.

It is now two years since Transport for London deemed it necessary to change the traffic signalling at Deal's Gateway - the junction where Greenwich High Road meets the A2, and the construction of the new development known collectively as One SE8 created a new road, Deal's Gateway, on the opposite side.

When this new stub of road was first built, the traffic lights at the junction had three phases. The main phase was green, for the traffic on the A2. The second phase was green for the traffic on Greenwich High Road, the vast majority of which emerges and turns right into the A2, heading for New Cross. A third phase (which I believe only operated when a vehicle was detected on Deal's Gateway) was a dedicated phase for traffic coming out of the One SE8 development.

Now I can't remember the exact details of why it was changed, but I seem to remember that TFL thought that having a dedicated phase for Deal's Gateway was causing delays to drivers on the A2, and so decided to do away with it. Now traffic from Deal's Gateway gets a green signal at the same time as traffic from Greenwich High Road.

Under normal circumstances on any other crossroads, this would not be a problem. Unfortunately it often happens that the only traffic emerging from Deal's Gateway is cyclists coming through the cycle route in Brookmill Park and heading for Greenwich, while in the opposite direction, a non-stop stream of cars, buses and vans wants to turn across the Deal's Gateway traffic.

This change to the traffic pattern was rapidly identified by local cycling groups as posing a huge danger to cyclists and the issue was flagged with TFL. After a lot of pestering and the intervention of various politicians and cycling groups, TFL made some 'improvements' to the junction by bringing the signals on Deal's Gateway nearer to the junction and putting some signs up on Greenwich High Road.

But the improvements it offered were barely noticeable; cyclists still had to take their lives into their hands every time they wanted to cross the junction. I have used this junction once since the change, I will never do it again while these traffic phases remain - however I am lucky in that I rarely need to do so.

Last week, Lewisham Cyclists decided to film a cyclist attempting to perform this manoeuvre. You can see the results below.

I don't believe it would be melodramatic to say that a cyclist is likely to die on this junction if the traffic signalling is not changed. I would hazard a guess that the only reason no-one has been killed so far is that the vast majority of cyclists change their routes to avoid it.

If you want to help with the campaign, or find out more about it, you can get in touch with Lewisham Cyclists.


Brian said...

I use this junction quite often. It's horrible, and I always try to judge when the lights on the A2 have gone red, and set off before the Deal's Gateway and Greenwich High Rd have gone green, to give myself a chance of getting halfway before the traffic comes out of GHR. When there's such an easy way to fix it, it's appalling that this danger still exists.

Sandy said...

Jesus Christ!! It's as if cyclists are invisible. What is the matter with people.

And why, oh why, has something not been done about this junction as an emergency.

This is oh so wrong!

Anonymous said...

It's not great but navigable; the option of do a left, u-turn, then another left won't make a lot of difference to your journey time.
Alternaitvely ignore the ASL and drift through as "fourth wheel" behind a stream of cars, if available.

Deptford Dame said...

@dan neither of your suggestions works at this site either because of physical restrictions or because of the traffic flow.

Unknown said...

I use this junction daily commuting into Greenwich - its a total death trap. After a very close call I've taken to using the pedestrian crossing on the other side of deptford bridge... I'll join your campaign for sure!

Anonymous said...

Recently started using this junction and the amount of times I've nearly been sideswiped is ridiculous. Nothing's changed in years.

shaun said...

that sounds like a scary junciton! i recently got my bike purchased from and i nearly lost it on the same junction, scary scary stuff and needs something done about it.