Transport for London (TfL) has started work on a ‘trial upgrade’ of a stretch of cycle route in south London but has still not addressed the issues raised by the death of a motorcyclist nearly five years ago.
The work on a 4.7km section between Queen's Circus and Wandsworth Town Centre is the next stage of TfL's trial upgrades along the existing Cycle Superhighway 8 (CS8) route and will connect to a section upgraded last year between Chelsea Bridge and Lambeth Bridge (pictured below).
TfL said there is currently no protected cycling infrastructure along this corridor, ‘which creates a hostile and intimidating environment for people cycling and leaves them vulnerable to collisions with motor traffic’.
In March 2016 motorcyclist called Milan Dokic was killed after riding over a section of the blue cycle lane on Battersea Park Road that had ‘a much lower grip than the conventional road surface', causing a coroner to write to TfL to raise concerns about the issue of differential grip.
Asked by Transport Network how any redesign of CS8 has been informed by the issues arising from Mr Dokic’s death, TfL said that as the upgrade is a trial cycle route, existing road surfaces will not be replaced but that it would 'continue to thoroughly test and carefully manage the use of materials with different skid resistances across our road network, in line with industry standards'.
It added that most new TfL cycle lanes use the same surface treatment as the main carriageway and many routes are fully segregated with no access for motor vehicles. However, this is not currently the case on the stretch of cycle route where Mr Dokic died.
Asked what action it has taken in general since 2017 to address the issue of differential grip between cycle lanes and the main carriageway, TfL repeated a claim that research body TRL has undertaken significant research into road skid resistance.
TfL claimed it ‘has not found anything to indicate that different skid resistances across a lane have a significant impact on vehicles’ ability to brake and manoeuvre on roads with appropriate grip at normal speeds’.
However, now former chief scientist at TRL, Helen Viner, told Transport Network at the time, when she was still in post, that while it has indeed undertaken significant research in road skid resistance assessment and management, ‘we have conducted little physical testing in the area of differential friction’.
The Institute of Highway Engineers' Guidelines for Motorcycling advise that 'the consistency of grip between tyres and the road surface is critical to motorcycle stability'.
The guidelines add: 'All accelerating force is through the small patch of the rear tyre in contact with the road. A sudden reduction in grip can result in the rear tyre slipping sideways and in loss of control.'
In its announcement of the upgrade, TfL said work will include:
- widening of cycle lanes on Battersea Park Road and light segregation in some sections to improve safety for people cycling, as well as extending advanced stop lines at junctions. Battersea Park Road will also be a 20mph zone to improve general traffic safety
- Building new widened cycle lanes on York Road with light segregation in some sections, a new section of bus lane, which will operate 24 hours a day, as well as a new right turn ban onto York Place to limit delays and improve junction safety. York Road will also have a 20mph speed limit
- Adding cycle signage on Macduff Road for easier wayfinding for cyclists and better driver awareness of cyclists at junctions
TfL said that while the trial changes are being delivered immediately as part of its pandemic response, people are being invited to submit feedback on the changes via its website.
Will Norman, London's Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: 'Enabling more people to walk and cycle is key to a green recovery for our city, and the Mayor's world-leading improvements to London's streets are enabling millions of journeys to be made by walking and cycling.'