Tuesday, 11 March 2014

"Improving" Elephant and Castle

UPDATE - I've created a PDF of my amendments, which looks much prettier, and can be zoomed in without a loss of quality. This can be found by clicking here.

TFL has released a consultation on "improving" Elephant and Castle roundabout. The full details can be found here here, but I have included the plan of the junction below

I reckon the cycle facilities were added last

Who is this for?

TFL has essentially thrown in Shared use, cycle tracks, cycle lanes and vehicular cycling into one horrible mess. The type of cyclist who would like to ride on the cycle tracks (whom we should be encouraging more than any other) will be put off by the vehicular cycling required on the approaches and the exits. The type of cyclist who is is comfortable with vehicular cycling will be put off by the cycle tracks. Finally, the shared use will conflict with everybody.

Cycling wise, this junction has been designed for nobody.

Alright, you do better then!

Before I show you the designs I've come up with, some disclaimers:
  1. I'm a 17 year old sixth-form student, not an experienced town planner
  2. I'm using Paint.NET, far better than Microsoft Paint, but nowhere near the software the pros use
  3. Some of my design may not fit in this area perfectly
My design has used the base TFL plan for the junction, and then added more cycle tracks, remove ASLs and relocated certain crossings and bus stops. Interestingly though, this design doesn't remove any motor traffic lanes. I have also not added any new crossings, only added cycle crossings to existing pedestrian crossings, so this design would in theory be possible without disrupting motor traffic (whether that is a bad thing or not is up to you).

Not perfect, but I would like to think its an improvement

Who has priority?

The easiest place to start was St. Georges Road. The cycle track in the original gives way at what looks like a side road. On closer inspection on streetview, this is actually a driveway.

Immediately the original plans have lost credibility. This is a brand new cycle track being built and we are still having to put up with this crap. 

Makes sense for the track to bend away and have priority. Giving way here is absurd

Sharing really isn't caring

The next section was pretty simple to improve as well. I've added a bi-directional cycle track which connects to the original TFL added crossings. However, both of these are now bi-directional, and my track connects to my other new tracks on New Kent Road and Newington Butts (heading south). Cyclists heading south no longer a set of traffic lights, but give way to cyclists heading East-West.

Cycle tracks are safer for pedestrians and cyclists

Why not both?

In the original consultation, this area is a bit of a mess. Sure, some cycle tracks have been provided, but to access them you may need to cycle on a strip of paint down the middle of four lanes to get there.

I've provided full cycle tracks around this area, and added a cycle track crossing to a pedestrian crossing. I've eradicated all evidence of the ASLs, since they are not needed with cycle tracks. I've had to shorten the bus lane but now left turning buses no longer have to share space or time with cyclists going straight ahead. Again, all cycle crossings have been attached to existing pedestrian crossings, so there should be no extra delays for motorists.

To conclude

Elephant and Castle is currently a horrible junction for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, and something does need to change. TFLs plans however do not cater for any sort of cyclist, even someone who is willing to trade safety for directness (which is a bad policy anyway). While my designs are nowhere near perfect, something has to change at TFL. Their whole design either shows huge incompetence, or simply that they want to do something to shut the cycle campaigners up.

That will never happen.


  1. I am not planner (just a blogger http://crowize-vienna.blogspot.co.at/ ) but your version looks good to me.

  2. Just completed TfL's consultation survey. One of the things I hate about TfL consultations is the way they pose a series of questions for which the answers are totally blindingly obvious - it's like asking people if they approve of murder, with a yes/no response. What are people going to say??

    The only way of putting anything useful into these surveys is to use the comments box as liberally as possible. I commented that I think you have done a better job than their own engineers and I have linked to your blog for them to take a closer look. I hope others will do the same.

  3. Looks good! Direct, well connected, and continuous quality is exactly what's needed.

    If you want a better tool for making these things I recommend Inkscape. I used it to come up with a very similar plan for Bristol:

    1. Oooo, thats a very nice program. Think I might redo my plans in this program so it looks even better :D

  4. Your design is much better than TfL's. (P.S. Inkscape also allows you to edit PDFs).

  5. Impressed. The plans from TfL show a great deal of similarity to the ones I have seen for the Old Street Roundabout. Overly complex, and completely lacking continuity. They are 'trying' and I have met some of the engineers on some of the other projects. I just think there they still are looking in the old tool-kit for solutions rather than really imagining a way to make it happen.

  6. Hi, I am a member of the organisation organising the protest on Wednesday at Elephant and Castle (focused on the south junction). We're looking to put together some 'quick win' suggestions which we can present to TfL and I was wondering if you were interested in this? Please get in contact if you are.

    We've seen you've tweeted a plan for a full solution to the southern junction - looks good! I've asked someone to also try to contact you through twitter.