Update 1 (May 1st 2015)
Since the website was first published work has begun on the CS2 upgrade and TfL has added to its consultation document. This contains two updates, but unfortunately the one dated 5th February, which has a link to information about construction work planned to start on Monday 9th February, has shown ‘Oops something has gone wrong….’ for several weeks. Nonetheless, the first update, published on December 18th gives an oversight of the results of the consultation. A link within that update outlines the timetable for completion of the upgrade.
The analysis of the consultation responses in a document published in December 2014 shows they were overwhelmingly positive, which was probably to be expected. The analysis of the responses was comprehensive and as far as bus stop bypasses were concerned and according to TfL the following organisations made these comments;
The Fairfield Quarter Residents Association highlighted the need for suitable provision for pedestrians and disabled bus passengers. The association considered Whitechapel eastbound and Mile End Bus Station bus stops are too busy for current designs to be effective.
The Tower Hamlets Labour Group expressed concern that the bus stop bypasses serving bus route 25 could get overcrowded and present risks for cyclists and bus users.
London TravelWatch pointed out that new bus stop designs could stop visually impaired using bus service.
Living Streets expressed concern about shared use areas and bus stop bypasses.
The Guide Dogs organisation was mainly concerned over safety and crossing priority for visually impaired people at bus stop bypasses, and at cyclists’ speed and the potential to frighten guide dogs. Suggestions for improvement included a recommendation that pedestrians should have priority (at the bypasses presumably).
The Whitechapel Business and Traders Association UK had safety concerns surrounding impact of the cycle track on busy a pedestrian area.
The attitude of the London Cycling Campaign is less clear, at least as far as it is shown in the response document. Evidently the organisation wants the pedestrian crossing area at bus stop bypasses to be longer, which would seem to be positive both for cyclists and pedestrians. However, it also wants lanes to be wider than 2 metres and not be narrowed at bus stop bypasses. Wouldn’t consistently wider lanes mean less chance of cyclists slowing down as they approached a bypass?
Tower Hamlets Wheelers were reserving judgement on bus stop bypasses in light of ongoing discussion between the London Cycling Campaign and disability group users.
Sustrans gave strong support for bus stop bypasses, but considered detail may need refinement. It is not clear what this detail might be.
Individual respondents also raised issues to do with the bypasses.
The link from section 4.1 TfL’s response to consultation to Appendix B doesn’t work but you can access the response to consultation document here by clicking response document.
Scroll down to page 62 of the December 2014 response document and you will see what the response of TfL was to the concerns raised about bus stop bypasses. Essentially, except at Whitechapel Market (see below), the bypasses will be built because TfL consider they ‘make cycling safer at bus stops’. TfL surveyed bus stop bypasses on the CS2 in Newham and, given the statistics shown on page 62, it would appear that 23% of cyclists do not slow down and 85% do not stop for bus passengers crossing the cycle lane at a bypass (but why should they as, although TfL chooses not to make this clear, cyclists have priority). 89% of cyclists surveyed evidently supported bus stop bypasses compared with 70% of pedestrians and bus passengers. No figure is given for the number of bus passengers alone who either approved or disapproved of the bypasses. This would have been more helpful than lumping bus passengers, who will have to cross the track, with pedestrians who might just be walking by and never take a bus.
At the moment TfL is running an advertising campaign which features individuals who will benefit from the present road improvement programme. One ostensibly shows a cyclist welcoming the building of a new cycle lane. I wonder when we will see a bus passenger welcoming the building of a bus stop bypass.
TfL says that no collisions have been recorded since the bypasses have been commissioned
between Bow Roundabout and Stratford town centre but indicates ‘We will closely monitor
bus stop bypasses following construction to ensure that they are operating as planned
and so we can identify and address any issues that arise’. Does this imply that no
continuous ‘close monitoring’ has taken place on bus stop bypasses the Bow Roundabout
to Stratford town centre since they were constructed? If a further update is published
on the TfL website it might be useful if details of how this ‘close monitoring’ will
take place. Would it be useful to place both an e-
The TfL website says that cyclists and pedestrians ‘look out’ for each other at the present bus stop bypasses, which may well be the case but surely both are entitled to know who actually has priority when one steam of traffic is crossing another? At the moment there are no signs to say who has priority and it is presented as ‘a shared space’ on the TfL video. But is is only a shared space in the sense that both pedestrians and cyclists use it, not in the sense of a shared path. Guidance is given on the Sustrans website about the use of shared paths, but the code of conduct obviously does not apply to the shared space at bus stop bypasses because Sustrans advises that cyclists should give way to pedestrians on shared paths. Why has TfL decided not to indicate to both cyclists and pedestrians with clear signs, that cyclists have priority? This would save misunderstandings that could contribute to an accident.
A few changes have been made to the CS2 plans as a result of the consultation, the
main one being the removal of two bus-
Consequent to the changes in the plans for Whitechapel, the upgrade of the CS2 will make no difference to the present situation in that cyclists will still have to pull out to pass buses at bus stops. TfL says there will be a 2 meter space within the bus lane for overtaking, although the London Cycling Campaign is of the opinion that 2 meters is not wide enough for the cycle track itself. The revised plan of the upgrade outside Whitechapel station can be seen here.
On the opposite side of the road to Whitechapel market the bus stop bypass will remain in place. The elections for a new mayor of Tower Hamlets, scheduled for June 2015 might, possibly, lead to a cancellation of the plans to turn the old London Hospital building into a new Town Hall, but even if that happens some use will be found for this large building and that change of use is bound to lead to an increase in the number of passengers using the buses that run outside. Given that TfL now considers it unnecessary to have a bus stop bypass if cyclists have a 2 meter wide corridor in which to overtake buses it is unclear why the bypass could not be abandoned outside the proposed new Town Hall too.
I often use buses that serve Stratford High Street, which runs between Bow Roundabout and Stratford town centre. An upgraded CS2, with bus stop bypasses, has been in use for over a year. Last week, on the 425, I was travelling towards Stratford when I heard a recorded caution as the bus approached the Warton Road (north side) bus stop. This alerted alighting passengers to be aware of the cycle track. I thought this was a step in the right direction as far as passenger safety was concerned. Clearly it showed an acceptance by TfL, or at least the bus operator, that passengers alighting from the bus were facing a slightly greater danger of a collision than if they were stepping unto an ordinary footway. I assumed that such recordings would be played on each of the buses serving this section, which are the 276, the D8, the 108 and the 25. However, having taken several more bus trips on the Bow Roundabout to Stratford section I was disappointed that no warning messages were given on any of these services. It was a similar situation travelling away from Stratford. The 425 had cautions, the others did not and oddly the cautions on the 425 were not played at all islands where the bus stopped.
As mentioned in Update 1 TfL said in its response document that ‘We will closely
monitor bus stop bypasses following construction to ensure that they are operating
as planned and so we can identify and address any issues that arise.’ Presumably
the recorded caution was introduced because, after monitoring, it was thought that
both passenger and cyclist safety would be enhanced. So why then are cautions not
played on the 25 operated (as is 425) by Tower Transit or the other services, which
are operated by Go-
It is to be hoped that TfL will improve consistency when the Aldgate to Bow upgrade is commissioned and coaches and buses used for Rail Replacement Services will be required to give a caution to disembarking passengers when they use the islands too.
A new TfL poster has appeared opposite Mile End Station, part of the current expensive advertising campaign. It features the CS2 upgrade. Ironically it faces pedestrians, many of whom will be going to use the adjacent bus stop. Hopefully, when the island is built it will be replaced by a notice advising caution when crossing the track.
Update 3 (July 5th 2015) Over a month has elapsed since I noticed that only the 425 plays a recorded caution when a bus is about to stop at Warton Road (north side) to allow passengers to alight (see Update 2). It appears no action has been taken to standardise this procedure. Warton Road is increasingly used as a transit point, partly because, since March, the 25 has been routed over the Bow roundabout flyover and misses the Marshgate Lane stop. A recorded message sometimes warns passengers that Marshgate Lane is closed (this is not consistent) and yet no warning is played before the bus stops at Warton Road. Presumably, as mentioned in the update of May 28th, the recorded caution on the 425 was introduced as it was thought both passenger and cyclist safety would be enhanced. So why are cautions still not played on the 25, 276, D8 and 108?
Last Thursday morning (July 2nd) all three sets of traffic lights were out of action
at the Railway Tree at the Newham end of the CS2. There are no specific warning to
pedestrians, just the normal ‘lights not in use’ sign to warn approaching motor vehicles
and cyclists. There was no indication of why the lights were not working, which organisation
or agency is responsible for them or how long it would be until they would be fixed.
As of Sunday July 5th the lights remain out of use. Surely, for the small amount
of time and money it would need, clear directions of the alternative route (with
working signals) pedestrians may use to cross Stratford High Street could be posted
at the non-
Bus stop bypasses -
Meanwhile, on the buses themselves, it appears no action has been taken by either TfL or the bus companies to standardise warnings to passengers alighting at bus stop bypasses. I travelled on the 425 yesterday and not only was the usual caution given at Warton Road (north side) but caution also showed on the LED indicator panel. This is all to the good but, as yet and despite the time this section of the upgraded CS2 has been open, no cautions are either played or shown on the other services (25, 276, D8 and 108) using this stop. When I took the 425 from Mile End towards Stratford today I noticed that no caution was played or shown when it pulled along side the bus stop bypass at Coborn Road.
Traffic lights at the Railway Tree -
Incident by Warton Road bus stop bypass -
I am not sure why it is necessary to install a complete panel at one end of a bus shelter. Perhaps equipment is needed to supply information to the LED indicators within the shelter, but one would think it would be possible to fit this without creating a blind spot. Could part of the shelter that backs onto the cycle track be used for advertising and simply have as much clear material as possible at each end? Advertising is carried on the rear of shelters which do not have LED boards, such as the one named Regents Canal (the track has yet to be opened here but the shelter is in use), near Mile End. A much smaller blind spot is created here, which enhances safety both for bus passengers and cyclists.
It is not always possible, of course, to avoid other blind spots by the track. Trees may obscure the view but the telephone ‘panel’ shown to the left seems unnecessarily close to the track. Would it have been better to have erected an ordinary telephone box, further away from the track, at this point?
Warning signs -
At Coborn Road, where the island has been in operation for two weeks there is still no yellow sign, SLOW has not been painted on the track and no buses either play or show warnings when they stop for a passenger to alight.
Mile End -
Rhondda Grove is now closed off and will be for some time. Wouldn’t it have been
possible for the TfL planners to have left the construction of the cycle track to
the east of Rhondda Grove until later and placed a temporary bus stop there whilst
the new bus stop bypass was built? It certainly is a considerable inconvenience for
many people who use the bus stop regularly and maybe for those who rely on TfL travel
information to plan their journey too. Accessing the TfL website this morning to
plan a journey by bus that would end at Coborn Road I was warned to check the Journey
Planner because of disruption. On the Journey Planner results page I was instructed
change buses from the 277 and to walk 3 minutes to Mile End to catch the 25. A traveller
would, of course, have to walk right to Coborn Road itself because there is no bus
stop at Mile End. There is no-
At the Coborn Road bus stop bypass, where the island has been in operation for over a month there is still no yellow sign, SLOW has not been painted on the track and no buses either play or show warnings when they stop for a passenger to alight. There is no fixed sign to warn alighting bus passengers to look left either. More passengers are using the stop because of the closure of the Mile End stop.
Mile End -
Going east from Mile End the cycle track sections from Rhondda Grove to Tredegar
Square and from Tredegar Square to Coborn Road appear to have been complete for several
weeks. They are, however, now blocked off so cyclists are denied access to them and
obliged to continue to cycle on the carriageway. Some, however, are ignoring the
barrier and riding on the track, which is safer. The cycle track at the Coborn Road
bus stop bypass is now closed. Part of it has been dug up -
Stratford High Street -
Mile End -
Now that the road works have been completed it will be interesting to see how traffic settles down. The September 2015 blog by a local councillor on the Mile End Old Town Residents Association MEOTRA website specifically looks at this point. It is worth noting the reference to the poor planning and delivery of the CS2 works.
Bromley by Bow -
Reducing congestion -
It is worth considering just how hazardous the A11 between Aldgate and Stratford can be. For example between Cam Road in Newham and Bancroft Road in Tower Hamlets there are currently five memorials tended by friends and relatives wanting to pay tribute to those killed. The reasons for each collision were different and generalisations may be misleading, nonetheless it is clear that when a pedestrian or someone on a two wheeled vehicle is in collision with a motor vehicle it is the least protected who will be the most vulnerable to death or injury.
The memorial at the Cam Road junction is to two pedestrians who were both killed after being hit by a motor vehicle as they were crossing the A11. At the Warton Road junction a motorcyclist who died after a recent collision with a car is remembered and at Bow roundabout two white bicycles commemorate two cyclists killed at this notorious black spot. Others cyclists were killed here previously too. Near Bancroft Road is a memorial to a student struck by a car as he was walking home in the early hours of the morning.
This poignant poem on the Warton Road memorial is by Natan Mladin. It is called Memento Mori, which means ‘Remember that you can die’.
He lay motionless.
Frantic attempts to keep him alive.
A man died in this very spot last night.
He was rushing to deliver an order.
Some didn’t receive their food last night.
Others didn’t receive their brother.
A man died in this very spot last night.
Look how they hurry over the spot where a man died last night.
Tyres don’t cry. Does the road remember? The road is cold.
A man died in this very spot last night.
A welcoming road? -
A bus stop bypass where cyclists are taken behind the bus shelter, away from traffic.
It would, of course, be hard for TfL to assert that bus stop bypasses do not present more of a hazard to bus passengers than when they could alight directly on to the footway. If that were the case there would have been no need to play and display warnings on the 425 (see Updates 2, 3, 4 and 5).
TfL was asked at the end of June if it would be installing warnings on other buses that ran on routes contiguous to the CS2. An answer was received in the third week of July, which said TfL planners were investigating the issue and the findings would be conveyed as soon as they were received. Subsequently, warnings were removed from the 425 and have not been replaced on that service or any other on the CS2 route but no reasons have been publicised.
Tower Transit, which operates the 425, was contacted about the lack of warnings in early October and told of the incident that occurred on July 28th (noted in Update 5). In its response the company stated that it was TfL which decided which announcements were given and apologised for the fact that they were not being played. As of today neither visual or audio caution announcements have been reinstated on the 425.
Temporary traffic lights – In June 2015, as work was taking place on a section of the A11 near Marchant Street, a temporary crossing was set up when the permanent one nearby was taken out of commission. Pedestrians wanting to cross the road from the south side had to wait until temporary pedestrian lights, activated by a button on a column to which stop/go lights were affixed, gave the signal to cross. This would take them to the temporary island in the middle of the road where another set of temporary lights would indicate when it was safe to cross to the north side. The buttons were linked to the lights that would stop the traffic. When the red traffic light stopped vehicles the ‘Green Man’, pedestrian light would come on.
On the morning of June 29th the traffic lights of the second section were working but turned away from the traffic. Road traffic was consequently passing by the temporary crossing without stopping. The reason the traffic lights were at right angles to the traffic was because the pedestrian light on the north side was permanently set at red. The photo on the left shows a view from the south side. The red light visible on the left is a red traffic light on the central island. It is turned away from the traffic. The ‘Green Man’ indicates that pedestrians can cross to the central island but this was not easy as the traffic was backed up all the way from Mile End. The ‘Red Man’ on the right is on the north side. It never turned green on the morning in question.
Anyone at the north side wanting to cross to the south would soon be aware of the situation and could walk to the crossing outside Bow Road Tube Station and cross there. In these circumstances it might be expected that the whole temporary crossing would be closed until the lights were fixed. This was not so. Instead, the south side lights remained working. People crossing, unaware that the pedestrian lights on the north side were not operative, made their way to the central island and were then faced with either dashing through a gap in the traffic or returning to the south side and crossing outside Bow Road Tube Station. But the original, suspended, crossing, served parents and pupils from at least three schools on the north side and once can imagine the temptation of more senior pupils to ‘make a dash for it’ from the central island. One can also feel the frustration that may have been felt by a teacher, leading their pupils to the central island only have to take them back to cross elsewhere.
It does not seem unreasonable that TfL be required to give particular attention to the safety of pedestrians at crossings when work the organisation has commissioned is underway. Rather than merely publishing contact details on the occasional poster (contractors do the same thing), it would be better if it were continuously proactive in directly monitoring what is going on. One would certainly expect that issues to do with the reliability of the temporary lights (and the way in which pedestrian safety is facilitated if they break down) would have been addressed by now. The incident at Marchant Street was brought to the attention of TfL on June 30th 2015. Three weeks later a response said planners at Transport for London were currently investigating the issues, and their findings ‘would be conveyed as soon as they are received’. As with the query about the audio and visual warnings on buses (see Update 10) nothing has been heard since.
The present situation at the junction of the A11 with Vallance Road and New Road is, perhaps, a good illustration of how well pedestrians are being catered for by TfL. Work is taking place around this busy junction and there are four crossings.
The A11 crossing on the east side of the junction is uncontrolled. Although there
is a crossing in place there are no temporary lights despite there being a sign to
say where they should go -
If pedestrians prefer to cross on the west side, where there is a controlled crossing, they have to cross New Road, but this does not have a controlled crossing. In the photograph to the left the two people by the black car are waiting for a break in the traffic. Traffic enters New Road from both sides of the A11 and also straight across from Vallance Road.
Once at the temporary controlled crossing on the west side they will find the lights
will work properly to allow safe passage to the central island. However, crossing
from the central island to the north side is more problematic. The photograph used
to illustrate the New Road junction also shows the crossing from the central island
to the north side. Although the button on the temporary lights (the one to the far
left of the picture) on the north side will, eventually, lead to a ‘Green Man’ showing
on the light on the central island, this does not happen when the button is pressed
on the temporary lights on the central island. When the ‘Red Man’ goes off on the
temporary lights on the north side the ‘Green Man’ does not come on. Broken lights
again. The audio warning is supposed to be co-
There is no controlled crossing at the Vallance Road and A11 junction. Traffic enters Vallance Road from both sides of the A11 and also straight across from New Road.
It would certainly be possible, at this junction and on each ‘arm’, for TfL co-
More confusion -