IT has been described as “dangerous”, a “waste of money” and creating a “stand-off” between cyclists and motorists.
But council chiefs in Southampton say they are “satisfied” that a controversial new junction will help to make cycling safer in the city.
A man suffered minor injuries after being knocked off his bike at the junction of Itchen Bridge and Saltmarsh Road on Wednesday, while the layout has been heavily criticised by cyclists and motorists alike.
As previously reported in the Daily Echo the new junction is part of a £1.7 million project to create a cycle superhighway between Woolston and the city centre. But some of the very cyclists who helped to design it alongside the council and Urban Movement say it is not the way they thought it would be.
In particular they have been critical of the fact that there are no lights purely for cyclists, as well as saying Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) are not correctly placed and lanes are too narrow.
And, following the hit and run incident on Wednesday and a series of near-misses since it reopened last Monday, they also say it has made it more dangerous for cyclists using the junction.
But a council spokesman said current traffic legislation meant they could not include lights specifically for cyclists, while space constraints had impacted on the positioning of the ASLs.
He did add that cycle lights could be used if a trial currently taking place in London proves successful and legislation changes and added: “Some technical elements have been tweaked as the plans have developed to address various safety audits, legal, traffic regulations and logistical issues.”
The council’s Labour environment and transport czar Jacqui Rayment said: “The previous roundabout proved to be one of our highest accident black spots for cyclists so our challenge was to come up with a fresh new approach that would make the junction safer for all users.“We also had to make sure that a new approach was adopted to satisfy the conditions attached to the funding we were given.
“We are satisfied that the innovative design of the new junction will help address many of the issues brought up by residents during our consultation. We are listening to these users and recently held our first cycle forum meeting to continue this dialogue.
“We now have a more direct route to the city centre for pedestrians and cyclists alike. With any new road layout there is a period of review where we monitor how it is working for all road users and pedestrians.
“And we are constantly looking at ways to improve traffic flow and safety city wide.”
Police are still appealing for anyone who saw the cyclist knocked off their bike by a blue or black Mercedes estate at about 8.45am on Wednesday to contact them on 101.
Are the changes to the junction really that bad? The Daily Echo’s digital editor and cyclist, Dan Kerins, took his bike out to test the new layout – and to see if they are an improvement on the old roundabout.
PULL up at the lights and get ready to push away when the lights turn green – it all seems
straightforward at first.
It is when you want to start going right that the major confusion begins – and it is the same regardless of which direction you approach the junction from.
Firstly the advanced stop lines (ASL) for cyclists are only a bike length in front of the cars and you are kept to the left rather than taking up the width of the carriageway for any rider wanting to go right.
Normally, if turning right from an ASL, I would position myself in front of the cars before then drifting over to the left after turning.
At the new junction, however, it seems you’re supposed to stay on the green skid-proof path, which takes you across the junction and is positioned to the left of the cars and lorries.
You then come to another green patch, which intersects your path – but what are you meant to do; wait for all the vehicles behind you to pass before turning, attempt going across the traffic or pull off the path and wait for the next set of lights to turn?
When pushing off I made it clear I intended to turn right and again when I was halfway across the junction.
This simply confused the motorists, who didn’t know whether to stop to let me go or speed up to get past me.
Beyond the lights there are no markings other than green lines and, to the left, a picture of a bike with an arrow pointing right.
Going straight or left is more straightforward but not without problems.
There’s always a risk that a car turning left may cut you up by turning sharply. However, coming down the Itchen Bridge, this is made worse as the left hand bend is quite tight, owing to the pavement – and the cycle path does not follow the curve of the path.
The novelty of the junction is its undoing. With the old roundabout it was clear to everyone what they had to do to get across it.
With the new layout confusion reigns and there is a distinct lack of guidance.
I survived the new layout but there were moments when I genuinely felt I could have been in real danger – just because of the sheer confusion for both me and motorists in trying to negotiate the junction.