“THIS isn’t the way it was supposed to be.”
That is the message from cyclists in Southampton, who say a new junction designed to make it safer for them on a busy city route has actually done the opposite.
A man was knocked off his bike in a hit-and-run incident yesterday morning at the new junction of Itchen Bridge and Saltmarsh Road, while a number of other near misses have been reported.
And some of the very cyclists who helped to put together the plans now say the final result is not what they expected and have called on the council to make improvements.
The work at the site, which has resulted in more lane markings and traffic lights being installed and the old roundabout disappear, was part of a £1.7 million project to create a new cycle superhighway running from Woolston to the city centre.
The plans were put together by Southampton City Council, cyclists and designers Urban Movement and the construction work was carried out by Balfour Beatty.
But some cyclists – including those who worked on the original plans – say the end result is different to what they thought would happen to the site.
They say there are no lights specifically for cyclists, as included in the original plans, and “advance stop lines” (ASLs) designed to allow cyclists to cross junctions are not in the right place.
And they say that some of the lanes are too narrow while cyclists travelling towards the city centre from Itchen Bridge are at risk of being hit by cars turning left towards Ocean Village.
Dilys Gartside, from cycle training company Cyclewise, was one of those involved in drawing the plans up but said there are “teething problems” at the site after using it herself over the weekend.
She said: “I think the council have been courageous in doing something that’s not run of the mill but I’m not convinced we’ve got exactly what we were told.
“I think the cycle lanes need to be highlighted more for motorists to see and there aren’t enough signs.
“I don’t think they’ve got it right yet, they need to make tweaks and I think they should put the speed limit down to 20mph for cars.”
And Michael Andrews, from Thornhill, said: “I remember when the plans were first revealed that there would be separate cycle lights to allow cyclists at the originally planned ASLs to cross the junction or make turns ahead of motorised traffic and then wide, shared, paths going from one end of the Itchen Bridge to the other, on both sides of the road, which would have been a semi-Dutch design.
“What we have ended up with instead is death waiting to happen.”
A 44-year-old cyclist suffered minor injuries after being knocked off his bike by a car turning left during the rush hour yesterday morning.
The driver of the car, a dark blue or black Mercedes estate, drove off after hitting the cyclist and police are urging anyone with information or anyone who witnessed what happened to contact the Totton Roads Policing Unit on 101.
A commuter from Netley, who witnessed the incident, said: “This shows the new junction doesn’t work – it’s absolutely treacherous.”
The man, who did not want to give his name, said he witnessed a similar incident just 15 minutes later, although that time no one was injured.
He added: “This needs to be dealt with, it’s really dangerous.”
Dan Fitzhenry, transport spokesman for the council’s Conservative opposition, said: “This is madness as it’s discouraging people from cycling, rather than encouraging them.
This is such a major route for both cyclists and motorists that it has to be right and I would ask the council to look at this to make sure it is safe.”
New layout did not cause accident, says councillor
SOUTHAMPTON City Council apologised for the cyclist’s injuries – but claims the new junction layout did not contribute towards the accident.
The new junction at Itchen Bridge was designed to make it safer for cyclists following a £1.7m investment.
But it has come under fire from cyclists in Southampton after a man was knocked off his bike in a hit-andrun incident yesterday morning.
Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “This is an open investigation with Hampshire Constabulary and therefore the details cannot be discussed.
“However, early indications from the investigation show that the new layout of the junction is not a contributory factor in the accident.
“We invest in new designs and work with our partners to improve routes and safety for cyclists in the city.
“The design of this junction has been taken from a tried and tested Continental-style junction and passed several safety audits with one more taking place on the 10th.
“As with all new road layouts both cyclists and drivers should take extra care when approaching and crossing through this junction and we have placed signs to warn drivers and cyclists to proceed with caution.”
Cyclists and motorists are united in condemnation
MOTORIST Rachel Cleverley, from Sholing, said she witnessed a near-miss at the same spot where the cyclist was hit yesterday.
Luckily that time the car in front of her stopped before hitting the cyclist, but she said: “Is this how this new junction is supposed to work? I thought this new junction was supposed to make it better for both car driver and cyclist.”
Cyclist John Grant, from Woolston, said: “Approaching the junction it’s very unsafe to head towards the lights if there is a vehicle waiting to turn left stopped at the lights. The lights can change at any time and they wouldn’t see me coming up the inside on the cycle path.”
Speaking after the accident, he said: “If I hadn’t been vigilant I could also have been knocked off this morning. It seems like an awful waste of money for very little, if any, gain.”
Another cyclist, Mark Stinchcombe, said: “To turn right at the junction to go onto Itchen Bridge, from any direction, means I have to fight across four lanes of traffic coming from two different directions and wanting to head off in four different directions.
“As a cyclist this junction has become, in my view, extremely dangerous and I much preferred the previous roundabout.”
Michael Andrews, a cyclist from Thornhill, said the new lanes are not as wide as 1.5metre Government guidelines, adding: “The cycle lanes encourage cyclists to go up the inside of queuing traffic but there aren’t any ASLs at any of the lights to allow cyclists to get into a much safer and more visible position to prevent what is known as a left hook where someone overtakes and immediately turns left.
“For more experienced cyclists such as myself this is often a nuisance but it doesn’t usually result in a collision. However, it often results in a collision when a less experienced cyclist, such as those who are new to cycling or children, are involved but can still be deadly to all cyclists.”
Daily Echo readers left a number of comments on our website.
Dand_uk, said: “New junction is hardly bike-friendly. If you approach the junction on a green light the design encourages conflict between left turning motor vehicles and people on bikes going straight on. Motors will rush to overtake before they cut left and people on bikes will try to scoot past before the motors with signal on move off.”
A reader called Dazman 67 said: “I cycled over it for the first time this morning. Cycle friendly it isn’t.
“As I approached it, I sensed that exactly this could happen so I hung back until there was an obvious gap in the traffic before proceeding across the junction.
“I was happier with the old roundabout. Traffic lights and green paint are not the answer.”
And another reader, Ronnie G, said: “Southampton City Council have given us a 99p version of a super cycle highway. It’s not suitable for cyclists or motorists.”