By Laura Laker
Improvements to the notorious Elephant and Castle roundabout will go ahead after strong support for the scheme which will see the perilous North roundabout replaced with a two way road, segregated cycle lanes and improved pedestrian crossings.
The Elephant and Castle area has the highest collision rates in London, and the junction itself has been called the most dangerous for cyclists in the UK. Most recently a man died cycling there in May, after a collision with a lorry.
However, the London Cycling Campaign says the plans' segregated cycle lanes are too narrow to handle the current cycling levels, let alone allowing for projected growth in cyclist numbers.
The London Cycling Campaign's Charlie Lloyd said: "[Designs] can't handle the number of cyclists that use that junction at the moment. If you have a dedicated lane there you need a three metre lane at least for the number of cyclists using it in the morning. By not having capacity on the safe [segregated] route other cyclists will choose to cycle on the road with traffic, and they will be exposed to greater risk."
"The real way to solve Elephant and Castle is take out a traffic lane," he added.
More than 80% of respondents to the consultation backed plan B of the consultation options, which will see cycle lanes segregated by kerbs installed around the junction, and an additional segregated cycle lane on the East side of the junction.
Bus lanes will be widened, while a pedestrian subway will be replaced with parallel signalised pedestrian and cycle crossings at ground level. What is now known as the North roundabout will look like an oxbow river, with a cycle link through the pedestrian space, forming a public space "island" next to the shopping centre. The junction will also become 20mph, tying in with the rollout of Southwark Council's 20mph schemes on its roads.
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL said: "The area around Elephant and Castle roundabout is about to be transformed by one of London’s biggest regeneration projects and I’m delighted that so many people have welcomed the proposed redesign, which will improve facilities through this busy area. We are now gearing up to start work next year and deliver these major changes which will benefit all road users and improve the area for everyone."
The junction was reconfigured in 2010, when the South roundabout of the former two roundabout system was replaced with a signalised T-junction. This offered no dedicated space for cycling, however. Cycle Superhighway 7 (CS7) currently routes around the junction, but is slow to navigate and features a cycle crossing which can only be activated from a nearby pedestrian crossing.
Another option, Lloyd said, would be to route the main cycle route through the new Heygate development, a housing estate which is being demolished as part of the regeneration. Lloyd adds: "Heygate is a massive desire line, there could be a huge cycle route through there which would solve half the problems with the Elephant and Castle.
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