A new type of pedestrian crossing system has been unveiled at Oxford Circus in London today. It works by stopping all road traffic from time-to-time so that pedestrians can all traverse the crossroad junction together, either over one road, or diagonally across both.
However, one group of road users are not impressed. Cyclists have complained that when the traffic lights all go red, pedestrians immediately clog the junction, causing a dangerous road hazard.
Abel DeRailleur is a spokesperson for the London Cycle Couriers Association, and he claims it is only a matter of time before a cyclist is injured or even killed at the new junction. "One cyclist has already hit an American tourist on the junction and buckled his front wheel," he claims, "The junction is just not cycle-friendly."
The problem, he says, is that when the traffic lights go red, large numbers of pedestrians walk out in front of the oncoming bikes. He also thinks that the diagonal crossing is an added problem. "Red lights are the opportunity for bikes in the left lane to turn right at a crossroads. Herds of people crossing diagonally can create an almost impenetrable barrier to even the fastest cyclists."
DeRailleur goes on to say that cyclists are faced with very few options when attempting to protect themselves. "Although Lycra is a proven protection against damage from cars, it offers very little help if you happen to hit a pedestrian. Quite often it's the softness of pedestrians that will cause a bike to 'dig in' and unseat the rider."
He also dismisses the idea that alternative routes would help. "Unfortunately at Oxford Circus all the pavements are clogged with pedestrians who show very little concern for the safety of bike riders. We have submitted a proposal to the Mayor of London's office, but until they implement our suggestion for single-file pedestrian routes, the pavements of London will not be safe for cyclists."