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Britain gets its first Dutch-style roundabout that gives priority to cyclists

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Britain’s first Dutch-style roundabout that prioritises cyclists and pedestrians has been blasted by motorists as ‘confusing’, ‘a cyclist killing zone’ and ‘an overspend’ after the council blew £2.3million on it.

Cyclists have an outer ring on the Cambridge roundabout, with cycle crossings over each of the four approach roads in a contrasting red surface.

There are also zebra crossings over each approach road for pedestrians. Motorists must give way to pedestrians and cyclists when joining and leaving the roundabout.

Reduced lane widths on the roundabout and at exit and entry points are designed to encourage drivers to slow down.

Drivers have to give way to pedestrians and cyclists as they approach the roundabout. Cars must also give way when they exit the roundabout. Cyclists have priority over cars but must slow down and look to make sure they are stopping. Pedestrians have priority over cyclists and cars

Drivers have to give way to pedestrians and cyclists as they approach the roundabout. Cars must also give way when they exit the roundabout. Cyclists have priority over cars but must slow down and look to make sure they are stopping. Pedestrians have priority over cyclists and cars

Drivers have to give way to pedestrians and cyclists as they approach the roundabout. Cars must also give way when they exit the roundabout. Cyclists have priority over cars but must slow down and look to make sure they are stopping. Pedestrians have priority over cyclists and cars

There are also zebra crossings over each approach road for pedestrians. Motorists must give way to pedestrians and cyclists when joining and leaving the roundabout

There are also zebra crossings over each approach road for pedestrians. Motorists must give way to pedestrians and cyclists when joining and leaving the roundabout

There are also zebra crossings over each approach road for pedestrians. Motorists must give way to pedestrians and cyclists when joining and leaving the roundabout

Reduced lane widths on the roundabout and at exit and entry points are designed to encourage car drivers to slow down

Reduced lane widths on the roundabout and at exit and entry points are designed to encourage car drivers to slow down

Reduced lane widths on the roundabout and at exit and entry points are designed to encourage car drivers to slow down

The UK’s first Dutch-style junction was officially opened last week and is the first of its kind in the UK. 

What are Dutch-style roundabouts?

A Dutch-style roundabout has parallel crossings (cycle and pedestrian zebra crossings) on each arm which enables pedestrians and cyclists to have priority over motorists.

The entry and exit arms are perpendicular, rather than tangential, to the roundabout and have minimal flare.

Also, by reducing the width of the arms and circulatory carriageway, vehicle speeds reduce.

A central over-run area will allow larger vehicles to manoeuvre round the roundabout. 

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Cambridgeshire County Council said the old roundabout near Addenbrooke’s Hospital ‘was perceived by many people to be dangerous to cycle around’.

People also ‘reported feeling unsafe when walking in the area due to a lack of pedestrian crossings, particularly more vulnerable users’, the authority said.

But locals have branded the new system ‘confusing’, a ‘killing zone’ and called for new road networks instead of ‘further slowing it down’.

Paul Howell said: ‘Can’t wait for everyone (yes everyone) to get confused and the accidents to start happening. How about spending the money on road schemes that need it.’

Alice Hodkinson said: ‘Really Bad. This is a cyclist killing zone, like radegund road Perne Road.’

Tony Stark said: ‘Putting pedestrian crossings on these in Cambridge is loading the bullet into a gun. I hope when the accidents start building up, the city council will be willing to pay out as ultimately it will be their fault.

‘The road networks in Cambridge are out dated and can not deal with the current and ever increasing flow. Better road networks should be a priority not further slowing it down and prioritising pedestrian and cycle ways.’

And Helen Lake added: ‘We have similar roundabouts in France and I do not think they are a good idea because of the pedestrian crossings being placed so close to the roundabout.

Cambridgeshire County Council said the old roundabout near Addenbrooke's Hospital 'was perceived by many people to be dangerous to cycle around'. Pictured: The new roundabout

Cambridgeshire County Council said the old roundabout near Addenbrooke's Hospital 'was perceived by many people to be dangerous to cycle around'. Pictured: The new roundabout

Cambridgeshire County Council said the old roundabout near Addenbrooke’s Hospital ‘was perceived by many people to be dangerous to cycle around’. Pictured: The new roundabout

Locals have branded the new system 'confusing', a 'killing zone' and called for new road networks instead of 'further slowing it down'

Locals have branded the new system 'confusing', a 'killing zone' and called for new road networks instead of 'further slowing it down'

Locals have branded the new system ‘confusing’, a ‘killing zone’ and called for new road networks instead of ‘further slowing it down’

Some locals blasted the cost of the scheme, originally estimated at around £800,000, which had almost trebled to £2.3million by the end of the project

Some locals blasted the cost of the scheme, originally estimated at around £800,000, which had almost trebled to £2.3million by the end of the project

Some locals blasted the cost of the scheme, originally estimated at around £800,000, which had almost trebled to £2.3million by the end of the project

‘Cars wishing to exit the roundabout will be blocked by people crossing – in France the majority of the time they don’t bother to stop at zebra crossing anyway… but when they do, cars fill up the circulation space on the roundabout. Not a good idea at all.’

Some have also blasted the cost of the scheme, originally estimated at around £800,000, which had almost trebled to £2.3million by the end of the project.

Graham Smith wrote on Twitter: ‘Just cycled round the £2.5m Dutch roundabout. No other cyclists in sight. White elephant maybe.

‘Only been open a week and already the red tarmac is disappearing under tyre tracks. I would still like to know who’s paying for the overspend.’

Gabriel Bienzobas put: ‘Personally I wouldn’t have built this roundabout, not at £2.4m, not at £800k. The Dutch, 40 years ago, didn’t start by building these types of roundabout, priority or not, they started by creating play streets and filtering the traffic away from streets to trunk roads.’

And Adam Brown added: ‘It’s actually really awful to cycle round though. The previous roundabout had problems but this is worse.’

The project was originally proposed to cost £1.4million. The forecast was adjusted in 2019 to £1.5million, though eventually cost closer to £2.4million

The project was originally proposed to cost £1.4million. The forecast was adjusted in 2019 to £1.5million, though eventually cost closer to £2.4million

The project was originally proposed to cost £1.4million. The forecast was adjusted in 2019 to £1.5million, though eventually cost closer to £2.4million

A council highways report cited additional utility work including BT and UK Power Networks cabling, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, as reasons for this.

Roxanne De Beaux, executive director of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, said the new roundabout ‘feels like a small piece of Dutch cycling heaven’.

‘I feel very safe with this layout, the geometry made it easy to see the cars leaving and approaching the roundabout and the people driving were all giving way to the people cycling and walking,’ she said.

Ian Bates, chairman of the Highways and Transport Committee, said: ‘I am delighted to see the completion of improvements to this roundabout, which aim to improve safety at this busy junction and encourage more people to walk and cycle.

‘It is great to see Cambridgeshire leading the way in implementing the first truly Dutch-inspired roundabout that improves safety for vulnerable users, ahead of recent nationally published Government guidance that strongly promotes this type of infrastructure.’

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes added: ‘There should be an expectation that all road users follow the laws of the road, but from a motorist’s point of view, giving extra space when overtaking, not blocking bike boxes at junctions and always checking mirrors for cyclists will go a long way in improving safety on our roads.

‘RAC research shows one-in-five drivers cycle relatively frequently and many cyclists likewise use a car, so it is also important that efforts are made to try and end the ‘us versus them’ narrative, whereby drivers are pitted against cyclists and vice-versa, when the reality is that motorists and cyclists are simply road users trying to complete a journey safely.’

New Highway Code changes also aim to better protect pedestrians and cyclists 

Proposed updates to the Highway Code look set to see new laws established as part of sweeping changes being made by the Department for Transport – and most will be focused on protecting vulnerable road users.

They are primarily aimed to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, the DfT said.

Changes will see three new laws introduced to the road, including a revolutionary ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ concept.

This policy means those road users who are likely to do the most harm will have the biggest responsibility to reduce road danger, starting with drivers of large vehicles, followed by those behind the wheel of cars and taxis. 

It will also mean that cyclists and horse riders will have a responsibility to pedestrians if there are no cars nearby. 

It means drivers could potentially be issued with fines if they cut across riders when turning into a junction or changing lanes. 

New rules being drawn up by the Department for Transport as part of an update to the Highway Code could see drivers issued with fines if they are caught cutting across riders when turning into a junction or changing lanes

New rules being drawn up by the Department for Transport as part of an update to the Highway Code could see drivers issued with fines if they are caught cutting across riders when turning into a junction or changing lanes

New rules being drawn up by the Department for Transport as part of an update to the Highway Code could see drivers issued with fines if they are caught cutting across riders when turning into a junction or changing lanes

The DfT says the hierarchy system does not give priority to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in every situation, but ensures a ‘mutually respectful’ and ‘considerate culture’.  

In a statement released by the Government department, it said: ‘Everyone suffers when road collisions occur, whether they are physically injured or not.

‘But those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.

‘This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, followed by vans/minibuses, cars/taxis and motorcycles.

‘Cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles likewise have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians.

‘Always remember that the people you encounter may have impaired sight, hearing or mobility, and may not be able to see or hear you.

‘None of this detracts from the responsibility of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, to have regard for their own and other road users’ safety.’

Also included in the Highway Code changes will be the recommendation for the ‘Dutch Reach’ concept when vehicle users open their door. 

Instead of using the hand closest to the door, it means reaching across to open the door with the hand furthest from the door – your left hand if you’re the driver. 

The Highway Code will also include the Dutch Reach concept, Instead of using the hand closest to the door, it means reaching across to open the door with the hand furthest from the door which naturally pivots your body and allows you to check for passing cyclists

The Highway Code will also include the Dutch Reach concept, Instead of using the hand closest to the door, it means reaching across to open the door with the hand furthest from the door which naturally pivots your body and allows you to check for passing cyclists

The Highway Code will also include the Dutch Reach concept, Instead of using the hand closest to the door, it means reaching across to open the door with the hand furthest from the door which naturally pivots your body and allows you to check for passing cyclists

This naturally turns your body towards the window, helping you spot approaching cyclists. 

New laws will also ‘create clearer and stronger priorities for pedestrians’ which will ‘clarify where pedestrians have right of way’.

Guidance is also given on passing roadside workers and the safe charging of electric vehicles.  

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said the motoring group supported the introduction of the Dutch reach principle to the Highway Code, deeming it a ‘small change every motorist can make when exiting their vehicle that can make a huge difference to the safety of passing cyclists’.

He added: ‘There should be an expectation that all road users follow the laws of the road, but from a motorist’s point of view, giving extra space when overtaking, not blocking bike boxes at junctions and always checking mirrors for cyclists will go a long way in improving safety on our roads.

‘RAC research shows one-in-five drivers cycle relatively frequently and many cyclists likewise use a car, so it is also important that efforts are made to try and end the ‘us versus them’ narrative, whereby drivers are pitted against cyclists and vice-versa, when the reality is that motorists and cyclists are simply road users trying to complete a journey safely.’

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