Case study: SRL’s Urban64® chosen to help keep cyclists and pedestrians safe during transformation of Old Street Roundabout

The challenge

Safety around the Old Street station has been of some concern to Islington and Hackney Councils and Transport for London (TfL) for some time. The roundabout was a collision hot spot and with cyclists making up almost a third of all vehicles, most accidents involved cyclists or pedestrians. With four subways to access Old Street station there was also concern for public safety, particularly at night.

An ambitious plan was put forward to close the north-western arm of the roundabout, creating a new peninsula space with the existing central-island and introducing a two-way signal controlled layout. The plan will see new cycle lanes and crossings being created, some segregated from vehicles with cycle-only signals to increase safety.

The solution

Transport for London (TfL) appointed Morgan Sindall as main contractor and Blue Arrow as Traffic Management contractor on this high profile, complex project. As the project was going to be a long duration, they needed to consider a temporary solution and SRL’s Urban64® system was chosen as the best temporary solution throughout the construction phases.

For the past year SRL’s Urban64® system has controlled cyclist, traffic and pedestrian movement through the new site layout. Dedicated Cycle Phases are detected by intelligent thermal cameras, with all cycle routes benefiting from low-level cycle signals.

Benefits of Urban64®

Urban64® is the only permanent technology system designed uniquely for temporary installations. Completely flexible, Urban64® has a unique ability to incorporate complex permanent traffic signals facilities in a temporary layout, most notably Low-level cycle signals. This was the major benefit and a deciding factor for using Urban64® at the Old Street Roundabout.

SRL worked alongside Red Wilson Associates, who are experts in traffic signal engineering and design, to create multiple temporary layout designs and methods of control, using its Low-level cycle signals and thermal detectors, to enable the safe flow of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrian traffic during the construction phases.

The need to promote cycling

There is a current emphasis on promoting cycling on UK roads and Transport for London (TfL) has undertaken trials and published a report looking at the cycling infrastructure on London’s streets.

Most trials undertaken as part of this research focused on design techniques intended to remove or reduce conflict between cyclists and turning general traffic. These were largely related to the use of cycle-specific traffic signals. In addition, trials were conducted to assess the impact of Zebra crossings at bus stop bypasses (BSBs) on users’ behaviours.

The design techniques subject to this analysis were:

· Hold-the-left-turn*: ahead/left-turning cyclists and left-turning general traffic are separately signalled

· Early release*: cyclists receive a green signal ahead of other traffic

· Two-stage turns*: facilities enabling cyclists to wait between signal phases and therefore avoid turning in conflict with other traffic

· Cycle gates: cyclists proceed from a ‘reservoir’ ahead of other traffic in both time and space, and are held while general traffic proceeds 

· Bus stop bypass crossings: a segregated cycle track runs through the bus stop area behind the shelter, thereby creating an island for passengers boarding the bus and alighting at the stop.

* For these techniques, particular attention was given to the impact of cycle signals on pedestrians

Urban64® can resolve all of these techniques, it is not your everyday temporary system. It is completely flexible, whether the application need is for a Cycle Gate, Early Release, Hold-the-left-turn or Two-stage Turns.

Zac Webster, Managing Director (Blue Arrow Traffic Management Ltd) “We selected Urban64 as we believe it is the only temporary traffic light solution to feature the same technology as permanent systems, including the low-level cycle signals which are enabling the safe flow of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians during the construction phase of this complex project. The solution also incorporates overhead power and data cables, precluding the need to maintain
underground cabling while Morgan Sindall install the new station entrance and road/junction
layout.

“The flexibility of Urban64 enables the adjustment of the system in line with the various stages of
development on this complex project. The service provided by SRL has been excellent, and their input invaluable. Teams available 24/7, 365 days a year. They have a very good understanding of the project, the associated
issues, and the client’s requirements. Consequently our requirements are always achieved,” he added.

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