, ,

The UK’s first junction designed to protect cyclists from being hit by left-turning vehicles was unveiled today on London’s deadliest road.

Transport for London has introduced the changes on the Mayor’s Cycle Superhighway 2 on Whitechapel Road, at its junction with Cambridge Heath Road.

The new layout uses traffic lights to hold back traffic wanting to turn left, while allowing cyclists and vehicles heading straight on to go first. Cyclists are held at a red light when vehicles get a green light to turn left.

The chosen junction is not one of the most problematic but CS2 has been the location for a number of fatalities, including at Aldgate and Bow. Victims have included Philipine de Gerin-Ricard and Brian Dorling.

All 11 major junctions along the superhighway – currently being segregated from vehicles along almost its entire length – will feature such “early release” junctions for cyclists by next year. The junctions will also be introduced elsewhere in London.

London mayor Boris Johnson said: “I made a firm commitment that we would upgrade cycle superhighway 2 to ensure that cyclists get the time and the space they need to cycle safely. That’s exactly what’s happening here in east London.

“The innovations we’re using at Cambridge Heath are a fantastic taster of the raft of improvements that are coming down the track, ensuring that people can cycle safely and more confidently in our city.”

There is also a two-stage right turn for cyclists. About 85 per cent of cyclist collisions happen at junctions, mostly involving turning traffic. TfL hopes the new system will reduce the number of cyclists injured in London. A total of 5,146 were injured last year – the highest figure since 1989.

Work to upgrade the superhighway began in February and is now half complete. Once finished, the vast majority of the route will be separated with a kerb. Where space is tighter, flexible poles or “wands” will keep cyclists separate from vehicles.

TfL said the work at the Cambridge Heath junction was “co-ordinated” with improvements taking place at Aldgate – where the route narrows and becomes one of the most terrifying routes in the capital due to the number of lorries, coaches and taxis – to minimise inconvenience to riders. At present, much of CS2 is being dug up – making it hazardous for cyclists and pedestrians.

Caroline Pidgeon, Lib-Dem transport spokeswoman on the London Assembly, said: “While it is regrettable that serious mistakes were made with the initial superhighway 2 it is very welcome that such innovate designs and safety measures are now being adopted.”