Turning right at crossroad A505 to A5

Dunstable crossroads

Dunstable crossroads

This is about turning right at crossroads, particularly from the A505 West Street (viewed from camera) into the A5 High Street South (right in photo).  This might seem to be a straight forward thing, even on a bicycle but I can tell you, sometimes it borders on being suicidal in downtown Dunstable.

These crossroads are very historic and date back to Roman times.  They are the Ickneild Way (now the A505) and Watling Street (now the A5).  These days it’s generally pretty busy and we certainly need the traffic lights to regulate the flow of traffic and keep us all safe.  That’s all very well but I bet those Romans never had the hassle cyclists get in these modern days.

Even driving in my car, it’s tricky making a right turn from West Street into the High Street South.  It’s not too bad if you’re first in the queue as I always get ready to put my foot down the moment the lights starting changing to Green – I zoom ahead as fast as I can and this gets me across before the on-coming cars start get moving.  I have this down to a fine art in the car but what’s it like on a bicycle?  My quick, easy answer is “madness, suicidal, dangerous…..”.  You get the drift?

My last experience

There was a sports car, roof down, in front of me as I got ready to pedal my way out into no-man’s land as soon as the light turned green.  Thankfully for me the sports car didn’t accelerate fast enough and got stuck in the middle, giving way to the on-coming traffic.  I was right behind it, being sheltered from the traffic by this well positioned car.  While we were there in the middle, the lights turned RED and traffic started moving from other directions.  We (sports car and me) didn’t stand a chance; we couldn’t move.

The lights turned again but still not giving right-of-way to us (stuck in the middle) but we both decided to move anyway, against the red light.  Total madness and badly timed lights.

The timing of these traffic lights is poor for the motorist and even worse for the poor old cyclist, yet again.

How to deal with this appalling situation

  • The powers-that-be probably didn’t think of cyclists with the traffic light timing, or if they did, they probably thought they would use the Pelican crossing and walk.  This is the safest way.  I say that because I don’t want you complaining you followed my lead and then had an accident.
  • If you are possibly mad and foolhardy, like me, and want to give this a go, wear something bright so you can be easily seen
  • Take comfort in remembering traffic is normally travelling slowly across this junction (15-20mph)
  • Hold your nerve, be confident.  Hold your hand out to stop traffic if necessary, look them in the eye and be determined.  Do this even if you don’t have right of way at that precise moment
  • Challenge Council Officers, Town Councillors to cycle with you so they can see how ridiculous this junction is for cyclists.  Remind them cyclists have as much right to use this road / junction as any other vehicle.

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2 Responses to Turning right at crossroad A505 to A5

  1. Adam Bell says:

    I might have some good news for you Doug! At one of the Luton and Dunstable Cycling Forum’s meeting earlier this year, I’d raised the issue of what would happen to the crossroads once the A5 is “de-trunked” when they finish the A5-M1 link in 2016, bearing in mind how hard it is for cyclists and pedestrians to negotiate the junction, and how nice it would be to have a complete re-design like the local council did in Poynton. Google “Poynton regenerated” to see the incredible YouTube video of what happened up there.

    Steve Lakin (Central Beds Walking & Cycling Officer) confirmed that the council will be considering a wide variety of options including what was done in Poynton, as they acknowledge the difficulties caused by the current layout, and will have extensive consultations nearer the time.

    So the more pressure that can be brought on Central Beds to consider a radical solution, and think of more vunerable users, the better.

    • doug says:

      Adam, that’s really good news and makes sense. I would think we’re talking several years for any significant changes?

      In the meantime I wonder if the timing of the traffic lights could be looked at; I think I will tweet the Council who I believe are normally pretty responsive,

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