From 2005-2009 road engineers Colin Buchanan and Partners conducted traffic flow modelling and measurements in the Kings Cross area on contract to TfL. Buchanans is the daddy of traffic flow engineers and they developed a computer model to analyse the effects of junction changes. Buchanans used the model to predict whether, say making York Way a two-way road would lead to more or less traffic congestion. The Buchanan work has been heavily influential on the design of the new York Way scheme. I am indebted to Sophie Talbot for securing and posting the Buchanan report.
Buchanans May 2009 report is the most comprehensive statistical work on traffic flows Kings Cross except for one respect – TfL advised them to ignore cyclists in their modelling.
‘Following TfL advice, cyclists and motorcyclists were not included in the model as their equivalent PCU values are only a small proportion of the total traffic in the study area.’
(para 3.6.1 Final Report, Kings Cross Traffic and Pedestrian Study Colin Buchanan and Partners, May 2009)
This is despite the fact that, as Buchanans note:
‘Pedal Cyclist casualties made up 20% of the total casualties…(in the) 36 months to December 2007’
(para 4.8.2 Final Report, Kings Cross Traffic and Pedestrian Study Colin Buchanan and Partners, May 2009)
This goes some way to explain why the York Way proposals that TfL and the ODA are about to implement are so poor for cyclists and might even make the road more dangerous by increasing traffic flow with no cycle lane. On TfL’s advice, cyclists and their needs weren’t in the model that underpinned the design.
From a statistical perspective, TfL’s advice to Buchanan is odd – they seem to say that because the percentage of two-wheel traffic is low in the overall volume (a PCU is a ‘passenger car unit’) they can be ignored. Despite cyclists comprising 20% of casualties across the Kings Cross junctions. And during the time the Buchanan work was being carried out publicly available figures from DfT showed a sharp increase in cyclists on York Way in both absolute and percentage terms. Competent strategic planning for the next 20 years should accommodate that new trend.
More revealing was what TfL didn’t say – they knew that the cyclist count on York Way was going up, they had a report that said that ‘casualties were inevitable’ but TfL didn’t say to the experts they hired:
‘Cycle safety is really important to us, we need a model that helps people on bikes’
‘Please model a scheme that complies with our cycle design standards‘
The above is further evidence of TfL’s systemic failure in a duty of care to people, particularly cyclists who use this junction under TfL’s control. And reinforces my desire to see TfL held to account in the courts for corporate manslaughter.