I think the technical name for this big roundabout at a 2 level junction is a gyratory. I guess someone will come along and correct me if I’m wrong.
The reason I posted this is because it illustrates an extreme example of where a cycle lane is very dangerous and should be avoided. Like many roundabouts, this one has a cycle lane around the perimeter. Such cycle lanes are dangerous, as pointed out by the Cycling England Design Portfolio on page 3 of section A.13 Roundabouts. Some of the problems it causes follow.
- It causes cyclists to be in the roundabout for the longest possible time.
- Motorists on the roundabout are less likely to notice a cyclist who is right at the edge rather than in the lane.
- It takes cyclists right past the entrances to the roundabout, which is the most dangerous place to be. When entering the roundabout, drivers are very busy: they are looking at the main traffic flow for a gap in the traffic to move into; they are not looking for a cyclist coming along further over to their right.
- A cyclist on the roundabout approaching the entrance along the cycle lane may often be obscured by signs and street furniture.
- Also, a cyclist passing so close to an entrance has no way to predict whether an approaching vehicle will actually stop, and will have no time to react if it doesn’t.
- A cyclist moving round the roundabout needs to negotiate with other vehicles on an equal footing to ensure that everyone knows what is happening. The cycle lane, with its give way markings at every entrance and exit, removes the ability to do that, and the cyclist has to try to dash across each entrance or exit, usually from a standing start, to try to get across when there is a gap in the traffic. This is very dangerous.
When I first started using this gyratory, I used to approach it down the (mandatory*) cycle lane and go all the way round in the cycle lane. Somehow I survived this, but I soon learned that it was really dangerous, so I started to tackle it in the way that is recommended by the Bikeability guidelines and the highway code. (There are some differences between these sources of advice as I will explain later, but in this case the advice is the same.) Here is a video of my passing across the gyratory on one particular day:
Note that, if I had been turning right at a roundabout, the Bikeability advice and that of the Highway Code seem to differ. The Highway Code says that you should approach in the inside lane and stay in that lane through the roundabout, indicating right as you pass each exit, whilst Bikeability says that you should approach in the right hand lane and stay in the right hand lane until you are approaching your exit. In this particular large roundabout or gyratory, I would tend to follow the advice in the Highway Code. If it were a small roundabout, I would be more inclined to follow the Bikeability advice and use the correct lane.
* A mandatory cycle lane is one that motor vehicles are not allowed to enter – ever. It is not mandatory for cyclists to use it. Of course, that doesn’t stop all those motorists illegally crossing the white line and driving in it every morning!