Britain Goes Dutch With £2.4m Roundabout

Sat 1st Aug 2020

Cyclists and pedestrians in a major English city will be the first to feel the benefits of a revolutionary new roundabout system which changes the ‘hierarchy of road users’.

The so-called Dutch Reach roundabout gives cyclists and pedestrians priority over motorists at the junctions on the roundabout, with narrower roads encouraging motorists to slow down to safer speeds on and off the roundabout. 

The roundabout, which has opened in Cambridge, and will make traffic safer near to the University and local schools, came with a final cost of £2.4 million, one million over budget. Cyclists are given priority by a clear and distinctive red lane system, while pedestrians also get priority crossings, meaning that cars will have much more time to be aware of those walking or pedalling.

Speaking at the official opening, Cllr Ian Bates said: “I am delighted to see the completion of improvements to this roundabout, which aim to improve safety at this busy junction and encourage more people to walk and cycle. 

“It is great to see Cambridgeshire leading the way in implementing the first truly Dutch inspired roundabout that improves safety for vulnerable users, ahead of recent nationally published Government guidance that strongly promotes this type of infrastructure.”

The introduction of the rules on the roundabout will be included in a revision of the Highway Code, which will see three new laws introduced, including a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ system. The new concept gives those users who have the potential to do the most harm given the biggest responsibility on the roads, with lorry drivers at the top of the chain.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, was supportive of the moves saying: “There should be an expectation that all road users follow the laws of the road, but from a motorist's point of view, giving extra space when overtaking, not blocking bike boxes at junctions and always checking mirrors for cyclists will go a long way in improving safety on our roads.

“RAC research shows one-in-five drivers cycle relatively frequently and many cyclists likewise use a car, so it is also important that efforts are made to try and end the 'us versus them' narrative, whereby drivers are pitted against cyclists and vice-versa, when the reality is that motorists and cyclists are simply road users trying to complete a journey safely.”