Highway Authorities are seeking to increase cycling levels in accordance with the Government’s Walking and Cycling Strategy and as such are looking at different engineering measures that will allow more cyclist-vehicle segregation . One example of this is the use of protected cycle lanes (also known as light segregation). These use a pre-cast dividing feature to deter vehicles from entering a mandatory cycle lane.
The dividing feature may be a low level moulded hump (mini orca or armadillos) or a thin pole comparable to cylindrical cones used to separate opposing lanes in road works. Splitter islands at the beginning and interim locations along a route section can also provide further protection to cycle lanes.
Light segregation schemes are becoming increasingly popular because they offer value for money and adoptability. The estimated cost of constructing a kerb-separated cycle track in central London is approximately £700,000 per km, compared to around £60,000 per km for light segregation. As Armadillos are bolted into the road surface they can be easily repositioned inexpensively and with minimum disruption.
There have been questions from a number of consultees in the two Manchester trial sites about the legal status of light segregation measures. The DfT view is that they are classified as street furniture and are neither road signs nor road markings and, therefore, are not covered by the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016. As such, they do not require DfT authorisation and it is the decision of the individual highway authority to determine their acceptability at specific locations. This has led to different designs being trialled across the country, with varying levels of success.
For example, Local Transport Today (May 2016) highlighted two schemes in Camden and the City of London which were quickly removed due to safety concerns. The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) has also raised safety concerns with RoSPA, in particular that:
- They create a pedestrian trip hazard – on the Camden, Aldergate scheme, 55 pedestrian falls were recorded in a 24 hour period as a result of pedestrians tripping over the MiniOrcas. (which are smaller than Armadillos)
- Powered Two Wheelers are forced towards segregation by a ‘side swipe’ manoeuvre
- Cyclists collide with the armadillos or posts due to wobble or misjudging the width required whilst overtaking slower cyclists