Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Magic Roundabout

Roundabouts are designed to keep traffic moving, they are not designed for pedestrians, which is why we have underpasses like at Gants Hill. But Gants Hill has now been modernised to make it easier for pedestrians to get around at surface level. It’s a big improvement but what with the economic downturn it’s a bit early to tell if it has made any positive difference to trade in the shops there. The key feature, apart from the still awaited Egg Whisk, is the signalisation.

Now, the signalisation of Charlie Brown’s roundabout was delayed in favour of the Gants Hill project. But since then Transport for London have changed their rules on providing traffic lights and the Charlie Brown scheme has now been cancelled, see below and see if you can spot the Freudian spelling mistake. There is one underpass here, between Maybank Road and Mulberry Way, which is frequently flooded. If you want to cross Chigwell Road or Southend Road you have to be a bit lively on your feet I can tell you. There are no shops here but pedestrians still need to cross the road, particularly if they are using Roding Valley Way. Oh, and I seem to recall there were plans for an equestrian crossing on Southend Road for that same route to complement the one already provided in Chigwell Road by Snakes Lane East.

image © Duncan Watts and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Dear Mr Danzelman,

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the Charlie Brown’s Roundabout scheme. We appreciate you taking the time to contact us on this matter. Please accept our sincere apologies for any delay in this response.
Although Transport for London (TfL) developed a proposal to signalise Charlie Brown’s Roundabout, unfortunately this did not result into a viable scheme.
Any schemes on the 580km of the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) are subject to both funding availability and being prioritised above other proposals to improve the network. Since our response to you in 2009, the funding available to TfL for improvements on the TLRN has been reduced. In addition, as part of the Mayor’s aim to smooth traffic flow in London, more carful consideration is now given to any proposal to install new traffic signals. Therefore, TfL no longer proposes to implement the signalisation scheme at Charlie Brown’s Roundabout.
However, a new scheme to renew the carriageway surfacing at the roundabout is programmed for this financial year and this will include the provision of new give way and directional road markings.
For your information, a review of the most recent 36 months (1 February 2008 – 31 January 2011) collision data shows that there have been no personal injury accidents on the Chigwell Road approach to the junction involving right turning vehicles undertaking late lane change manoeuvres.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to raise this matter. I hope that the information provided has been helpful. Should you have any future queries, please do contact me.
For more information regarding TfL’s services, please visit

Yours sincerely

Annemarie Roche
Customer Service Advisor - London Streets
Transport for London
Surface Transport Customer Services

1 comment:

  1. I'm happy to read that this roundabout will not be getting signals. Too often these contraptions are only installed as part of traffic management schemes dreamt up by anti-car politicians whose primary motivations are to hinder traffic flow and increase local air pollution. (Traffic which is constantly stopping is always worst for air pollution).

    As for facilities for pedestrians, if there is a need for these then they should be installed - as exist on the Woodford Avenue at the roundabout junction with Beehive Lane / Longwood Avenue / Redbridge Lane East.

    But, and its a big BUT, their operation should be designed to benefit pedestrians without disbenefitting other road users. This is something that the latest types of road crossing signals totally fail to do. I am thinking of the Puffin and the pedestrian & cyclist variant - the Toucan - which have replaced the much loved Pelican.

    Pelicans featured a flashing amber phase which allowed traffic to start moving after a set number of seconds. Puffins and Toucans do not have this, and instead detain road users (like hostages to ill fortune) while they attempt to detect when there are pedestrians waiting and crossing, so that they can change back afterwards. In addition, when there is a constant stream of pedestrians they allow so little time for traffic to pass between cycles that the significantly reduced traffic flow causes gridlock.

    I became so incensed by the way the Toucan signals on the A12 Eastern Avenue westbound approaching Redbridge roundabout next to the junction with Evanston Gardens work that I decided to demonstrate the problem by means of a youtube film showing how the noble cause of making life safer for pedestrians has mutated into a way of increasing traffic congestion and blatantly annoying road users. As the video text explains, their concept of 'changing back to allow the traffic to pass again' means holding / delaying the traffic a whopping 10 seconds after the pedestrians have gone. Whilst the A12 always was a badly polluted traffic artery these traffic signals only serve to make a bad situation even worse in an 'environmentally catastrophic' way.

    The video was made on a Sunday morning, and can be seen here...

    These twinkling coloured traffic jam creating devices exist elsewhere as well. For instance, Eastern Avenue westbound just before the junction with Milton Crescent. These seem to be stuck 'on call' so are cycling every 45 or so seconds, again delaying traffic flow and exasberating local air pollution. At busiest times the traffic tailback almost reaches the Ley Street junction.

    (message by simple simon who tried posting using his Google account but after 5 failed attempts decided that he'd try 'anon' instead).