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London Will Scrap ’60s Relic Road Junctions to Save Cyclists

Almost three dozen of London’s most perilous road junctions will be “ripped out” or altered to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians after a rash of deaths, Mayor Boris Johnson said.

Thirty-three of the capital city’s busiest intersections, including the Elephant & Castle roundabout and “gyratories” at Archway and Swiss Cottage, will be removed in a 300 million-pound ($500 million) program, the mayor and Transport for London said today in a statement. More than 150 cyclists and pedestrians have been killed or injured at the locations in the past three years, according to the statement.

“These road junctions are relics of the Sixties which blight and menace whole neighborhoods,” Johnson said in the statement. “Like so much from that era, they’re also atrociously designed and wasteful of space.”

The mayor has vowed to revive cycling in London to reduce traffic, noise and pollution. After introducing the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme in 2010, he unveiled plans last year to more than double the city’s budget for cycling improvements to almost 400 million pounds over three years.

“We can turn these junctions into more civilized places for cyclists and pedestrians, while at the same time maintaining their traffic function,” Johnson said.

Funding will come from public programs to improve road conditions and safety, and from the general Transport for London Major Schemes budget. Third parties and developers have committed about 50 million pounds.

Aldgate, Wandsworth

The Elephant & Castle roundabout in south London has the city’s highest casualty rate for cyclists and will be removed, as will complicated gyratories at Archway, Aldgate, Swiss Cottage and Wandsworth. Improvements will be made at other intersections, including in Hammersmith and Vauxhall, “pending more radical transformations.”

An initial budget of 19 million pounds was designed to cover 100 junctions, often for only “cosmetic changes.” The new program invests more money on fewer intersections to achieve a “real” transformation, according to today’s statement.

London Assembly members lambasted the mayor in November over his policies to encourage cycling after six bike-riders died on the U.K. capital’s streets in less than two weeks, bringing the death toll to 14 from the beginning of last year, the same as in the whole of 2012.

The city’s Metropolitan Police force put hundreds of extra officers on the streets to improve road safety, checking for substandard and badly driven trucks as well as stopping cyclists who are behaving dangerously.

Most serious bike and pedestrian accidents happen at, or near, a road junction, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Detailed designs of the program will be published in March, and work will begin in the second half of the year. Some road junctions that didn’t make the list will be enhanced as part of improvements to cycling routes, the city said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Morgane Lapeyre in London at mlapeyre@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Risser at drisser@bloomberg.net

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