Is a toucan better than a step bridge?

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Is a toucan better than a step bridge?

Stuck in a bit of design hell here. TfL want to remove a bridge over the A316 and replace it with a toucan crossing. The existing bridge uses deep steps, making it unusable for buggies, wheelchairs, bikes, etc. But a lot of locals can (understandably) see not much further than the grim traffic which the bridge crosses. 

(See Any ideas on how to address the problem, ut also the complaints? After all, it should always be possible to cross a road like this without the effort involved in the existing bridge ... 

As Easy As Ridi...

Very interesting. 

Obviously a surface crossing - in an ideal world - would be far more convenient and direct. But it seems people don't think it would be 'safe', compared to the security of the bridge. 

Looking at the plans, surely an answer would be to keep the bridge, while installing the crossing. That way people could at least vote with their feet. 

(A concern is whether the crossing would be less convenient - it has a stagger, and I wonder about the amount of time you might have to spend waiting for a green man at both crossings.)


I'm not sure I agree that a surface crossing would be the ideal case. Ideal in my opinion would be a widened bridge, with easy access by all modes of travel, that is, either a slope so gentle that it is easy to walk up and down, or a combination with both a slope and stairs. However, this might not be possible here spacewise, and definitely would be expensive.

Having said that, it seems clear to me that in this case, as Aseasyasriding writes, there is a simple solution: The footbridge and the proposed toucan crossing don't bite. There's a significant distance between the toucan and the start of the steps (at least if their plan is correct), so I see no reason why installing the toucan would entail removing the footbridge.

Isn't the ideal case for the non-motorised crossing to be level and the motor traffic to get slopes over or under them? That's definitely expensive and I also agree that the simple solution is to leave the footbridge in place as well as installing the toucan.

If you're designing for inclusivity, older peds don't tend to like footbridges due, partly it would appear, to the length of ramps.

They also seem to feel that push-button signals give them an element of control. I believe the new TSRGD will allow Puffins with far side diplays, which many people prefer, rather than the nearside displays which leave an element of uncertainty once you've started crossing. There's also the issue (if there are no detectors) of the allowed crossing time. Again, I'dgo gives a value of 0.7m/s as the average crossing speed (for old women, I believe, old men 'sprint' at 0.9m/s) rather than the 1.2m/s given in official guidance.

Can't see the reason for removing the (off-carriageway) cycle lane markings and making all that area shared space 'to make full use of the crossing' rather than a limited area at the crossing. 


pete owens

Short answer - YES.

Pedestrian bidges are a hangover from the '70s (along with underpasses, cattle pens, giratory systems and so on) when the imperative was to provide for motors even more than it is nowadays. On no account were mere pedestrians to interrupt the flow of proper traffic - however inconvenient this was for those on foot. These are the pedestrian equivalent of the cyclist dismount sign and pedestrians have long campaigned for at grade crossings.

Fortunately, there is progress (albeit at a glacial pace) so the bridges and underpasses are steadily being stripped out and replaced by signal controled crossings - though unfortuntately these are usually the push a button and wait 5 minutes type. It is still very much more convenient than a 100m detour climbing a huge flight of steps.

How to deal with the complaints? I would suggest installing the toucan first and leaving the bridge in place for a year and monitor usage. I would be astonished if more than a handful continued to use the bridge.

Paul Cooke

this bridge is still there well after the Toucans were installed on the other arm of the T-junction.

It was even repaired after being struck by a crane jib that hadn't been stowed correctly on the back of the lorry...

It's a long ramp up and down. I very rarely see anybody using it at all.


The Dutch are putting in more bridges and underpasses now, no?


Unquestionably they are safer than crossing traffic (which is not the same thing as saying a toucan is 'unsafe'). They can also be a lot more convenient. The 70s traffic flow ideology has not left us, and the timings for pedestrians and cyclists are often horrendous. Plus, it's two stage.

Of course to be a good solution you need the climb to be shallow and step-free, which is not at all space efficient.


Or you could sink the road and have a flat bridge :D


So I don't think a toucan is the best solution for walking or cycling. It is, however, more affordable.


Thanks all for the comments. It is rubbish to cycle round anyway, and I can imagine at peak times for children it can be very busy. I originally supported taking the bridge out, but now I think that having both would be a good way to resolve things, at least temporarily.

I would imagine then when both are there, people will prefer a shorter crossing, if the timing is remotely usable, though the whole road basically is just deeeply unpleasant for anyone not in a car. 



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