Thursday, 14 July 2011

"Improving safety for cycling" results in treacherous road. Why is the City designing roads like this?

Cheapside new design. Look how the van passes the chap on a cycle
Late last year, the City of London agreed a project to "[improve the] safety and convenience of the travelling public, especially those in buses and those on pedal cycles". 

Pictured left, the results of that project. If you look carefully, you can see that the pavements have been widened, resulting in a much narrower road. The intention was to Reduce motor vehicles dominance and traffic speeds and to make it safer and easier to cycle and walk here. 

So, let's take a look at what happens when the City of London designs a street that 'reduces motor vehicle dominance':

Look at the picture above. You can see a van literally brushing past the chap on his cycle, giving him a few centimetres of space. 

Why might he do that? Because instead of creating a space for cycling, the City has narrowed the road, encouraging motor traffic to scrape past people on cycles. Which is exactly the same as happening in St. Paul's Churchyard, just south of here, effectively turning the two main east-west routes through the centre of the City in to streets where there is simply no space for cycling. 

It's all rather depressing. And happening all over London. And even more depressing that this is happening in the name of improving conditions for cycling.


  1. The very same thing has happened in Richmond last year. The part of my ride which I had nick-named as 'Run the Gauntlet' suddenly became even more dangerous for cyclists as the pavement was expanded into the road, leaving precious little space between cyclists and cars as they sped away from the traffic lights.

    It does make you wonder whether councils should have a more representational panel of planners when it comes to issues...

  2. What I don't understand is why do cyclists in London ride in the gutter. If the city designs a shared road like the picture above, then the only place I would ride would be right in the middle.

    If that holds up traffic and pisses off motorists, then the city needs to build segregated bike lanes

  3. Looking at where the old pavement line was, that redevelopment should have been a no brainer!

  4. @dave Don't forget that it takes a lot of confidence to 'take the lane' as you suggest. You have to ride pretty fast, and even then many motorists take exception. Some will even punch you for it

  5. If you are doing this go the whole way lay flush top setts the full width of carriageway with no centre line marking and advisory bike lanes marked - 2m wide down sides (or large 1057 and arrows). Lay setts with parallel course as self cleaning gulley by kerb Design worked well for 1850 and earlier and still working on many older streets. Road markings could be in setts to avoid raised paint and skid hazard.

  6. @ciaran-mooney this is indeed a no-brainer redevelopment, just not in the way you mean it.

    It seems most planners in London (council and TfL) are either completely blind to the existence of the so-called "bicycle", or actively trying to limit the amount of people using them to get around London.

  7. Cheapside wasn't very nice before, but it did at least have a wider carriageway and a rather indifferent, but nevertheless present, cycle lane either side.

    The redevelopment was not designed with enhanced conditions for cyclists in mind, despite the fluffy bullshit spouted in the City's reports to the Planning & Transport Committee on the subject - it is pure and simple the creation of a shopping precinct aimed at maximising pedestrian/shopper footfall without greatly compromising motor traffic - cyclists just got squeezed out of the middle.

    Me, I would follow the Wisdom of Franklin and take the lane, and the vans and buses etc can just run behind and get over it. Not everyone is willing or able to take that line, and I have already seen several incidents (mainly taxis) just like the photo above where a bike was riding close to the kerb.

    I had heard the suggestion that the City is fully aware of the cycling volume here, and sees it as a form of "rolling speed hump" - nice!

  8. I'd also blame the driver, not just the infrastructure. No amount of segregation will see an improvement in driving standards.

  9. you make a good point actually, from you photo you can see this is still an issue.

  10. I agree with rogerhot, you can improve something but the drivers who are used to driving one way may still do that, in fact there is a higher chance they will without even realizing they are doing it. The driver probably doesn't even think he is too close to the cyclist. Perhaps there needs to be more of a discussion on this topic and to let drivers be more aware of cyclists!

  11. Agree with Dave. Regular and commuter cyclists (like me) especially, on this kind of road, should responsibly cycle in a 'vehicular way' in driver position near the road centre, only allowing overtaking normal by other vehicles (likewise regular and professional road users). After all cyclists comprise half the traffic anyway.

  12. So much of the pavement space could have been carved out for a segregated/dedicated cycle lane, possibly on the other side, too. There would still have been plenty of walking room. For some reason, the only time London planners hack into the many wide pavements they give the space to road users. In Queensbridge Rd, Dalston, Lon E8, the council gave the space for motorists to park their cars - the road was made hazardous for cyclists when a dedicated cycle lane could have been provided without bothering pedestrians. - Editor,