Monday, 7 November 2011

Barclays Cycle Superhighway 2 - People all across London starting to demand same thing: proper cycling and walking facilities on our streets

Brixton Town Centre. TfL would describe the roads as too
narrow for safe cycling facitilies here.
A reader of this blog has been corresponding with Transport for London about its Barclays Cycle Superhighway 2, the route where Brian Dorling was killed by an HGV a few weeks ago.

Everyone who has ever cycled here knows just how poor the Cycle Superhighway is, how it's only giving a few scraps to cycling and how dangerous those scraps are. Dozens of people have written about the crap facilities at Bow for pedestrians and for cyclists. A whole host of relevant links have been added on Diamond Geezer's blog here.

I thought the correspondence with Transport for London deserves a wider audience. Here's part of the initial letter:

"Having lived and cycled in a number of European countries, I think it is fair to say that the utter uselessness of CS2 would have Dutch and German cyclists in hysterics. Google maps tells me that I use it for just over a mile, from the Royal London hospital to Aldgate, which is always the scariest mile of my journey from Bethnal Green to Westminster. It cuts and turns in the most random manner imaginable. One moment it is in the bus lane and I'm weaving in and out of the buses. The next some hard to see blue blocks in the road are telling me to pointlessly move across the lanes, from which I find myself having to cut back to the other side of the road. Coming into the City it actively funnels cyclists into the traffic turning left towards Tower Bridge. Coming away from the City, it forces us into the traffic turning left into Commercial Street, who are allowed to drive in the cycling lane. Cyclists here have nowhere to go due to the hoardings outside Aldgate East tube station. (It takes approximately two brain cells, which TfL is apparently without, to predict that eventually somebody is going to get killed here.) Cars and lorries are allowed to park and block the lane.
Why is this so? Please explain precisely to me: what is the point of building a cycling lane and letting people park in it during rush hour?

So my basic message: if you want my views on a "cycling superhighway", then first you have to build one."

And Transport for London's response:
 
"Re.: Barclays Cycle Superhighway 2
 
We are most sorry that you don't like Cycle Superhighway Route 2 (CS2).
 
Please note that we have widened bus lanes in order to make it easier for buses to pass cyclists, and vice-versa. Providing a dedicated cycle lane would have either required the lane to be of substandard width, squeezing cyclists close to the kerb, or would have required the removal of a general traffic lane. You may appreciate that TfL is responsible for all road users, and cannot make changes that would cause unacceptable increases in congestion. The overriding constraint is of course the lay-out of London's historic street pattern.

...We have made many improvements to cycling conditions on the A11 as part of CS2. Examples include:

- reconfigured Cambridge Heath Road junction, including the removal of three left-turn filter lanes;
- new visible, comfortable cycle surfacing;
- new and upgraded advanced stop lines;
- blind spot visibility mirrors at signalised junctions;
- a new cycle track and realigned cycle lane heading west from Bow Roundabout to the Fairfield Road junction.
- carriageway resurfacing, including on Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel Road, Mile End Road and Bow Road where the carriageway surfaces had previously been in poor condition."

So here we have Transport for London last week publicly praising the design of its cycle facilities at Bow roundabout. If you want to read a fierce critic of just how dreadful the design at Bow junction is, read the views of this local resident.

A TfL road at Stockwell. This same car parks for free
every single day in the bus lane. And TfL says it worries
about congestion and lack of space for cycling?!
And it's all because TfL cannot make changes that would cause 'unacceptable increases in congestion'. So, we can't have people switching to safe and easy bike routes because of what exactly? Because TfL thinks motor vehicle congestion is the only issue on our roads? What about giving people a proper choice so they don't feel they need to drive, especially on the 50%+ of all London road journeys that are only a couple of miles long. Ever tried that? No, we thought not.

People are beginning to say it's time to change things. Read here to see what the Leader of Islington Council is saying. Or here to see what Camden councillors are saying. Or here, to see the Kennington Association or here to see what people at Kings Cross think about TfL's road policy.
-------

On Saturday, a group of us will be protesting about crap conditions for cycling on London's main roads. We have a route planned from the Oval all across central London. 10 people have agreed to marshall the ride. Please join us.

Meet at St Mark's Church, The Oval, Kennington, SE11 4PW at 10.30 on Saturday 12 November for a 10.30 prompt departure.

Full details of the route available here.

For more background about the Tour and how it came about read here.
We're looking forward to seeing you there. If you cycle in London and you think the time has come for the streets to change, you should be there.