Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Please take five minutes to email the City of London and support new cycling schemes on 30 Square Mile streets

City of London - map of the proposed new contraflow cycle streets
Source: City of London
Back in  2009, the City of London started to embrace the concept of making some of its smaller streets more accessible for cycling. A small number of previously one-way streets were made two-way for cycling. And there was an awful lot of hot air about it at the time. Fortunately, the City stuck to its guns. There are already a dozen or so streets in the Square Mile that are one-way for motor vehicles, two-way for people on bikes.Compare that to next-door City of Westminster where there are (as far as I'm aware) only one or two contraflows for cycling and even those that do exist were built over a decade ago.

The City of London has now released plans to turn a further 30 streets two-way for cycling. What's more, I understand (unofficially) that a further half dozen or so are in the pipeline and due to open next year.

But none of this will happen without your help:

When the first contraflows opened up in the Square Mile, there were dire warnings of 'illegal cyclists' hitting pedestrians and an array of voices ranged against opening up streets for cycling. This, despite the fact that in cities like Paris, every single one-way street for motor vehicles (with the exception of major A-road equivalents) is now two-way for cycling. Fortunately, the facts rather disproved the naysayers. The first contraflows resulted in a 60% increase in cycle traffic along those routes and City Police were quick to point out that there were no collisions and that the contraflows "[provided the ability] for cyclists to avoid busy streets [which would be} be a contributing factor in improving road safety in the City'.

The City's main roads are pretty bad news for
safe, convenient cycling. This is Cheapside AFTER
it's been made safer for cycling, can you believe.
In short, I'm asking that people take five minutes of their time to write to the City of London officials to voice their support for this latest batch of contraflow streets. Some of the new streets will open up very useful new routes. For example, the combination of Finch Lane, Birchin Street and Nicholas Lane (points 22,23 and 27 on the map above, or click on the City of London's own cycling contraflow map for more details) opens a new route to avoid Bank junction. It means you could now cycle to and from Gresham Street, via Lothbury towards Lombard Street - which aligns you straight on to the cycle super highway to Canary Wharf. It might sound a bit convoluted but it's actually faster than going via the main roads and - once you've learnt the route - it's almost just as direct as the main roads as well.

But it's in the City's main roads that the real problems lie. Pictured left is a typical scene on Cheapside - the road that runs between Bank junction and St Paul's. The stated aim of the plans to enhance Cheapside when it was redesigned a couple of years ago was to 'Reduce motor vehicles dominance and traffic speeds' and to '[improve] the safety and convenience of the travelling public, especially those in buses and those on pedal cycles'. My own view is that Cheapside has been made significantly worse to cycle on, there's just as much motor traffic but everyone's thrown together in a much narrower, more intimidating, less practical and more dangerous space. And the City is planning much much more of this stuff.

Anyhow, for now, let's focus on the positives. Please take five minutes to write to the City of London and support the cycle contraflows. Please send your emails to localtransport@cityoflondon.gov.uk by November 2nd and quote "cycle permeability" in your subject line. 

For more details on the plans, you can also see the City of London cycling transport page.