Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Needs your feedback: Westminster council publishes a cycle strategy designed by a drunk spider. Some of this is fairly decent but a lot of it is really second-rate. Please fill out the online survey (link at the bottom)

Believe it or not, the pink line is meant to be a direct and convenient bike route. Call me stupid? 

Westminster council (or, rather, the City of Westminster as it calls itself) has this week released its draft cycling strategy. You can comment on the strategy on Westminster's website.

The strategy is to deliver what Westminster calls a network of 'well-signposted, direct and continuous cycle routes' through central London. Pictured above is one of those 'direct and continuous cycle routes'. The Jubilee Line will take you from St. James's Park, up Bond Street to north of Oxford Street. Now, the big and positive thing about this is that you will - by the looks of it - be able to bike north up Bond Street and that is a big deal indeed. But just look at the insane amount of back and forth you'll have to do to line up with the stretch on Bond Street. No-one in their right mind is going to use this is they face a literal maze of one-way streets just to connect with the clear stretch along Bond Street.

Or take a look at the stretch north of Oxford Street along New Cavendish Street. This route links with the main east-west bike track on Camden's streets across towards Bloomsbury and ultimately Islington. This looks like wiggle central. If you're in a car you can storm down three-lanes of New Cavendish Street but it looks to me like Westminster wants people on bikes to take the least direct, most convoluted route possible. Why not create space for cycling along the more direct route here, namely along New Cavendish Street and then in to George Street?

And what is critical, of course, is to actually make space for cycling. Some of these streets are already part of the London Cycle Network within Westminster. But the carriageway is filled with parked cars and with multiple lanes of fast-flowing motor traffic. Some of these routes aren't going to work unless that changes and they'll be nothing more than highly windy, convoluted ideas that no-one uses.

In balance, some of these routes look pretty encouraging. The planned 'Victoria Line', through Soho is one of those. It would shoot up (and down) Wardour Street and was first mooted with support from the Crown Estate back in April. That would then link to a route towards St James's Park and Vauxhall Bridge. It, also, seems to link, however to a Victoria Non-Line, namely to a long stretch where you'd presumably have to get off and walk your way to the other end of Green Park, having walked down a one-way road and crossed Piccadilly.

I'm also not at all sure what is going on a Trafalgar Square. You'd have to come up the Mall, do a left a right, a left, a right and right again, all to wiggle around and get yourself aligned with Whitcomb Street. Pretty messy if you ask me.

I'm sure it must be a mistake but the bike track through the middle of Hyde Park Corner disappears on this map, replaced instead with a jolly ride around a six lane gyratory. It's a bit like publishing a map of London and putting the M4 down the Grand Union Canal towpath.

I'd urge people to take a look at the map and look for similar crazy routes. Where you see a dotted line route and a full-line route, assume that the dotted line is an alternative proposal.

Once you've had a look at the map, please have a go at completing the online survey and making sure Westminster knows what you think. Some of this is downright rubbish and we need to make sure the council knows about that. Please post any comments on this blog as well and I'll wrap those up into an email to the council when I've got sufficient feedback.

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