Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Flurry of good, bad and downright ugly plans for new cycle routes on the edges of central London

All of a sudden, there is heaps of stuff going on with London's cycling infrastructure. I'm afraid this blog post isn't going to be the most exciting, but it's an attempt to provide a quick update on some of the latest schemes that need your attention.

Decent cycle track changes planned at Old Street

Firstly, it is worth noting that the City of London has recommended to its politicians that they 'accept' the East-West Cycle Superhighway. This is something of a significant milestone when you consider, for example, that The Royal Parks are not 'accepting' the need to provide protection for people using the Superhighway outside Buckingham Palace

Less encouragingly, it is still entirely unclear what the City of London is doing at Aldgate. TfL has already started building the long overdue protected cycle track from Aldgate to Bow. The problem is that no-one really seems to know what's going on at the Aldgate end. The City is removing the Aldgate gyratory, which is very welcome, but it's not clear to me, or anyone else I speak with, what the City's final plans are at the end of Cycle Super Highway 2 when the road passes from TfL control to City of London control. This has been rumbling on since 2013, when draft plans were issued, recalled, and reissued. The last plans I saw showed the protected cycle tracks stopping at Aldgate where people would be forced back into cycling in front of HGVs and coaches on narrowed general traffic lanes.

Museum of London roundabout. Follow the (green) bike-only
filter to turn left. Swing into the narrow right hand lane
with motor traffic honking at you for '
not being in the bike lane' to go straight across (red)
Also within the City, some people will have noticed the weird goings-on at the Museum of London roundabout. If you're heading south, you're now encouraged into a cycle-only left-turn filter. If like most people, you're cycling straight across, you now have to enter the right hand lane at the roundabout entrance. I find the whole thing utterly confusing and resent being made to filter into the right hand lane just to travel straight across. It's not always the easiest manoeuvre and is entirely counter-intuitive on a bike as well as for drivers who don't understand why people on bikes are suddenly moving OUT of the cycle lane (not realising the bike lane is only for left turns). It also means close overtakes on the narrowed lane on the roundabout itself. Nasty stuff. This is the fourth most dangerous junction in the City and it's hardly surprising to see why. The only upside I can see is that the City is experimenting here with a view to sweeping away the whole gyratory scheme between St Paul's and the Museum of London within the next few years. What needs to happen here is slower motor traffic speeds, better pedestrian crossings and safe space for cycling. It feels to me like here is one roundabout where there is plenty of space to achieve that with a standard Dutch roundabout layout rather than this weird mix of on-off cycle lanes.

Apparently, this is a cycle track. Shared use pedestrian / cycle crossings
and then along the pavement in front of the tube station.
Not good enough by a very long way
More interestingly, TfL has released plans for Cycle Super Highway 1, from just above Liverpool Street to Tottenham. And it's rather patchy. Most of the route follows the existing 'quiet' route up to Old Street and towards Stoke Newington rather than along the main A10 route. There are some good proposed improvements in most of the section through Hackney, notably at Old Street itself and Culford Road. But get closer to Tottenham and it falls apart. The route through Haringey would involve you hopping on and off cycle tracks with hugely complicated shared crossings. At one point, the 'super highway' will actually be a shared use pavement right in front of the entrance to Seven Sisters tube station. At another, you'll be ducking under trees placed in the middle of the bike track along Tottenham High Road. It's worth noting, however, that the TfL consultation gives a fairly strong hint that the engineers know this isn't good enough: "We welcome suggestions for alternative route alignments through Haringey. We continue to investigate alignment options including the extension of the two-way cycle track further south along Tottenham High Road". If you know the area, do take time to respond to the consultation with your suggestions.

And, finally, two more consultations to be aware of:

Cable Street - where TfL has announced some fairly sensible proposals to make this already busy cycle track (CS3) safer and simpler. The online consultation is open for another couple of weeks.

Chelsea Bridge - There is a good suggestion to extend the westbound cycle lane along the river all the way to the junction at the northern end of Chelsea Bridge but a really half-hearted attempt to install a Copenhagen-style two-stage right turn heading into London. The two-stage concept works well in Denmark but that's because it works on all four sides of a junction. I don't see why you'd introduce it going one way only (nor for that matter why you'd install an advanced stop box that negates the need for a two-stage right). In any case, take a look for yourselves and comment on the consultation.