Sunday, 5 April 2015

Why pinch points are awful for cycling

We came across this photo in the archives from Headington, Oxford which demonstrates exactly why pinch points are such a bad idea for cycling.


When designing new cycle routes, especially so called 'Quietways', across the UK, I'd urge road planners to resist the urge to install pinch points in order to 'slow' traffic. It makes things much more dangerous and unpleasant for those on bikes. Much better to install a segregated cycle lane and reduce space for motor traffic that way. 

In the above photo there could be a segregated bike track where the cycle racks are currently situated, and everyone would be a lot happier!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Royal Parks are being used as a car parking lot for the rich and privileged

Got some snaps recently cycling through the Royal Parks that show they value car parking over safe cycling. You'd think, being a Park and all, the people that run them would prefer to have bikes than heavily polluting motor vehicles on their roads, but.... seems otherwise




These photos are from South Carriage Drive which is hopefully soon to gain full segregation of bikes and motor traffic as part of TfL's East-West Cycle Superhighway (Crossrail for Bikes)

Friday, 13 March 2015

More bike parking needed on St John's Lane

I went to St John's Lane recently and was astonished by how difficult it was to park my bike. It had got to the stage where companies are now claiming bike racks on their land as 'Private Property' so that their employees have somewhere to park their bikes. The local authorities need to sort it out!



Thursday, 5 February 2015

Full Steam Ahead! After months of pressure from Boris Johnson, TfL Board approves Cycle Superhighways Programme

Yesterday the TfL Board formerly approved a massive cycle superhighway programme that will continue into mid-2016. This includes many routes and junction upgrades that have already been consulted on and documented in this blog. The important thing is that these transformational improvements to cycle infrastructure in London will now almost certainly be going ahead despite concerted opposition from Canary Wharf PLC (whose boss likes to commute by limo along the Embankment and is oh-so-angry at the possibility of his journey to work being a few minutes longer) and the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (who constantly oppose any measures that mean Londoners could make a 2 mile journey for free [on a bike] as opposed to for £20 [in a cab]).

An artist's impression of how the N-S and E-W cycle routes will intersect at Blackfriars Bridge
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) have threatened launching a judicial review against the scheme because they hate the idea of anyone feeling safe enough to cycle around London instead of wasting their time and money on a taxi. However, the legal grounds for such an attack would have to be that there was not 'proper consultation'. Such a position is not credible in the context of a two month long consultation process by TfL in which over 20,000 people responded, and over 80% of respondents were in favour. Therefore we hope the LTDA will see the wisdom in not wasting their precious and time and money in such a hopeless venture. And will stop claiming that people who cycle are the 'ISIS of London'. It's just sick.

And next time, chaps, we'd recommend getting an Uber instead.

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A full recording of TfL's board meeting has been archived here if any readers are interested: https://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/mayor/webcasts

Friday, 26 December 2014

Consultations Galore! (Part 3)

Seasonal best wishes and even more consultations for us all to fill in!

Cheapside and Guildhall Enhancement Strategy - closes 31 December! (extended deadline)

It's great that the City are consulting on this but they are currently planning on building loads and loads and loads of pavement, and no #space4cycling. They should change their plans so that reclaimed road space is used to create dedicated and separated cycle lanes not just massive pavements. Otherwise they will have huge amounts of conflict between bicycles and cars, and bicycles and pedestrians, resulting in unnecessary injuries and deaths.


Two options being considered for the St Paul's gyratory..


Neither of which contains a shred of #space4cycling. This is atrocious and the design need a complete rethink and dedicated cycle lanes should be added.

The City are also consulting on changes to a number of adjoining streets, including Cannon Street (pictured here). Again, there are no cycle facilities on these streets at present and that means they are dangerous. Three people have been killed cycling in the Square Mile this year alone. The way to stop people being killed in the future is to provide dedicated cycling facilities, not try and use cyclists as human speed bumps (as the City currently attempts to do, particularly on Cheapside).


Transforming Vauxhall Cross

This is a rather large consultation on what TfL should do with the whole Vauxhall Cross area over the next few years, particularly with regard to removing the 1960s gyratory which they appear keen to do. Fortunately the powers that be at TfL have recognised that the CS5 cannot be postponed for another 3 years while gyratories are removed so that Cycle Superhighway will be built immediately, with overall Vauxhall Cross plans being integrated at a later stage into the cycle superhighway design.

Here is the current layout of the area, complete with some very poor (or either non-existent) cycling facilities:



And here are the proposed improvements:


And a rather inspiring TfL artist's impression of what the new layout will look like, complete with a lovely wide separated bike track and a woman cycling on it who isn't wearing a helmet, and even looks quite normal!

Is this London or Copenhagen?

The plans are definitely an improvement but still contain many flaws. More could be done to make the area appealing for cycling and walking,  such as making the whole area 20 MPH (like the Waterloo IMAX Roundabout now is) or by building dedicated cycle tracks on both sides of Parry Street and making these segregated cycling facilities run continuously through the junction onto Nine Elms Lane (using special cycle-only traffic signals if necessary; as is done in Denmark).


And a final thought... Why does TfL never consider the convenience of changing between cycle and bus/rail/underground transport connections? (especially when deciding the location of cycle hire docking stations?!)

A survey on the Vauxhall Cross consultation asks Londoners to rate the importance of "Convenience of changing between bus, rail and underground". Cycling isn't included. It should be. The ease of interchange from cycling to another mode of transport can be the factor which determines if someone decides to cycle at all for their journeys around London.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Consultations Galore! (Part 2) - CS5, Oval, Regents Row, Crystal Palace

Here are some more very important consultations that are closing soon and worth responding to if you haven't already:

Revised proposals for Barclays Cycle Superhighway Route 5 between Vauxhall and Oval - Closes in 3 days!!!

This route is largely an improvement on the first plans that TfL presented. What is especially nice to note is that TfL have abandoned their previous idea of creating a 'shared island' area with people both cycling and walking in the same area, and are instead creating a dedicated cycle route and a dedicated walking route through Vauxhall, which is a much better solution for both those walking and cycling.


The cycle track also has a usual width of 4m which is good, although given that it's two-way and a big commuter route, it could be wider; perhaps 5-6m.


Another issue is that there should be a bus-stop bypass at Oval instead of the cycle track suddenly petering out and stopping. That is dangerous and could lead to conflict with bus drivers. Much better to continue cycle track behind the bus stop as is the norm in Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

If there isn't enough space for a bus-stop by-pass it would be better to do what Camden Council did on Royal College Street and install a cycle lane which bus passengers can also enter and use to alight to and from the bus with. I've seen this used in Copenhagen very regularly and it results in negligible conflict between bus users and cyclists and is much, much safer and more pleasant for those on bikes.


Oval Triangle - Consultation on potential measures to reduce through traffic on local roads

TfL are trying to reduce through-traffic from local roads around Oval which is a fantastic idea. They've offered two different options. In my opinion, Option 2 is much the better one. It involves closing one end of Ravensdon Street to through-traffic which is in line with best practice from Denmark and Holland where many local roads are closed at one end.


Hackney Council have also closed off one end of many local roads to motor traffic in recent years and the result has been to create much safer and more pleasant back-streets cycling in the borough.



Monitoring by the Council has shown that Regents Row is being used as a rat run resulting in an unsafe and unpleasant environment for pedestrians and cyclists so Hackney Council are proposing introducing a road closure at Marlborough Avenue to stop vehicles using Regents Row as a rat-run and help create a more pedestrian and cycle friendly environment. This will also help ease congestion on the nearby towpath by providing an attractive alternative.

It's very well worth responding to this consultation and supporting the proposals.



Southwark Council are proposing installing fully segregated cycle tracks adjacent to the roundabouts. The cycle tracks will allow cyclists to bypass interaction with general traffic at the roundabouts and will directly access the proposed parallel priority crossings.  These measures will ensure that cyclists can negotiate both roundabouts separated from general traffic, which will greatly improve safety and accessibility, particularly for less confident cyclists.



It's worth supporting the Dutch and Danish roundabout design which separates bikes from motor traffic. However, I want to see segregated cycle lanes continuing in the roads leading to and from the roundabouts so that those cycling are not suddenly dumped into the path of dangerous motor traffic when they leave the junctions.

The area should also be made 20 MPH to help save the lives of those cycling, walking, and driving.

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It's amazing that all these changes are being proposed all over London, and together they could add up to a real transformation of the British capital, especially if Crossrail for Bikes is built. Marginal gains and all that...

Monday, 1 December 2014

Consultations Galore! (Part 1)

TfL have been releasing heaps of consultations in recent weeks, so I thought it was worth doing a round up of them.

Archway Gyratory

These plans involve closing an arm of the gyratory and converting it into a two-way off-road cycle track which is quite exciting. It's very good that TfL have not gone for the defunct 'shared space' approach here which would just cause problems for those cycling and walking. Instead you have clear spaces to walk, and a clear space to cycle through. So a big improvement for cycling.

Motor traffic will be routed through the remaining 3 arms of the gyratory which will be made two-way.

Bikes will be physically protected from motor traffic when travelling on one of these 'arms' and on the closed section. Again, big improvement.

But unfortunately some routes through the junction will still involve bikes mixing with motor traffic. For instance, those travelling on bikes from St John's Way to Junction Road will be at risk of the fatal 'left-hook' from drivers turning left onto Holloway Road who have to turn across their path. I believe it's worth highlighting this to TfL.

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EDIT 10/12/14: Here's a nice graphic by Islington Cyclists about what TfL's Archway Gyratory plans should really look like:


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Stockwell Cross

Overall another big improvement for cycling. The creation of safe, segregated cycle lanes here will be a big improvement and allow '8-80' cycling (i.e. anyone form 8 years of age, to 80 years of age, will be safe and happy to cycle through here.



However, as is no doubt clear from these plans, as soon as you leave the specific section of Clapham Road being upgraded, Londoners on bikes will be expected to share a lane with buses (which, by the way, kill more people in London than HGVs every year). That isn't okay, especially given how many buses uses the route, and that this is a 30 MPH road, so when filling in the consultation. I made sure to make this clear to TfL.


Elephant and Castle

TfL consulted specifically on the road layout at Elephant and Castle earlier this year. Their plans were a vast improvement on the current situation, but again didn't bring the junction up to Continental standards of cycle provision. TfL are now consulting on the 'public spaces' they intend to create at Elephant and Castle as part of their planned regeneration.


I believe it's worth those who cycle responding to this because the new public spaces should include off-road routes for those on bikes, i.e. on the section between Elephant and Castle and New Kent Road. This would make cycling more inviting and also prevent unwanted pavement cycle occurring as people naturally follow desire lines of travel.

Moreover, the public space is dependent on the road space for it's quality, and if large amount of vehicles are revving through the junction and turning it into a racetrack, then it won't be very pleasant. So TfL need to consider implementing 20 MPH, traffic capacity reductions, and air pollution limitations into the scheme so that it's a nice place to be.

TfL are also planning on expanding the current Cycle High provision in the area which is usually a very good thing. This should be supported, but effort should also be made to locate Docking Stations at points where they intersect with other transport links or with specific, popular destinations (e.g. right outside the tube station exits, or right outside the planned shopping centre), rather than being hidden down back streets where nobody sees, nor uses them.


Old Street Roundabout

These plans represent a massive step forward and are supported by the newly created group, Hackney People on Bikes, while also being idiotically criticised by those that are currently responsible for the Hackney local branch of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC). Who'd have though it?! But, hey, that's the situation, and hopefully it'll improve soon and the people in charge of the local Hackney branch of LCC will actually support the segregation of bikes and motor traffic.



Anyway, the plans largely seem great. Some tweaks need to be made such as extending physical segregation along the north side of Old Street in both East and West directions (it just stops in the current designs). There is plenty of space on Old Street to do extend segregation in both these locations so I hope it happens.


I would also like to ask that all physical segregation and pavements are fitted with a continual dropped kerb (or gradient) on the cycle lane side, so that maximum use of the cycle lane can be made by those cycling without the danger of clipping one's pedals on the kerb. It's actually worth saying this in all the consultation response, as TfL do record this request if it's made, and if it's made enough they may just start doing it. Below is a photo of the sort of thing I mean, borrowed from The Ranty Highwayman's highly informative and intelligent post on the issue of kerbs.

Kerbs that are graded like this are best of segregated cycle lanes because they allow you to make full width of the lane. The Cycle Superhighway 2 Extension between Stratford and Bow is safely segregated, but has very, unforgiving kerbs that are easy to clip a pedal on.

Finally, if you haven't already, it's worth keeping up with the excellent work of the CyclingWorks campaign and the battle to build Crossrail for Bikes which is covered brilliantly by Mark Ames at IBikeLondon.

Oh, and this blog topped 100,000 hits a few months back which was lovely, so I wanted to say a belated big thank you to everyone that reads it!