Friday, 15 May 2015

Response to Cambridge Circus Consultation

Westminster Council have recently come up with plans to close Moor St to cycling as part of 'changes' to Cambridge Circus. These plans are so appalling I've publicly posted my response to the consultation below.

Moor Street

Westminster Council's planned closure


Dear Mr Warden and Mr Balboa,

I'm writing to respond to the Cambridge Circus consultation as a local resident and worker who regularly cycles.

I think the plans are a significant step backwards for cycling in Westminster and wholeheartedly reject them. 

Closing Moor St to cycling is a very bad idea. Moor St is one of the few genuinely quiet and safe streets to cycle on in Westminster (due to the fact it is not a route for motorised through-traffic). People on bikes can already use Old Compton St but choose not to because it is far more dangerous and unpleasant due to rat-running traffic. Why further limit the already limited amount of routes there are for cycling in Westminster, especially when Moor St already contains a rather expensive cycle hire docking station?!

Furthermore, I believe it is perfectly easy to keep Moor St open to cycling. Cyclists and pedestrians currently interact harmoniously at the junction of Moor St and Charing Cross Road, and pedestrians do not need significantly more space here. If you are keen to improve things for pedestrians, areas like Oxford Street or parts of Soho could be much more fruitfully investigated, in my opinion.

It would be a terrible shame in Westminster Council were the only Council in London to be publicly closing cycle routes, especially given the current political, social and economic consensus on the benefits of increasing cycle rates.

I note that the Quietway plans are not finalised yet and I believe it would be incredibly retrograde to start closing cycle routes before you have even begun consulting on building any new ones.

Finally, the additional of 4 new bike parking stands is incredibly paltry given how much demand there is for cycle parking the West End. A scheme like this should be delivering closer to 40-50 new parking stands to cope with increasing demand in the West End and encourage sustainable transport. There's plenty of space for both bike parking and pedestrians and would be interested to see any evidence you might have to the contrary.

I think we should learn from the mistakes that were made with the changes to Haymarket over the last year (i.e. completely failing to design for cycling), rather than repeat them.

Very best wishes,

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.


A full recording of TfL's board meeting has been archived here if any readers are interested:

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.


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...