Barclays Cycle Superhighway – Meet and Ride

Some of my videos have shown some good and bad aspects of the Barclays Cycle Superhighway, some have been critical and got thousands of views and been posted by some big bloggers. Including Dave Hill, David Hembrow, Bikeradar, Road.cc, LCC, CTC and a few more.

My videos and blog where noticed by several people at TFL, that’s how I got to test ride the Barclays Cycle Hire bicycle, and I was asked if i would like to ride part of the Barclays Cycle Superhighway route with Nigel Hardy, the project manager for the cycle superhighways. Obviously a great opportunity and one which I was happy to take them up on.

We started outside Southwark tube station, where the crossings have countdowns and the whole area seems cycle friendly, speed limits on side roads reduced to 20mph and lots of cycle lanes and parking. A great place to start i think.

Our first stop was just down the road, Nigel gave us a general talk about the background and the idea behind the superhighway. He talked about the superhighway being a big task and the first cycle route in major a city in the UK which aimed to take cyclist from the outer reaches to the centre all along main roads. Some sections of the routes would already have cycling facilities, these may not have been up to scratch and they where reviewed. This includes the ASL, and most of them have been increased in size.

Conveniently placed but easily overlooked where the bike parking flower pots, which showed how you should be locking your bike. From my understanding, these stands where funded by the money that the councils bided for from TFL.

Why is the blue paint not constant? Because in some cases it is not feasible to put a cycle lane down, for instance where there is a bus stop, parking spaces or a crossing. In it’s place is a large Cycle Superhighway logo, one at where the cycle lane ends, and one at where it starts again. This is to let vehicle drivers know that they should expect cyclists there and it’s a way to show the cyclists that they are still on the right route. Whilst we all wish that the cycle superhighway could be something like the Dutch have, it wasn’t ever going to be possible straight away. And with around 80% of the route covered by blue cycle lanes, it’s going to be easy to follow and shouldn’t be disrupted too much by parked cars or traffic.

Why all the CS7/CS3 logos on the cycle lane at side roads? This is to make sure that any cars joining from a side road know that the blue lane is a cycle lane and that they should expect to see cyclists along this route. It also serves as a guide for cyclists, they know they are clearly joining a cycle superhighway.

Kennington and Oval Northbound, why does the cycle superhighway stop, and then move to the next lane further on? This is because a cycle lane can’t move across the lane of traffic. The danger of giving cyclists a line to follow across traffic is only going to cause conflict. And thus it was thought that stopping the blue cycling lane, and starting it again later on would allow cyclists to move across one lane of traffic easily. This will work at it’s best if the drivers are educated on what the large logo’s mean.

Some of the smaller things that have happened on the route to improve it for cycling are as follows;

  • Road surface relayed
  • Bus lanes widened
  • Bigger ASL’s
  • More bike stands
  • Speed tables introduced at key side streets to slow cars down
  • Some 2 lane roads turned into one lane.
  • Trixi mirros (around 40 to start with, possibly more if the trial works)
  • re-vamped segregated and off road cycle paths.

A lot more was covered by Nigel Hardy whilst we were out on the cycle super highway and it was a great pleasure to ride the route with him and see how parts of it have developed and exactly what planning went into it. Nigel himself said that these two routes are effectively test routes, where certain ideas and cycling structures are new to London and are being monitored for there effectiveness from both a cyclists and a road users point of view.

A sneak peak at Barclays Cycle Superhighway Information signs

Whilst I was out with Nigel Hardy, the project manager for the Barclays Cycle Superhighways, we came across an information sign that has been partially un-wrapped a few days early. This is just one type of sign that will be used, and quickly displays the rough time that an average cyclist could expect to get to a popular destination.

The signs will have several roles, providing information for cyclists is a primary role But also to show drivers that it doesn’t take that long to travel a certain distance. As all ‘distance’ markers, are actually in time. People that drive these sections will easily be able to relate the estimated time it takes by bike to the actual time it takes them by car. In the rush hour traffic it is likely to be quicker by bike.

Cycle SuperHighway

It was announced yesterday by Boris Johnson that route 3 & 7 would be finished on the 19th of July 2010. With only a few weeks left to go before they open, there is a noticeable increase in the work that is going on with route 7. Before there where only 2 test junctions, then 3, and now they are painting the blue lanes all along the route from Tooting to Colliers wood. Some of it is great but at the junctions where it matters most, it is lacking in design and continues to put cyclists in the gutter.

On of my videos has been featured on several blogs and news sites, mostly bike related (Bikeradar.com, road.cc and Dave Hills London blog at the Guardian). But with Boris’ news yesterday it seems that more people are latching on to news and giving me and my videos publicity. Thats great and i hope that the more coverage this gets the more likely a decent outcome happens.

Today it was featured on the Guardian Bike Blog and in the CTC news letter cycleclips. This meant that today alone I got more than 2,500 views on that one video, making the total now over 7,000 views in a month.

Below are some other videos on the super highway, showing the latest additions to the layout.

Cycle Superhighway Route 7

With major work set to start on route 7 of the London cycle superhighway in the next week or two, some doubt is coming into my mind. Although i’m confident that this will bring more people out of their cars and onto a bicycle during the summer months, which can only be a good think. I’m not so confident in the design of some of the test junctions, at present the road layout hasn’t been changed at any and only a blue strip has been painted on the ground. With the aim of the cycle superhighways is to allow cycling commuters to travel in mass from the out skirts of London and into the centre of the city. Safety should really be a priority and at some junctions it clearly hasn’t been thought out, at some points it is best for a cyclist to control the lane and cycle in the middle to attempt to prevent dangerous overtaking, nothing to accommodate or hint towards this has yet to be seen.

I shall post more videos and news on this cycle route as it progresses.