Are we being sold a fairytale?

It’s approaching the time of year where another set of Barclays Cycle Superhighway routes are going to be opened. Work has already been underway for several weeks, with the roads being re-surfaced and blue paint being laid. In some places it has even meant a remodel of the road design, reducing 2 lane sections of road into one.

The cycle superhighways are meant to make it easier and safer for cyclists to commute into and out of London via direct and continuous cycle route . But CS7 and CS3 haven’t exactly done that.

CS3 is pretty much a nightmare. The shared pavement sections on Cable Street and the A13 aren’t continuous and aren’t exactly what i would call safe. Pedestrians walking onto the cycle route, plenty of roads crossing the path where they have priority. And due to how narrow it is, it makes it very hard to pass slower cyclists if it’s busy.
Due to the on road bits being built on sections of road which are quite narrow, then there is lots of conflict with drivers as you are forced to take a primary road position at plenty of points to keep safe. Not exactly what a novice cyclist wants to be doing on their dream cycle path to work.

CS7 is much the similar, i use it near daily for my commute to and from work and anyone that watches my videos will know that it certainly comes with issues. At certain sections you have to take a primary position to avoid dangerous overtakes and to keep your self safe.

Most of the cycle lanes along both routes only meet the minimum requirements set by the DfT (1.5m in width). With less than 1 mile of both of them being any greater. Even less of them are mandatory, and thus you will often find that other vehicles are driving in them and it’s not uncommon for it to actually be completely blocked.

Re-design of the road structure has been kept to a minimum. Sections of road have been re-designed to attempt to keep traffic flow and cycling flow constant but key issues like left hooks have not been addressed.

TFL boast about the increase in ASL size and quantity. Which is pointless considering they aren’t even enforced and more often than not they are full with other kinds of vehicles or you can’t get to them!

The main problem I see with these cycle lanes is the mentality of cyclists. I witness on a near daily basis cyclists filtering in the blue cycle lane in an unsafe position. Be it through a small gap or up the inside of a left turning TP flat-bed lorry. When these blue cycle lanes of death are laid down on the road, it gives cyclists the feeling that they are safe because they have their own designated area but in reality we are still at risk from the motorists that care not for our safety.

These cycle lanes are meant to aid in the cycling revolution that is happening in London. An increase of 70% of cycle journeys was recorded on CS3 and CS7. But the cycle lanes do not meet the demands of commuters, more often that not they are overflowing with cyclists overtaking each other and conflicts with drivers are not dropping.

Will the new cycle superhighway routes be an improvement over what has been given to us?

On a side note, don’t even try to use the superhighways on a weekend. It’s like cycling down Oxford street!

13 thoughts on “Are we being sold a fairytale?

  1. The plans for CS8 through Islington involve painting a 1.5m blue lane along stretches of Holloway Road and Angel that don’t involve difficult junctions. At those points it will just disappear. But the blue lane is bad enough because it may actually make conditions worse. For long stretches these roads are currently okay to cycle along, as you either have a bus lane (much of Holloway Road) or a very wide carriageway with lots of room and no stripes to encourage people to go faster (much of Upper Street). Painting a blue lane on the extreme left of these roads will encourage everyone to think that’s where cyclists belong, so there will inevitably be conflict when cyclists choose not to ride in the gutter but in the primary position where they can safely over-take the frequently stopping buses.

    1. TFL have tried, where possible, to build the routes into either bus lanes or currently existing cycle routes, CS3 was basically already in place, they just added some blue paint to make it a little bit easier to follow (apart from at one point!)
      Basically they are trying to make glory whilst doing as little work and disrupting as few motorists as possible!

  2. You are spot on there Gaz. I don’t cycle much where the CSs are. But when I have been on a road with one, I’m shocked what TfL wants us to do and what the users will do just because of the blue paint.

    So I just ignore it and cycle my own way.

  3. With the number of riders I’ve been seeing in videos of the superhighways, I’m surprised they weren’t built wider to help accommodate passing and additional light phases at intersections. Maybe some future expansion if a few dollars can be diverted from motorway construction.

    1. Most of my videos of the superhighways are filmed during commuting hours. So loads of cyclists! but the problem for TFL is out of those hours how much can they give to cyclists and not piss off the car drivers.
      During the weekend it is a joke to use. Basically it is all full of parked cars.

      1. How come tfl cares so much about minor inconveniences for private auto drivers? I thought most people in London took public transit, and only a few took private autos, and therefore there would be only a small political cost for promoting alternatives to cars? One of those mysteries of life I guess?

    2. That i don’t know the answer to.
      Part of it is that we need baby steps. Such a drastic change to cycling facilities and the roads will confuse and annoy motorists and that is the last thing they want. After all, the netherlands weren’t built in a day.

  4. You are right, these cycleways are silly.

    Both the videos you show are unfortunate for everyone. I think the truck driver thought it was ok because you were in your lane and he was in his lane. The whole point of lanes is that they are meant to be enough room to drive safely without having to worry about distance sideways.

    The left hook can be difficult for drivers, because if there is a constant stream of bikes they are often un-easy about moving over and taking a primary in the bike lane ready for their turn. Again its poor design.

    None the less, you guys have awesome cycle ways compared to most other cities in the world. The ACL’s here are are only 3 feet long, just painted in between the stop line and the pedestrian crossing line, you can’t even fit a bike in them. Our ‘bikeways’ just give up at norrow roads. I have a 15km trip down a bikeway with a 1km gap in the middle where the bikeway just stops and forces you to take a primary.

  5. The installation of the CS8 has been a massive hassle for all road users. It’s been crazy dangerous for cyclists especially.

    The changes for CS8 have, if anything, made the road more dangerous for everyone. Especially for pedestrians with the new crash barriers which have been installed in place of the flower beds.

    The lack of thought and consultation was staggering. Battersea Park Road (the a road, the red route) is the only place in Battersea with free parking. They haven’t removed it for the CS8. So this ‘cycle superhighway’ goes ten yards into parked cars, stops for ten yards, starts in front of those cars again. It’s ridiculous. I’ve talked to TFL – that’s the way it’s going to be.

    Battersea Park Road is a crazy busy freight road and it is crawling with busses (no tubes in Battersea). But this is where CS8 is. It should have gone through Chelsea and Fulham – but mysteriously got altered to Battersea (but you won’t find any proof of that online any longer).

    In many places the road is now more dangerous. For fifty years people have cycled on the towpath across Chelsea Bridge (like all the other stretches along the Thames). It’s a wide road and the indications are still there (dropped kerbs, etc.) that it is correct. But, no, it’s now banned and heavily fined upon. So you have to cycle on the car lanes – which have been resized dangerously.

    The southbound has been narrowed considerably which forces buses to overtake within an inch of you.

    It’s a really sad job. The should have consulted locally. There are several routes which are better. They are faster, safer and more direct. They should have invested some money into them. Putting new bicyclists on Battersea Park Road is insane. Just insane.

    They should have put separate cycle lanes in Prince of Wales Drive with narrowed car lanes into Cambridge Road and into Shuttleworth Road along Gwynne Road and into York Road.

    Or the old route along the rail tracks (no traffic lights, a little bendy) but with a little bit of money into it, it would have reconnected the old route all the way to Wandsworth with hardly a traffic light and hardly a car.

    Did they do this? No. People will die on CS8. Pedestrians and cyclists.

  6. I recently cycled CS8 and i know exactly what you mean. I thought that CS7 and CS3 where bad in places but this seems slightly nuts. As with CS7 and CS3 it’s mostly built up on previous cycle facilities and linking them up with some blue paint. It sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

    I expect there was some consultation and planning with the local councils but lets not forget that the main body of TFL is aimed at keep motorised traffic moving as much as possible. We are an after thought!

    1. I talked with Wandsworth Council. They weren’t consulted.

      I don’t think TFL are helpful for anyone

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