If Chicago can do it, why can’t we?

Chicago have installed a protected bike lane that offers plenty of space to cyclists, keeps them visible and safe and it has seen a two-fold in the modal share.

TFL are currently reviewing the superhighways, something which has been marketed as super and safe to use. Unfortunately two cyclists have found out that they aren’t safer than other London roads, RIP.

So Chicago has taken space away from general traffic and given it to cyclists, installing wide cycle lanes, with buffer zones and flexible bollards. The space for cyclists is clearly laid out and is ‘protected’ from other traffic. Obviously a vehicle can go straight through one of those bollards and plough through a bunch of cyclists but that can happen at all kinds of cycling infrastructure. I would say that it was less likely to happen here.

The superhighways that TFL have installed on 4 routes in London are generally a bit of paint, sections of them are on quite back roads or on specific shared use cycle paths and the blue paint (faded in some areas) does clearly show the space that is allocated to cyclists. 90% of the time this space is only wide enough for one cyclist (not taking into account bus lanes) and is very rarely segregated from the general traffic. Watch the video below to see just how close the traffic can get to a cyclist in these blue lanes.

I don’t think installing similar lanes all the way along the superhighway routes is practical, there are certainly places which are quieter and don’t have the space for such facilities (sections of CS3 spring to mind). Sections such as alongside Clapham common still have 2 general traffic lanes with a popular left hook spot. At present motorists rush past as many cyclists as possible and then slow down to take the left turn which can be very dangerous.

Why can’t we implement similar lanes?

6 thoughts on “If Chicago can do it, why can’t we?

  1. I <3 that Chicago lane! Of course the problem with building lanes like that for TF(ai)L is that they don't help "smooth traffic flow" and whearas our current "Super" HIghways allow normal traffic into them. Just look at CS8 along the Millbank stretch and it's only a cycle lane Mon-Sat 7am-7pm meaning those who ride later in the evening or on a Sunday completely miss out on this small bit of protection. Same goes for bus/cycle lanes really – their great (generally better then the CS lanes when you don't have a bus or taxi in there….) when they are running but use them late at night or at the weekend and your at the mercy of drivers who use them to undertake cars as I find generally even when they aren't in service not many drivers realize and so don't use them.

    Even some changes to road design, not necessarily dedicated lanes, would make riding earlier. The Dutch have shown you can engineer roads to SLOW drivers down which inherently makes them safer for cyclists, Rookery Road for example could probably be fixed it was engineered so it wasn't a sweeping fast turn.

  2. The van was perfectly positioned in the centre of it’s lane. The fault is not so much the driver as the markings that say “if you drive here and they cycle there you can go past them”, which is why unsegregated and over-narrow bike lanes introduce risk -they push vehicles into the wrong position. But add wider paths and there’s not only confict with moving vehicles, they become parking spaces.

    This is why I actually like bus lanes: you get a vehicle width of space, with only conflict between buses and taxis. And in Bristol the taxi authority does respond to emails showing videos of their taxis driving badly.,

    1. sorry I disagree…

      the markings might tempt a driver into that assumption, but a decent driver knows you don’t go anywhere near that close to another human being with a motor vehicle

      that guy shouldn’t be driving a vehicle of that size, and it’s debatable whether he should be on the road at all

  3. New York, Paris, every single city in the NL, Chicago, Portland, Barcelona, Vancouver can all do it, and that’s just off the top of my head, there are many others. FFS, Bogota can do it! So what is so incredibly special about London that we can’t do it? Oh yes, we have a transport authority that is completely in love with the automobile, and a mayor that is unwilling, out of political expediency, to challenge them. That will bite him in the arse when the EU fines us £300 million for going over our pollution targets (that sum would pay for about 300 miles of high quality, Dutch-style cycling lanes). And I hope the corporate manslaughter action about the Kings Cross fatalities will go forward.

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