Welcome to those of you who are here thanks to my rant last week about John Franklin, I had no idea it would reach so many people. I’m going to be a bit more positive with this post, but don’t worry, I’m sure the bile will surface again soon enough. (That Boris Johnson has got it coming to him!)
Last month I wrote a post about a positive change which the DfT made to the rules governing road signs in the UK — now, “Except Cycles” can be added to “No Entry” signs. (Though I just found out it took years to get the DfT to agree to try it. Come on DfT, I actually praised you in that post! How hard can it be to try out a new and bloody obvious to understand sign?)
Previously, the only options were to have an island for cyclists to ride around to avoid the restriction (I like this, but it’s more costly to install and takes up space) or to use the “No Motor Vehicles” sign (aka the motorbike-jumping-over-a-car sign), which is often ignored by drivers. (Surely all drivers should be aware of what the signs mean? It’s pretty obvious.)
Well, Camden council must be congratulated on using the new rules quite enthusiastically! Due to one-way restrictions in the streets around Argyle Square, until a few weeks ago it was impossible to ride a bike from Tavistock Place/Regent Square to the hire bike dock on Belgrove Street at Kings Cross — well, not without tackling the horrible major roads around the area, or getting off and walking. But now, thanks to a little road-repainting and some “except cycles” signs, this quiet and easy way to Kings Cross is now legal.
Since these photos were taken, green surfacing has been added to some areas to make it clear that there’s a bike contraflow, especially at junctions where it might not be clear to drivers that bikes will be coming from the other way.
One other thing I noticed was that the bike symbols painted on the road are numerous and huge! I’ve seen these in a few places, are they DfT regulation or councils’ own? Either way, I do quite like them — they’re very bold and not too close to car doors, and the frequency of them helps to assert a cyclists’ confidence to be there.
Camden seems to have been installing these around here like they’re going out of fashion — the whole area around Argyle Square is covered in them. (Good work, whoever decided this!)
I’ve always found the streets around Argyle Square to be exceptionally quiet, especially considering they’re so close to the mayhem of Euston Road and Gray’s Inn Road. I don’t know if it’s by accident or by design that they follow the Dutch practise of making a neighbourhood useless as a through-route to motor vehicles — it’s impossible to use these streets to get anywhere, as they all lead back to where you started from (the little traffic that there is here is mainly taxis servicing hotels) — but either way I’m glad that this area is now more permeable to bikes.
It’s a tiny change to the rules, but it provides councils with a cheap-and-cheerful solution to help make riding a bike for transport much easier.