Monthly Archives: November 2013

Boris Johnson is an arsehole

If you want to show your anger to the Mayor and TfL, please join the Stop The Killing campaign, which is rapidly growing into a campaign to improve our roads for everyone, however they choose to get around.

Though this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you, I’ll say it anyway:

What a complete and utter turd the current Mayor of London is.

Allow me to explain why I feel this way.

People’s deaths are not a call-to-action for him, but an opportunity to distract the population from discussing the real issues.

Just when it seemed everyone was talking about how the roads are dangerously designed and how much better they could be, Boris sees that this is making himself look bad, so he throws a dead cat on the table.

I’ll allow the Mayor himself to describe the ‘dead cat’ manoeuvre:

“Let us suppose you are losing an argument. The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality the worse it is for you and your case.

“Your best bet in these circumstances is to perform a manoeuvre described as ‘throwing a dead cat on the table’.

“Everyone will shout ‘Jeez, there’s a dead cat on the table!’

“In other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.”

And that is exactly what he has done by talking about people wearing headphones while riding bikes after being asked about the many recent deaths while cycling.

What an absolutely shitty, cynical, cold-hearted thing to do. Tarnish the names of the recently deceased to save his own political skin. Classy.

Suddenly, all the focus is on those bloody cyclists, endangering themselves and everyone around them. It’s almost as if they want to die!

Of course, Boris wants to make clear that he’s not accusing the recently deceased of cycling dangerously. Oh no, perish the thought! But then by launching into some bullshit about headphones, what’s the average person in the street meant to think? Of course people will put two and two together, and are now happily blaming the victims.

And now he’s got hundreds of police standing on street corners stopping Londoners on bikes and giving them dubious “advice“. What does this look like to Denise Driver and Barry Busrider? “Ah, thank goodness something’s being done about those bloody cyclists!”

Anyway, the point of this post is to show you that we can’t trust a word the Mayor says. Promises are made but then conveniently forgotten about. Today he’ll be your best friend, but when you look back in six months you’ll see that he was actually your worst enemy all along.

It’s hardly headline news that the original section of Cycle Superhighway 2 is well beyond crap. But I wanted to do a post comparing the Mayor’s rhetoric with the delivered reality, so that’s probably a good place to start.

All the quotes are from this 2009 press release announcing how great the Cycle Superhighways were going to be. I guess the lesson is not to believe anything that the Mayor says, his words are meaningless.

Boris Johnson quote: "The Cycle Superhighways show we are serious about delivering real, positive changes that will benefit us all." Below, a photo of cars parked on a Cycle Superhighway, and a bike rider forced outside.

The real, positive change here is visible below the cars on the left, clearly benefiting us all.
(Photo: Mark Treasure)

 

Boris Johnson quote: "On these routes the bicycle will dominate and that will be clear to all others using them." Below, a photo of Cycle Superhighway 2 in action. A large van is loading on the left, a taxi is driving on the Superhighway itself, and cars are queued in the outside lane. A lone cyclist squeezes between the van and taxi.

Clear as mud, that is.
(Photo: Mark Treasure)

 

Boris Johnson quote: "No longer will pedal power have to dance and dodge around petrol power." Below, a photo of a bike rider overtaking a stopped bus while cars pass on the right.

This one is so false it’s beyond parody.
(Photo: Mark Treasure)

 

Boris Johnson quote: "The bike is the best way to travel in this wonderful city of ours." Below, a photo of a closed bike lane, with no alternative route provided, only "dismount" signs

If you enjoy being made to feel like subhuman scum, that is.
(Photo: Mark Treasure)

 

Kulveer Ranger quote: "I'm sure these routes will prove a hugely welcome addition to London's cycling infrastructure." Below, a photo of a large cycling protest, flowers laid on the Cycle Superhighway to mark someone's death.

Far from being “hugely welcome” the Cycle Superhighways were so bad that they drew large protests after a series of deaths.
(Photo: Caroline Allen)

 

David Brown quote: "The routes will provide safe, fast and direct routes into central London." Below, a photo of the aftermath of a fatal accident, with police in addendance.

Transport for London continue to claim their Cycle Superhighways are safe, despite many near-identical fatal collisions.
(Photo: Martin Donkin)

 

 


I wasn’t the only one thinking this way: Two Wheels Good blog on victim blaming, Operation Safeway and the dead cat.

 

 

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CS2 from Bow to Stratford: Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width (Part 2)

This is the second in a pair of articles about the new section of Cycle Superhighway 2 from Bow roundabout to Stratford. You can read the first part here.

First, a correction

In the previous article on this subject I stated that the length of the segregated “Superhighway” was one mile, not the two miles claimed by TfL. Since then I have done some further measurements (by drawing a line on Google Maps) and found that it is in fact even shorter than that.

The new CS2 cycle track is 0.7 miles (1.1km) long on the eastbound side, and 0.8 miles (1.2km) long on the westbound side.

But as much as I bleat about it here, the damage is done. All the news sites have reported it as being two miles long, so hype has won out over substance again, and that’s the main thing for Mayor Johnson and his PR man cycling czar Andrew Gilligan. But while two miles might sound like a long way, it’s a drop in the ocean.

Let’s do some back-of-an-envelope maths. TfL controls 360 miles of road in London all of which are wide, busy and hostile to cycling. Stratford High Street is actually controlled by Newham council, but let’s be generous to TfL and pretend that it is one of theirs.

The new segregated bit of CS2 makes up 0.2% of TfL’s road network. So it’s taken five and a half years since Boris Johnson became Mayor of London to get half-baked cycle paths on just 0.2% of London’s busiest roads. Given this rate of progress, it will take 2750 years for all of TfL’s roads to get cycle paths.

I estimate that TfL-controlled roads make up roughly ⅓ of London’s ‘main’ roads, so the CS2 extension covers around 0.07% of them, and it would take over 7000 years for all of the main roads in London to become safe and inviting for cycling. I can’t wait!

Anyway, on with the show…


Sending out the wrong signals

Moving on to the next weak point, we arrive at a large signalled junction. This is the junction shown in TfL’s laughably awful instructional video on how to make right turns.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the protecting kerb stops before the junction, and the demarcation continues as painted lines, handy for left-turning drivers to keep their speed up as they cut across the bike lane. Further on, the cycle lane widens to create an ASZ in front of the nearside lane.

The junction of Stratford High Street, Cycle Superhighway 2 and Warton Road, showing strange and dangerous layout.

Mysterious bike box and speedy left-hook set up.

You can’t use it to turn right, only for going straight on or left. So what’s that ASZ for? What purpose does it hold?

You may also notice that there are no separate traffic lights for bikes. This means that left-turning drivers and straight-on cyclists get a green light at the same time. This is a recipe for disaster. It is already causing conflict.

A cement mixer waits to turn left at a Barclays Cycle Superhighway junction. It will get a green light at the same time as people on bikes.

This cement mixer is turning left. Would you want your children cycling here?

A van turns left while cyclists are green to go straight on, on CS2 at Stratford

Do you trust all drivers to give way to cyclists riding straight on here?

Again, this is a very fast road with lots of traffic. Plenty of vehicles turn left here, including buses.

And again, there is pressure on drivers to keep the main carriageway clear. If the light is green then it must be uncomfortable waiting in the road to turn left, knowing that speeding vehicles are coming over the hill behind you. That’s no excuse to bully through, but it is another example of designed-in conflict.

Why haven’t TfL separated cycling from motoring in time at this junction?

 

TfL’s pants

On the other side of the junction we find this:

TfL's attempt at a Copenhagen-style junction results in a strange short-trouser-shaped tarmac area on the footpath

It does look a bit like a pair of pants, doesn’t it?

I call it ‘the pants junction’ because it looks like a pair of boxer shorts, albeit with a very tight crotch. It even has a fancy logo on the left leg!

This bizarre construction is part of TfL’s “innovative” loop-de-loop right turn method mentioned above. The idea is that if you want to turn right here from CS2, you instead go straight on then turn sharply left onto the pants, then ride across a shared-use footpath, where you’ll find a similar bit of tarmac:

The edge of a footpath has a tarmac square with 'give way' markings on it, and a dropped kerb leading into an advanced stop box for bikes

Another one of TfL’s “innovations”

If you’re lucky enough to find the ASZ free of motor vehicles, the idea is that you can then wait at the lights to go straight on, completing your right turn.

One odd thing is that you can complete the right turn in any number of other ways. Testosterone-filled thrill-seekers can pull across into the outside lane on the main road, turning right in the traditional manner. The footpath all the way along Stratford High Street/CS2 is shared use, meaning it’s legal to cycle on the footpath. The crossings are all toucan crossings (for cycling and walking).

I get the impression that TfL didn’t really know what to do here, so they just threw everything that they could think of into the mix and crossed their fingers. There are even ‘Trixi’ mirrors, the cherry on this cake of kludges.

The pants arrangement above also enables those cycling from that side road to turn onto CS2 while the traffic lights are red, by turning sharply left across the footpath via the tarmac dropped kerb. The concept of a “turn left on red” for bikes is a good one, but the execution here is dreadful. Why do TfL continue to create new half-baked solutions to pre-solved problems?

This whole junction is a mess and should be redesigned from scratch.

 

Doing the Stratford wiggle

Continuing along the eastbound side, we eventually find ourselves at the end of CS2. The cycle path widens out here to a luxurious 3 metres or so, but that’s the best bit. (This is where the Mayor made sure he was photographed at the opening, of course.)

If you have eagle eyes you may notice this tiny sign:

A sign on Cycle Superhighway 2 at Stratford in London, showing a wiggly dance which must be performed by those using the route

“We will do things properly, or not at all” – Andrew Gilligan, breaker of promises.

If this junction was designed properly for cycling, signs like this would be unnecessary.

It’s strange that this sign has been put up at all really, considering that this is really the end of CS2 at present. Even if you manage to follow it you just end up in a bus lane. There’s no more blue paint beyond this point.

But the craziest thing is that it’s not actually possible to legally follow the directions on the sign anyway. There’s no dropped kerb so you can’t join the shared use footpath on the left anyway. The only dropped kerb is at the crossing itself, where people are waiting on foot. If the traffic lights are red then you can make the manoeuvre, but then you’d technically be jumping the red light. It’s a very incoherent end to CS2.

The eastern end of Cycle Superhighway 2 where users are expected to cycle onto a crossing where people are waiting.

To continue along CS2, simply pull left onto the crossing where that woman is standing. “Super” eh?

A photo of the bus lane which CS2 dumps you into.

Even if you follow the sign, you just end up in this contraflow bus lane anyway. Note that there’s no room for a bus to safely overtake a bike here. This is not all abilities, 8 to 80 provision.

 

Go West

The infrastructure westbound is pretty much the same as the eastbound side: a wide cycle path punctuated by poor quality bus stop bypasses and dangerous junctions.

But TfL have saved something special for the final stretch, just before the still-deadly Bow junction.

Cycle Superhighway 2 westbound, just before Bow roundabout. A dangerous side road treatment followed by a sharp bus stop bypass entry.

It must have been a Friday afternoon when they designed this bit.

There’s several things wrong here.

The first is the side-road treatment. Like the example in the previous post, the junction is dangerous. Despite there being plenty of space to take the cycle path away from the road here, it instead turns into a standard painted cycle lane. This is also the point at which the road widens to two lanes wide, so drivers aiming for the left-hand lane cut across the “Superhighway” to get to it.

This leads me to our second problem. The entry to the bus stop bypass is at an uncomfortably sharp angle, again for no good reason. The side road is one-way so there’s plenty of room to play with. Also, because the segregating kerb ends so far back, when motor traffic is queuing they can (and do) block the entry to the bus stop bypass, so people riding bikes must either wait in traffic breathing in the fumes or try to squeeze up the side of the queuing vehicles.

I shouldn’t have to do TfL’s job for them, but it should look something like this (although I missed the ~30º angled ‘forgiving’ kerbs off, they’re time-consuming to draw):

An altered photograph of Stratford High Street leading to Bow roundabout, showing how a cycle path and road junction should be done.

It’s really not that difficult.

 

In conclusion: Sigh.

This new section of CS2 is certainly a step forward from the rest of the route, which is not only extremely unpleasant but so dangerous that it has been the scene of several deaths.

And yet what has been learned from these deaths, nearly all of which have taken place at junctions? Seemingly nothing, as the junctions on the new segment of CS2 remain as deadly as those on the original section.

Kerb separated cycle tracks make for a more pleasant journey along the straight bits, but it’s the junctions which are the most dangerous, yet TfL have made no improvements there.

It’s been suggested that as this is TfL’s first ever segregated cycle track, we should be forgiving of mistakes made due to lack of experience. Sure, I’d be happy to forgive the odd small error, but this whole route is deeply flawed.

TfL’s engineers are not little kids who deserve a pat on the head for making their first Lego house. They are grown men and women, highly qualified, paid tens of thousands of pounds each year.

Sure we should praise TfL when they do stuff well, but the new CS2 is a third-rate cycling facility which is so poorly put together that it floods. What are they teaching highways engineers these days?

Two photos of rainwater flooding in the brand new Cycle Superhighway 2

I can’t wait to ride here in the winter. (Photos by @sw19cam: 1, 2.)

Those responsible for this should already know what they’re doing. The learning curve should be shallow, not steep. It’s not difficult to learn about cycling infrastructure that works for everyone.

There are British highways engineers out there who do know how to do this stuff properly, why weren’t they employed to do this? Or were there genuinely skilled people working on CS2 who were hamstrung by their bosses telling them to keep it cheap and keep the cars flowing?

 

Can the London Cycling Campaign claim victory yet?

The LCC posted two articles about this new bit of CS2.

The first post  is an honest assessment of what the authors found when they visited at the end of October. They point out many of the flaws of the new route.

The second post has a much more self-congratulatory tone, hailing this as a success of the LCC’s campaigning and protests.

But I don’t think the LCC should be patting themselves on the back, at least not very hard.

At the LCC’s 2013 AGM, a motion calling for “uniformity of provision and suitability for all ability groups” was passed by a huge majority. The purpose of this motion, as I understand it, was to finally kill off the bad-infrastructure-zombie known as the “dual network“. The flawed concept of the dual network has been hampering cycling design for far too long, and I’m glad to see another nail in its coffin.

But what this motion also does is commit LCC to push for infrastructure which is suitable for everyone – the fabled “8 to 80” cycling conditions. Allow me to paraphrase from the motion:

“The cycle network for London must be uniform, in the sense that there must be equal suitability, usability, and level of safety, of all the facilities, for all cyclists who might use them. It would be a mistake for the Superhighways or Quietways to be specified in a way that makes them less suitable, for example, for use by children, or by inexperienced cyclists.”

Surely this motion means that the LCC should only be crowing about facilities which are suitable for everyone? CS2 on Stratford High Street doesn’t meet these requirements. Not only are the junctions unsuitable for children, they’re also unsafe for confident cyclists. While I myself would always use the bus stop bypasses, flawed as they are, I witnessed several cyclists pull out onto the main carriageway to pass the bus stops, especially ones busy with waiting passengers, before pulling back in to the cycle path.

So we’ve got a facility with bits that experienced, confident cyclists avoid using, and bits that are unsuitable for those unwilling to mix with heavy traffic. Motion 5 means that the LCC shouldn’t be crowing about this as a success, but demanding that the flaws are fixed immediately.

 

Things can only get better

Having said all that, for all its flaws, the new CS2 is clearly an improvement on some previous attempts at cycling infrastructure:

A photo of CS2 next to a much older, faded cycling facility - a very narrow channel taking bikes off the road onto the footpath.

This must have been fun to use!

Well I guess we’re definitely progressing, albeit at a glacial pace.

 

 

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A very British protest

I’ve taken some time away from cycle campaigning stuff these past few days, partly to get on with some real work, and partly because I was annoyed at myself.

I went to the Bow roundabout vigil/protest on Wednesday evening, after having written the article calling for civil disobedience at the event. But once there, I found I didn’t know how to start it. There seemed to be few opportunities to change the planned course of events.

The hundreds of people there rode around the roundabout (which had been closed off by the cops for us) and had a minute’s silence. Then after a few megaphone-amplified words from an LCC bod, we were asked to leave as quickly as possible to minimise disruption to the roads.

That really annoyed me. I should have shouted something then. I should have yelled out that I was not leaving. What’s the point in turning up to mourn and protest a needless death if we leave without making a fuss?

But the moment passed and the crowd was moving away. Looking back, I know I’d have got at least a few voices of support from the crowd. Hindsight is always 20/20.

I hung around afterwards there at Bow junction, living the 1960s dream for quarter of an hour or so. The traffic jams cleared within minutes and Bow junction was soon flowing normally.

The protest was a kitten’s meow, not a lion’s roar. Most of the drivers in the queues probably weren’t even aware of what was happening, or even that anything was happening at all.

It’s clear that I’m not the only one who feels frustrated by the polite meekness of these protests. Enough with the British reserve, at long last someone has organised a protest with some growl.

A die-in at TfL’s headquarters opposite Southwark tube station on Blackfriars Road has been organised for 5 to 6.30pm on Friday 29th of November.

The event page on Facebook already has over 700 people claiming they’ll attend. Even if half this number show up, it stands a good chance of being a successful and highly visible, headline-grabbing protest.

I am not a cyclist, I’m just riding a bike

I do think that the protest can be about more than just “cyclists” (there’s that toxic word).

In TfL’s world, everybody who isn’t currently in a motor vehicle comes second to those who are, and this movement could easily widen out to include people with disabilities, parents with prams and pushchairs, elderly people who can’t walk fast, people with asthma and other respiratory problems.

Do we want to live in cities where everyone drives everywhere, places where walking or cycling is dangerous and deviant? Or would we prefer pleasant communities with a wealth of transport options, breathable air and an absence of death-horror-crash stories in the newspaper?

It’s not just TfL, of course – our government is hell-bent on locking us all into our cars and forcing Britain to drive everywhere for everything, all the time. They are predicting that cycling as a mode of transport will stagnate, and will plan accordingly to create the conditions to fulfil their predictions.

Perhaps the Friday 29th protest is just the starter, a catalyst that starts a wider campaign off. I’d love to see a broad amalgamation of people who are angry at the way our cities, towns and villages are all subservient to the dictatorship of the petroleum.

I’ll be there, and I really do hope it’s the start of something big.

 


By the way, I’ve had nothing at all to do with organising the die-in protest outside TfL HQ, despite rumours to the contrary. I’ll be tackling the “Nazi” thing in a separate post, in case you were wondering.

 

 

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Another death at Bow roundabout. Are we angry yet?

The article below is a call to attend a protest at Bow roundabout from 6pm tonight.

I’ve previously criticised these things for being too mild, for not causing the kind of disruption – and grabbing the kind of headlines – that the Dutch did in the 1970s.

If a “die-in” is to occur then tonight is probably as good a time as there ever will be.

A black-and-white photo of hundreds of people and their bikes laying on a wide road in Amsterdam

Safer streets campaigners stage a die-in outside Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum in the mid-1970s.
Taken from Mark Wagenbuur’s video “How The Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths“, which I insist you watch now. (I don’t know where the original photo is from.)

If it hadn’t been for the people in the photo above doing what they did, the Netherlands wouldn’t have the great cycling conditions it has today. Now it’s our turn.

 


 

The details of today’s cycling death at Bow roundabout are not clear yet. All we know is it involves a left-turning lorry (again).

But one thing which is very clear is that TfL’s changes to the layout here are sub-standard. They are not good enough, and they were warned about this.

Despite the addition of blue paint and a bit of kerb, the primary function of Bow roundabout is to handle a huge number of motor vehicles. Anything else must be fitted around this core premise. This must change.

Even walking around this area on foot is awful, as there are no pedestrian crossing signals. You merely have to guess the best time to cross, hoping that the traffic lights are red and won’t change while you’re in the middle.

How are people expected to get around here? Clearly it isn’t suitable for someone who can’t move fast, as even on foot you have to stay alert and nimble.

The message is clear: if you want to travel here, get a car. Are we surprised that two thirds of motor journeys in London are under 3 miles long?

Today’s death is a shock, a wake-up call, a headline-grabber.

But what of the thousands who die due to air pollution caused by all those easily-cyclable motor vehicle journeys? (See here, here and here.)

What about the pensioners who don’t leave their homes because it’s too stressful to get around?

What about the mothers who don’t let their children play outside for fear of an “accident”?

What about Britain’s high rate of childhood obesity and heart disease caused by lack of activity?

This is about more than just cycling. This is more than just a “cyclists” protest.

For every shocking collision there are thousands of untold stories of harm caused by our motor-centric towns and cities. It’s a tragedy on a national scale.

The way we’ve designed the areas we live gives most people little choice but to use a motor vehicle, as the alternatives are too unpleasant or unsafe to consider. This must change.

Another “always stop” cycle light at Bow roundabout won’t cut it. We need to create safe space for cycling, and safe space for walking, and safe space for prams and pushchairs and wheelchairs and Zimmer frames and tartan zip-up trolley bags.

We need space that isn’t subservient to those using motor vehicles, space which allows and encourages other modes of transport.

So please do come down tonight. It’s a sad day, but also an angry one.

As the Dutch might say, “stop de moord”.


 

It turns out that iBikeLondon was writing a similar post, which includes more details of tonight’s protest. He rightly points out that we’ve been hearing promises from the Mayor and his associates for far too long. The time for action is now.

 

 

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CS2 from Bow to Stratford: Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width (Part 1)

This was going to be one long piece about the new section of Cycle Superhighway 2 in east London, but I realised what a large task it is to cover all the weak points. So this is part one, you can read part two here.

I really want to be complimentary about TfL’s new flagship cycling facility on Stratford High Street, so I’ll start with the good stuff:

  1. The cycle tracks are generally of a good width*

So that’s the good stuff over with. I’m afraid to say that TfL’s highwaymen still have a lot of lessons to learn.

Never mind the accuracy, feel the length

Before I start banging on about all the juicy detail, I’d just like to point out that the route is around one mile long, and not the two miles which has been widely quoted by the BBC.

I don’t know where the idea originated that it’s two miles from Bow roundabout to Stratford – presumably a TfL press release has been stretching the truth by counting each side of the carriageway as a separate length.

It may sound pedantic, but Leeds and London are 200 miles apart. That does not mean the M1 motorway is 400 miles long. It’s 200 miles long. Each carriageway forms part of the same road. So the new bit of CS2 is one mile long, or around 1500 metres. (Credit goes to bikemapper for spotting that sleight of hand.)

The new CS2 is not what we have been campaigning for, is it?

So if the width is good, what’s bad? Well, nearly every detail of it is substandard, scoring from ‘less than ideal’ to ‘crap’.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Heading east from the deadly Bow roundabout (which I didn’t even attempt to use, by the way) the kerb-protected section doesn’t even start immediately. There’s a tiny bit of footpath-level cycle path round the edge of the roundabout but then it drops down to road level and runs for the first 300 metres or so as a mere painted cycle lane.

Here, this “Superhighway” crosses several side-roads and driveways, and there’s lots of construction traffic turning across the blue cycle lane. Large, fast, heavy vehicles pass within a few feet of you.

The footpath-level cycle path turns into a painted cycle lane. Note the HGV tyre marks have covered the blue within a day or two of it being painted.

The footpath-level cycle path turns into a painted cycle lane. Note where the HGV tyre marks have already covered over the blue at the junctions within a day or two of it being painted.

Soon we come up against our first bus stop, but as the segregating kerb hasn’t started yet (despite there being acres of space) it’s an old-fashioned one. The bus stop marking hadn’t been laid when I visited, but it was clear from the very narrow strip of blue paint that cyclists are expected to overtake stopped buses with no room for error whatsoever.

A photo of TfL's CS2 at Bow roundabout, with dangerous cycle lane and bus stop design.

Very disappointing. Imagine there’s another bus in this photo, stopped in the non-blue area on the left. That tiny gap is the “Superhighway.”

This would be a poor bus stop design even by 1990s standards. What the hell are TfL thinking installing this here, in 2013?

No cycle lane at all would be better than this, as the installed lane encourages riders to squeeze around stopped buses. And should a cyclist choose to ride further out, it will cause annoyance to drivers who are ignorant of why a cyclist isn’t using the “Superhighway” provided.

Dangerous junction design

For me, the biggest failure is the junctions. They all fall into the ‘crap’ category, many of them even into the ‘dangerous crap’ category.

It’s very important to get them right, but TfL have just resorted to painted cycle lanes rather than doing the job properly. Let’s have a look at one:

A dangerously designed junction on CS2, where there's no physical protection for people cycling

This isn’t what we’ve been campaigning for. Sure, cyclists have priority, but do you really trust London’s drivers not to left-hook here?

Anybody cycling along CS2 here needs the neck of an owl to pass this junction safely. Not only must they look behind to the right to make sure there’s no left-turning motor vehicles approaching from the rear, but a look forward-left is also required to check for vehicles emerging from the side road.

The segregating barrier finishes just below the bottom of the photo, so the only separation is white lines. Drivers turning left can then take a relaxed line towards the junction by drifting over into the cycle lane so they don’t have to slow down as much. Stratford High Street is a very fast road (and I saw no speed cameras) so some drivers will take this corner dangerously.

I expect that when driving along this fast road there is pressure on drivers to keep their speed up, so slowing down to take this corner safely – or stopping in the road to wait for cyclists to clear the junction – will not be a comfortable manoeuvre.

Why does the physical separation end so far back? Do TfL want to encourage dangerous corner-cutting by drivers here?

A far safer solution here would be to take the cycle path gently away from the road and for it to rise up to footpath height, so that anybody cycling across the side road here will be meeting turning cars at a right angle, which is much easier than the cars coming from behind. If motor vehicles have to mount a hump, and the corner radius is tight enough, then they will have to slow down and turn the corner at a much slower speed also.

This is more like it. Turning cars have somewhere to slow down and wait until the cycle path is clear, and the tighter corner radius and hump enforces slower speeds.

Something like this would be much safer. Turning cars have somewhere to wait until the cycle path is clear, and the tighter corner radius and hump enforces slower speeds.

Making Stratford High Street 30mph and installing some speed cameras to enforce it would also help matters, as drivers turning off the main road wouldn’t feel pressure to take the corner at speed to keep the carriageway clear.

Bust-up at the bus stop

Another poor detail is the bus stop bypasses. They are a compromised example of the concept.

On approaching the bus stop, the cycle path veers sharply away from the carriageway and narrows to as little as 1.5 metres. Due to the ridiculous decision to use 13cm-high vertical kerbs rather than the approximately 30º-angled, forgivingsplaykerbs, this narrow channel (or “gully” if you prefer) feels a little uncomfortable.

Also, due to TfL’s decision to keep the cycle path mainly at carriageway level rather than halfway between carriageway and footway level, the pedestrian crossing humps can be rather too sharp and steep, though this does vary from hump to hump. (There’s not much consistency along the route, except for the shade of Barclays-approved blue.)

Bus stop bypass on CS2 at Stratford

The cycle track width reduces from around 2m wide to 1.5m wide.

TfL have designed the bus stops this way to encourage lower speeds and force single-file cycling throughout them. I can understand why they’ve done this – there’s a lot of jerks who ride bikes in London, and we don’t want them hitting people crossing to or from the bus stop island.

But then there are a lot of jerks driving cars in London too, but TfL seem reluctant to apply the same logic to them, even though they can (and do) cause much more damage.

For some reason TfL are perfectly happy to let jerks drive two abreast at pedestrian crossings, but not cycle two abreast. I don’t understand why cycling gets stricter treatment than driving where there’s potential conflict with people on foot, but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this (note the humps in the cycle track here, but complete absence of traffic calming on the parallel carriageway).

You may also notice the brown stripe along the blue paint in the photo above, which shows that the sharp bend doesn’t actually do the job of slowing cyclists down anyway – it’s possible to take the curve at speed.


*I say “generally of a good width” because it varies quite a lot along its length. I measured several points along the Stratford-bound side and the narrowest bit I found was a mere 1.3m where it narrows to accommodate a traffic light pole (though it is at footpath level so there are no kerbs, at least). The general width is usually at least 1.9m give or take a few centimetres and at the Stratford end it widens, bizarrely but luxuriously, to over 3m.

END OF PART ONE…

Coming up in part two (or three):

  • The “pants” junction and the loop-de-loop right turn
  • Signalised junctions with turning conflicts included
  • The bizarre ending
  • The ghost of the past
  • And other poorly planned cycling infrastructure

Don’t miss it!

 

 

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