17 January 2009

Comedy Cycle Lanes 1: Nine Elms Lane

This is the first in a series about bad bike facilities. (For the mathematicians among you, the series is infinite, irrational, and monotonic increasing.)

First up is one of the crown jewels of crap cycle paths: the one along Nine Elms Lane in south London, between Queenstown Road and Vauxhall. Here's a Google map:

View Larger Map

I've been past it several times, and greeted it like an old friend yesterday when I went into Clapham to have my teeth re-grouted.

Well, not so much an old friend, more like a vengeful and ugly ex-partner from a messy divorce.

Anyway, the path starts just by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, where stray or unwanted apostrophes are taken in and cared for. Here is where you can join the path. Except that you can't, because they fence it off from the road by these toothpaste-coloured blocks.
If you get as far as rappeling the blocks to get on to the path, then once you've abseiled down the pavement, you can practise your slalom skills.
A bad bike path is a bit like those hitherto unseen characters that join the Star Trek party, beaming down to a dangerous planet populated by bad actors: you just know it's only a matter of seconds before they disappear horribly. Sure enough, the Nine Elms path expires here, only to rematerialise after the bus shelter. (All cyclists, of course, simply ignore the path and opt to follow the road.)
Finally, just by the turn-off to the fruit and veg volcano of New Covent Garden market, comes your comic highlight: the cycle path completely blocked in the space of ten metres by an electricity box, a street light pole, and - boom, tiss! - the sign for the cycle path.

To be fair, the same bike path is also blocked by the sign for the bike path at several other points on the bike path, and on the one that runs along the opposite side of the road.

Do you know of more LOL bike facility incompetence? Other chortle-making cycle-path cluelessness? Or perhaps you're a publisher who wants to push a book called Crap Cycle Lanes, which I distinctly recall was actually my suggestion? Let me know...


  1. Having moved to the other side of the North Sea, in the Netherlands where cyclists generally get what they want and what works, this sort of thing looks increasingly stupid by the day.

    I used to put together web pages of dire cycle paths myself, but now my blog mostly features what makes life more pleasant and convenient for cyclists.

  2. What does the Borough (which is it?) say in its defence? Has anyone asked them why they though providing such rubbish was a good use of public money?

  3. David H - hi. Thanks for the comment.

    Don't worry! I do, and will continue to, feature things that make life more pleasant and convenient for cyclists, such as pubs, or flower pots that double as cycle parking and fox toilets, or moving to the Netherlands. And I'll check out your blog!

    David E - hi. It'll be Lambeth Borough.