04 March 2010

Cycle Superhighways: safe as Bank of, er, Iceland

The Transport for London website has a nice new page with more details about the forthcoming Cycle Superhighways - the express cycle lanes which, it is confidently expected, will double the amount of cycle blogging in the capital.

The page indexes all 12 routes at a glance with their pretend start and finish dates. For the two routes opening this summer - Barking to Tower Gateway CS3, and Merton to Bank CS7 - there are also route maps and schedules of works.

There are also some artist's impressions (right) of what the routes will look like, which immediately contradict the assertions lower down the page that the routes will be 'direct and continuous'. (David Hembrow's blog analyses the impressionable artist's work in more detail. He's as unimpressed as we are.)

This is a more accurate impression (right) of how the routes will actually look.

The Superficial Cycleways are already a standing joke in cycling circles. But cycle campaigners are used to going round in circles.

It's not a particularly funny joke, though. Because there are many places where, we suspect, safety issues will be submerged beneath the B&Q emulsion.

Take, for example, the junction on the right. The cyclist is going west along the A24/A3, Kennington Road, just passing the fork left to Brixton Road. (The Oval cricket ground is just a Eoin Morgan reverse-sweep away to the north.) He wants to go straight on, towards Stockwell.

Now, at the moment, this is lethal. You can see why. From the previous junction, either you go along in the bus lane and then try to cut across a lane of fast-moving traffic; or you stay in the left of the middle, straight-on, lane, sandwiched between two lanes of fast-moving traffic.

And this is on Superficial Cycleway 3, Merton to Bank. So surely they'll sort it out, to make it 'safe and continuous'?

Maybe. Maybe not. The schedule notes provided on that TfL web page are unclear. All they talk about is "rearranging southbound traffic lanes... This will make it safer for cyclists".

Posting to the Lambeth Cyclists egroup about the "evil Oval", local cyclist Mark Knox said: "When some of us rode the route with the engineers and planners, we gave them all sorts of advice about this huge obstacle to easy cycling. One of our favoured options was restricting the left-turning Brixton/Camberwell-bound slip road to buses and cycles, and requiring all other traffic to carry on to the crossroads.

"What we stressed was that unless something radical was done to calm this junction, no route through it could be called a cycle superhighway. Sadly there is no mention of any measures to civilise the possibly even more perilous northbound straight-ahead journey through the junction."

Will such re-engineering happen? It's possible, just as it's possible that Lord Ashcroft might move in next door to us. But all we expect is a glossy strip of Dulux Caribbean Midnight. The great Cycle Superhighways Swindle. A bluewash.


  1. The work they are doing will be so shoddy that they can complete it in four days. Four days? Now I know I'm not getting anything worthwhile.

  2. It takes four days for the paint to dry?

  3. It depressing, but Rob is probably spot on with his impression. Even the TfL impression has a stupidly narrow cycle lane.

    The A3/A24/A23 junction is just awful and needs a total re-design. I am normally going south towards the A23 so I don't have to take my life in my hands by getting across three lanes. Its no surprise that it was a hotspot on the cycle KSI map Rob posted a while back.

  4. You are all very cynical. It could be magic blue paint that repulses cabbies and lorries.

  5. Seems like the main difference from what we have already is a new brighter colour. . .

  6. Actually the works will be easy to complete in 4 days. There will be a cyclists dismount sign on each side of the junction with a blue line on the pavement. 1 sign per day. Easy.

    Sorry, shouldn't be so cynical!