02 July 2010

Kennington-cross: No joined-up thinking on CS7

The first two Cycle Superhighways launch on 19 July, and they're progressing by leaps and bounds.

Which is a shame, because they're supposed to be smooth and continuous.

Take this example. You're heading north-east up Kennington Park Road, just past the Oval cricket ground (top three, and bottom two, pics).

The blue paint is down already. This is evidently the final shape of this part of Superficial Cycleway 7, Merton to City.

Here's what Mark Knox, a chap who trusts his eyes and ears rather than TfL hype, said about it on the Lambeth Cyclists e-group a couple of days ago:

It seems that the engineers, acknowledging that there is no safe way, in the present road layout, for cyclists to make the straight-ahead movement, have decided not to commit themselves by recommending a way.

So the superhighway hugs the pavement up to the bus stop by the parade of shops, vanishes, then magically reappears about 80 yards on in the centre of the road. Between those two points it is presumably every cyclist for themselves, as you fling yourself across a lane of speeding traffic.

The superhighways have been sold as "safe, continuous routes". Here, at the most hazardous point of the entire northbound route, this one seems neither safe nor continuous.

Personally, making that straight-ahead movement, I would always get myself in the right lane at the start of the junction and stay there, making my intentions as clear as possible to other road-users. Most cyclists I observed this morning were doing that, rather than following the paint.

The CSs are not even 'just a blue stripe'. In many places - such as Narrow St (right) on Superficial Cycleway 3, Barking Mad to the Bloody Tower Gateway - they're a disjointed series of hopscotch squares.

So - for the millionth time - what is the point of the Superficial Cycleways?

They add no new safety features. (Some bits of the existing bike routes, such as Cable St and the Elephant and Castle by-pass, have been smoothed, resurfaced, and slightly widened in very short stretches. And that's good, thanks - but that's all stuff that should have been done anyway.)

They're not continuous. (They stop wherever there's a bus stop or a parking space - that parked car is there quite legitimately.)

They have no legal force - they are not mandatory or even advisory lanes, except where those were in operation already.

So what are they?

Well, like a cobalt-coloured spray-on tan, they're a well-marketed cosmetic. Rating for branding and marketing: 9/10. Rating as cycle facility: 2/10.


  1. It does seem incredible that many places in Europe are able to implement sensible and usable cycle lanes. Surely it is not beyond the wit of Man to look at "best practice" from around Europe (cycle ways going against the flow of traffic, clearly marked, well thought out, seperated from the main road by an extra "kerb" etc.)and then just commit to implementing the best possible solutions in London!

  2. Two out of ten seems far too generous.

    The fact that that parked car is legally parked sums up perfectly what a farcility this is.

    TfL simply are not prepared to reallocate road space from car parking to safe cycling infrastructure.

    I'd like to think that some cyclists would turn up on July 19 and spoil the press launch by protesting, holding placards, shouting 'this is crap!' etc.

  3. Rob, you're right they are a case of style over substance. However, I won't be surprised if they *do* encourage more cyclists, just through the power of marketing and branding alone. Maybe this will the egg that precedes the chicken and in a few years (or maybe ten) they will have to be upgraded to full Dutch-style infrastructure.

    Then again, maybe I am being hopelessly optimistic and it's all just a load of old blue paint.

  4. Lets hope its a start and the junctions get upgraded with cycle ASL traffic lights and green waves...

    Anyway another totally hopeless section is going south from the Windmill on Clapham Common where there is a newly created pinch point (WTF very nasty) to the end of Balham Hill.

    The biggest problem to overcome is the inertia of the old guard planners, the traffic flow models they use are totally wrong. And the vehicular cycling campaigners, good post here:


  5. Mark, the problem is how do you get Dutch infrastructure in London? The numbers already exist in central London, in Hackney, and on the superhighway routes to justify proper segregated infrastructure.

    I think change is only going to come from below, like it did in Copenhagen, where they had massive protests demanding cycling infrastructure.

    If the numbers of cyclists doubles on superhighway routes, TfL will simply proclaim it as evidence that blue paint and vehicular cycling works. It won't in itself result in the reallocation of roadspace.

  6. Watch how one of those extremist vehicular cyclist-types copes:


    it looks as though he's got to do 30mph to stay ahead of the traffic.

    What about the rest of us?

  7. There's only one solution. Bulldoze London and start from scratch.

  8. It was an option in 1666 but they decided to use the same street plan.

  9. It does seem to be a case of crap cycle facilities previously available in red and green, now available in blue

  10. On the CS7 route I still think a better route would have been up the A23 along Kennington Road, Baylis Road and The Cut. Its what I use more.

    You have to be assertive at rush hour a the cars going up the A23 cut in pretty soon. It does need more work. Doing it in pratice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RkgT-ffFoQ

    However they have improved the southbound route slightly (it was terrible before). At least now you have less risk of a left hook: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3f0JS4yN2g

  11. Thanks to Anon for posting a link to my video at Oval. I've never been described as an "extremist vehicular cycling type" before, but hey ho.

    If people want to see how CS7 has evolved check out: http://www.cyclechat.net/forums/showthread.php?t=26240

    Once the route is finshed, I'll have film of all of the sections and will upload it.

    If people have issues with the CSs, contact TFL with your concerns:


  12. Well, Britain does have the town that showed the Dutch how to do things, less than half an hour up the line from Kings Cross Station.

    I found myself, a few days ago on a CRIM (i.e. site survey)for Borisway 12, Muswell Hill - Highgate Tube Station - Archway - Highbury Corner - Angel.

    All the things I didn't like in the consultant's recommendations are blamed on something called the CSIDG, whcih I had never heard of before. Apparently this document was written by Transport for London, and stands for "Cycling Superhighway Infrastructure Design Guide"

    At tomorrow's meeting I will ask nicely how I can get a copy, to see what it actually says, and who might have written it. There's always the Freedom of Information Act if they won't give me a copy.

    Jeremy Parker
    Borough Coordinator, Barnet LCC
    CTC Right-Ride rep', Barnet

  13. less than half an hour from Kings Cross - Welwyn? Stevenage? Letchworth?

  14. No one seems to be mentioning the incredible waste of road tax payers money. Why do cyclists need a 'superhighway' anyway? From what I see every morning,the majority of cyclists take their own (and others) safety into their own hands jumping red lights or mounting the pavement to miss red lights etc etc. The next minute they are bleating that the roads aren't safe enough for them! Get a grip.

  15. Road tax?? doesn't exist.

  16. I think that was just a bad choice of words! Obviously that last comment was referring to car taxes being spent on schemes for cyclists. As a cyclist I have to agree, there are far too many of us that blatantly disregard the rules of the road and we don't contribute to the up keep of them. It is time that the government introduced a bicycle tax. Then and only then can we complain about the state of cycle routes in the UK.

  17. But schemes to boost cycling reduce congestion for drivers! So why do they always moan? As for car taxes paying for cycle schemes, most of the Mayor’s revenue comes from council tax and central government grants - < The congestion charge brought TfL an annual operating net income of £89.1m. (This income compares with TfL's total revenue from bus and tube fares of £2,269.4m, or 76.6% of revenue before costs, or grants from central government of £2,390.3 million.) >
    Cycle licensing is unenforceable – they can’t even make people tax and insure their cars, so let’s forget about bikes!

  18. How about the next Critical Mass ride includes a paintout the Superficial Highways. Not In My Name. We have all paid for these useless blue routes but who asked for them? As for cars v cycles. We all pay for the roads but bicycles have less torque so cyclists are kinder to the road and thus to the taxpayer.