Quietway 2 – an embarrassment to all

Quietways always sounded pretty rubbish.  I use the vestiges of the London Cycle Network frequently – as with so much cycling in London, as a least-worst option – and I never cease to resent the wiggly routes it takes me on and the rat-running drivers I have to contend with in amongst the parked cars.

I thought Quietways might be a step up.  I’ve always seen them as a cop-out, avoiding TfL’s and the boroughs’ responsibility to provide safe space for cycling on main roads.  But at least I thought I might be able to get around the indirect and inconvenient routes safely and comfortably.  Here’s what TfL promise:

Quietways will complement Superhighways by providing a network of cycling routes through less heavily trafficked streets…  They are aimed at new cyclists who want a safe, unthreatening experience.

(London Cycling Design Standards)*

London Cycling Campaign, rightly, expected something clearer than this:

To actually be ‘quiet’ the routes need to restrict through motor traffic (rat-running) and provide separation where required (where speed limits are above 20 mph or traffic volumes are high).


So to Quietway 2

This is a pilot route, being delivered by Camden, Islington and Hackney, with the assistance of Sustrans.  I should probably have seen the writing on the wall when Camden consulted on the Guildford Road section – a choked rat-run and taxi route with car parking space – in which they promised a speed table or two and some painted signs.

Looking through Islington’s Consultation document (and let’s take a moment to note that it’s in nineteen separate pages, such that only really interested people are going to bother), I was disappointed, initially, to note no filtering, just some signs and some new road humps.  Sadly, the next page offered the same.  I got to the third page, and there were some more signs and new road humps…  You get the idea.  Nothing.

Here’s a fairly standard extract, showing the extent of what is to be done:

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 09.01.28

Signs and raised entry humps on side roads.


For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the route as it stands – notably whoever designed it, let me take you down it.  This was yesterday on the way to a meeting – a random Tuesday morning – so unfortunately, some bits which are often horrible and choked were less so.  On the other hand, I got close-passed in an area which is usually fine, so it balances out.  This post focuses on Islington, with two exceptions, but I’ll start with something nice:


Filtering in De Beauvoir Square – good for skateboarders too.


Welcome to Islington!  The driver on the left is stationary, of course… (Northchurch Road)

The route takes a dog-leg diversion in the wrong direction and back on to the main road, which I didn’t bother to follow.


This isn’t on the Quietway, this is the direct route. But it shows you the number of vehicles going down these back roads (and on to Prebend Street, which is on the Quietway). Drivers aren’t happy either – you can’t hear the driver on the right of the picture tell someone on the left to ‘F–k off’ as he passes (Basire Street meeting New North Road)

Back on the proposed ‘Quietway’ route.



Lots of rat-running drivers. (Prebend Street)


Lots of rat-running commercial drivers (Colebrooke Row)


Four more rat-running drivers queued up behind people on bikes (Margery Street)




See those drivers queuing up opposite – that’s what you’ll be joining to make it here from Camden’s side (Calthorpe Street)

At this point, my camera ran out of battery – which is fine, because this is the borough boundary.

My point is that these routes were all busy.  It’s probably true to say they are “less heavily trafficked streets” but only because the main roads are so heavily ‘trafficked’.  It’s certainly not true that they will offer a “safe, unthreatening experience” as the driver of 7861H was kind enough to demonstrate Middleton Road.


What happens when you have lots of drivers mixing with people on bikes at a range of speeds? Close passes. And collisions. And injuries. And deaths. 


Risk dooring or risk being knocked down – not a choice I’d ask a child to make.

[This part of the route, where I was close-passed, may be modally-filtered – although the works notifications have gone up in Hackney Today before we see any plans for this, which makes me nervous].

This new route won’t make it any safer or more pleasant to cycle, because it won’t provide any new space for cycling which isn’t already busy with drivers.  The only people it will help will be people unfamiliar with the route, due to the signs.  But why would anyone else bother with a  round-about route which is neither safe nor pleasant?

There are excellent parallel routes which drivers are free to take.  Islington is encouraging and continuing to allow rat-running commercial drivers to use these back, residential streets.  De Beauvoir shows what could be done here.

At the moment, we are looking at more money spent for absolutely no gain.  TfL can claim they have succeeded – these streets are “less heavily trafficked” – but only by comparison tot he main roads.

Thankfully, Islington claim they are willing to listen.

I would urge everyone reading this to oppose this scheme outright.  The money will be wasted and we will benefit not at all.

In contrast to the consultation plans, the consultation response is very simple.  To finish by the 17th May.

* I’m not even going to get into the ridiculous idea that new cyclists and existing cyclists want different kinds of infrastructure.


7 thoughts on “Quietway 2 – an embarrassment to all

  1. Thanks Harry.
    Great blog.
    A bit more background here from ICAG’s perspective (Islington branch of LCC):
    We first got wind of this proposed Quietway (initially called QW38) in June 14, at which point Tom drew up a plan for modal filtering along the route and emailed it to the council officers prior to our first meeting. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?ll=51.539769,-0.096624&msa=0&spn=0.007234,0.021136&mid=zZ8upSjCjkd0.kSpxteWCQdtw

    We presented this map (and the goal of modal filtering/ traffic reduction along the route) in person both to the officers and to Cllr Webbe (exec member for transport), but the brief -?of paint/ tweaks at junctions/ raised tables/ traffic calming- and initial drawings had already been done, and the council were unwilling to change track.
    On our second look at the plans- which were unchanged, without even a commitment to place for example a modal filter at the Colebrook Row/ City Rd junction, we were very clear that we could not support them.
    However, these plans have now got to consultation, and ICAG submitted this response:

    There are a few welcome changes, eg changes to the Owen St crossing, contraflow cycling on Lloyd-Baker Street, changing priority on Ecclesbourne. Obviously traffic calming is also welcome, but far far inferior to traffic reduction (filtering) in our view.

    In the council’s defence, they felt a great deal of time pressure to get this route to consultation. They have been very open to involving us from the early planning stages on future routes, including the next Islington Quietway- from Finsbury Park to Farringdon. And Cllr Webbe has- as she said- begun meeting with us regularly, and seems keen to take on new ideas and improve the borough for cycling.
    Time will tell whether we’ll continue to have our ideas rejected (as we did at New North Rd!) or be able to work effectively with the council to make Islington a great place to ride a bike (and walk and live!). We’d urge anyone who cares about biking in Islington to get in touch with ICAG and get involved, as there’s lots of campaign work to do.



    • Hi Tab,
      Thanks for adding these links – it’s great to see ICAG has come out so strongly & thoughtfully with decent designs.
      All credit to Cllr Webbe for being willing to meet with you. It’s hugely disappointing that Islington feel the need to prioritise haste over quality to quite this extent, but I hope they’ll think again on this one, and that your collaboration bears more fruit in future.


  2. Hi,

    I live on Middleton road and am a keen cyclist. Over my lifetime I have witnessed the road get busier and busier, with little enforcement of the 20mph.

    As far as we the residents can work out the council is proposing to remove the speed bumps to ‘help’ cyclists… And there will be an 18 month gap before any other measures are put in (filtering etc).

    Why can’t they extend a de beauvoir style route ? Or narrow the road at the ends and add cycle lanes to slow traffic and limit the use of heavy viechals on the road? Seems so logical and consistent with the supposed aim of the council’s traffic policy!?!

    So disappointing as this money could really make a difference! Thanks for the blog…


    • Yes, de Beauvoir style traffic solution on Middleton Road (which has never been designated a main carrier road) and surrounding area .OR separate cycle lanes – between the pavement and car parking which will serve a dual functions: give a protected route to cyclists, narrow the road which slows down cars for pedestrians and cyclists alike in this residential area. 80 per cent of traffic in Hackney, someone just pointed out to me, is through traffic – and that normally means it’s in a hurry to get somewhere!


  3. traffic calming areas… highway code (rule 153) says you should not overtake moving vehicles in them…

    “Traffic-calming measures. On some roads there are features such as road humps, chicanes and narrowings which are intended to slow you down. When you approach these features reduce your speed. Allow cyclists and motorcyclists room to pass through them. Maintain a reduced speed along the whole of the stretch of road within the calming measures. Give way to oncoming road users if directed to do so by signs. You should not overtake other moving road users while in these areas.”

    well perhaps if that was the case then why don’t they make it explicit and put double white lines in those areas…


  4. Pingback: Quietway 2 – a sneak preview | Better Cycling London

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s