CycleSuperHighway: CS2 Super Junction Opens

Cycling home this evening up Mile End Road, I came across TfL and police officers issuing advice to people on bikes…

CIMG0009

TfL’s rep informed me that something a little different had opened…

CIMG0008

Cyclists approach the junction down this segregated lane, to the outside of left-turning drivers (picture looking back up the road)

CIMG0003

So this is how things line up for the race off the lights…  Three lanes of drivers, one of people on bikes – as it was before…

CIMG0011

But the race off the lights never happens.  People on bikes, and drivers going straight on get green, while drivers turning left are held on red (you can just about see the car in the centre with its left-indicator flashing not moving; the cyclist turning left (right of this picture) has made it around the junction in safety…).    

CIMG0002

You are also free to wait where the cone is in the middle of the junction for a two-stage right turn; if doing this, you get a four-second head start (dodgy proposition, but it’s a start…).

CIMG0004

Most people on bikes weren’t using it yet – it only opened at 12 today.

Brilliant news!  Well done TfL.  Much safer and more pleasant (and now operating in both directions).

Two acute problems with the route, obvious from the start (see my consultation response on CS2) now rear their ugly heads again.

Why aren’t people using it already?  Answer, because the preceding track isn’t there yet.  But unfortunately, it never will be.  This is the part of the route where TfL caved in to traders’ objections (led by the then mayor, but that’s another story).  So people on bikes will be rounding buses at that stop and dodging the various kerbside activities conducted along the road – loading, unloading, rubbish clearing – all in the usual company of taxis, buses and motorbikes.  There will be more casualties in this stretch of road until TfL sort it out.

CIMG0007

My earlier picture showed a person on a bike turning north up Cambridge Heath Road.  Having two good east/west cycle routes in Tower Hamlets makes the complete absence of safe north/south routes (except Regent’s Canal Towpath) even more noticeable.  This is Cambridge Heath Road, two hundred metres north of the other pictures.  Four lanes wide (five further north), and lacking any space for cycling.

TfL is doing great work on CS2.  But a safe, attractive journey runs door-to-door.  Finally making CS2 safe begs huge questions about the dismal, dangerous roads which surround it.

CIMG9282

Advertisements

One small step for in Hackney: improving Regent’s Row

To my regret, I’ve not had much positive to say about conditions for people walking or on bikes in my home borough.  In fact, things look pretty terrible, whether it’s the apparent overall strategy of the borough, or the inexplicably dreadful Wick Road plans.  So it’s nice to be able to recognise somewhere Hackney Council are doing things right: this post celebrates a small but important improvement.

Regent’s Row was one of the many foetid little rat runs, full of drivers rat-running at speed, which run parallel to Regent’s Canal.  I don’t much like cycling down the canal and avoid it at all costs at the weekend when it’s too busy to get anywhere on a bike, but I hated cycling down this road more: it’s about as wide as a vehicle, and its high kerbs left nowhere to escape when facing (or chased) by hurrying drivers.

What have Hackney done?

The first part of the scheme removed the fencing that run all along the canal and created three access points for people on bikes (or in wheelchairs, with pushchairs, etc.).  They have also put in planters, which will no doubt be lovely once filled (and if looked after).

More importantly, a gate at the junction with Marlborough Avenue makes the road access only.  (There was never any reason to do otherwise, since there are two busy parallel roads within a couple of hundred metres in either direction (Pownall Road and Whiston Road)).

CIMG9720

Another thing that made the road unpleasant to cycle down was the cobbles running the whole length.  These have been removed (although little attractive rows remain which presumably have a speed reducing effect.

CIMG9675

Overall, Regent’s Row has gone from unpleasant rat run into an attractive parallel stretch for people on bikes, leaving more space for families (and joggers) on the canal towpath itself.

So what next?

1) How can we make Regent’s Canal better?

This weekend, a petition cropping up asking Google Maps not to show Regent’s Canal as a cycling route.  I’m no fan of the existing situation along the towpath (and I walk down the towpath more than I cycle) but this seems entirely the wrong way to go about things.  When cycling, if there were any viable traffic free alternative, I would be happy to take it – but there isn’t one,  This is a small start of a few hundred yards, but perhaps its time Hackney, Camden, Islington and Tower Hamlets got together and created a genuinely traffic free, desirable alternative parallel route (with the help of the Canals and Rivers Trust).  (It’s always worth creating an attractive carrot before reaching for the stick).

CIMG9725

In need of some love and fewer rat-running drivers.

2) How can we make Hackney better?

There’s a lot of pride in Hackney about the filtering of roads to create safe space for pedestrians and people on bikes.  This is a fantastic example.  Yet unfortunately it can occasionally feel as though pedestrian and cycling campaigners are criticised for their ingratitude if they demand more or faster improvement to Hackney’s streets.  Firstly, let me say, again, this is great.

But it’s not enough.  This (to my knowledge) is the only filtering scheme that will go in this year among the hundreds of streets Hackney manages.  (The Middleton Road filtering that was promised as part of Quietway 2 has been delayed, with no firm date, until after the Quietway launches).  Given that filtering is frequently referred to as one of Hackney’s great achievements, it would be great to see a plan which categorised every access road in Hackney as such (using the same principles as the Dutch CROW manual) and then planned to filter them and remove rat-running drivers from every single one, at a rate of dozens per year.

So, a small step forward – time for a big leap.

CS2 upgrade – people on bikes voting with their wheels

This was the scene on Mile End Road outside the Royal London Hospital, heading into town at around 9.15 this morning.

CIMG9092

I cycled through the gap.  The drivers in the right-hand lane were going nowhere, and I didn’t fancy choking on coach fumes, the coach stuck behind the bus in front, for the next few hundred metres.  The two people on bikes behind me did the same, slightly to my surprise.

This was the scene half a mile further down the road, at around 2.30pm on my way home (going away from town):

CIMG9097There may be scope to encourage people to walk on the pavements a little more – although I guess at busier times of day, they’re more likely to do so voluntarily.

CIMG9098 CIMG9099

People are voting with their bikes about where they’d rather cycle.

CIMG9100

Since it was 2.30 – outside the six hours a day during which the bus lane operates – until recently I’d have been cycling on the outside of these cars.  (The drivers appeared to be managing whatever their ‘kerbside activity’ was unhindered.CIMG9102

It ain’t perfect by a long chalk – this LCC post covers the pros and cons of this stretch pretty well here.  But honestly, what would you prefer:

CIMG9097

CIMG9092

Segregation – finally on the way.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Consultation response

I use the routes proposed for the East-West Cycle Superhighway a lot and this is a big step forward for people on bikes and for London.  It’s taken a long time to go through the plans and examine the details – so I thought it might be worth posting this for others to consider and consult.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 1: Tower Hill gyratory
1 Do you support the proposals for Section 1 (Tower Hill gyratory) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 1 (Tower Hill gyratory) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway? :
I use this junction frequently on a bicycle and on foot. These proposal represent a significant improvement to what is currently a terrifying and dangerous junction.
Cycling up Mansell Street, drivers often jostle dangerously over the junction, with each other and with people on bikes aiming for the current advisory lane. This proposal will retain this danger as the mandatory lane starts too far North. I would welcome either starting the lane earlier, or continuous markings across the junction.
This said, I am very pleased at the inclusion of an island to prevent U-turning drivers from swinging into the path of cyclists at the top of the street.
3m seems too narrow for the narrowest points (e.g. the bus-stop bypass) if the cycle tracks are as popular as one would hope.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 2: Lower Thames Street – Tower Hill

2 Do you support the proposals for Section 2 (Lower Thames Street / Tower Hill) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 2 (Lower Thames Street / Tower Hill) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?:
This proposal is a world away from the current lethal jostling with construction lorries, taxis and buses required for people on cycles in this area and I welcome it.
3-3.7m seems very limited, but I suppose it’s a start and this is a very busy area. Nonetheless, I wonder whether removing a lane in each direction might be something to work towards…?
The arrangements for crossing Great Tower Street are unclear (notably, where cyclists are held travelling West at the crossing). How is conflict with buses prevented, for example?
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 3: Upper Thames Street (Lambeth Hill – Arthur Street)

3 Do you support the proposals for Section 3 (Upper Thames Street: Lambeth Hill – Arthur Street)?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 3 (Upper Thames Street / Arthur Street)?:
This is a huge improvement on existing provision and I support it as such.
I am against the introduction of cyclist ‘early start’ provisions – a few seconds with motorists racing to get away behind you offers very little – at the cost of always stopping. I am also not clear as to how cyclists turning left onto Southwark Bridge from the new superhighway are provided for.
2.7m around a coach stop for a two way track is a joke.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 4: Upper Thames Street / Puddle Dock / Castle Baynard Street

4 Do you support the proposals for Section 4 (Upper Thames Street/ Puddle Dock/ Castle Baynard Street) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 4 (Castle Baynard Street)?:
This is a big improvement on the existing situation. I am not familiar with Castle Baynard Street – ensuring that it is kept clear (for example, around the conference centre) from taxis and delivery vehicles is likely to be a challenge. I wonder whether it would be more productive to use a permeability treatment on Castle Baynard Street midway along in order to ensure it remains clear of traffic?
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 5: Victoria Embankment (Temple Avenue – Blackfriars)

5 Do you support the proposals for Section 5 (Victoria Embankment: Temple Avenue – Blackfriars) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 5 (Victoria Embankment / Blackfriars)?:
I was very nearly killed by an idiot in a van and a hurry in Blackfriars Underpass recently who forced me to the side of the road and then passed me within inches. So it may not be surprising that I am in favour of this proposal. I particularly like the connections with the N/S route, which will begin to create a useful network for cyclists.
The junction arrangements at the slip road connecting the N/S and E/W routes look, frankly, finicky and unclear. Whether this is an issue of signage or, perhaps, an over-reliance on separate signalised lanes I’m not sure. I suspect you can rely on cyclists to find their way through, without separate islands as you need for motorists.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 6: Victoria Embankment / Temple Place east

6 Do you support the proposals for Section 6 (Victoria Embankment / Temple Place east) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 6 (Victoria Embankment / Temple Place east)?:
This looks like a good, segregated track.
I am unconvinced as to the merits of creating a 2.5-3m kerb to protect a 4m (or less) cycle track. Creating more space for people on bikes is surely a more useful use of space.
I am also unconvinced by the case for raised tables at bus-stop bypasses, particularly those serving only night buses and coaches. Could the whole cycle track not be raised to the same level, gently – at times other than coach stops, this will merely be a hindrance; when coaches have stopped, weight of numbers will lead people to use the whole track to cross anyway.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 7: Victoria Embankment / Temple Place west

7 Do you support the proposals for Section 7 (Victoria Embankment / Temple Place west) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 7 (Victoria Embankment / Temple Place west)? :
This is a good proposal. Again, reducing the width of the segregating island and increasing the space available to cyclists would certainly be an improvement.
Is it worth mentioning there should be cycle use of the Garden Bridge here…?
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 8: Victoria Embankment / Savoy Place / Savoy Hill / Savoy Street

8 Do you support the proposals for Section 8 (Victoria Embankment / Savoy Place / Savoy Hill / Savoy Street) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 8 (Victoria Embankment / Savoy Place)? :
Again, reduce the kerb-width, increase the cycle track width!
I am not clear how cyclists from Savoy Street are supposed to access the E/W superhighway. Is there a risk of conflict with left-turning motorists?
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 9: Victoria Embankment / Northumberland Avenue

9 Do you support the proposals for Section 9 (Victoria Embankment / Northumberland Avenue) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 9 (Victoria Embankment / Northumberland Avenue)?:
Again, reduce the size of the kerb, increase the size of the cycle track
Again, I question the merits of the raised table approach at infrequently used bus stops – raise the whole cycle track and enable crossing all around.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 10: Victoria Embankment / Horse Guards Road

10 Do you support the proposals for Section 10 (Victoria Embankment / Horse Guards Road) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Not Answered

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 10 (Victoria Embankment / Horse Guards Road) :
The cycle lanes on Horse Guards Avenue should begin at the junction, not beyond it. If it were possible to include kerb-segregation for these lanes, that would be appreciated – I am particularly nervous about the actions of taxis in cycle lanes (mandatory white lines notwithstanding).
Otherwise I am in favour of this proposal.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 11: Victoria Embankment / Westminster Bridge

11 Do you support the proposals for Section 11 of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 11 (Victoria Embankment / Westminster Bridge)?:
This seems like a very good solution to a number of issues at this junction. Again, the amount of time spent at traffic light phases may prove an issue for people on bikes. As someone who also uses this area as a pedestrian, I am delighted as to the improvements proposed at this junction for pedestrians. I wonder what prevents conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge crossing – there seems very limited space for cyclists waiting to turn right onto the Embankment – could the crossing be moved further South?
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 12: Parliament Square/ Great George Street

12 Do you support the proposals for Section 12 (Parliament Square / Great George Street) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 12 (Parliament Square)?:
Again, as someone who has had to cross those five lanes of traffic to cycle around this roundabout, going as fast as I can to avoid the taxis and cars behind me, this is a massive improvement. I am also pleased to see pedestrian access to Parliament Square being proposed.
I am opposed to the use of ‘early-start’ facilities, which provide for additional delay with limited safety benefits. I’ve not seen the monitoring report on Bow, but I have read this http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/bow-roundabout-cycle-priority-lights.html which suggests that they are not as good as they’re cracked up to be.
It is very disappointing that no link on to Cycle Superhighway 8 just a little further along, and, indeed, by narrowing the road on St Margaret’s Street, that people on bikes are placed in the path of the steady flow of taxis and motorists along this road. This seems a massive opportunity missed to start to connect up genuine, safe cycle networks.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 14: Hyde Park Corner
13 Do you support the proposals for Section 14 (Hyde Park Corner) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 14 (Hyde Park Corner)?:
A number of improvements here which will make this crossing far more pleasant.
Again, the cycle track should not be as narrow as 2.7m, particularly if existing cycle tracks are being converted to footway.
Being able to make more of these crossings in fewer movements as a pedestrian will be an improvement.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 15: Hyde Park

14 Do you support the proposals for Section 15 (Hyde Park) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Not sure

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 15 (Hyde Park)?:
Suggestions – the track needs to be accessible 24 hours a day. Quite why the route can’t run up Park Lane I’m not entirely clear.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 16: Lancaster Gate
15 Do you support the proposals for Section 16 (Lancaster Gate) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Partially

16 Do you prefer route option 1 (Bathurst Street) or route option 2 (Stanhope Terrace) for southbound cyclists?
Option 1 (Bathurst Street)

17 Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 16 (Lancaster Gate)?
Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 16 (Lancaster Gate)?:
While the provision of segregated tracks through this area is clearly a huge improvement on existing facilities, this whole arrangement appears to be complicated
and fiddly. Further simplification, with fewer traffic signals, would seem desirable.
There appears to be a left-hook risk at Hyde Park Gardens with motorists turning across the ‘superhighway.’ The paint should be replaced with kerb/bollard segregation to encourage drivers not to cut the corner and to reduce their speed.
The route on West down Bayswater Road past Lancaster Gate has a pinch point before widening again to two lanes – this should be removed.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 17: Westbourne Terrace
18 Do you support the proposals for Section 17 (Westbourne Terrace) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Partially

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 17 (Westbourne Terrace)?:
The segregated tracks are clearly good and appear to be of a fair width.
The junctions are a bit of a dog’s breakfast of old-fashioned and dangerous design. Inviting vehicles to merge with people on bikes into a left-hand turning lane is a recipe for fear and disaster and should be removed. Worse still is the build out on cyclists’ left to push them towards drivers, just at the point the kerb-segregation disappears.
Providing a disappearing second lane East of Cleveland Terrace invites the unpleasant experience of being trapped and surrounded by merging drivers in a hurry to undercut vehicles in the outside lane of the kind which makes CS2 so vile.
Please amend this design, or, if necessary, wait for the Westway section.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 18: Westway – Acton

19 Do you support the proposals for Section 18 (Westway – Acton) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 18 (Westway)?:
Overall Proposals

20 Do you support TfL’s overall proposals for a new East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the overall proposals?:
I have cycled along almost every part of this route on numerous occasions. Almost without exception, I have found this to be terrifying, polluted and dangerous. I would never, for example, cycle with my girlfriend along much of this route. These proposals are a massive step forward for London and I am delighted about them – I would happily use them myself on a far more frequent basis, and would be equally happy to encourage relatives less fit than me to do the same – so the health and wellbeing benefits are likely to be enormous.
Most of the design far outstrips almost everything I’ve ever seen proposed by TfL and the planners should be commended for their boldness and understanding of what safe and pleasant cycling requires.

This said, I have two underlying concerns about the plans, namely:
1) Width. For something which will be a huge benefit – the only safe East-West cycle route through the city, three metres in both directions, or even 2.7m at narrow points, is incredibly limiting and I suspect the route will soon be overwhelmed. It’s worth remembering that, although this takes away one lane along most of its route from motorists, every other road through the City remains available to them (and unsegregated for cyclists). Would a lane in each direction be too much to ask? I recognise that this is a big step forward for TfL but I suspect you will be back at the drawing board, as mass cycling is unleashed, in a few years time, to make this much bigger. I also fear that this may design in conflict unnecessarily for cyclists.

2) Traffic light phases. The scheme relies very heavily on traffic signals – I haven’t counted, but scores along the whole route. The phasing of the lights is not specified in the design. This can cause serious problems if motor vehicle traffic flow is used as the key factor. Currently, along CS3, beside Cable Street for example, cyclists appear to receive something like nine seconds in about every ninety. It’s not enough, and it’s not fair! It’s important that the wait times for people on bikes are accorded equal (or better) priority to those of drivers, rather than leaving cyclists idling beside drivers and tempted to treat the signals with contempt.

Nonetheless, these proposals would be a great benefit, and I wish TfL the best in implementing them.