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…

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

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

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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…

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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…).    

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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…).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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:

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Segregation – finally on the way.

CS2 Upgrade Consultation Response, from a local resident

Comments on individual sections of the route (Sections 1 – 7)

1 Do you support the proposals for Section 1 (Aldgate to Whitechurch Lane) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade?

Yes

Please give any comments on the proposals for Section 1 (Aldgate to Whitechurch Lane) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade below:

These proposals are generally very good.

2 Do you support the proposals for Section 2 (White Church Lane to Cambridge Heath Road) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade?

Yes

Please give any comments on the proposals for Section 2 (White Church Lane to Cambridge Heath Road) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade below:
As a cyclist, I’m very much in favour of these proposals. As a pedestrian, I understand and partially share the Mayor of Tower Hamlets concerns at this point. This road is very, very hard to cross at present and this will make it harder. This does not reduce the need for these cycle improvements, but further pedestrian crossings would certainly be desirable.

3 Do you support the proposals for Section 3 (Cambridge Heath Road to Beaumont Grove) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade?

Yes

Please give any comments on the proposals for Section 3 (Cambridge Heath Road to Beaumont Grove) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade below:

This proposal substantially improves this stretch of road for people on bikes and pedestrians (subject to my overall comments on wands and junctions).

Again, it draws attention to the need for general improvements on roads such as Cambridge Heath Road and Sidney Street.

4 Do you support the proposals for Section 4 (Beaumont Grove to Westfield Way) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade?

No

Please give any comments on the proposals for Section 4 (Beaumont Grove to Westfield Way) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade below:

I strongly oppose the flawed design which leaves cyclists unsegregated from motorists along this part of the route. Why? 1) I have been cut up dangerously by bus drivers along this route in the bus lanes. 2) I have had a number of terrifyingly close passes by taxis along this route in the bus lanes. 3) Along Mile End Road when bus lanes are not in operation, one is frequently left picking one’s way around parked minicabs and having the prospect of speeding, undertaking vehicles approaching rapidly from behind. 4) At this point in the route, there is a gap of over 30m between buildings. Expecting cyclists to share with drivers so close to the site of Brian Holt’s death is particularly crass. This one weak-point will serve to invalidate the route for many families and those who, for obvious reasons, do not wish to cycle surrounded by traffic. Segregation must be included along this stretch to make this upgrade worthwhile.

Otherwise, this proposal significantly improves the area, including the junctions, subject to my overall comments regarding wands and junctions.

5 Do you support the proposals for Section 5 (Westfield Way to Merchant Street) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade?

Yes

Please give any comments on the proposals for Section 5 (Beaumont Grove to Merchant Street) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade below:

As far as Burdett Road, the proposal remains strong, although please see my general comment about left hooks/encroachment at junctions due to removal of segregation in the approaches.

At Burdett Road, I am pleased that we will finally see the proposals consulted upon eighteen months ago implemented. I hope that the parking permitted along Burdett Road to the North of Mile End Road can be limited to ensure the advisory cycle track remains useful. (This also highlights the need and space for segregation along the whole of Burdett Road, although this is one for another day).

Further West, I approve of the proposals, subject to my general concerns about wands.

6 Do you support the proposals for Section 6 (Merchant Street to Bromley High Street) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade?

Yes

Please give any comments on the proposals for Section 6 (Merchant Street to Bromley High Street) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade below:

Eastbound, I would be concerned about the left-hook risk at Bromley High Street, caused by the wide radius left for turning motor vehicles.

Outside Bow Church DLR, a 1.5m lane is far too narrow for the number of people who are likely to wish to use this. A single-stage crossing for pedestrians would obviate the need to waste space in the middle of the road on an island.

Otherwise, these proposals appear generally good, although please see my general comment about wands.

7 Do you support the proposals for Section 7 (Bromley High Street to Bow Roundabout) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade?

Yes

Please give any comments on the proposals for Section 7 (Bromley High Street to Bow Roundabout) of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade below:

It’s disappointing that more is not being done at Bow Roundabout, but perhaps as more people are able to cycle the perception of pressure on roundabout capacity will reduce and it will become more politically possible to put in safe crossing facilities for pedestrians and people on bikes.

Overall proposals and About you

8 Do you support TfL’s overall proposals for the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade?

Yes

Do you have any comments on the overall proposals?:

When I first saw CS2, I thought it was a joke. I subsequently spent a year and a half living three minutes from Mile End Road and I swiftly learned to avoid it unless there was no other way to reach my destination – which, unfortunately, was often the case. I now live a little further East and still use it only when I have no choice. I would welcome the chance to turn the Superhighway into something which I and others could use without fear of taxis, buses, car doors and (most dangerously) rapid under-taking vehicles outside bus lane hours. Therefore, overall, I support these proposals very strongly.

Across the proposal:
– I am concerned about the reduction in width of the cycle track to 1.5m at a number of points. Even now, horrible as it is, this road is heavily used by people on bikes. 1.5m is too narrow to accommodate the growth we will surely see once people are able to cycle safely.

– I am concerned at the reliance on paint rather than segregation at junctions. As on CS2X, there is a removal of segregation in the approach to possible left-turns by motorists. Leaving segregation until nearer the junction would reduce turning radii and ensure vehicles do not encroach on the cycle lane in advance of their turn. This could be topped by wands to avoid damaging encroaching vehicles if necessary.

– I have limited confidence in wands. The destructive effect drivers have over street furniture over time is clear across London. Clearly it’s preferable to have a wand in between me and speeding vehicles, but I suspect the wands are likely to prove both insufficient and expensive – subject as they will be to repeated replacement.

I’m pleased about the inclusion of a number of banned turns, which may begin to reduce the rat-running in some of Tower Hamlets backstreets, many of which are forbidding for bicycles. However, this proposal draws attention to the need for an overall strategy to improve these routes, notably by creating a safe, segregated connection between CS2 and CS3. This could be achieved by segregating Burdett Road (as proposed by the LCC as their Ward Ask and for which there is ample space) or by removing through motor traffic from Sidney Street and segregating Cambridge Heath Road. Either way, to realise the potential of CS2 greater attention is needed to the routes across Tower Hamlets to enable people to reach their destinations safely beyond CS2.

I suggest it’s worth considering these proposals http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/exempting-people-cycling-from-signals-and-how-that-can-benefit-people-walking/ regarding junctions.