Cycling Infrastructure or “Hard Measures” as they are sometimes known litter London’s streets. Artifacts of myriad forgotten cycling policies are to be found here and there. Fragments of narrow lanes appear and vanish for no discernible reason. Some of it is still of use. You can spot the good bits because there are riders on them.
Overall, cycling in London’s traffic is perfectly fine… mostly… once you get used to it. As things stand, it’s not going to be for everyone but training can help A LOT. A great number of people will just never be comfortable sharing with the autos. Their sense of the dangers of cycling might be exaggerated but that’s how they feel. Untill they have segregated lanes to ride on, they just aren’t interested.
For those who take the plunge, it is a revelation. They are soon zooming about and getting all the time, health, productivity, fun and financial benefits of riding a bike.
The various nature of London’s infrastructure throws up some issues though. For example:
If one were going to have a serious problem whilst out and about on a bike, it might involve a left turning lorry. HGV drivers are amongst the most skillful drivers on our roads and the very last thing they want to have happen is any sort of crash. The issue is that, visibility is limited and it is easy for a cyclist to get into the “Blind Spot”. In my view this is due either to the cyclist undertaking or bad overtaking by the HGV.
The importance of dealing with this issue is well recognised by the various authorities involved.
During training, I always go over the location of HGV blind spots including the instruction NEVER to undertake a lorry or bus. As the driver of a HGV is high up they can not see you if you stop right in front of them either.
TFL funds HGV awareness training for cyclists. The chance to sit in the cab of a HGV really drives the point home. If that isn’t enough, the blind spot is marked on the floor (in yellow here) so the cyclist can see where NOT to go. Knowing where the risks are makes them easy to avoid and a trained rider will never let themselves get into this situation. As with all National Standard training, the goal is to minimise the incidence of any conflict.
What then, is the goal of the road markings in the following image?
Are riders supposed to enter the box up that left side? To me, this says everything about the utter confusion that surrounds cycling provision in London. This is the area FOR cyclists? These boxes are the prefered solution for some traffic engineers. There is a total failure of consistancy. What on earth is going on?
This mess comes about due to the historical lack of any coherent cycling policy for London, going back for at least the last 30 years. We need leadership on policy if there is to be a real increase in riders beyond those who are up for sharing the road. There has to be some sort of a plan and someone prepared to make AND push through what will be some unpopular changes at the time. Someone prepared to think beyond the next election. But who can we look to provide such leadership?
Hear me Boris!
Are you for more cycling or against? You’re a rider! You know this is all wrong. If you really want to increase cycling you know what you need to do! You’ve read all the docs. Go on, you know in your heart it’s right. Give us some good cycle lanes. You know the ones… the type people will actually use. Big separate ones with priority. Put them on big arteries. Ones that go where we need to go. Stuff that will encourage non-cyclists to have a go. Bite the bullet and start removing parking spaces…. Go on.
All those empty taxis circling around in the West End are just that…. EMPTY! There is plenty of room if you have the will. Go on… connect up the inner ends of the Superhighways with new segrageated lanes/streets. If you segregated the Superhighways, more people would use them. Reallocation of space is the way forward if you really want to grow cycling, as all your own studies indicate. Lets have some beautifully planted ped/cycle only streets as well, like they do in other cities and create a real, usefull network for London’s future. How else will you achieve your very laudable cycling targets?
If we are really 3%(or whatever) by mode in London then can we have 3% of the money to spend on some good facilities? We should have more of the budget than our modal percentage. How about 5% of the road space? If you want to encourage a behavior then provision should lead demand. True?
What percentage of funds/space do taxis take with a 0.6% modal share? It’s all got a bit out of whack, I say.
Follow your heart. I am calling out to you from mine. Hear me Boris!
Let’s get together to hammer out the details over lunch at one of my favourite pie shops. My treat…