Video courtesy of the esteemed Carlton Reid.
Now let's review a video that our friends at the London Cycling Campaign have put together, showing the as-yet unfinished two pilot routes of the so-called 'Cycle Superhighways'. Notice a difference? Yeah, me too. Where's that fancy flying wooshy blue flash when you need it?!
Whilst the remedial schemes taking place along the routes are to be commended (more cycle parking, improved filter routes leading to the 'highways' and better signage) there is increasing concern that first-time cyclists attracted to these routes will be forced to the side of the road, onto the unsegregated painted lane (which is just 1.5metres wide) and into danger. There has been no re-allocation of road space along these routes meaning the width of the 'car' lane has decreased by 1.5 metres. No one should be surprised therefore to find that other vehicles just drive over the top of the cycle lanes. Will the bright blue paint help to alert drivers to the prescence of cyclists? Perhaps. Will the lanes guarantee a place where "No longer will pedal power have to dance and dodge around petrol power... ...the bicycle will dominate and that will be clear to all others using them"(1), as the Mayor described at the policy launch? I doubt it. From what I've seen so far this is a typical media-friendly soundbite from the Mayor, backed up with second rate reality. The sad thing of course is that the project has a budget running into the millions. Having gone through the plans and drawings on the Tfl website, so far as I can see none of this money is being earmarked for re-allocating road space or re-engineering dangerous junctions. The only segregrated sections of the lanes (you know, the bits that are good for filming promotional videos on) will be pre-existing segregated cycle lanes, such as the one on Cable Street which will be incoporated into the new route.
I'm prepared to accept that the two routes being rolled out at present are just pilots, and have been planned and implemented in a very short period of time, but so far I am entirely unimpressed and furthermore very concerned about the safety record which these routes will produce.
There is one thing I CAN guarantee: poor quality, second-rate cycling infrastructure like this will do nothing to improve the safety rate of London's cyclists, the wider public's perception of cycling as being a safe activity (remember, they'll be the ones in the cars and buses watching cyclists being squeezed off the road) and will therefore NOT bring about mass cycling in London.
The 'superhighways' (painted in Copenhagen Blue, no less - it must be the colour that makes them safe!) featured here are unfinished, and there is still time for TfL to pull the hat out of the bag. Let's hope that this video from the LCC gives them the incentive to do so.