City of London shows boroughs the benefits of returning minor one-way streets to two-way cycling


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The City of London is making another 30 minor one-way streets two-way for cycling, having already successfully implemented two-way cycling already on around 50 streets in the Square Mile in the last few years.

We presented the City Corporation with a London Cycling Award in June 2013 for its one-way to two-way streets programme, shared with a similar (but smaller programme) in Camden.

It's easy to forget that, once upon a time, every street in the capital was two-way for cycling, but the growth of motor traffic in the 1960s and 70s saw the introduction of citywide traffic-management schemes that we intended to move motor vehicles around more efficiently.

Unfortunately, these car-centric street designs made cycling journeys less direct and convenient, as well as in the long term actually increasing car use and congestion.

Following the example of cities like Brussels, where thousands of one-way streets are two-way for cycling, the City of London and Camden Council have returned many of minor streets to two-way cycling.

Doing this is low cost because two-way cycling can be implemented on streets that are still one-way for motor traffic with only a minor change in road markings and signage.

Since the pilot programme began around four years ago, there have been no significant increases in cycling or pedestrian collisions in the streets affected, according to a City study. 

Indeed, risk to cycling is likely to be lessened because cyclists using the new two-way routes can more easily avoid busy streets where they're at greater risk from motor traffic.

Some of the City routes that have been opened up by the two-way schemes, such as Watergate to Shoe Lane, conveniently link quiet routes to popular destinations in surrounding boroughs.

Returning streets to two-way can reduce offending by opening up safer routes for cycling, where previously people on bikes had not been properly considered.

In neighbouring Islington, a five-metre contraflow has unlocked a popular cycle route and reduced offending significantly. 

The best street designs, such as those used in the Netherlands, ensure that those using human-powered transport (on bicycle or on foot) benefit from direct routes. 

This principle has been neglected across Greater London, and partly explains why walking and cycling have declined.

Overall, while there are other problems of street design in the City of London that need addressing, such as its road-narrowing policy, the two-way cycling programme has gone some way towards making cycling in the City of London easier, and cycling rates there are growing.

Greater London has thousands of minor one-way streets that could easily be made two-way for cycling at very little cost.

Eventually, all one-way motor traffic systems should also be removed in order to make the capital more cycling and walking-friendly, but removing major one-way systems is a much larger and more expensive project.

The problem of one-way cycling minor roads can be addressed now, and we strongly urge the Mayor to promote this policy on relevant streets controlled by Transport for London, and to the boroughs.

The latest batch of City of London streets that are due to be returned to two-way are: 

  • Abchurch Lane
  • Artillery Lane
  • Botolph Lane
  • Bury Street
  • Carlisle Street
  • Clement’s Lane
  • Coleman Street
  • Cooper’s Row
  • Crutched Friars
  • Cutler Street
  • Devonshire Row
  • Garlick Hill
  • Goring Street
  • Great Trinity Lane
  • Idol Lane
  • Jewry Street
  • Little Trinity Lane
  • Mincing Lane
  • Mitre Street
  • Northumberland Alley
  • Oat Lane
  • Pilgrim Street
  • Rood Lane 
  • Throgmorton St
  • Skinners Lane
  • Southampton Buildings
  • St Dustan’s Lane
  • St Mary Axe
  • Staining Lane
  • Viscount Street