LCC welcomes Central London Grid but emphasises need for safe and convenient junctions and high-quality routes that cater for all cycling abilities

The London Cycling Campaign has welcomed Mayor Boris Johnson's draft proposal for a Central London Grid, but has warned that to be effective the routes must provide safe and convenient passage through junctions, along with cycling conditions throughout that are suitable for all ages and abilities.

LCC Chief Executive Ashok Sinha said, "We strongly welcome the Mayor's assertion that increasing cycling in Zone One benefits all Londoners through reduced traffic congestion, reduced crowding on public transport, and less noise and pollution.

"We're delighted the Mayor's stated aim is that the Grid will be suitable for everyone to cycle, including more women and children, who are currently massively underrepresented among London's cycling population, often because of fears over safety.

"However, we emphasise that to be effective, the Grid must provide genuinely safe and convenient conditions throughout, particularly at junctions, with routes that have either protected lanes or low motor traffic volumes and speeds."

According to the Mayor, the 60-mile Central London Grid will provide a network of safe routes throughout Greater London, in a similar fashion to a proposal LCC put forward in 2009, which we presented to senior Transport for London executives.

Grid routes will be mainly on streets controlled by nine central London authorities (seven boroughs, the City, and Royal Parks), with approximately 25% of routes having protected lanes, and 75% being streets with low-volume and speeds of motor traffic. 

The protected routes include elements of existing and proposed Superhighways, including a new east-west Superhighway along the Embankment and a north-south Superhighway from Elephant & Castle to Kings Cross. 

We'll be responding to the draft proposals before the 14 January 2014 deadline, and our network of local LCC groups will continue to work with borough transport officers and Transport for London to provide them with the views of local cyclists.

Our response will include detailed analysis of proposed routes along with general points such as the following:

  • We're calling for bold initiatives to be taken on routes such as the Theobalds Road/Old Street corridor, where through-motor-traffic should be removed to facilitate thousands of new east-west cycle journeys each day. (In the morning rush hour, over 60% of traffic on Theobalds Road is already people on bicycles, the busiest cycle route in London.)
     
  • We welcome the opening of the contraflow bus lane along Bloomsbury Way to cyclists as an interim solution to improving cycling safety, but are calling for the Holborn one-way system to be removed entirely.
     
  • We're expecting junctions to create minimal delay for cyclists by ensuring signals have the same as or higher priority than motor traffic. 
     
  • We welcome the proposed increase in cycling contraflows, which have been shown to be safe and effective in making bicycle journeys more direct and convenient by returning one-way streets to two-way for cycling.
     
  • We're concerned that the quality of the Grid might vary across boroughs, and note that there are no routes in Tower Hamlets despite the need for safe access to and from the City. Also routes are less dense in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea than in other areas such as Camden and the City of London.
     
  • We welcome the emphasis on on-road signage in order to make routes easy to follow.
     
  • We reiterate our policy, ratified at our 2013 AGM, that cyclists should not be forced to share streets when volumes or speed of motor traffic are above 2000 PCUs (passenger car units) or 20mph.
     
  • We reiterate our policy, also ratified at our 2013 AGM, that cycling routes should be suitable for all abilities of cycilst, including faster, fitter people and slower, more cautious cyclists.

Replies

Link broken - try http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/roadusers/central-london-grid-map.pdf to see the full map

  • By SimonS at 02:36pm 19 Dec 2013
Interesting proposal, but we need to know more about what facilities will be provided. Signs with no infrastructure will not be welcome. Junctions are obviously the key points for safety engineering, but without routes that look and feel safe for their whole length, very little modal shift will occur. It's a shame they haven't proposed to link up all the Superhighways a bit more directly. If done well, this could be great, but I fear too many compromises and more money being spent on consultants and dubious 'soft measures' than on infrastructure as we have seen too often before. I can't see this listed on the TfL news page or any consultation forms... Hopefully they will follow shortly. If anyone has any more details, I'm sure lots of us would be very grateful to know! One good thing that this could spur is to encourage the surrounding boroughs to continue the Quietways network further out (if they can be cajoled and paid to do so!). I feel so divided about this - I want to be excited and optimistic, but am just so sceptical after being let down so often before. NB Does anyone have any info on CS5? Looks as though TfL have conceded to Westminster on the route near Victoria, which is a crying shame. So little info forthcoming, I've put in an FoI request (and will share any interesting response that may or may not arrive in the next year or so ;-P ). Has any of the construction been completed yet?

My first impression is that the network is not nearly dense enough in some areas (e.g. Westminster) and the main streets should be included because they are the most direct and obvious routes with the highest level of social safety. Routes through parks will be unusable at night.

Main roads which serve no destinations directly and are not streets (e.g. the A40 Westway, or the Euston underpass) could be designated for motor traffic only, but roads with shops, houses or public buildings (e.g. Euston Road) need to have good cycle access, if cycling is to be considered a serious mode of transport in London.

The document states that quietways are for slow inexperienced cyclists whereas experienced, fast, fit cyclists would prefer to continue to use the main roads - but the main roads are dangerous and polluted. In order to achieve high levels of cycling TfL should build a network that is fast, direct, safe and comfortable - not a two-tier network where the only way to achieve speed is by keeping your wits about you and braving it with motor traffic. Speed should be achieved by separating cyclists from motor traffic congestion and by eliminating unnecessary stops for cyclists (this can be done by removing through motor traffic from minor roads, which will remove the need for some traffic lights).

Even if there is not enough money to build a denser network immediately, it should at least be safeguarded so that any future developments incorporate it and do not block it.

  • By SimonS at 10:57pm 19 Dec 2013
The consultation page is now up at: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/29172.aspx NB: the deadline for responses on the consultation page is 14 February 2013 (not 14 Jan). Not sure if was extended after this article was written, but Feb seems more sensible - this is a major scheme and needs to be carefully considered. Would be helpful if LCC could produce a template email for responses so those who don't have time to scrutinise the details can at least add their support to bolster the organisation's position.

Currently it's all just lines on a map. My worry is that if this comes to fruition it may become lines on the road. Until there are some actual details about what these routes will include as cycle infrastructure (which should be standardised across the network) I'll reserve judgement, although the map still looks like it'll be a choice of safe or convenient. It's also a shame that more stations aren't served by the proposed routes - properly integrated transport is possible, why miss the chance?

  • By SimonS at 03:24am 20 Dec 2013
Marco: on a closer reading, much of the Quietways won't even be 'lines on the road' - just a few sprayed-on signs!! My first reaction is that this is an offensive and divisive document that takes a big poop on the Go Dutch principles. Trying to split cyclists into two simplistic 'fast macho' and 'slow in normal clothes' groups is stooopid. Sometimes, any cyclist will need to get to their destination fast - if it starts raining, those in 'normal' clothes will want to reach their destination pretty sharply! As the massive volumes of Lycra-clad commuter cyclists who take detours to commute through parks prove, many of the people they describe so rudely are more than happy to travel away from main roads in order to have a safer and traffic-free route. A lot of old mistakes look set to be repeated: half-arsed measures, claiming that a few signs = a cycle route and every excuse imaginable used to avoid providing widespread Dutch-style cycle infrastructure. I'm happy to see semi-segregation in place of building lots of new kerbs, but to just say 'oh they're quiet roads, let's just spray a sign' utterly fails to respond to what people who don't cycle require: to feel protected and safe all the way. Apols for late night grumpy babbling!

How many of these "Quietways" are available now for cyclists to use now? How will any 'improvements' encourage more cyclists to use them (either as an alternative to their current route, or as new riders)? Having had a closer look at the map there are bits maked that are already (inconvenient) cycle routes (Angel-Saddler's Wells is a bit I know well). Will TfL just tick the box on these, or make them usable? Is it the LCN all over again?

I REALLY hate the "2 type of cyclist" thing - it leads to sub-standard road design. It's also not really true. There are different riding styles, but sometimes I'm a lycra-clad roadie, other times I'm slow and carrying shopping. Why should I be safe sometimes, but not at others? Will "Quietways" (can I be the first to call them "not quite-ways"?) cater for faster riding, or will the junctions be prohibitive for 'continuous riding'? People learn their route, and if that route suddenly becomes unsafe due to bike choice then it isn't cycle infrastructure.

Having had a fuller read of the pdf, and a bit more of a think about it I'm not sure whether I'm really excited about this (this could be it - we get a cycling city!) or livid (so, nothing gets done except people being told to ride the slow, inconvenient way to work).

It feels like a lot of this could be style over substance, head-in-the-sand stuff again. "These routes already exist! Cyclists are being killed because they don't ride on quiet roads." And this drive for a "new kind of cyclist"?!?! What about the current kind of cyclist; you know - the person on a bike going somewhere? Of course I dearly want cycling to be 'normalised' and I want everyone to feel safe doing it, but the Quietways will mainly be as they are now - so why do people think it's unsafe, and why will a new map make it actually safer?

To make these 'quietways' work FOR cyclists there needs to be changes to priority - the quietway must not have to give way every 50m. People will use the path of least resistance, and multiple junctions, give way lines and red lights create resistance that puts people off riding. Create a 'greenwave' on them and prioritise them over motor traffic and then you'll have a cycling revolution. 

  • By bbm at 07:22pm 20 Dec 2013
Like other commenters here I don't see anything to welcome in these proposals. I don't understand what an organisation, which is supposed to be representing me and other cyclists is doing welcoming the latest fluff from Boris' PR maestro Gilligan.

It feels as though Tfl and Boris Johnson are using the 'different types of cyclists' approach (lycra wearing/commuter = fast and direct routes vs casual/leisurely/beginner cyclist = slower and indirect routes) to avoid providing appropriate space and routes (direct and indirect) for all abilities of cyclists on all roads.

 

'Certain types' of cyclists should not have to settle for the indirect (slower) routes and others should not have to put up with routes that have busy and heavy traffic (faster).

 

I used to cycle as a child to school, then college, then university - I was a beginner. 13 years later I am a commuter and I ride for leisure and when doing both of these activities: I wear lycra and normal clothes; I cycle at a leisurely pace and quickly; I take the most direct routes and I take indirect routes. I love cycling and will be doing it until I'm old and grey. Please design all roads in a cycling city for me please.

 

The vision behind this draft plan is uninspiring. How much input from cycling experts/professionals/organisations went into it? It will lead to sub standard infrastructure not fit for purpose and will not improve cycle safety.

 

LCC is spot on for emphasising 'safe and convenient junctions and high quality routes that cater for all cycling abilities'. Let's hope the final plan reflects this.

This post was edited by ilovealanpartridge at 10:17pm 21 Dec 2013.

Boris is apparently now quoted talking about "taking the testosterone out of" and "delycrafying" cycling, so victimising any problems onto one group of 'bad' cyclists. This divide and conquer 101 may well be followed by planted stories of how much safer 'good, normal' cyclists are, how in love with the new Grid they are, and anyone hit 'off the grid' was an outlaw, asking for it. Remember the tv series 'The Prisoner', where maps only showed the routes No2 wanted followed? Now what was the response of Patrick McGoohans character? Main roads are popular because they go where you want to go, the most direct way, with the least sweat. Preferable to arbitrary, roundabout routes, only designed to keep you away from traffic. Also, can the LCC tell us if their welcoming this will affect the 3rd party insurance of members hit off grid please? Thanks, Mikey

TfL should set an example to the boroughs by building high quality segregated cycle paths along the main roads that are under its control. The most direct, visible, obvious route between two locations in central London is usually along the main road, and they are wide enough for two-way motor traffic, footways and cycle paths (e.g. Euston Road has 2 bus lanes, 4 general traffic lanes, a central median, a right turn filter lane in some places and wide footways, but no provision for cycling!).

  • By paul at 10:31am 30 Dec 2013

As shown Broad Walk in Kensington Gardens has no links at either end so for cyclists who arrive by helicopter ? Why isn't the CSH from Hounslow to Hyde Park Corner shown ? This was being planned ; has it been quietly dropped ?

http://road.cc/content/news/105160-lord-foster-takes-plans-london-skycycle-135-miles-elevated-safe-cyclist-routes

Fear not, more superhighways on the way, 3 stories up above the traffic, noise and smog, over the railway high voltage lines. Roam free, well £1 a go, at first, on a well policed skyway, free of the graffiti, vandalism, mugging, fouling, litter and debris that led to the dismantling of elevated walkways between high rises in cities. No rough sleepers, suicides, wind or rain. And the lifts will always work, won't they?

 Or you could just fold your bike and take the bus!

I've been using one of the 'new' routes into the West End from Angel since the publication of this proposal to see what the deal is, and how it needs to change/improve. The first thing that struck me was that it's actually part of (or all of? - I can't find a map of the 'Network' anywhere online) London Cycle Network Route 8. This shows that this type of thing has been tried before (signs, a couple of contraflow cycle lanes, a couple of cycle-only cut-throughs), and has not been massively successful (hence the 'grid').

I've used both a road bike in lycra and a 'dutch' bike in everyday clothing, and it's mostly fine. There's certainly no reason this should be promoted as for a 'new type of cyclist' (whoever that is...)

There are certain tweaks that would make it a lot better - many of these are simple things like better signage, other things would mean building work. Some of it would be as simple as changing the priority at some junctions/side roads. The major issue is that to get onto the route at its northeasterly end involves cycing along Essex Road before you hit the back streets. I can fully understand why someone new to cycling would be put off by tackling Essex Road in its current state, and it's roads such as this that desparately need the investment in high-quality segregated infrastructure to allow any 'grid' to work properly.

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