I too have been cycling in east London for over 40 years. Traffic calming in back streets is obviously an improvement, but I'm afriad on the major roads it has got worse in recent years and largely due to Council intervention in the form of either removing legacy cycling infrastructure or implementing schemes that favour pedestrians and bus priority, but give absolutely no consideration to their impact on cyclists. Pedestrian friendly road narrowings and pinch points do not help cyclists, they are a hazard. Every day of the week I cycle across Mare Street into the recently-narrowed entrance to Westgate Street and regularly now have cars push past me, far too close for comfort, as they race to get across first to the narrow entrance. There was plenty of potential 'space for cycling' here. I wrote to the Council and suggested a cycle gate should be included in the design to avoid the very situation I've just described. My request was completely ignored. I also suggested that the service road at the adjacent 'triangle' area could have been retained in some form as a safe alternative for cyclists wishing to turn left out of Westgate street and thus avoid a potential left hook. But no 'space for cycling' was included here either; they didn't even offer pedestrian/cyclist shared space which would only have required signage and installation of a dropped curb to allow cyclist egress into Mare Street. Another example of Hackney's retrograde cycling policy was the ripping up of the cycle tracks that protected cyclists entering and exiting Eastway to/from its junction with Chapman/Wick Roads from the many buses and lorries that operate in the area. Hackney replaced them with parking spaces so what was 'space for cycling' has now become 'space for parking'. Quite unbeleivably, the LCC in Hackney opposed allowing cycling on the pavement along the one-way Victoria Park Road, which would provide the only safe, remotely direct route for eastbound cyclists to Hackney Wick when Victoria Park was closed. So, they didn't want 'space for cycling' here either. Thankfully, some of the Councillors or Officers saw some merit in the scheme and we now regularly see cyclists, including children and families, using an admittedly narrow but completely useable facility, and with minium conflict with pedestrians. But, of course, let's not forget that, according to the LCC in Hackney, all the problems for cyclists here are caused by that terrible gyratory and if only it were two-way again, cyclists could happily mix with the lorries and buses going both ways.
The hundreds of cyclists gathering on London fields on Sunday were largely the usual hipster crowd - no that is NOT mass cycling. Mass cycling involves all generations cycling every day of the week, not just a sunny Sunday in June.
The kids cycling through Leonad Circus do so because it's the least dangerous option available - they aren't going to use Old Street are they? Or indeed use the ex-gyratory Shoreditch High Street that Hackney LCC claim is now very cycleable. (I might also add that, according to one of the parents I spoke to from the nearby school, if Hackney remove the connecting contraflow cycle track on Pitfield Street (as appears likely) some of them won't be cycling at all.) It seems as if it's a mystery to Hackney LCC that so few kids cycle to school in Hackney...it's simple .....it's because it's so dangerous; the junctions and main roads are unfit for mass cycling. In order to get kids on bikes (or get their parents to allow them to get on bikes) you've got to make it safe. There's a way, it's called segregation......it's why the Netherlands is a much safer place to cycle than Hackney. QED.
You should have taken that Dutch writer, Tijs van den Boomen, to Dalston junction and asked whether he agrees with the LCC in Hackney that it's 'Perfect for cycling'. And might I also sugest that, when he commented that Leonard Circus was beautiful but it was 'perhaps too much money and effort to spend on a minor intersection', it was in the context that he felt Hackney should be spending money urgently where it's needed most - on it's main roads, where people are dying for want of decent, Dutch-style infrastructure. Leonard Circus may well be beautiful, but the millions spent on it would have been so much better spent on making the main roads and junctions in Hackney safe.
This post was edited by
5:10am 16 June 2014.