Plans for Superhighway 5 provide benefits for cycling but fall short of Dutch standards
Plans for Cycle Superhighway 5 are a step in the right direction, but fail to provide Dutch-quality cycling as the Mayor promised during the 2012 election.
Superhighway 5, from New Cross Gate to Victoria, is due to open in 2013, and plans were published on the Transport for London website during December 2012.
There's much to be criticised in the designs, but there are also strong signs that TfL is finally starting to take cycling seriously.
Some of the new route could be good for cycling, but sadly there are also some missed opportunities, including problems that could be tackled with little or no extra money.
Our local group in Lewisham is rightly disappointed CS5 has been cut short and will for now only go to New Cross Gate, not as far as Loampit Vale as originally planned.
There is a clear commitment from TfL to improve some junctions in Lewisham without superhighway branding and to perhaps develop an alternative route.
However, this depends on the collaboration of the local highway authority, the London Borough of Lewisham.
A key Love London, Go Dutch element (not to be underestimated) is good consultation with stakeholders.
So far TfL have presented the plans very well, held a useful workshop and has actually made improvements very quickly following some stakeholder feedback.
There are some very good elements: several stretches of cycle route will see motor vehicle space reallocated to 2m-wide mandatory cycle lanes and improved cycle permeability to and from the route.
Vauxhall Cross is currently one of the worst places to cycle in London. LCC would want to see the large one way system removed and a conventional streetscape put in its place.
With this being a long term project, some interim solutions are needed.
As such, we welcome the bold attempt to provide a direct route through the one-way system, reducing conflict and making cycling journeys shorter.
However, there are still too many places where the design is lacking: in particular, the badly named 'early start' facility at Vauxhall Bridge is unsatisfactory.
So are narrow cycle lanes and a reluctance to reduce the speed of motor traffic from 30mph or 20mph.
Many junctions on this route still feature outdated ‘slip road’ type designs, something one expects on a motorway but not in an urban environment, where motor vehicles are encouraged to drive fast around corners.
A Cycle Superhighway would be the perfect opportunity to return these junctions to a conventional layout and put the space gained to better use for cycling or walking.
In some places opportunities to get to and from the route have been overlooked and permeability could have easily been improved - often this would require cooperation from the local authority.
While it might be more difficult than simply sticking to the route TfL has control over, it is no less important and we urge TfL not to shy away from improving access to make the Superhighways truly beneficial to local people.
There's much improvement compared to the first Superhighways, but there are still major problems with a lack of clear space for cycling, difficult junctions and high motor vehicle speeds.
Superhighway 5 is a step in the continental direction, but it fails to provide Dutch-quality cycling as the Mayor promised during the 2012 election.