Removing one-way systems and providing protected lanes and safe junctions is the way to make main roads safe
- By London Cycling Campaign on at 4:27pm 15 April 2014
- Posted in: News and blogs
- Tagged with: one-way, elephant and castle, vauxhall
London is littered with one-way systems (sometimes called 'gyratories') of all sizes and shapes, which are universally dangerous and uncomfortable to navigate by bicycle.
We're asking our supporters to email their local election candidates now calling for safe Space for Cycling.
The worst one-way systems are monstrosities such as Elephant and Castle, Vauxhall Cross (pictured above and below), Swiss Cottage and Hammersmith Broadway, which have heavy collision rates, are ugly and unwelcoming, deterring people from cycling (and often walking too).
However, we shouldn't forget that there are also hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller one-way systems too, which are often also deeply unpleasant to cycle around.
The current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, says he wants to see the end of them too, saying earlier this year:
“These road junctions are relics of the 1960s, which blight and menace whole neighbourhoods. Like so much from that era, they’re atrociously designed and wasteful of space.”
We at the London Cycling Campaign (including our network of 33 volunteer borough groups) have lobbied to get rid of one-way systems for decades.
Over the years, many have been removed or partially removed - including one-way systems around Shoreditch, Mansionhouse, Kender Street, and elsewhere.
Of course, this is only the first towards making streets cycle (and people) friendly, but it's an important one...
And in February this year, we had a major success when the Mayor agreed to remove 33 of the worst of these "sixties relics" from all over Greater London.
It's not surprising, then, that removing one-way systems features prominently in our 624 ward-specific cycling improvements - what we're asking local election candidates to support as part of our our Space for Cycling campaign.
In the Islington ward of Highbury East, which includes the large and intimidating Highbury Corner roundabout (see below), local people have called for ‘separate space for cycling’ at this junction after repeated calls for the one-way system to be removed.
Islington Council and Transport for London have produced plans and consultations and studies but, so far, nothing has changed - lobbying by local people can change this, though.
It's sad that the nearest local people can safely get to the lovely trees in the centre of this particular roundabout (see below) is looking through the window of a bus or from across a busy street.
Thousands of pedestrians crowd on to nearby pavements, cyclists have to negotiate three lanes of traffic to travel a couple of hundred metres, while pollution and traffic noise dominate the space.
Instead of providing access for residents and local workers to some of the precious green space in the borough, the authorities allow a ring of motor traffic to cordon it off from everyone.
Business-wise, the street design deters people from spending time in the area and using local shops and cafes.
Even the busy Tube station is effectively separated from many of the people who want to use it by poorly designed and traffic-filled streets.
Getting rid of one-way systems, as the Mayor has promised, is not just a task for Transport for London, even though it controls many of these busy junctions.
Local councils must be involved because they control many one-way streets, and the adjoining streets are under their jurisdiction.
For example, this one-way system in Brixton encourages people to drive too fast, and forms an initimidating barrier to cycling.
Like many local one-way systems of its type, it doesn't look that unfriendly, being made up of smaller residential streets, but it's actually one of the most unpleasant streets to cycle along in the area.
By sending a message to your local election candidates in your neighbourhood telling them to provide Space for Cycling, and to lobby for the removal of one-ways, you make it clear you want to live in a city designed for local people, pedestrians and cyclists and not fast motor traffic.
Removing one-way streets is, of course, only part of the solution: streets that have heavy volumes of motor traffic (read our policy here) needs protected lanes for cycling or they need to have the volume of traffic reduced.
Please email your local election candidates now calling for safe Space for Cycilng in your area.