Royal College Street cycle tracks in Camden use planters and rumble strips to protect cyclists from motor traffic

A £50,000 scheme to improve Royal College Street in Camden has been praised for keeping cyclists away from motor traffic.

Previously, the street had a two-way track on one side of the street, which was kerb-separated from the one-way carriageway.

Now it has been replaced by single-direction cycle tracks on each side of the street, with the one-way for motor traffic kept.

The main advantage to the new scheme is that it should reduce the number of injuries to cyclists due to motorists emerging from the side roads (for example, Pratt Street and Plender Street) and failing to look in both directions for cyclists on the track.

Camden Cyclists has praised the council for its imaginative solution:

“Congratulations to Camden Council for having the vision to move from the year 2000 scheme, which was in its time a flagship one, to the current exciting scheme.

“The lane widths conform to Dutch CROW standards, the armadillos are from Barcelona, the idea of using planters came from Vancouver and I understand that the bus stops are like some in Copenhagen.”

The track widths are increased from 1.25m in each direction to 2m each way, although the useable cycle track is narrower because of the steep kerbs and planters, which cyclists can’t cycle too close to.

The route will be significantly longer than the previous incarnation too, running all the way to Kentish Town. 

Costs have been kept low by using ‘armadillos’ and planters to separate motor traffic and bicycle lanes.

Parking bays also line one side of the street, although the chances of being ‘doored’ are lowered significantly by the fact that motorists opening their door would do it into the path of a cyclist coming directly towards them (rather than from behind).

There are two bus stops, one between College Place and Plender Street and the other south of Pratt Street. 

In both cases, the bus stops outside the cycle track so the passengers get on and off the bus on to the track. 

This arrangement has been condemned by some, but has been in use since 2000 without problems, and with a maximum of six buses per hour conflicts are likely to be few.  

It’s been noted that some cyclists prefer to move into the vehicle lane to overtake buses when they’re stop, which wasn’t possible with the kerb segregation of the previous street design.

Replies

Nice balanced report. Minor corrections:

• The old 2-way track was only <2.5m in total width, 1.25m in each direction.

• Note that the street is one-way for motors, bus stops are only on one side of the street. With the old 2-way track cycles had to cross the bus stops in both directions and yet there were no reported problems.

• The council cited reduction in injuries to pedestrians (through the traffic-calming effect of removing one vehicle lane) as well as to cyclists 

George Coulouris

Camden Cyclists

Royal College Street is a great design and I genuinely believe it can work in London. But something that surprises me is that there are no longer any shared pedestrian & cycle route signs or 'give way' signs/markings where cyclists approach the bus stops. It would be unrealistic to expect bus users to look out for cyclists when exiting the bus, and I have no doubt that the majority of cyclists will look out for bus users when approaching the bus stops, particularly at the exit door of the bus.

I am surprised that the design doesn't give any instruction to cyclists that bus users have priority at the bus stops. Does anyone know if there's a reason for this, e.g. Camden Council is waiting to see whether the design functions safely without such signage/markings?

  • By paul at 4:19pm 27 August 2013

Or, better, move the cycle lane round the back of an island bus stop.

  • By anita at 12:06pm 31 August 2013

Coming down from Kentish Town, getting onto this marvellous track requires a fair bit of zigzagging amongst motor vehicles. Have I missed something obvious, or are more improvements going to come?

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