Tell TfL it's vital the BikeGrid is a genuinely safe and inviting network of cycle routes in central London

Cornwall Road, parallel to Waterloo Road, uses bollards to remove through motor traffic, as does Shoe Lane below. They show how inexpensive bollards can create Space for Cycling (and walking) 

Make your views known to Transport for London

It's really important that you email Transport for London's to tell them their plans for the BikeGrid are flawed, and need to be changed in line with our recommendations.

Please email Transport for London with your views at grid@tfl.gov.uk, and we urge you to make the following points:

  • The BikeGrid must be designed in a way that makes it suitable for all people who ride bicycles, not just slow or novice cyclists. 
  • Removing through motor traffic (using bollards, for example) should be a core principle of the BikeGrid, helping to ensure no-one cycles on a street with motor vehicles over 20mph or more than 2000 PCUs (passenger car units) per day. 
  • Cycle routes should be direct, with safe and convenient crossings of minor and main roads, in particular the inner ring road and the River Thames.
  • There should be a coherent network of routes, without major gaps that force people on to streets that are unpleasant or dangerous to cycling.
  • The BikeGrid should be delivered in a reasonable time, with 12 months as a realistic timetable.

A BikeGrid to our specifications would improve the public space along the grid routes, benefiting residents and businesses, while still maintaining access for deliveries and parking.

Tell your Borough to get behind the Central London Grid to change the culture for cycling in London

LCC sets three key tests for the Central London Grid

NB: The consultation is only open until Friday 14 February 2014. Please respond today. 

The time is right for the BikeGrid

The BikeGrid is excellent idea and, if done properly, could provide central London with an urgently needed network of safe, comfortable and convenient routes.

The population of central and inner London is rising, with car use falling, and cycling doubling in a decade.

Now's the perfect time to create a coherent central London network of cycle routes that's suitable for cyclists of all abilties.

We first proposed a central London BikeGrid back in 2009 to coincide with the arrival of the Cycle Hire scheme, and while TfL listened to our proposals at the time, they ultimately rejected them.

Our BikeGrid idea was revived by Mayor Boris Johnson in his March 2013 Vision for Cycling, which was written in the wake of our successful Love London, Go Dutch campaign, which pushed cycling up the transport agenda.

Now there's a danger the implementation will be done badly, which means the project will fail to provide the cycling provision London desperately needs.

What's wrong with the Mayor's BikeGrid proposal?

1. The proposal thinks cycle routes can be slow and designed only for novice cyclists 

We agree with the principle that the BikeGrid should provide safe and comfortable cycling routes on smaller streets away from the mass of motor traffic on main roads.

However, the routes must always follow streets that are direct enough to allow convenient journeys for people of all cycling abilities.

There's a major concern that the Mayor’s proposals will design routes just for slow cyclists, with the TfL's BikeGrid FAQs document saying:

"Quietway routes are slower than the main roads. They are not aimed at speedy commuter cyclists, who will almost certainly stick with the fast main roads. Instead, they are intended for people who want to avoid the main roads and want to take it more slowly and calmly. We want to attract this new type of cyclist, who wants to cycle because traffic is lighter and travelling slower, and there are fewer or no heavy goods vehicles on the roads."

These statements miss the point that, if designed properly, cycle routes on quieter streets can actually provide faster journeys than stop-start routes on busy main roads.

On a well-designed BikeGrid route, faster cyclists should find they're cycling at a more relaxed speed than they would on a main road, but because the routes give them priority, their journey times should be shorter.

Worryingly, the Mayor's proposals are likely to create routes that result in longer cycling journey times, which is a major concern because experience has shown time and time again that routes that increase journey times don't attract large numbers of cyclists.

It's vital that BikeGrid should give cycling traffic priority over other small roads, and introduce minimal delay when crossing main roads.

2. There's no guarantee of direct routes or the removal one-way streets

Under the Mayor's proposals, there’s no indication as to the quality of cycling provision that will be put in place.

Many routes are not direct, forcing cyclists to make inconvenient detours, including around existing one-way systems.

A central tenet of the Mayor's proposals should be to acknowledge the negative impact of the many one-way streets and rat-runs that make cycling in central London such a nightmare, and to make these streets two-way for cycling.

You can see an example of the mass of one-way streets in this tiny section of Westminster:

3. There's no guarantee individual routes will be safe or comfortable for cycling

Under the Mayor’s proposals, cyclists will still be exposed to high volumes of fast motor traffic, contrary to LCC’s demand (based on international standards) that protected cycle lanes should be installed where motor speeds are above 20mph and the maximum volume of motor traffic is 2000 PCUs or over per day.

(PCU stands for Passenger Car Unit, a technical term that describes how much space a vehicle occupies compared to a car: 1 car = 1 PCU; a bicycle = 0.2 PCU; motorcycle = 0.4; LGV = 1; Bus = 2; HGV = 3)

We believe the main method of treating streets should be to remove through motor traffic, using bollards, planters or other types of 'modal filters' - like the Dutch example below (thanks to As Easy As Riding a Bike).

Dutch modal filter

These allow residents to access their homes by car, including parking, and access for deliveries, but it dramatically improve the environment for cycling and walking.

At present, there's no indication that this will be the core type of intervention, and there's a worry many streets will be simply left as they are now, which is as show below (credit: Rachel Aldred), with cyclists forced to share road space with motor traffic in a hostile environment:

one-way street in Westminster

4. The proposal lacks a coherent network of cycle routes

It sounds obvious but a central London BikeGrid network must have a coherent network, which allows useful journeys across the city, without large gaps that force cyclists on to streets that are dangerous or unfriendly to cycling.

Worringly, the Mayor’s proposal proposal for the BikeGrid looks like it has been put together by nine separate transport authorities (it straddles eight boroughs and the Royal Parks), rather than forming a single planned network.

For example, the density of routes varies massively: 

  • In Westminster there are significantly fewer routes, some of which lack important links. Ealing LCC activist Martin Gorst produced the map below, which shows the Mayor's BikeGrid proposal on which he's superimposed yellow bars showing the missing links. 

Martin Gorst - Westminster BikeGrid gaps 

  • In Lambeth (see below), the proposals cover so many tiny streets that it will be impossible to deliver any suitable through-routes in a reasonable time.

 Lambeth BikeGrid routes

  • In Tower Hamlets, there's nothing (see below), not even any proposed safe crossings of the horrific ring-road.

Tower Hamlets BikeGrid routes

  • Routes through parks are an essential part of the BikeGrid and need to be open 24 hours.

We're still working on our map of what we think the final BikeGrid routes should, but the map below shows a snapshot of our progress, and gives an idea of what routes should be like.

The core principle should be to provide a coherent network of through-routes that can be delivered quickly to deliver maximum value.

LCC's BikeGrid proposal

5. Delivery of the BikeGrid project is going to be much too slow

£54.4 million has been allocated to delivering the BikeGrid, but there’s no clear spending timetable.

Transport for London says the first improvements will be delivered by late 2014, with at least half the Grid area in place by 2016.

This is much too slow: our city urgently needs a central London cycle network, and the Mayor should be adopting our low-intervention proposals - using bollards and such like to remove through motor traffic - in order to provide maximum benefit in the minimum time.

6. The BikeGrid and Superhighway projects are being conflated 

Another problem with the Mayor’s proposal is that it mixes up the central London BikeGrid project with the Cycle Superhighways project.

Our vision of the Grid is for routes that are low intervention (bollards to remove through motor traffic), which can be delivered quickly and at low cost.

The Superhighways, because they’re on main roads, require a degree of high intervention in the form of protected lanes.

Mixing the two projects is a recipe for confusion of objectives, and is likely delay delivery.

Cycle-friendly treatments for existing mass cycling streets

There are several routes within central London that already have very high cycling flows, many bus routes, and heavy motor traffic

For example, on Theobald's Road cyclists make up 64% of the traffic in the morning peak hours (see below, credit Toby Jacobs).

cyclists on Theobalds Road

Similarly, Shoreditch-Borough High Street has very high flows of cyclists in the morning peak

Despite the high cycling flows, these streets are hazardous, with high cycling casuality rates.

We’re calling for the creation of a separately funded project to deliver Space for Cycling on these major cycle flow routes, with Theobalds Road-Clerkenwell Road being used as a pilot.

We propose that through private motor traffic is removed or diverted on to other routes, creating Space for Cycling as well as buses.

Replies

The Bike Grid should also include Regent's Park Outer Circle as a traffic free route - the  response should tie in with the Traffic Free Regent's Park campaign (http://www.trafficfreeregentspark.org.uk).

Segregated cycle paths and safe junctions on the major TfL roads are also essential, although they will take longer to build and will cost more than the £54 million budget of this initial Bike Grid. London needs cycle paths along major roads in order to maximise the modal share of cycling and maximise its benefits because:

1. Major roads are straight and often the shortest, most direct route between two places

2. There are important destinations along these routes (e.g. railway termini)

3. They are the most obvious routes, which makes it easy to cycle to new places without getting lost (although cyclists who are used to the area may prefer the backstreet routes because they are quicker, more pleasant or less polluted).

4. They form links between quiet routes

5. They have a high degree of social safety because major roads are busy even at night, which means that cycling is a viable mode of transport at all times.

more ideas at:

http://www.voleospeed.co.uk/2014/02/response-to-central-london-cycle-grid.html

 http://rachelaldred.org/writing/please-respond-to-the-central-london-grid-consultation/  and

  http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/the-central-london-grid/

my response:

General notes:
The grid should be constructed to be suitable for all cyclists. This means that routes should feel safe for families with small children, and, when on quieter roads, offer commuting cyclists journey times comparable to those they will find on main roads. 
Where traffic levels are above 2,000 pcu, the grid routes should separate cyclists and other traffic. Where there are separate cycle lanes, these should be at least 2m wide. 
The grid should have the capacity to carry a 400% increase in existing cycling levels - the Mayor's target.
Waymarking should be good enough to allow cyclists unfamilar with the routes to find their way between any two points in central London. Where grid routes intersect, there should be a map of the entire grid, and also local detail. 
Where routes are not on main roads, the cycle route should have priority at junctions. Where possible, zebra crossings should be used in place of traffic lights.
Where routes are on main roads with significant demand for kerbside access, authorities should consider splitting the road into a two-way through-road, and a one-way service road that allows vehicle access, but not vehicle through traffic - but two-way cycle through traffic.
The grid should be built to allow cycle through-traffic - but investment should not stop here. It is also necessary to create safe, direct cycle access to places that are not on the grid - by making one-way streets two-way for cycling, and by creating protected space for slow cycling on busy commercial streets. 
Royal Parks:
Through-traffic should be eliminated from Regent's Park Outer Circle, and from the Hyde Park Carriage drives, to allow all users to cycle safely, and to  enjoy the parks in their intended states. 
A northbound route through green park from the mall to piccadilly is essential.
Routes on paths through the parks should be improved to a minimum of 2m in each direction.
Routes through parks should be open 24/7, and lit sufficiently for safety.
In general, the parks should take a more positive attitude to (considerate) cycling. It's as appropriate a park activity as walking and horse-riding...
The City:
A grid route should connect CS2 at Aldgate and Bank directly along Fenchurch St, without diversions. 
A grid route should connect Blackfriars and Bank along Queen Victoria St, to allow Waterloo-City commuting.
CS1 should connect directly to London Bridge.
There should be a grid route along London Wall, taking advantage of excess road capacity here.
Camden:
The grid should be built as a high-quality segregated route, at least 2m wide in each direction, on Tottenham Court Rd, Gower St, or both. 
Motor traffic other than buses and bikes should be removed from Clerkenwell Rd.
There should be safe cycle access to Camden High St.
Through-traffic should be removed from tavistock place.
Kensington and Chelsea:
The grid needs safe, protected East-West routes here - either on Kensington High St, or Holland Park Ave.
Exhibition Rd should be made access-only for motor vehicles. 
Westminster:
Westminster's grid routes need to allow two-way cycling along their lengths - routes that take different roads in each direction are confusing.
Westminster should make most of its quiet one-way streets two-way for cycling to allow for easy access to places not on the grid.
CS11 should come south to Hyde Park (also, therefore, connecting Hyde Park and Regent's Park)
Bow St/ Wellington St should be made one-way for vehilce traffic to allow for safe cycling.
There should be a protected route on Portland Place from Regent's Park to Oxford Circus to allow families access to Oxford St etc.
Westminster needs to ensure at least two, and preferably three safe, easily-followed east-west routes across the borough. Right now, there are none.
Westminster should implement 20mph limits on its grid routes, to ensure comfortable conditions for less-confident cyclists.
Islington:
Traffic other than buses and cycles should be removed from Old St.

This post was edited by baron samedi at 10:33am 14 February 2014.

Although I live in Leicester I cycle a lot in London and have cycled in Holland. The most important thing about cycle routes is safety not speed. This helps more people feel as if they can start cycling in what is potentially a fairly hostile environment. Obviously this involves separating cycles and other road users. This is the essence of what happens in towns and cities in the Netherlands. Good signage and maps are another requirement. It would help greatly if more info about London Cycle Network routes appeared on the already excellent London cycle maps.
  • By Dad at 9:51am 7 February 2014

I am concerned that the general assumption is that 20mph routes are safe and could form part of a bike grid. In my experience, they are not! Most of my cycling is through the borough of Camden and all the side routes are 20mph zones. The reality is though that they are used as rat runs and nobody polices the speed limit. It does appear that this is a very cheap way of APPEARING to implement a policy without having any affect whatsoever.

I think it is important that this is addressed.

I have three main comments (I live in Camden and cycle throughout Central London all the time)

1  It's true that unpoliced 20mph limits are a Potemkin solution and achieve nothing

2  I can't see the point of making the Regents Park Broadwalk cycleable but not the part that gets you down to Marylebone Road. We need proper through routes in both Regents Park and Hyde Park

3  The main thing is the supposed 'cycle priority' zones at traffic lights. How is a bike supposed to get to them through clogged traffic? You have to take a calculated risk as to when the lights might change and then weave dangerously through the cars, hoping to reach the 'safe' zone before the lights turn green. It's like a real life version of some playground game, with serious injury or death as the penalty

The real problem is that these convoluted routes are difficult to follow: Too many right angle turns. People do not make right angle turns if they can find a straight route. Bill Hillier's Space Syntax has made great theoretical advances in understanding how people navigate from this insight. Following signs doesn't count.

My proposal is that the Central London Bike Grid should actually be the motor vehicles grid. Slow, inconvenient, difficult to navigate. Then we leave cycles and buses to the main routes - direct, familiar, easily understood. That would be more like what happens in Holland. In the Hague for example, the main cross town cycle route isn't some back street, but the MAIN street! Cars are forced to navigate a frustrating series of confusing and indirect routes.

Is that too much to hope for? One things for certain, TfL's network isn't going to work. It just isn't.

What Matthewn5 said +1

Or do it the harder way :)

Use Desire Line Analysis (saw it on Copenhagenize site) on camera video of road traffic, excluding moving objects with number plates ( i.e. vehicles) leaving cyclists and pedestrians movements only. Then design Grid according to where they go, taking out one-ways, no entries, gyratories, where cyclists are scared off.

Main roads are there for a reason, the most direct way to get  where you want to go. And when your transport is human powered, that's the route you want !

Agree with Matthew & Mikey. Elephant and Castle seems to have been removed completely from the grid. Instead we navigate small slow streets around it. It's wide enough to cater for dedicated and segregated lanes for (i) bus, (ii) car / taxi / motorbike, (iii) cyclists. It's so wide and such a main route in and across London that if we can't get it right here then there there's no hope. The grid proposal seems to be forcing cyclists onto small back streets freeing up the wide direct and well maintained routes for cars.

  • By PeterGF at 12:50pm 9 February 2014

The cycle boxes in front of traffic lights are all very well if they are not invaded by motor vehicles - including motor bikes - and if the cyclist is in the box or is approaching it when the lights change to red. If the lights had a count-down, like those at some pedestrian crossings, we would know when and how long it is safe to approach the box beside the standing traffic.

PeterGF

  • By Munish at 11:35am 12 February 2014

Agree with all said above. 

The proposed grid must also be accompanied by a significant and sustained increase in on street parking. 

Parking in central London is difficult as it is! 

Can I suggest that you put together a template for an email that raises these issue and then ask folk to bastardise it into their own words? It'll be much more effective call to action if you do.

  • By janedent at 4:55pm 13 February 2014

Hear hear, to Ian Coyle. Every time I start to think about commenting I don't know where to begin. There's a danger people who feel like me might end up not commenting, when really we want to support LCC's proposals. Sorry to be lazy.

  • By phufbl at 11:07am 14 February 2014

I copied and pasted the above bullet points and added the following of my own

  • The BikeGrid should be adequately signposted so it is as easy to navigate a route on the BikeGrid as it would be by following main roads

 

  • Journey times along the BikeGrid should be no longer, and preferably faster, than those taken along main roads

 

  • Reducing motor traffic throughout London should be a core principle of the traffic management plan. This would reduce pollution, reduce deaths and injuries on the road, reduce noise levels and make the city a much more pleasant place to live, work and visit.

I thought that the LCC suggested point that cyclists should not be forced onto streets that are unsuitable or unpleasant to cycle on was a strange idea. Shouldn't it be that there are no roads that are unsuitable or unpleasant to cycle on?

 

  • By lmjhoney at 2:07pm 28 February 2014

Car free and access only (for cars) routes right throughout London (well the whole country) is the best solution.

Untill that is done it is clear that polliticians have no real intention to do anything about Polution, climate change and road saftey.

it is only when my 80 year old mother and my 5 year old daughter can cycle in complete saftey will we get people out of cars. untill then there is no serious attempt to do anything.

 

  • By lmjhoney at 2:10pm 28 February 2014

TFL need to have their remit to transport cyclists and walkers (and hosese and hand carts etc etc) because at the moment there is one line i their remit implying that non car users have rights too.

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