Wandsworth and Bow Superhighways fall short of mayoral ambitions for London cycling

London’s two newest Cycle Superhighways, 2 and 8, are being launched this week.

It's disappointing that both will stop short of their original planned destinations.

In both cases local authorities, Newham and Westminster, appear to be the reason the routes have been shortened.

Neither Superhighway takes cyclists into the city centre, terminating some distance from the West End and the City.

Since the inception of the Superhighway project, we've been calling for a complementary central London BikeGrid that would link the Superhighways and enable people to ride more confidently in the centre of town, rather than abandoning them unceremoniously at busy junctions or gyratories a mile or two from where they want go.

Facilities on the two Superhighways are mixed, with likely reductions in road danger on Cambridge Heath Road and the Embankment, and some more patchy improvements throught such as ASLs and wider bus lanes.

How much these two new Superhighways will boost cycling remains to be seen.

LCC chief executive Ashok Sinha said, “Londoners deserve high-quality cycle routes into the city centre. Terminating Superhighway 2 at Bow means the cycle-unfriendly traffic system at Stratford hasn't been addressed at all and Parliament Square remains a barrier for cyclists using Superhighway 8.

"The re-worked junction at Whitechapel Road helps to reduce road danger for all users and the wide cycle lanes along the Embankment show what can be achieved.

"Overall, though, the new Superhighways don't go far enough in terms of length or improved provision for cyclists."

The verdict: Superhighway 2

Superhighway 2 runs from Aldgate to Bow flyover, a mere 2.5 miles, instead of reaching Ilford (via the Olympic park) as planned.

In the case of Superhighway 2, the two-and-a-half mile long route will not reach the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park, stopping at a congested roundabout 500 metres short of the entrance.

This is incomprehensible because the section of road further along, four-lane Stratford High Street, has ample space to provide cycle lanes or segregated tracks.

On the plus side, along Superhighway 2 pedestrians and cyclists will benefit from a major re-working of the hazardous Cambridge Heath Road junction where three left-turn slip lanes have been removed.

Transport for London has also provided a short stretch of new cycle lane (partly on a raised pavement) near Bow Church, which helps pass congested traffic.

However, cyclists say they're disappointed at the limited scope of improvements along the truncated route and at Bow flyover in particular.
At it’s western end Superhighway 2 ends at Aldgate, rather than going into the city centre.

The verdict: Superhighway 8

Superhighway 8 is longer (4.75 miles), from Wandsworth to Westminster, but still stops at Lambeth Bridge instead of continuing to Parliament Square.
Superhighway 8 provides a much-improved 2m cycle lane from Chelsea Bridge to Lambeth Bridge, which has been welcomed.

The route, however, stops some 500m short of its original planned destination, Parliament Square, and leaves riders at the busy Lambeth Bridge roundabout where no new provision has been provided for cyclists.

Overall, Superhighway 8 is a mixed bag with some useful improvements, but also stretches where only blue surfacing, without any white road markings, is provided.

The section of Superhighway through Wandsworth roundabout still isn't complete.

Replies

I feel very sad everytime I hear of a cycling accident. I must admit that I do not use the bow roundabout as I live in Romford and prefer to go down the A13. However looking at the photos I can understand the difficulty cyclists suffer. A lot of my near misses tend to be with drivers turning left or getting too close so I make sure I am well to the front at lights etc. I am wondering if it would be worthwhile to try and get some sort of action against the myriad of drivers who stop in the cyclists safe zone at lights and also to make them deeper, then at least we all have a good chance of being seen. I also like the idea of a cyclist traffic light rather than a red light as suggested earlier. We already have cyclists lights at some busy junctions why not here.

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