Beware Tavistock Place Cycle Lane!

After worrying about vehicles turning across the Tavistock Place cycle lane infront of me without looking for the last month (since I started cycling through London) I finally came a cropper at the hands of a Motorcyclist today. He turned right into one of the many side streets without even looking and I just couldn't get out of his way. Fortunately for me I am only superficialy injured and my bike will recover but I am sure plenty of others will be at risk from similar ignorance.

The cycle lane just seems to be a complete irrelevance to some motorists, and sadly it has the effect of making some cyclists (not me anymore) feel some sort of protection. Its just plain dangerous. I'll be using the road from now on.

Stay safe everybody.


I hope that you and your bike recover quickly. May I ask at which junction the collision took place?

I strongly support LCC's Go Dutch campaign for more, high quality off-carriageway cycle tracks like those in the Netherlands. But I note that traffic law is different in the Netherlands with regard to who has priority in various situations - this is a separate issue from strict liability, which is a principle applied after the collision. For example I was amazed when I cycled around a roundabout in the Netherlands without other traffic even hinting at cutting me up!

I am interested in what road markings are in place at the location of your collision, whether the priorities are clear, or whether the priorities are unclear and the offender in a much worse collision would escape unprosecuted.

  • By paul at 5:56pm 22 March 2012

Agree that "give way when you turn" law would be the best thing (apart from default liability) that parliament could do for cyclists.

The collision happend at the junction of Tavistock Place and Gordon Square. I was travelling East along Tavistock Place. The motorcyclist, travelling west along Tavistock Place, turned right into Gordon Square and, in doing so, rode straight into my path.

The markings are clear, I've tried to link this to the map facility so people can look on streetview. The cycle lane, as part of the main thoroughfare, has priority over traffic turning off Tavistock Place into Gordon Square. It is heavily used in both directions during the morning and evening rush being a key route for commuters using Euston, St Pancras or Kings Cross.

I have used the tube for the past two days, and I miss my morning ride across the City but the prospect of having so little choice about ending up bleeding into the tarmac is a little off-putting. I plan to be back in the saddle on Monday and I hope my experience doesn't deter people for cycling, after all, the more who do the safer it should get surely. But I definately wont be using the Tavistock Place cycle lane again.

This post was edited by LuckyThusFar?! at 8:33pm 23 March 2012.

Sorry to hear about your accident, hope you get better soon. The motorcyclist must have been careless to turn without looking and giving way.

  • By ma499 at 8:47pm 9 April 2012

You are right that legally cyclists have priority on the Tavistock Place cycle lane/track and that the markings for motorists to give way are very clear. Unfortunatley British motorists are not very familiar with giving way to a cycle lane - I'm not sure a law change would really help. What would help would be giving way to a cycle lane to be much more "normal". Incidentally Dutch cyclists do not always have priority at junctions. At some places they do, at some they don't. The point is that they are also clearly marked.

I have a lovehate relationship with the Tavistock Place track. I use it daily despite considering it dangerous. It is dangerous primarily because it is too narrow for a two-way track, and also far too narrow for the volume of cyclists using it in rush hour. I see near-misses daily. And I know Bloomsbury well enough to navigate my way through the back streets without much delay. Yet I still feel romantically drawn to it as a landmark (however poor) piece of infrastructure in London.

  • By dndrpr at 8:36am 14 April 2012

Cycling through Bloombury daily is a catalogue of poor road designs. The epitome is the new cyclists contraflow junction on Percy St leading to Charlotte St. The positioning a cyclist has to take up to turn right into Charlotte St is now a deathtrap. There's no way a cyclist can avoid getting out of the way of traffic going too fast southbound along a road heavily clogged with parked vehicles and commercial loading and unloading.

The new design exacerbates an already horrendous intersection as cyclists have to give way a full 10m before turning right. What a joke. You can't even see around the junction.

Charlotte St is a disgrace  - I've been driven at - and hit - by taxi's who seem to think it's a one way street. There are no markings to indicate cyclists coming from both directions, or indeed around the traffic lights of the crossroads over Goodge St, again southbound traffic wrongly believe they have right of way. 

I would warn cyclist to be super aware if they cycle up Charlotte St or take alternative routes.

I'm a frequent user of this route and man I hate that cycle track - the number of drivers that try and turn across the cycle track along the stretch between TCR and Woburn Place is awful; I've had a few near misses along there myself. Also some cyclists along that route seem to have a real problem with overtaking into oncoming cyclists (and I wish the Hare Krishnas (and whoever it is that seems to frequently wheel metal trolleys down it) wouldn't tow their trolley down there, there just is not space for oncoming cyclists to pass them safely).

That said, at one point I lived near the junction of Tavistock Place/Marchmont Street and watched as TfL had to redesign that junction to protect (a, sadly and surprislingly large, number of) cyclists from their own stupidity. I saw no end of near misses with cyclists who couldn't be bothered to either wait at the red light or (if travelling eastbound) filter into the main carriageway and pass through the green light there. I currently frequently cycle from the north, down Marchmont St. and right onto Tavistock place and I'm still amazed by the number of near misses (or not near, just misses) I have with RLJing cyclists on this junction who go through when the Marchmont St. lights are green, or nearly hit pedestrains by going through when the pedestrian lights are green. And, in their infinite wisdom, TfL have decided to remove the traffic light on the opposite side of the junction - only leaving one in line with the ASL (when approaching from the north). This means that any cyclists that assumes that the ASL is a good place to stop (e.g. if they're unfamiliar with the junction) cannot see the lights.

And the number of times I've nearly hit pedestrians at the junction with TCR because they don't realise the cycle lane contraflows. And the merge back into the main traffic at both ends isn't always great, either - someone stops too far forward/encroaches on the cycle lane hampering the cyclist or cyclists stop right in the mouth of the lane, blocking it, rather than using the ASL. And if the lights are green merging with the moving traffic really isn't safe (especially if on the TCR junction, or turning right onto Judd St.).

There's a time and a place for such segregated cycle tracks, but a relatively small road with so many side junctions and vehicles turning in and out of them is not it. It would be far better not to have lanes such as these and spend the money saved on training cyclists and drivers on how to use the roads properly and safely.

/rant over

This post was edited by N1 Cyclist at 8:52pm 17 April 2012.

Tavistock Place is the one example I give every time of poor cycle lane design. I'm sure accidents have been repeatedly happening along this stretch ever since it was installed.

I sense and see the majority of cycle accidents on Tavistock Place happen as cyclists are going from east to west. Cars pulling out of side junctions on the north side of the road (i.e Gordon Sq side) naturally look to their right and may see nothing coming. Drivers will often cross the nearside lane if it is clear, in other words traffic coming from their right, and won't  look again until they reach the middle of the road.

Because Tavistock Place is a contra-flow cycle lane, cars don't think of looking out for cyclists travelling against the traffic on their nearside lane. So, before the driver thinks to look again to join the flow of traffic, the cyclist, travelling from east to west, is left in a heap in the middle of the road.

The cycle lane in Tavistock Place is lethal. It is a good example of why I don't think cyclists should be segregated from cars, but then this is for another debate. My advice to anyone using Tavistock Place is to use the road by sharing the road. It is far safer.




It is, I'm afraid, because of the potential for such accidents with segregated bike lanes that I don't think they provide anything like as good protection for cyclists as many people imagine. I expound my argument on the subject at greater length here.

I'm sorry about your accident, however. It sounds a really frightening experience.


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