Cycle Superhighways: the brakes go on

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The brakes appear to have been applied to plans for Cycle Superhighways running into Westminster. Although Transport for London's web site still lists three routes as due for implementation in 2013 or 2014, their recent response to the Roads Task Force mentions only one of these, as due for implementation within the current mayoral term to 2016. So it is difficult to believe that the other two will ever be implemented.

What has gone wrong?

Cycle Superhighway 5 - New Cross to Victoria

It is highly unlikely that this route will open as expected in 2013, even in part. Although more detailed plans have been prepared for the section from New Cross to the Oval, the section from Vauxhall Bridge to Victoria has been delayed. This is because Westminster objected to the route along Vauxhall Bridge Road, fearing that reallocating road space from motor vehicles to cycles would result in the displacement of traffic onto other Westminster streets.

Vauxhall Bridge Road
Vauxhall Bridge Road: Westminster believes that reallocating road space from motor vehicles to cyclists would displace traffic onto local streets.

We understand that TfL is now seeking to agree an alternative route with Westminster. This is likely to be along Belgrave Road, which has the merit of being quieter than Vauxhall Bridge Road and avoiding the worst of the Victoria gyratory system. Extending the route from the Oval to Central London is still included in TfL's plans for completion by 2016, so there is some hope that this route will one day be implemented.

Cycle Superhighway 9 - Hounslow to Hyde Park

Although originally scheduled for completion in 2014, this route has been dealt a possibly fatal blow by Kensington & Chelsea's decision not to allow a segregated two-way cycle track along Kensington High Street. This decision shows the difficulty of driving a high-quality cycle route through a street that already has a number of conflicting uses as a through route, a shopping street and a heavily-used bus route.

Further difficulties have been caused by Westminster's dislike of the proposals for Alexandra Gate – as well as of blue surfaces.

This route does not appear to feature in TfL's current plans, so there appears to be little hope that it will be implemented without a radical change to the use of Kensington High Street as a through route for motor traffic.

Cycle Superhighway 11 - West Hampstead to Marylebone

This route was planned to follow the Finchley Road, where a major obstacle has been the gyratory traffic system at Swiss Cottage. The difficulty and cost of redesigning this intersection so as to be safe and attractive for cycling led TfL to consider the alternative of using the A5 (Edgware Road) instead of the A41 (Finchley Road). But here Kilburn High Road proved an obstacle because of the conflicting demands on a rather narrow road – a similar situation to Kensington High Street.

As a result, plans for this route appear not to have made much progress and it does not appear to feature in TfL's current plans,. So it is unlikely that this route will be completed as expected in 2014.

The only encouraging news is that and TfL expects to complete a feasibility study of the potential benefits and impacts of also removing the gyratory at Swiss Cottage 'during 2013-15'. But it is then likely to take several years to design and implement a replacement scheme that would be compatible with a high-quality cycle route.

Other Reasons for Delay

Many of the engineers who would otherwise be working on these routes have probably been diverted onto more recent initiatives, such as Quietways, the Central London Grid and the Cycling Crossrail. They have also needed to re-examine the design of some of certain junctions on existing Cycle Supherhighways in the light of their poor safety record.


  • By showes at 4:15am 28 October 2013

This is depressing as new york and other places push ahead London shows its self to be arse backwards when it comes to cycle faclites and provision.

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