Tavistock Place - is separate space for cyclists a mistake?

It seems a bit unrealistic to ask for separate space for cyclists on relatively narrow streets like the Tavistock Place route, and the Camden cyclists video clearly shows the problems of narrow cycle lanes.  Why not make the whole street shared space with a 25mph speed limit and traffic calming measures?  Reducing the top speed of car traffic would not increase drivers' journey times significantly as most driving time is spent sitting in jams at junctions and traffic lights.

I suggest 25mph speed limit rather than 20mph because my usual cycling speed is 21mph, and there are still plenty of cyclists overtaking me!

As a cyclist in London I often need to cycle on the roads where I have the same rights as motorised traffic, and I worry that the increasing separation of cyclists into dedicated lanes encourages drivers to think that bicycles should not be on the road.


Everyone needs to read this before adding opinions on the Tavistock place cycling track




  • By ma499 at 9:49pm 2 September 2013

It's not just speed of motor traffic that is an issue but also the volume. Dutch design standards (and indeed the official London design standards) suggest suggregation based on both volume and speed of motor traffic.

For Tavistock Place to be hospitable to cycling as a mixed street would require significant reduction in through motor traffic which practically can only be achieved by closing the road for motor vehicles so that is access only and no longer used as a rat run. 

Creating space for proper cycle tracks is also possible by making the street one way for motor traffic.

The common denominator is political will to reallocate road space from motor traffic to cycling.

  • By darditti at 11:17pm 2 September 2013

There are several misunderstandings in the original post, perhaps the most interesting of which is that cyclists are not bound by speed limits, which apply only to motor traffic, so the poster would be quite entitled to cycle at 25mph in a 20mph street.

However, as the reply above has said, "Shared Space" can never be an answer on roads where motor traffic is unrestricted. Shared space only works well for cyclists and pedestrians in places where through motor-traffic has been eliminated, and only access traffic to properties in the street is allowed. This could be achieved by point closures, or opposing one-ways or no entires on the junctions on the route.

The answers are either to make it a single one-way carriageway for motor vehicles, and double the width of the cycle provision (as Camden Cyclists originally wanted), or make the whole street into access-only with full and high-quality bike permeability.

The principal of separation is valid, and should not be confused by arguments over the faults of specific compromised designs, as in this case. The original post is a classic example of a cyclist promoting what he feels he needs himself rather than understanding the environment that others need to get them cycling.

David Arditti

Co-ordinator, Brent Cyclists

This post was edited by darditti at 11:23pm 2 September 2013.

The article posted by Pokerface demolishes the 'no segregation' arguement. People who cycle at 21mph are a small minority who are unrepresentative of general utility cyclists. I was sickened by the proposal in 'London Cyclist' some months ago to remove the Cable Street cycle track in favour of just a bit of traffic calming. That track is, and remains, a true ambassador for urban cycling. Unfortunately this 'just slow it down a bit and it will be fine' mentality exists in Hackney LCC. The cycle crossing at Broadway Market should never have been removed.

? Darditti ? - Where is your authority for saying that speed limits only apply to motorised traffic? - surely all road users have to obey speed limits - eg a 20mph limit is usually in very urban areas where you would expect a lot of pedestrians who at least can usually hear motorised traffic but not a speeding cyclist.

I completely disagree with you, AndrewC.


You may prefer a 25mph street shared with motor traffic (including HGVs and large lorries), but do you really think your grandma would? Your niece? Your nephew?

What about if your child was cycling to school along Tavistock Place? Surely a segregated lane is better than asking your child to share space with dangerous, large metal vehicles that can and do kill children on our roads?

George Johnston

Replying to the Cable Street issue...  that track is not a 'true ambassador for urban cycling'.  That it can be so described is a true indictment of the shit everywhere else. 

It was an over-subscribed badly designed LCN route that was hastily resurfaced blue for politcal expediency, much to the amazement of the LCC borough group.   (The 'consultation'? We followed behind the surfacing crews at midnght several nights running before the razzmatazz opening.) 

It is too narrow for the capacity, it was built at the expense of the pavement, as THW complained at the time - and now in places too narrow for pedestrians to pass each other.  And in order to get round a line of slower moving bikes yobs dash down the pavement scattering pople trying to walk to work or get their children to school on foot. 

So why not go in the road?  Because the road is now too narrow for cyclists to overtake the backed-up rat-running traffic (west-bound) and east-bound options are limited by the oncoming one-way system.  And Mr 'get there at the speed of light' prefers dicing with pedestrians than the commuting coaches/cement mixers/delivery vans/taxis etc , which should anyway be on Commercial Rd or The Highway.

Th answer proposed is not a 'bit of traffic calming' but to remove all the traffic bar the bus route and local residents and place cyclists back in the road (2-way) and pedestrians back on the pavement.  

Anyone interested in learning more about the methodology/contributing as a towpath user can come to our 'alternative routes to towpath' workshop on Thurs 19th Sept at Arts Pavillion Mile End Park.  We wil be looking at the various methods to make streets safe and attractve for cyclists and walkers.


gerry - can you provide a link to the wheelers' proposal? 

what's the frequency of buses, here?

  • By AndrewC at 4:08pm 7 September 2013

Well its been informative.  Thanks for the link pokerface.  Obviously this really is cycling policy's hot potato and has been debated for a while - several of the responses seem to come from people with firmly entrenched views.

dardatti has completely misunderstood my point about 20 or 25mph limits.

George, as shown in the video, and previously in LCC forum, the cycle lane is not really segregated (vehicles cross it) and I would not be very happy with my child cycling on it at present.  I do encourage my children to cycle to school on normal unsegregated roads, although not as busy as tavistock place.

Is it realistic to ask for (partial) closure of the road to motor vehicles?  I'm not sure.

In my humble (I'm sure plenty of people here will tell me uninformed) opinion segregated lanes are not the be-all-and-end-all.  Yes, London would benefit from a network of high throughput segregated cycle lanes, but traffic calming and other measures are all helpful.  Even the old LCN approach of painting bikes on roads raises driver awareness and helps encourage cycling.  It was the old LCN cable street route that really got me commuting by bike in the 1990s - these days its too narrow two-way to be a really pleasant route.

This guy has it about right: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/in-which-our-hero-picks-up-cycling.html

It is an interesting comparison between the Tavistock place route and Cable street. Two examples of segregated cycle routes that have attracted so many users that they are now over capacity.   Both suffer from the confusion at junctions exacerbated by having a two way cycle track on one side of the road.

On the Tavistock place route there is more road width and so more options for improvement as hinted at in the Camden Cyclists' video.

On Cable street the biggest problem is conflict with pedestrians especially in the Watney street area. A pavement which is not wide enough for two pushchairs to pass each other without one moving into the cycle track is not acceptable.  That is why Tower Hamlets Wheelers and LCC are suggesting making the whole street into access-only for motor traffic with full and high-quality bike permeability.

I don't accept Gerry's rubbishing of the Cable Street cycle path. It's the best in London bar none, and the segregation is a a breath of fresh air. I use it regularly and have never had any issues relating to over crowding or pedestrians. Its removal will result in a reduction in cycling in Tower Hamlets - I know people who started cycling because of it. I kind of feel that the Wheelers, like Hackney LCC, have just given up on Dutch aspirations. Anyway, if they introduce traffic calming in Cable Street why not retain the path for slow cyclist like me and others fearful of traffic, and they can do their 'head down' stuff with the cars and buses?

  • By SimonS at 11:40am 24 September 2013
David Arditti and Orientandy - you ROCK! It is only because of people like you that I stay in the LCC. It stuns me that the Go Dutch and Space4Cycling principles/campaigns are ignored by the LCC and local groups when talking about a number of specific cases. I agree that Tavistock Place is imperfect (I think we all would say that), but why are we wasting time and asking for money to be spent on this when the parallel Euston Road is a much greater priority and infinitely more dangerous? The Cable Street cycle track is again imperfect, but is massively popular and wasting money removing it when Commercial Road and Aldgate gyratory are in desperate need of cycling improvements is frankly insane. There seems to be a lot of cases of cycling 'campaigners' who claim not to be anti-segregation (but who consistently obsess about segregation schemes and oppose them) speaking on behalf of groups without actually consulting the members of those groups or considering the needs of disabled or potential cyclists properly. I think it was about time that all submissions on behalf of LCC as a whole and at borough level were voted on by the members and where possible, opened up to public involvement. We need to steadfastly stick to the facts and the evidence, and FFS: get our priorities right. When debating we should focus on getting to the the truth and finding the best solutions; not on justifying our existing views come-what-may. Sorry that this comment is a bit all over the place - at least I have the humility to admit I don't get everything right though :-P !!

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