Last chance to have your say on superhighway plans in the Royal Parks
Transport for London's consultation on further proposals for the East-West cycle superhighway in Hyde Park, Green Park, St James's Park and at Northumberland Avenue closes on Sunday 29th March.
We've welcomed the East-West superhighway overall as a major step forward in creating streets that are safe and inviting for cycling - but we're seriously concerned by the absence of safe space for cycling outside Buckingham Palace under the current plans. Cyclists will be expected to use the existing shared-use area – mixing with thousands of pedestrians at one of London's most popular tourist destinations. If cyclists choose to use the carriageway instead, they will have to mix with six lanes of motor traffic on the unacceptably dangerous Spur Rd gyratory. The lack of space for cycling in this area represents a critical failure for the whole East-West Cyclesuperhighway plan.
We're urging LCC supporters to write to the Royal Parks to urge them to give permission for the East-West cycle superhighway to continue, on dedicated, segregated cycle track, in front of the Queen Victoria Memorial. Otherwise there will be high risk of collision between all road users in the area of the Memorial, including the millions of tourists who visit Green Park each year.
We strongly recommend that the Royal Parks and Transport for London revisit the designs for Spur Rd gyratory and agree to Cycle Superhighway standard segregated cycle facilities for all possible movements on Spur Road in a safe, direct, attractive and coherent manner.
Some of the other key points that we'll be raising in our response to the consultation are summarised below.
We've welcomed the proposal to turn Bayswater Road back to two-way traffic. Eastbound cyclists currently have to go round two sides of the intimidating gyratory system. However, we are concerned at the lack of cycling provision on Bayswater Rd between Lancaster Terrace and Westbourne Street where cyclists would be required to overtake buses at the bus stop in heavy traffic. Those moving straight ahead or joining the cycle superhighway further along on Bayswater Rd are presented with the challenging task of merging across a very wide inside lane and into the right-hand lane. A bus stop bypass would enable cyclists to continue straight ahead and safely into the cycle track.
We welcome the introduction of segregated cycle lanes on Bayswater Road east of Westbourne Street.
At the eastbound approach to the junction of Bayswater Road with Lancaster Terrace, there is potential conflict between cyclists proceeding straight ahead and left-turning traffic. The use of an 'Early Start' junction design on Bayswater Road is unacceptable where there is a high demand for motor traffic including buses to turn left into Lancaster Terrace. On Bayswater Road and Westbourne Terrace the early start junctions are likely to be blocked with queuing motor traffic in peak hour, eliminating any safety benefit. At Westbourne Terrace the long distance between the cyclists’ stop line and the actual left turn lets fast motor traffic catch up with slow cyclists – all the motor traffic is turning left, almost all the cyclists will be going straight on.
There needs to be a protected route for cyclists using Bayswater Road, with separate signal phasing for cyclists and motor vehicles, to eliminate the risk of left turn collisions for eastbound cyclists at Lancaster Terrace and Stanhope Terrace.
We've also highlighted concerns about the width of the cycle track on Westbourne St - three metres isn't wide enough for a two way cycle track to accommodate current levels of cycling, let alone a growth in demand. The two way track must be four metres at a minimum. We're also concerned by the many unnecessary width restrictions caused by bollards on the separating island which create a real hazard blocking cyclists where they are most vulnerable to motor traffic. The bollard should be omitted as on the Stratford High Street Superhighway and many other cycle routes in London. It could be replaced by a wand without increasing the width of the island.
Connectivity with other routes is key. The current proposals do not provide access for northbound cyclists going to Sussex Gardens which is an obvious desire line leading to Marylebone, Camden and Islington. A Zoucan (Zebra-Toucan parallel crossing)should be provided at Sussex Gardens to get cyclists north. There must also be provision for cyclists to turn right at the Westbourne Crescent junction.
(Section B) At North Carriage Drive and West Carriage Drive, it's essential that southbound cyclists are protected from left-turning traffic by the signal timing on Bayswater Road: this must be guaranteed. The corner of North Carriage drive should be built out to slow drivers and prevent conflict.
At Victoria Gate northbound cyclists will share an unsignalised toucan with pedestrians. This is a cause for concern due to numbers and will lead to conflict. A Zoucan (Zebra-Toucan) would be a preferable solution.
(Section C) The current cycle tracks along West Carriage Drive are unsuitable for large volumes of cyclists or for use in both directions, so an upgrade is welcome. However, the cycle track should not reduce below 4 metres. We note that the cycle track reduces down at Serpentine Road and to 3m over the Serpentine, and past the car park south of the bridge. The design should ensure that traffic emerging from Serpentine Road and other access roads does not block the cycle track.
(Section D) We've welomed the bypass of the junction at Coalbrookdale Gate, but the junction itself is as bad as previously. Extremely high flows of East-West cyclists will use the Coalbrookdale Gate junction due to the relocation of the main flow away from Rotten Row and it is the route of the now abandoned Cycle Superhighway 9. They need more space and separate phasing at traffic lights to get across to South Carriage Drive.
(Section E) This is a very busy area with high pedestrian and cycle flows. The cycle track should not reduce below 4 metres at Prince of Wales gate, especially where there will be cycles joining and leaving the flow. The Albert Gate crossing should be a Zoucan (Zebra/Toucan) to avoid conflict. It is currently confusing whether pedestrians and cyclists crossing at Albert Gate should keep respectively to the right or left sides.
(Section F) The shared use pinch point leading out of the park and through to Hyde Park Corner may cause conflict. Connectivity is vital at this location and connecting Quietway and Central London Grid routes, such as the Quietway route linked by Park Lane, should be prioritised so that they are delivered at the same time as the East-West Cycle Superhighway. The 1.5 metre width on this link is substandard. There is enough space to double that and still maintain the same 3.1 metre width for motor traffic as there is further west on South Carriage Drive.
(Section A, Section F) The two way track on Constitution Hill is welcome. However, all other proposals in this section are a major cause for concern. None of the cycle movements to and from Constitution Hill are catered for sufficiently. Proposals for cyclists to share space with pedestrians in such a busy environment, with high flows of pedestrians and cyclists moving across many conflicting desire lines, will create a major conflict point on an otherwise high quality route while also disrupting the pedestrian amenity of a major tourist hot spot and important public space. Safe and convenient protected cycle lanes must be provided at the Spur Road gyratory for all route choices.
The junction of The Mall and Spur Road is deeply concerning. None of the cycle movements to and from Constitution Hill are catered for sufficiently. Proposals for cyclists to share space with pedestrians in such a busy environment, with high flows of pedestrians and cyclists moving across many conflicting desire lines, will create a major conflict point on an otherwise high quality route while also disrupting the pedestrian amenity of a major tourist hot spot and important public space. The opportunity to design safe and convenient protected cycle lanes on the Spur Road gyratory should not be missed.
The proposals must include protected cycle provision on all arms of the junction between The Mall, Spur Road and Constitution Hill (entering and exiting the Cycle Superhighway).
The lack of capacity for cycling due to being directed to share extremely busy pedestrian areas will force many cyclists back onto the carriageway where the facilities will be worse than at present. It is highly likely that the result will be chaos and increased risk of casualties for cyclists and pedestrians.
Increased delay from additional signalised junction and extra phases at Buckingham Gate make the current situation unacceptable even before the point of cyclists being squeezed and cut up on Link Road and both sides of Queen Victoria memorial.
Our preferred solution is to remove the gyratory, filtering Link road so it is only access for Buckingham Palace deliveries. This would greatly simplify all the junctions and provide much more clear space for pedestrian movements.
The provision for westbound cyclists on Birdcage Walk heading for Hyde Park Corner is equally worrying. Having been delayed to negotiate a cross over to the south side of the road at the Spur Road junction these cyclists are then expected to cross back, leaving the protected track to join an ASL. On green they are then mixed with on-coming motor traffic turning left. The road width on Link Road is drastically reduced at the very point where most conflicts occur.
We're also concerned by the pinch points at the crossings on Birdcage Walk where the track goes down to 2.8 metres, which is unacceptably narrow.
(Section B) The primary direct route for the E-W Cycle Superhighway should go along Birdcage Walk and Spur Road. The Mall is an important link to the Superhighway and should provide a safe cycle route from Trafalgar Square to Constitution Hill and Buckingham Gate. The Mall should not be a through motor traffic route. With six carriageway lanes there is plenty of room for a protected cycle tracks which should be provided on this already popular route. Currently this is a dangerously sub-standard route – it will put pedestrians at risk from cyclists and cyclists will get the blame for the lack of provision. Conflict with coaches and parked cars when there are events is also a cause for concern.
(Section C) The junction at Horse Guards Rd is currently a difficult junction even for motor vehicles to navigate, especially when there is a queue of traffic back from Trafalgar Square. David Cameron was famously photographed cycling the wrong way around the existing bollard. The signal timings are critical at the junction: north bound from Horse Guards there should be a very short motor vehicle phase followed by a much longer cycle phase. There should be a strong dis-incentive to use of this road for rat running. There is plenty of space for stacking.
(Section D) Horse Guards Rd is a popular route with north-south cyclists. However it is also a busy rat-run, particularly for taxis. It should be closed to through motor traffic. The method of closure could be removable for ceremonies or emergencies.
(Section E) The junction of Horse Guards Road and Birdcage Walk is difficult for everyone at present - cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. Cyclists are involved in the majority of collisions at this junction. Recent modifications have only partly solved the problem. Horse Guards Rd must be closed to through motor traffic, with this a banned turn as per the existing proposal. Great George St should also be filtered.
We've welcomed the moving of the bus and coach stop. Existing delays to all traffic on this route is from coach parking, and moving the coach parking will help to solve this. While we welcome the connectivity provided for cyclists moving between Victoria Embankment and Northumberland Avenue, where cyclists are supposed to go might not be obvious in dark weather – there must be clear markings for the cycle tracks.