Quietways: they aren’t working

They were envisaged as routes for cyclists who prefer to use quieter, traffic-calmed streets. And the Mayor’s vision for them was that they were direct, designed as whole routes, segregated from motor traffic where they briefly join busy roads and make use of “filtered permeability” that restricts through motor traffic etc. As part of the mix of infrastructure planned for London cyclists those ideas are to be welcomed.

It’s time, however, to admit that the first Quietways to reach public consultation and begin construction fail to fulfil these ambitions – and as such, they won’t boost cycling numbers. So, what’s gone wrong, and what does TfL urgently need to fix to improve this programme?

Current Quietways proposals fail at key hurdles: busier junctions are often not appropriately treated to separate cyclists from motor vehicle traffic in time and/or space – some of these junctions will remain hostile enough for current cyclists, they certainly won’t enable all-ages, all-abilities cycling or entice those who want quieter routes to cycle; there are also too many busier road sections that are far from “quiet”, without appropriate space for cycling measures – whether that’s protected tracks or modal filters or other methods, too often the proposed design is simply more paint and logos on the road.

Unless Quietways are radically improved, to meet the Mayor’s vision, they will not get many more people cycling – so there’s a real risk the money spent on them won't be good value. On top of that, with some of the Mayoral candidates making positive noises about Quietways over Cycle SuperHighways, there’s a risk that these schemes might end up harming cycling in London if they're prioritised over more controversial, but more effective schemes.

Today, we are calling on the London Mayor, his cycling commissioner, TfL and the boroughs involved to urgently take steps together to fix the gaps and problems in the first Quietway routes, and to improve the programme before any more go to public consultation. Because if Quietways don't meet the standards set by the Mayor and as detailed in the London Cycling Design Standards, we can't and won't support them.

Want to help us improve a Quietway in your local area? Get in touch with your local group and email Simon Munk, our Infrastructure Campaigner.

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