VIDEO: Lukewarm reception for first signs of Cycle Superhighways

video Jamie Lowe/LCC
Click the image to watch, click twice to watch in a bigger window

Infrastructure experts and commuter cyclists have criticised the unsegregated 1.5m-wide cycle lanes that mark the first signs of the Cycle Superhighway routes in south London.

There’s concern that the new facilities being tested in areas of Clapham and Tooting are unlikely to bring about the mayor’s stated aim of increasing cycling fourfold, because the facilities won’t significantly increase the sensation of safety.

Increasing ‘subjective safety’ in the vicinity of fast-moving traffic is seen as a pre-requisite for attracting thousands of new cyclists on to busy A-roads.

There are also doubts as to whether changes to dangerous junctions will be adequate to provide the safe, continuous routes for cyclists promised by Transport for London.

David Hembrow writes...
Dutch-based cycling infrastructure expert David Hembrow writes on his blog about the images used to promote the Cycle Superhighways.


From what I can see on the video these cycle-lanes look like a strip of painted road near the kerb. What a good idea! Why hasn't anybody thought of that before!? That'll make it much safer! Car, lorry, van, bus and taxi-drivers wouldn't dare drive, or park, on that painted strip of road. After all they always adhere strongly to other road markings such as zig-zag lines, ASLs and yellow boxes. What a waste of time and money. Segregated cycle lanes and continuity is the only way forward. When are Boris and co going to get the message?
Paul Emery

This just goes to show that despite the considerable rhetoric on cycling in London undergoing a renaissance that this country is simply way behind the curve on promoting safe cycling initiatives. I've seen a section of this so-called 'cycle super highway' in Tooting and it is quite simply an appallingly bad, cheaply designed and ultimately useless cycle lane made up of a lot of blue paint and not a lot else. It's a shame actually that TfL didn't follow the excellent model that has been put in place over the years by Camden Council in Bloomsbury where there are good quality lanes in lots of side streets. They are well used by lots of cyclists precisely because there is physical separation from road traffic and pedestrians, by way of floating kerbs set into the roadway at regular intervals. These allow faster moving cyclists to easily overtake slower riders but also completely removes the risk of idiot road vehicles driving all over the cycle lane
John B

Once more it's a clear indication of 'Backpeddling Boris' doing things on the cheap and ultimately not keeping to his promises.

The Superhighways were featured heavily by TFL at the Earl's court cycle show last autumn. I got the impression then that person responsible for implementing the scheme naively thought that motorists would magically avoid the lanes and give way to cyclists. I pointed out that laws such as the advanced stop lines and bike lanes were already abused and not enforced. They have their own agenda and did not listen!
Steve Knattress
I haven't been down there but all I saw in the video was some blue paint on the road and no visible markings to say what it meant. Is it a mandatory lane, an advisory lane or just a utility company covering their work with the wrong colour tarmac?
I have not used these new blue lanes but the video clearly shows they are ineffective. car drivers probably don't even notice they are cycle lanes! and even if local drivers get told, what does blue mean to foreigners? nothing! Of course the cars are driving in it, because the road is not wide enough for two lanes and one cycle lane. The two car lanes should be made into one lane on these roads, most lanes are too narrow for large trucks or coaches anyway. there should be a double uniterrupted line for the cycle lane. As for separate cycling lanes, I don't like them at all because overtaking slower cyclists becomes difficult, and crossing lanes to turn right when it's not a "proper" junction almost impossible. Also, cycle lanes should never be on a pavement next to pedestrians, because they just walk on it and are in the way. What should be done is: real and wallet hurting punishments should be given to careless drivers, also for near-misses as it is usually the cyclists reflexes that decide if the cyclist will live or die. more police should be on the road witnessing bad driving and actually doing something to put some fear of the law into drivers!
Lisa Oberg
It would seem to me that TfL have swapped the white brush for the big blue roller! Are the blue lanes going to have a solid white line to separate the engined from the pedalling?Blighty rider
Absolute rubbish! - go to Holland and you'll see what its likes when cycling is genuinely taken seriously. Its going to take more than a lick of paint and some buzzword branding. More segregated lanes are the only way forward if people are serious about doing this!

I can't tell you how disappointed I am in these so called superhighways. They're an embarrassment. I agree with all the above: segregation is the only way to increase safety.
Patrick Harrigan

We have similar cycle lanes in New Jersey (US) - they have proven to be completely useless and even more dangerous at intersections.

I was so pleased to see the first patch of blue cycle superhighway(along Clapham Road), only to discover it was of no use to me, a daily cycle commuter, as cars, buses etc. blocked it up when stuck in a traffic jam and all totally ignore it, and it has now become a dirty gray/blue lane from the pollution of motorised traffic!! Please get this sorted out, we need a blue safe cycle highway!! :)

I've been on that bit of superhighway - not inspiring. Blue paint does not make a safe road

Most of my friends and colleagues who have thought about taking up cycling in London consider the Superhighways a waste and won't be changing their behaviour. Boris Johnson and whoever else involved in the design should resign. surely a measure of whether something is safe is to assess whether a child/school age cyclist would be prepared, or parent of said child would be prepared to cycle on a cartain stretch of road. Adult cyclists are no more protected than child/young person cyclist and inherently there is no difference. how can you have a superhighway on the South Circular?! A lack of vision, planning, investment, design?
Monica Saunders

Until motorists are first; educated, about how to drive with cycle lanes, then prosecuted for misuse, superhighways will be no different. I have been told by numerous police officers there is nothing that can be done for vehicles that intentionally obstruct cycle lanes, either by pulling out of a side road and waiting, or pulling over and blocking them!!!!! As ever, the motorist is treated as GOD!!!!Stuart Tormey

A bit of blue paint on the ground DOES NOT make 'Cycle Superhighways'. London needs to follow Copenhagen's example of separate-level cycle lanes, at a 'half-pavement-height', raised from the road but below the pedestrian paths. This are the safest (for cyclists, cars and pedestrians) and most efficient cycle routes I have seen or used anywhere and should be the model to follow.
Marcus Willcocks

Any 'cycle highway' cannot have cars and bus wheels running over it otherwise it is not a 'cycle highway', it is a blue strip painted on a road and pointless. The questions I have for the producers of this are What is the budget? How much of the budget is used on paint? How much of the highway will be on roads? What measures will be taken to separate the cycle route from the road? Are the plans for the highway publicly available to look at?
Andrew Robertson

I'm not sure I'd want to be a cyclist trapped in a 1.5m lane. I'd want to get past slower cyclists and avoid obstructions.

Driving in a de-marked area is bad manners and perhaps there should be fines as for driving in bus lanes.

The new cycle lane on Putney Bridge has the same problem, in rush hour drivers ignore it but at quieter times drivers are more reasonable and the road is effectively down to one lane of vehicle traffic.

I ride the A24 between Clapham and Epsom and only a very small part of this route has been completed, I would guess less then 400m. For what its worth I think it will be a welcome addition as the lane is clearly marked and free of other road users. In my mind, it feels safer. Now to finish the rest of the A24.

I cycle with my children. These routes are no different from no route. Segregation or pavement paths are the only way to encourage mass cycling, along with cycling education for all motorists.

I've not been over to see the blue lanes first hand but from watching the video it seems to me that one immediate improvement would be the addition of a white line along the edge. I think drivers take more notice of white lines as they delineate a clear separation between the two lanes.

Also, as the lady interviewed says, there are very wide pavements along many of the busy roads but rather than utilise this space planners seem to want to squeeze cars and cyclists on to ever narrower roads.
Ben Leedham

I don't cycle down there very much so don't have personal experience of the new blue strips, but they look basically as though someone has just painted a bit of the road - this doesn't seem to be something you could describe as infrastructure. Is it a joke?

When are we going to get some vision in London? Stop dancing about the handbags with coloured cycle lanes and invest in segregated lanes along main roads, railway lines, the river.. use some imagination and not brightly coloured half baked ideas. Whatever alternative theory there is, segregated lanes are the only way to get the masses to feel safe on their bikes.

So far, these 'superhighways' look like a giant waste of money and political capital that will do nothing to make cyclists safer. I hope LCC are going to vocally criticise the plans and demand something better.

If the lanes are not segeregated from traffic they are worthless... cars will ride in them so will motorbikes
R Kramer

Honestly, there is no way that I will be using this so called 'superhighway'. Putting blue paint on the roads makes absolutely no difference to safety and, in the unlikely event that fours times as many cyclists use this route, we will see many more accidents and fatalities. I will stick to my slower but safer back streets route into the City from Wimbledon.

Without continuity and without physical separation from vehicle traffic, this is just a cheap "paint only" solution. Horrible.
Dan Rootham

Paying lip-service to cyclists concerns about safety and obviously dreamt up by someone who is not a cyclist!
Stephen Baron

This conclusion that there will be insufficient safety whether this be a perception of or a reality for the cyclist was forgone and self evident in the planningl. It was an obviuos result from deciding to offer no physical barrier to divide road and bike lane.
C Taylor

The superhighways seem to be designed by a non-cycling committee who have not approached cyclists at the planning stage. I use this busy A3 section on a regular basis and 99% of motorists completely ignore the green strips as well as the ASLs at junctions. Even the PSVs tend to ignore the restrictions at box junctions (particularly at Stockwell gyratory) and push cyclists into oncoming traffic by creeping forward of a red light.
Martin Ireland
British cycle paths are just a lick of paint as this going to raise London cycling to Danish/Dutch levels? No. They look dangerous.
Sean O'Conor