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Visualisation of a proposed crossing over Portland Crescent near the junction with Portland Place. People are walking across the zebra crossing and someone is cycling across the parallel cycle crossing

Protected cycle lanes for Portland Place

Support the latest step forward in Westminster!

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Westminster City Council have unveiled some decent plans for protected cycle lanes on Portland Place, proposing much safer cycling on this key north-south route linking Regents Park to Regents Street. This is the latest of several consultations that suggest a brave new cycle-friendly Westminster is dawning…

Please show your support in the consultation, and read on for how significant this is for everyone who cycles – or wants to cycle – in central London. Closes 4 June.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Background

Back in 2018, Portland Place was due to get protected cycle tracks as part of Cycle Superhighway 11 – but was famously blocked by Westminster City Council, who took Transport for London to court. Then during Covid, the council chose Portland Place as one of 11 cycle routes to receive temporary cycle lanes, in paint only. When the council consulted on making them permanent, our Westminster group ran a local campaign and the results showed massive support – including from Westminster residents – to make all the ‘Covid lanes’ permanent and to upgrade them to protected tracks.

Fast forward to 2022, and after the group worked hard on a ‘Climate Safe Streets’ campaign in the run up to the local elections, a new administration took over the council. It was led by Cllr Adam Hug, who had taken our Climate Safe Streets pledge to build a network of safe, high-quality cycle routes. Since then, we’ve seen a series of plans come out for consultation for protected tracks. Cycleway 43 designs have stepped tracks on George Street, Abingdon Street’s have a wide protected northbound cycle track, and so on. And now these plans for Portland Place would turn painted lines (running perilously between parked cars and moving traffic) into permanent, protected cycle tracks. 

Please support this latest significant step in the right direction for Westminster! Let’s help the council hold its nerve when they hear from the naysayers. We also look forward to seeing spades in the ground – two years on from the change in administration, no major cycle scheme has yet been approved in the borough.

For a quick response to the Portland Place consultation, here’s our main take:

The good bits

  • Protected cycle lanes, using car parking or kerbs between cycles and general traffic, will be much safer than the current painted lanes between moving traffic and parked cars
  • A new crossing for pedestrians & cycles at Park Crescent is a big safety improvement
  • The bus stop bypass design with a zebra crossing will be safer, both for bus passengers and people cycling.

Not so good

  • The junctions along Portland Place only have advanced stop lines (ASLs) and ‘two stage right turns’. Much better treatment is needed at all of them, such as cycle gates or separate phases for cycling, to make this route inviting and accessible for less confident riders.
  • The junction with Cycleway 27 on Devonshire Street especially should be made safer for cycling.

HAVE YOUR SAY

In more detail…

Floated parking

Much of the cycle lanes will be protected by ‘floated’ parking, where car parking forms a barrier between moving motor traffic and the cycleway. We think this will be, and feel, much safer and encourage more people to cycle. Note that the plans show a ‘buffer strip’ between the parking spaces and the cycle lane. This will be level with the road, not a raised kerb, and there is a risk that drivers will park within the buffer strip – which means people could be cycling in the ‘door zone’. This will need to be enforced, and another measure like wands added if needed. 

Bus stop bypass

We’re pleased to see that protection for cycling doesn’t give up at the bus stop! This bus stop bypass has been designed to meet the highest TfL standards, with tactile paving for visually impaired bus passengers and recommended widths for the cycle track and the bus stop ‘island’. Bus stop bypasses have come under fire from the Transport Secretary recently, and we can expect to see opposition to this one. So be aware that Transport for London studies find no evidence that they are dangerous for visually impaired people. On the other hand, failing to provide separate space for cycling at bus stops would not be safe or inclusive for those who want to cycle, especially children and people with disabilities.

The Westminster group needs YOU!

This is an exciting time of changing attitudes towards active travel in Westminster, and the local group needs all hands on deck! You don’t have to live there to join in. If you cycle in or through Westminster, or wish you or your loved ones felt safe to do so, the group could use your help. You can do this in whatever way you enjoy: creating flyers – writing content for the newsletter or website – social media – organising events or meetings – marshaling bike rides – and much more.

The Westminster group meets on the first Monday of the month at 6.30pm, usually online or hybrid, and would love to welcome you! Sign up to their newsletter to find out more.

This post is reproduced from the Westminster Cycling Campaign website