A slightly unrepresentative picture of the Cycle Superhighways

A recent piece on infrastructure for cyclists at the Cycling Mobility website, charting the debate amongst cycling advocates about the utility and safety of protected cycled lanes, is illustrated with this picture of Southwark Bridge, on Superhighway 7.

The picture serves to contradict a comment that Mark Ames (of ibikelondon) makes about the Superhighways, in the article –

because there is no barrier to separate cyclists from traffic, the riding experience can still be very frightening

The Cycling Mobility author immediately notes, in brackets, that this is not strictly correct –

as the picture opposite shows, the planners have incorporated raised kerbs for at least part of the routes

This is obviously true, but the ‘part’ of the routes we are talking about are minimal. The vast majority of the Superhighways are just paint on the road, as this video of Superhighway 7 shows –

Besides Southwark Bridge, there are only two other bits of separation on the entire length of the route; some brief, superficial kerbing at the intimidatory gyratory at the A3/A203 interchange, and some short parts of the lengthy diversion onto back streets that allows cyclists to avoid the horrible Elephant & Castle roundabout.

But don’t take it from me. Transport for London actively argued against separation on the routes, on the grounds that they are not used frequently enough throughout the day (i.e. outside commuting hours) to justify it. Boris is also against separation, but for a different reason – there isn’t enough room. (See the excellent comment by David Arditti here).

When it comes to the separation on Southwark Bridge itself, as Joe Dunckley notes in the comments, far from being ‘incorporated’ by the Superhighway planners, the kerbs were there already, and weren’t constructed with cyclists in mind.

Here is a picture of Cycle Superhighway 7, just south of Southwark Bridge –

The ‘Superhighway’ plays second fiddle to short-stay parking bays, which could have been removed to make way for a proper cycle lane, separated or otherwise, but haven’t been. And deliciously, the bit of blue paint that signifies that this is a ‘Cycle Superhighway’ has been partially obliterated by some recent roadworks, which have also helpfully left a large pothole.

This is the Superhighway.

This entry was posted in Cycle Superhighways, Infrastructure, London, Transport for London and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A slightly unrepresentative picture of the Cycle Superhighways

  1. Thanks for the link. I thought the picture was a poor choice too. Interestingly, if we argue for bike provision purely on an economic basis the segregated parts of the cycle superhighways (of which there is a fair bit on CS3, but much less on CS7 and the new routes currently being constructed), TfL’s own research has found the segregated stuff is much much more popular with cyclists and therefore better value for money. See Mayor’s answers, on the Bike Show website:


    There’s a blog post in there brewing for me somewhere, just as soon as I get the time!

    • stabiliser says:

      It seemed to me as if the photograph had only been put in as an example of what the ‘debate’ amongst cycling campaigners was all about, rather than as a representative portrayal of the nature of the Superhighways (I can certainly think of other ‘representative’ locations they could have chosen…).

      Of course, I thought your comment about the general nature of the Superhighways was accurate, and it was a bit unfair of the author to pick up on it by referring to the slightly misleading photograph.

      I look forward to your post!

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