Coned off

Heading back from an excellent Street Talks at Look Mum No Hands on Tuesday evening, I found myself cycling south on Blackfriars Bridge, on my way to Waterloo. This is the location of a disastrously poor cycle lane, the lethality of which you can see in the video below from rogerhotuk

The main problem is that it is far too narrow, especially with no escape to the left as a consequence of the hoardings, and, secondarily, that vehicles – especially longer ones like the bus in the video – will inevitably track across it at the kinks to the left along its length. Cycling in this lane is dangerous – full stop.

On my visit on Tuesday, however, it looked as if some action had been taken. Minimal action – but action nonetheless. Some cones have now been distributed outside of the cycle lane, offering some measure of protection to cyclists choosing to use it.

You can, however, see direct evidence of the ‘corner cutting’ issue I mentioned above – one of the cones on the apex has been knocked over.

An indication of just how close vehicle are passing here.

I wobbled around this cone, and progressed to the point where the hoardings end. This was where the cycle lane simply ceased, as you can see in the video; it has now been ‘extended’, but only with paint, which sadly doesn’t do anything to address the root problem. In any case, there is now a difficulty.

It is at this point that I realise that the cones ahead are in my way.

They’ve been placed in the cycle lane, at precisely one of the most dangerous points. Anyone using the lane has to weave their way through them, just as vehicles are, again, cutting the corner, like the taxi you can see whizzing past in the above photo.

So what’s the thinking here?

On reflection, the only logical explanation I can come up with for the presence, and distribution, of these cones is not protect the cycle lane at all, as I had first guessed.

It is to cone it off.

Doubtless someone has informed the authorities that the cycle lane is rather dangerous. The responsible parties have leapt into action, and used the standard technique to prevent the use of a lane – coning it off.

Cones. That’s how you stop motor vehicles from using a lane, isn’t it? They can’t get inside them.

It looks, to me at least, like precisely the same method has been employed to prevent the use of this cycle lane; unfortunately, it has been employed without any consideration of the fact that bicycles can, quite easily, get inside cones, and use the lane regardless.

So we have one of two scenarios playing out here.

    • Cones have been deliberately put into this cycle lane in the most dangerous place.
    • Alternatively, and more probably, whoever is responsible has attempted to stop the use of the lane, but in a thoughtless, motor-centric manner, that has done nothing to stop bicycles using it, and created danger in so doing.

Take your pick.

(On a more positive note, things can be done properly, as this example on Royal College Street demonstrates –


Well done Camden Council, and Camden Cyclists)

This entry was posted in Infrastructure, London, Road safety, Transport for London, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Coned off

  1. Kim says:

    When I first saw the picture of the cones I though it was for pedestrians not cyclists…

  2. Dr C. says:

    There is a third possibility (albeit not too likely). The cones could have been put there as a minimal intervention to protect cyclists, with the cones at the end originally not blocking the exit and having been hit by a motorist and re-positioned by them or someone else who didn’t realise the original purpose of the cone positioning (or just doesn’t give a stuff about cyclists)…

    • I think the positioning is a little too perfect for it to be the consequence of some ‘accidental’ rearrangement. The cones line up directly with the end of the hoardings, where the cycle lane ceases to be quite so dangerous. If a cone – presumably the final one – had been knocked over by a vehicle, it’s certainly a very coincidental (and odd) place to reposition it.

  3. Michael says:

    Based on the principle that cock-up is always more likely than conspiricy, I’d agree with Dr C. Seems likely to me that a succession of cars clipping the final cone have moved it across a couple of feet. The obvious solution is for a passing cyclist to move it back across to the other side of the cycle lane.
    Not ideal, but at least the cone ‘solution’ is better than the original, really quite scary, layout.

  4. When I first seen them the other night there were some pedestrians behind them, so I couldn’t enter initially, then when I did and got to the end and had to make a dangerous manoeuvre into the flow to traffic (which luckily at that moment was none) due to the cones blocking the end of the cycle lane.

    I see cars cutting corners all the time. There’s a particularly bad one on my way home from work outside Forrest Hill station where drivers just overtake far too close to me cycling round the corner, rather than waiting until after the corner to overtake.

    The only way to make it safe is to put a physical barrier that is stronger and less movable than a plastic cone.

  5. What we all need to do now is start using the lane and knocking the cones further to the right or go for a ride over there in the early hours of the morning and re-position them all 🙂 I reckon we could make a decent sized cycle lane then 😉 I’m now having flashbacks to the traffic cone scene in Toy Story 2…….:-D

    My first thoughts tho would have been similar to Kim but it could also be as Dr C has suggested.

  6. That is quite frightening. Cones in themselves aren’t necessarily a problem, though clearly this is one of those things that could easily be “lost in translation”.

    “Separating cyclists with cones” sounds like the same thing in any language, but the expression of this idea in the Netherlands is completely different.

  7. James says:

    I wouldn’t read any design into any cones or signs on this junction – I think the network rail contractors just put things out at random. I came round this junction on Tuesday morning, and there were 2 signs randomly placed in the cycle lane right after the blind bend. So you had to brake or swerve.

    I’ve reported most of the problems I’ve seen to Tfl. They tend to be there for 1-2 days, then go – but the fact they keep changing only makes then more dangerous because they’re unpredictable. Tfl seem to be taking the reports fairly seriously, but they don’t have any direct control over the contractors there.

  8. I cycle through this junction most days but luckily haven’t encountered the cones. I try to take the lane through this junction but its quite difficult to integrate with the traffic. You can see my head constantly checking to the right at the start of the clip as the taxi driver was trying to get past.

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