Is it business-as-usual for cycling ‘improvements’ in London, away from the high-profile cycle routes that are currently being built in the capital? Last week Transport for London released plans to improve Cycle Superhighway 7 in Balham which are, on the face of it, deeply disappointing.
They’re disappointing principally because space has been found for cycling here; the proposals largely involve a 2m mandatory cycle lane, which doesn’t allow driving within it. But the space that has been found – in one location, by taking away a motor vehicle lane that is currently painted blue and turning it into a genuine cycle lane – really should offer a much greater level of comfort and safety than what is proposed.
Why does the cycle lane on the right run on the outside of a parking bay, for instance? Why is there no bus stop bypass on the left?
The asterisk by ‘mandatory cycle lane’ directs us to this footnote –
‘It is not possible to provide a segregated cycle lane at this location due to access to residential properties being required’.
Well, this is pretty silly.
Presumably this claim is being used as a convenient excuse for not doing better than some paint on the carriageway, rather than actually being made in good faith, because it is of course entirely possible to build cycleways past residential properties, safely, and while still allowing residential access. If this wasn’t the case, then the Netherlands would not have been able to build any cycle infrastructure in urban areas!
Looking at this location on Streetview, it’s clear there is no shortage of space (that’s why 2m mandatory lanes are possible) and also that there really should not be any difficulty in providing kerb-protected lanes instead, with dropped kerbs to allow vehicular access to properties.
We don’t even need to look abroad for examples of how this might work; Old Shoreham Road in Brighton and Hove is composed almost entirely of residential properties, yet somehow the council has managed to build cycling infrastructure along the length of the road, without any problems – with, yes, dropped kerbs for access to residential properties.
So this is a pretty dismal and lazy excuse from Transport for London – can’t they come up with better proposals?