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Cycle Super Highway mounts the pavement

November 3, 2011

Problems at Queenstown Road Roundabout

So, what’s the problem?

Pedestrians are used to occasional rogue cyclists mounting the pavement. As the number of cyclists in London rises – itself one of the most significant modal shifts away from reliance on the private car for short journeys  — so there are more and more incidents where pedestrians experience  having the living daylights frightened out of them by cyclists riding on the pavement. weaving in and out of those on foot, and coming up unseen from behind.  The reasons for this are primarily because London’s roads remain so dangerous for cyclists, compared to, say, Copenhagen or Amsterdam. Or even our Oxford or Cambridge, the country’s most famous cycling cities. Pots of paints indicating socalled cycle lanes remain both local councils’ and Transport for London’s favourite device.  These are preferred for cost reasons.  What the authorities are not doing is introducing lower speed limits. It is high motor vehicle speeds on London’s roads that is the single biggest factor frightening people off cycling, and pushing those who do cycle on to pavements occasionally. The EU Parliament has just recommended that all residential roads in Europe should be subject to a 30 kph (18.7mph) speed limit. With our government in Britain, and most local councils, still refusing to adopt an urban speed limit in which all road users, including pedestrians, can feel safe, we will continue to see cyclists avoiding the roadway and instead taking refuge on our pavements.

 But that is a far cry from Transport for London (TfL) deliberately planting a bit of their new Cycle Super Highway, CS8, on to the pavement! Yet that is exactly what has happened in Battersea. Take a look at the picture.

Here is the roundabout on Queenstown Road at the southeastern corner of Battersea Park. As you can see, the socalled super highway (what the Wandsworth Living Streets Secretary, Robert Molteno, has called ‘another pot of paint job’) actually mounts the pavement.

 Trying to get Transport for London to rectify the situation

WLS supporter, Susan Hoffman, has been waging a battle with TfL   She points out that Wandsworth Living Streets were not consulted. And while TfL did consult Wandsworth Cyclists (WCC), it ignored the  concerns WCC expressed about possible pedestrian-cyclist conflict in the two shared spaces.

  •  She asks further why the ‘shared space’ as between pedestrians and cyclists is not clearly marked on the pavement as such.
  •  And raises the question: what is the legal status of pedestrians on this ‘shared space’. 
  •  And she points out that the mysterious white forward arrow (which you can see in the picture) is not a sign recognised in the Highway Code. And presumably it doesn’t mean that pedestrians on that bit of the pavement can only go ahead, rather than turning round and going in a different direction!

 In her persistent campaign to get TfL to correct this obvious and dangerous design mistake, she has also been in touch with London Assembly member for Wandsworth and Merton, Richard Tracey, who has been very helpful in making sure that TfL takes the situation seriously. TfL has now agreed to ask the Metropolitan Police’s Cycle Task Force to visit the site. But that leaves open the obvious question: this unit has no powers or funding to correct TfL’s original mistake. It is obvious that TfL did not want the cycle super highway on the roadway itself since this would narrow the space for motorised vehicles and force them to slow down for a moment as they navigate Queens Circle.

There is a solution

TfL has simply to recognise that it needs to rectify its original design failure. And while it is doing so, it should take a fresh look at another short section of shared use as between cyclists and pedestrians on the CS8 between Old York Road and Wandsworth Bridge roundabout.  Of course, the more fundamental approach, and one which would save cyclists being killed, injured or experiencing frightening ‘near misses’ would be to change the speed  limit on all Cycle Super Highway roads from 30mph to 20mph.

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