Wednesday 9 April 2014

Segregation at Tavistock Place

Yesterday I went up to London for a joint seminar organised by London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets. It was great to see these two organisations working together instead of working against one another, as they both ultimately want to achieve the same goal. I plan to write about the seminar another time, but I wanted to write about my route to the seminar in this post.

About 1/3 of the route I took was along the Tavistock Place cycle track. This cycle track was very popular, with Camden Cyclists saying that 1000 cyclists per hour use it during peak times. The basic concept is also a good one, a protected track for cyclists that goes direct from East to West and vice versa.
There are more cyclists in this picture than I would normally see during a whole day in Maidstone!

You need to get a bit fatter

However, the cycle track has many problems. Firstly the width is really bad throughout the whole length of the track. However at certain junctions, the track narrows to extremely dangerous widths. It was in these places I felt the most in danger at any point while cycling in London yesterday, even on roads where I was interacting with large amounts of motor traffic.

Climbing aboard

The second issue is joining the cycle track at either end. At the eastern end of the cycle track it really goes Dutch... by having cyclists travel on the right hand side of the track. This design isn't particularly dangerous, the switchover and priorities are clearly marked, but it is just a very bad design

The western end however, is a complete shambles. I don't think I even need to explain what is wrong with it, the video shows it quite clearly. Note also the Addison Lee taxi illegally stopped in the cycle lane.

Cross your fingers!

Lastly, the junctions that rely on Give Way markings rather than traffic lights also don't feel safe. Watch the following video and ask yourself if you would feel safe or confident here:

There isn't space for motor traffic to deal with cyclists and other motor vehicles independently, which means motorists have to deal with up to 4 streams of traffic moving in different directions at the same time. I drive myself and I know I would struggle with this during busy periods. The last video shows the sort of interaction that could happen here. Contains bad language.

I also didn't spot a turning vehicle until the last second turning onto the cycle track. This design is dangerous, it needs space for motorists to wait between the road and the cycle track, so motorists can concentrate on one stream of traffic at a time

What should be done?

In the short term, 45 degree kerbs could be used to increase the usable width of the cycle track. However in the long term, traffic needs to be reduced so that the cycle track can be widened, either by using one way streets or removing through traffic completely. This cycle track is almost a victim of its own success, and is in a desperate need of an upgrade 12 years after its original construction.

1 comment:

  1. I discovered this cycle track just minutes into my first day in London while visiting in 2011. I stayed in a place near its western edge, got on a barclay's bike first thing in the morning, and quickly ended up on this, thinking I'd see a lot of this style of infrastructure in London! Unfortunately, I turned out to be wrong. Well YouTube had prepared me for that fact already actually, so I really was quite nicely surprised when I saw this. Why oh why isn't there a network of these!