Monday, 23 July 2012

The London Super Highways

I may be old, and could possible be called stupid by some, and being a country dweller I am only viewing the London Super Highways from photos and videos, but I am at a loss to understand how they can have the audacity to call them Cycling Super Highways.

All I see is taxis, buses and any other motorised vehicle, including the police, driving in them, parking in them and generally forcing cyclists to come out of the "Super Highway" to over take in fast moving traffic on the right or queue up behind the cars and move with them.  That's if the cyclist is lucky enough not to be squashed against some ridiculously placed railings.  Why are those railings there anyway? 

I see the "Super Highways" come to a complete stop at massively large junctions, throwing cycles out into the rat race of London traffic,  exactly where cyclists really need their own infrastructure.   I also see A.S.L. boxes that very few motorists actually notice, and no traffic light signals at cyclist's eye level. This is all not mentioning the sudden narrowing of blue line into a strip more narrow than the handle bars of a bike.

How can they possibly be Cycle Super Highways?

I will allow you to call me stupid if you want, but I would have thought that a Super Highway would be the equivalent for cyclists as a motorway is for cars.  Straight, direct, and totally separate from faster moving traffic.

As far as I can make out the so called Super Highways are really only a blue line painted on the road attempting to warn motorists that they might kill a cyclist if they aren't careful.  But don't worry too much about it because you as a motorist have the right of way at all times and we are only pretending to give a damn about cyclists.

The fact that the chosen colour is Barclay blue makes it even more of a farce.  Red should have been the colour of choice because red has always been used as a warning or as a no go area.  How on earth are motorists meant to be educated to the fact that these blue strips are actually put there for the safety of a vulnerable human being when the blue strips don't even have a solid white line on the outside to keep out motorised vehicles?

Earlier this evening I pointed out some videos showing the silly blue line that represents the "Cycling Super Highways" to a Dutch friend of mine whilst on skype with her.  I sat here watching the absolute, total, disbelief in her face as she watched the various videos.  Some of what she said I just wouldn't repeat, but needless to say she was horrified at what passes for safe cycling infrastructure in London.  As she said, she has ridden since the age of 6, which is 46 years, and there is no way in hell that she would ever cycle on a "Super Highway".

Personally I am totally disgusted at Mayor Boris Johnson for wasting money, for all the pretense of caring about cycling, for his lying about London being a safe city to cycle in.  The man is a bumbling jester.  Too arrogant to even learn or go over to the Netherlands and see for himself what a "real" cycling highway is.  With knowledge, and the will to do so, London could have set the pace for the whole of the rest of the country in bringing the UK level with other European countries and cycling infrastructure.  What a wasted opportunity for London this has been.


  1. We originally came from a small village in Wiltshire before emigrating to Oz. I only visited London once and I'm not sure I'd even feel chirpy as a pedestrian there :-)

    In Perth, WA, we have a great network of bicycle paths for the population. Obviously things can always be improved. I appreciate them most in the suburbs. Because Perth is tiny, inner city cycling is a doddle. Here (if we're lucky) the paths and lights are marked with green for cyclists. I have to admit that I've come across a few intersections with bike specific markings that have me spluttering. My favourites are on a highway that has heavy haulage vehicles and an 80km speed limit at intersections. I am supposed to ride my bike down a 2 foot lane (markings faded) that is jammed between the inner lane and the off shoot for turning left. The cars and trucks wanting to turn obviously have to cross my little lane and one of these sets of lights is on a sharp crest, so, vehicles only see a cyclist at the last minute. Needless to say, I wear bright colours if I'm heading along the Reid Hwy.

    I think the problem stems from trying to 'fit' bikes in after the road construction, rather than allowing for bikes at the planning stage.

  2. Both Australia and America already in the last couple of years or so are well over taking the UK in bike infrastructure. Whilst I can see both still have a long way to go, they do seem to me, to be doing a better job in the places that they are concentrating on than ever we are.

    It's going to take a long time in all of our countries to get it to a really high standard all over, but if, as in London, they make a mess of it in the first place, then too many years, and too much money is going to be wasted hand over fist.

    Over here with the street planning, most councils are putting a sticky plaster over a hole in a dyke instead of spending money now for a real infrastructure to reap the benefits later.

    In my own area, I can easily see where a 20mph would work costing nothing. Where shared pavement would work, costing peanuts. Where a cycle road lane would work, costing a fair amount, and then of course on our duel carriageways and roundabouts where a totally segregated cycle path would be ideal. The later of course would cost a very large amount. If I can see all that, why can't our councils?

    Our speed limits are way higher than on the continent and America, no idea about Aussie or Canada, but for a start, they could certainly lower the speed limits. But of course they simply will not put the motorist out.


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