Across the world they're slowly copying the dutch and building segregated cycle lanes. From New York to Moscow and from India to London. Not surprising considering countries that build dedicated infrastructure for cyclists generally have a very high number of trips by bike and countries that mix cycling with fast moving motor traffic generally get very low model shares. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out why. The vast majority of people in London do not cycle because they don't want to cycle with traffic but would if there were dedicated cycle lanes built.
In my neighbourhood though they don't agree with this. Members of my local cycling campaign group regularly argue against cycle lanes on twitter, on blogs and on cycling forums. They also have a link on their website to negative research on cycle lanes, by John Franklin. Hence why 97% of children in Hackney do not cycle to school, compared to 53% that do in Amsterdam (89% across the Netherlands). So whilst others are finally getting on with building segregated cycle lanes, here in Hackney we're busy ripping them out. Here are a few examples.
This, along with London Fields is probably the area of Hackney that has the highest number of people cycling. From looking at a map you can see why. It links Hackney Central to Hackney Road via London fields so was always going to be the most popular route for people cycling from Hackney towards Shoreditch or Whitechapel as it is the quickest and shortest route. Even if it had no cycling infrastructure at all it would still continue to be the busiest route for people on bikes.
It used to have a segregated lane along it and google maps streetview caught images of it before it was removed
Goldsmith's Row used to be a busy rat run so was closed to motor vehicles last year leaving it open to cycles only.
Now many people will argue that this change is for the better and they'd have a very good argument. Goldsmith's Row is a marvellous route to cycle along and they've recently installed a cycle counter on it, as you can see in the picture above. However is was already a very good cycle route and had a perfectly decent enough segregated cycle track. It was already one of the best roads to cycle on in Hackney so you could argue that the money spent on this could have been better spent installing infrastructure elsewhere, or continuing the cycle track up to Broadway Market. The derelict Queen Elizabeth hospital for children that runs along the road will soon be converted into 188 characterless flats so it remains to be seen if this road will remain open for cycles only.
I've mentioned this road before. Originally built as the link road to Stratford International station it never opened as between it being built and being opened London won the bidding for the 2012 Olympics. It is now the main road through the Olympic Park but the segregated cycle lane was removed and replaced with a dual carriageway, with a shared cycle lane painted onto a new pedestrian bridge alongside.
Wick Road / Eastway
This one is the worst example. I used to use this route regularly whilst on my way to cycling in the Essex countryside. In fact I've cycled all the way from Hackney to Amsterdam on two occasions and it always amused me that on the entire 80 mile ride from Hackney to Harwich this was the only segregated cycle infrastructure I would use, until I stepped foot in the Netherlands. Again we have to use google maps street view as a time machine to see it
It had a fantastic left turn cycle lane which allowed you to continue left onto Eastway when the lights were red, and more importantly, it removed the threat of being crushed by a left turning lorry, something you see in news reports in London far too often lately.
Here it is now, with the cycle lane removed.
Before, with someone cycling on the lane
After, with someone cycling on the pavement
The cycle lane here
replaced by a ridiculously large pavement here
And the exit from the lane here
Now I'm not suggesting you just slap down cycle tracks on all the main roads in Hackney and everyone simply gets on their bike. They need careful planning to ensure they are all direct so they actually take you from A to B. They need to be wide enough to accommodate enough people who want to use them. More importantly they need to be safe, especially at junctions, and also designed to allow people to cross the road. Other infrastructure also needs to be in place where bikes and motor vehicles mix, and some of it already is in Hackney. Things like filtered permeability, one way roads for cars which allow bicycles to travel in both directions, road surfaces that use material like cobbles to slow traffic down, etc.
Until these lanes are built though the main roads in Hackney, like Mare Street, Kingsland Road and Old Street will continue to be dominated by motor traffic with most opting for the buses. You can talk about cycle training or 20mph limits but it won't make a difference. The vast majority of people simply will not cycle down a road like Old Street whilst they have to share it with buses and lorries. However they might if we look to other countries that have achieved far higher levels of people cycling than we have here in Hackney. Or engage with people that do not cycle in Hackney (the vast majority) and start to build the infrastructure that will get them onto their bikes.