Tuesday 6 August 2013

Bow roundabout Cycle Superhighway 2 update

Yesterday I went for a bike ride in the sun down the canal, past the Olympic Park and the old Big Breakfast house to Bow roundabout. Up until two years ago if you wanted to continue after Bow towards Three Mills or Limehouse then you had to cross 4 lanes of traffic, with no crossings to help you along. Now you have this nice floating towpath along the canal under the roundabout, which is handy as I took shelter on it when the sun vanished and the heavens opened. 

Cycle Super Highway 2 was opened in July 2011 and was originally due to go from the City to Ilford, however Newham council blocked it through their borough so it ended at the Bow roundabout instead. Since it opened two years ago three people have died cycling on it and two of those deaths occurred at the Bow roundabout itself; Brian Dorling on the eastbound approach, and Svitlana Tereschenko on the westbound approach. These two deaths forced TFL to make changes to the cycle lane layout at Bow.

The eastbound approach was adjusted before the Olympics last year, as covered in some depth by Diamond Geezer here and on the 'as easy as riding a bike' blog here. A very short segregated lane was built so people could reach the ASL and then the junction went from having three traffic lights to a total of eight traffic lights, including an annoying phase where the lights are red for people on bikes approaching the ASL whilst they are green for motor vehicles. Annoying if you're cycling this way but TFL clearly hope this will guarantee no more deaths involving left turning lorries here, as technically either a bike or a lorry has to jump the red lights or a lorry has to illegally enter the ASL for them to meet.

Yesterday the eastbound segregated lane around the roundabout was coned off, although I couldn't see any reason why, it seemed fine to me.

They haven't yet started building the extension of CS2 from Bow to Stratford, although it is due to open later this year. The road is very wide here and unpleasant to cycle along, but thankfully one of those traffic lanes will be removed to make way for a two metre wide segregated cycle lane.

TFL themselves say about 60% of people cycling along here use the flyover and that figure seemed to be about right as I stood there watching everyone yesterday afternoon. To access the flyover you need to cross two lanes of fast moving traffic and then do the same as you exit the flyover but it is quicker to do this, there are no traffic lights up there and no danger from any left turning lorries.

They didn't get round to adjusting the westbound approach before the Olympics so stuck up this "Look out for cyclists ahead" sign and hoped that would do for now. However they are now busy rebuilding the eastbound approach and you can see a map of the proposals here

A shared cycle and pedestrian walkway has been created whilst the work is carried out

here is where the cycle lane will leave the road (hopefully they will move the lamppost)

here is where the bus stop will be

along with the crossing so pedestrians can access the bus stop, again they'll hopefully move the lamppost here too

the lane will then run along here (at pavement level still segregated from traffic) where it will join the Bow roundabout using the same traffic light system on the opposite approach, again I'm hoping this lamppost is moved before then

The lane looked a little on the narrow side to me but I'll reserve judgement until it opens and I actually get to ride along it.

It occurred to me that whist I've used CS3 along Cable Street many times I have never actually used any part of CS2 so thought I would ride along it towards Mile End to see what it is like

I was dismayed to see this cycle lane closed sign

only to find out it wasn't closed at all. The cycle lane is on the pavement here and is nice and smooth but this is the only part where it is segregated from traffic

 after this it is painted onto the road all the way to Aldgate where motor vehicles can legally travel in it. 

just look at the size of the pavement outside Bow Road station - the pavement on the opposite side of the road is also very wide showing just how much room there is on Bow Road. Indeed it used to have trams running along it, as well as all the other traffic.

They've built a wide segregated lane on CS3 on the pavement so can't see why they couldn't do that here. Here's a couple of pictures I took whilst cycling in Amsterdam a couple of months ago using cycle lanes built on much narrower pavements and roads

just send someone from TFL over to the Netherlands to see how it's done and copy them. It just works.

Anyway back in East London the cycle lane was flooded a bit further down, the guy cycling in the picture was using it but decided to use the pavement for this stretch, luckily he could just about manage to find room

I was quite frankly not enjoying this ride anymore so took the pedestrian crossing to the opposite side and continued back to Bow. Here it is even worse, the blue paint has almost completely faded away

It was deeply unpleasant to cycle along this stretch, cars were travelling pretty fast and very close to the cycle lane. It also didn't help that cars were parked illegally in it

Strange that whist I was riding along CS2 yesterday assembly member John Biggs called for the entire route to be segregated from Aldgate to Bow and I agree with every word he said. CS2 from Bow to Aldgate is simply not fit for purpose and needs radically upgrading before someone else dies riding along here.


  1. Disappointing to see the square edged kerbs being used. Compare to the Dutch cycle path shown above - we really shouldn't be making these mistakes with our infrastructure when someone else has already worked out the best solutions.

    1. Especially when there is a short section of CS2 (westbound, just after the flyover) done rather well… I'd put the rather longer stretch of CS on the Lea flyover from Canning Town towards Docklands in the same "good" category.

      It seems like amateurs having a go at road design, resulting in absurdities like the recent changes to the Brick Lane end of Bethnal Green Road.

  2. Its 2 lanes to cross Eastbound on the Bow High Street approach, but at busy times that is 2 lanes blocked back to the start of the ramp anyway and as your picture shows, there is a) more motor traffic coming up the slip road than using the flyover and b) there are traffic signals that interrupt that traffic flow and provide a way to cross the slip road.

    Under the flyover one of the pictures shows the mess of counter-flow traffic arrangements on the East side of the flyover, which don't seem to figure in any measures for the cycle lanes.

    Quite frankly with one of the Westbound lanes on the flyover permanently closed off and so little of the motor traffic going over the top (most of it is joining & leaving the A102) there is no problem in closing off the lanes at the outside edges of the flyover and creating routes for pedestrian and cycle traffic right across the top. There is no reason that cyclists and pedestrians actually need to be on the roundabout very few would want to join the A102 with its 50mph speed limit (and the fact that it becomes the A102(M) to the North). Access to areas to the North and South on each side of the A 102 is provided through local roads that connect to the East and West of the flyover, and a North-South crossing is provided along the River Lea Navigation towpath running directly beneath the flyover as you show in the picture.

    The revisit of the work by TfL is an expensive reworking of a scheme which remains inherently unsafe because it relies heavily on the assumption that drivers and cyclists will comply with road markings and traffic signals, set up in a complex arrangement of timings and alignmants that still cannot completely eliminate the fact that a truck and a cyclke can be on the same piece of tarmac at the same time in a conflicting movement.

    Since all the pedestrian and cycle traffic is going East-West the answer is to put the CS2 route straight over the top, and provide means to cross the slip roads with a light controlled crossing or more costly bridge spans and ramps taken off the flyover where the height clearance is appropriate to cross over the slip roads..