Saturday, 27 September 2014

Hackney Road

Hackney Road is exactly one mile long and runs from Shoreditch to Cambridge Heath along the southern edge of Hackney. According to Hackney council it is the second busiest cycle commuting route into Central London. I have cycled along it twice a day for around ten years and I absolutely hate it. It is without a doubt the worst part of my daily cycle commute.

Before I get on with sharing some pictures of the busiest cycle route from Hackney to the City why not virtually cycle it yourself in this five minute helmet cam clip of someone cycling almost the entire stretch westbound here during tube strike day. The traffic isn't always this bad but can quite often get this way during a "normal" rush hour as was exactly the case when I cycled along this very Wednesday morning due to the closure of Shoreditch High Street.

We'll start at the Shoreditch end of Hackney Road and for those heading into Central London coming to the end of Hackney Road you have two choices; head to Bishopsgate to the left where you have a very thin cycle lane

and an ASL awaiting you. However should you need to carry on to Old Street then you'll need to cross over two lanes of traffic to a junction where there is absolutely no cycle provision at all.

so should you want to leave Hackney Road, the second busiest cycle route into Central London, and continue your journey on towards Clerkenwell Road, the busiest cycle route in London, then you'll just have to mix it with traffic at these traffic lights

if you're cycling East then private hire cabs will be illegally parked up on the TFL red route or Hackney council double yellow lines on the corner pretty much 24/7, pushing you into the middle of the road. You can report it to TFL or Hackney Council if you like, it'll make no difference as neither of them will enforce it here.

passing Columbia Road the council have gone to the trouble of installing a "think bike" sign. You can see it here, just behind the tree on the left.

It would be nice if the council did! Continuing East we then head past our first Tesco on Hackney Road, which has car parking and a very large pavement which could easily accommodate a cycle track. To cycle East past here you pretty much have to cycle directly down the centre of the lane to stay out of the busy Tesco shopping door zone. I've seen many an angry driver here over the years and had plenty of close passes

we then pass the Fellowes Court estate, where again you have to take the lane here due to parking on both sides of the road

not to worry, this is Hackney so thankfully your young children can simply take the free cycle training on offer from the council and take the lane past here

we then continue on towards the junction of Queensbridge Road where there is again no room for a cycle track

and at the Queensbridge road lights the ASL has faded away so much it may as well not be there. Certainly most drivers don't notice it anyway.

Going the other direction towards Central London the ASL has again almost faded away entirely.

This is the spot where the LTDA recorded cyclists jumping red lights last year, choosing this specific spot on the second busiest cycle route into Central London as it was just a "normal" crossroads

once past Queensbridge Road you can then thankfully turn off onto the car free Goldsmith's Row assuming you don't get a puncture first that is

For those of us that don't want to head towards London Fields or Hackney Central we have to continue East into the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and on towards Cambridge Heath where the road is clearly not wide enough to accommodate a cycle track

leaving you at rush hour to either navigate your way through small gaps, like you're playing a buzz wire game, or cycle on the other side of the road

we then pass the RE hotel where Peter McGreal was killed by a lorry whilst cycling in 2011 just after this junction was "improved"

and just a mile and a hair raising five minute cycle later we're at the Eastern end of Hackney Road, where anyone heading towards Hackney Central would have probably already turned off onto Goldsmith's Row by this point so the vast majority are going to be travelling ahead towards Victoria Park. Meaning you have to navigate into the middle of three busy lanes of traffic to access the ASL

that is assuming you can actually get into the ASL in the first place

or heading west you get this beautifully smooth road

The road has been like this for years as Tower Hamlets simply can't afford to fix this during these times of austerity.

No plans exist for cycle tracks along Hackney Road from either Hackney or Tower Hamlets council and no one seems to be asking for it, with both of the local London cycling campaign groups choosing neighbouring roads to concentrate on their "ward asks" instead of what must be the busiest cycle route in their boroughs. Indeed a search through Hackney cycling campaigns website for Hackney Road produces very few results, one of the few I can find is this piece from 2002 where they refer to the old layout of Goldsmith's Row as having an "outdated segregationist approach"

Here's to ten more years of cycling along Hackney Road daily, dodging in an out of the primary position and constantly shoulder checking. Unless I'm with my daughter in which case, like most people travelling along here, we'll be in a car or on the bus.


  1. Yes an appalling road for cyclists. I wonder what proportion of rush hour traffic here is composed of cyclists and what the cycling specific spend is?

  2. Can we please set up the 'Real London Cycling Campaign in Hackney' ? Vincent Stops and his toady acolytes in the LCC in Hackney and the Council are a real threat to cycling progress - and not just in Hackney because it's only a matter of time before their irresponsible attitudes to main road cycling provision is used by others as an excuse to follow suite and do nothing. Andy Clarke.