It being a Sunday afternoon it was fairly quiet along most of the stretch
so these photos probably did not reflect the usual conditions you would get when cycling here at peak times on a weekday
with the exception of where the carriageway was restricted due to the Superhighway construction works, where there were queues
There were also very few lorries using the route, whereas had I taken the pictures during the week I'm certain I would have captured many images of lorries
I did see a couple of people on bikes with children on this day but both were on the pavement
Since the Superhighway has been completed I've seen children here every single time I've visited at the weekend, either with adults
On their own
or young friends cycling together in groups
I have also cycled along the entire stretch of this road with my four year old sat on my bike, as have many other parents
Blackfriars underpass was terrifying a few months ago - now I let my kids cycle on it - east west #cyclesuperhighway pic.twitter.com/SSQAXToYBW— Mark Wilson (@markhwilson) May 7, 2016
None of this would have been possible along this road before the Superhighway appeared. What little cycle infrastructure did exist here was advisory, narrow and would simply vanish at various locations. It would be unthinkable to see groups including elderly people cycling along this road using the "cycle infrastructure" that did exist a year agoHow can anyone be against this enabling infrastructure? #RoseBud 💖 cycle tracks! pic.twitter.com/aoFy2MJsGS— The Ranty Highwayman (@RantyHighwayman) May 14, 2016
It amuses me when anyone makes the arguments that 20mph speed limits on main roads will increase cycling levels in any significant way. Would this road have a higher cycling rate had these 30 signs been replaced by 20 signs instead of the cycle track being built?
Conditions now exist where people do not have to cycle filter through heavy motor traffic with inches to spare
People do not have to "keep their wits about them"
A relaxing and safe cycling environment where people can safely ride side by side whilst having a conversation
Conditions have improved for pedestrians as well as with the superhighway in place there are no more narrow shared space pavements
or rubbish painted cycle lanes slicing pavements in half
Motor traffic is also now further away from the pavements leading to less traffic noise for people walking along the Embankment
and more pavement space has been created, along with new pedestrian crossings and improved public realm
The cycle track can also be used by people on mobility scooters too of course, a common sight in the Netherlands
Monowheel, mobility scooter and bike in this small section of completed East-West cycletrack last night. pic.twitter.com/Vx7EndzNqM— Alex Ingram (@nuttyxander) January 23, 2016
This new Cycle Superhighway wasn't built particulary because the authorities wanted to provide safe cycling facilities or significantly increase the share of cycling trips in the Centre of the capital; people had to fight for it. Back in 2011 Transport For London consulted on changes at Blackfriars, proposing a motorway interchange style junction comprising of multiple lanes of traffic, an increased speed limit, removing pedestrian crossings (directly outside a tube station entrance) and a few narrow advisory cycle lanes
Under these plans had you wanted to turn right approaching this junction on a bicycle from either direction then you'd have had to cross two lanes of fast moving traffic to do so. The plans were totally unacceptable for a junction with such a high casualty rate in the heart of the City. A lot of people protested, there was a mayoral election with "Love London, go Dutch" commitments from all mayoral candidates and then, to cut a long story short, the new Superhighways were built and some others upgraded
|Five years on from the Blackfriars consultation and there is no need to manoeuvre past two lanes of fast moving traffic to turn right here; anyone, no matter what their age or ability, can now navigate this junction.|
|Top: Embankment in 1952, via Rob Baker on twitter|
As for the route from Blackfriars to Tower Hill much of this did not exist until the 1960's when acres of the City were obliterated to make way for the Blackfriars underpass and the Upper Thames Street tunnels
|Picture via Alex Ingram on twitter|
Below shows Thames Street (as it was then known) in 1965, shortly before all buildings to the left were demolished to widen the street
|original 1965 photo © Copyright David Wright and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence|
London Bridge, which spans the road here was also demolished (and sold to an American where it continues to be used to this day in Arizona) before a widened bridge was constructed between 1967 and 1972 (lets hope that the plans for cycle tracks on it also becomes a reality).
The photo below is of Lower Thames Street in the 1950's at the end of Monument Street. The Old Billingsgate Market on the right survives as a well used events space but again all buildings on the left were demolished to make way for a wider road
|Original photo via A London Inheritance|
London was far from alone in doing this of course, it happened in cities all over the world. Slowly though, many are now undoing this damage and giving space back to people. The creation of the superhighway along the Embankment and Thames Street is a huge step forward in making London a more liveable city. It has transformed some of the streets of London and allowed many children, tourists and just about anyone who wants to get about by bike in Central London to do so. The London Mayor Sadiq Khan promised to continue the cycle superhighway program with a focus on segregation, trebling the length of them and promising to make London a "byword for cycling". This is alongside other measures such as pedestrianising Oxford Street, at long last. With three cyclists and two Oxford Street pedestrians killed since Sadiq became mayor lets hope he sticks to his promises and Londoners put pressure on him to do so.The worst thing to happen to LDN since blitz was the destruction of so many homes & communities to accommodate cars pic.twitter.com/aWWfyhusxu— Hackney Cyclist (@Hackneycyclist) December 14, 2015
Brilliant post on a brilliant bit of infrastructure; it turns out there may be some hope for the human race after all! ;) Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thank you! This is inspirational for those of us in cities across the world. It can be done!ReplyDelete
It's extraordinary how much safer this is. I now commute from Hampshire up to Vauxhall and in my first six months witnessed at least 15 accidents at Vauxhall Junction, some very serious and always thought you'd have to be mad cycling here. Since the SuperHighway is in place I haven't witnessed any issues - even saw a cycling proficiency class from a local primary school out there.ReplyDelete
It can be a bit precarious if pedestrians aren't paying attention, but it's good to see something has been done.
Do you know if there are any plans by TFL to review the traffic light timings, particularly at Blackfriars bridge? It's lovely not to be squashed by lorries, but very, very frustrating to be held at three separate red lights while motor traffic either sails through, or queues in traffic with a green signal (or indeed is nowhere to be seen!). Bike journey times through the junction are easily above 2 minutes, forcing bikes to break red lights or rough it on the carriageway like back in the bad old days...ReplyDelete
Thanks for info & analysis, keeping pressure/ helping Mayor Khan to deliver safer places, like Oxford Street!ReplyDelete
This is a great post. Thank you. As you've demonstrated nicely, the E-W Cycle Superhighway proves that a combination of political will and public pressure can motivate significant change in a very short time. This example gives me great hope that the Mayor's pledge to make Oxford Street traffic-free doesn't have to be just another campaign promise.ReplyDelete
Whilst I agree the East/West Cycle Route is wonderful - I refuse to call it 'super highway' which implies speed and isn;t how the Dutch see it at all - where I live in the West provision is paltry, still based on how much it might hold up traffic, has very little money spent on it and is generally too depressing for words. The latest Kingston provision being an example, the Shepherd's Bush disaster and waste of money on the Uxbridge Rd and Goldhawk Rd and the widening of pavements everywhere leaving even less room for cycling. Also - and I cycle some 100s of miles a week the length and breadth of London and the surrounding Chilterns and areas of Surrey - traffic speed is still far too high, not enough entry treatments on side roads and ludicrous cycle paths which simply disappear when the going gets tough. So I'm not too impressed I'm afraid and don;t feel there will be much proper improvement in my lifetime sadly.ReplyDelete
Re the road capacity issue...the cycleway has increased the capacity of the road as it can carry many more people than the ordinary traffic lane it replaced.ReplyDelete
Bike traffic is part of "traffic".
Excellent blog celebrating a major move forward for cycling as a transport mode in London; let's hope it is the start of an on-going process of making our capital city a place where people can choose to cycle. Any chance you could do something similar for Tavistock Place (given that the consultation is just opening today)?ReplyDelete
I don't even know how I ended up here, butReplyDelete
I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but definitely you're going to a famous blogger if you aren't already ;) Cheers!