Thursday, 26 September 2019

Queensbridge Road cycle route consultation

Queensbridge Road is roughly a mile long and runs from Hackney Road, at the very south of the borough border with Tower Hamlets, through to Dalston Lane. It lies parallel to, and less than half-a-kilometre from, the A10 and although officially a B Road it does carry a lot of motor traffic, mainly as a distributor road to the many residential roads either side of it in Haggerston and London Fields. It is a very wide road and was a four lane road not too long ago.

Queensbridge Road in 1983, via Alan Denney on flickr 

The same location on Queensbridge Road today
Which makes it an easy target to install protected cycle tracks on, which has been the plan for some time. Hackney Council are now consulting on doing just that, along a southern section of the road, between Hackney Road and the Whiston Road "quietway", which really is not very quiet at all. The Central section, from Whiston road to Q2 at Middleton Road, will follow sometime before the end of 2021 and the northern section up to Dalston Lane will then follow at some point before the end of 2022. It is a shame that the Council have not presented a plan for the full section of the road in one consultation, rather than over three years, however this section is still a welcome proposal to see. It's understandable why the council have started their plans with this section first, as it contains very few side roads and no bus services use it, so there is no need to design floating bus stops.

The changes begin at Hackney Road where there will be a few tweaks, mainly for the benefit of people on foot, with refurbished pavements and wider traffic islands. There will also be low level "early release" traffic signals for people cycling from Queensbridge Road into Hackney Road and also out of Horatio Street. Presumably as well as the refurbished pavements this junction will be resurfaced, which again will be a slight improvement for people cycling on Hackney Road itself, which is in a very poor condition

Hackney Road at the Queensbridge Road junction 
No doubt the ASLs on Hackney Road will be repainted, only to fade away again in a few years. This entire junction needs a complete overhaul, rather than a minor tweak. Let's hope one day a project to install protected cycle tracks the full length of Hackney Road manages to achieve this and that this will just be a temporary makeover.

The cycle tracks begin (or end, if you're cycling South) a short distance north of the Hackney Road junction. I'm not sure why this is, it would make more sense for them to start immediately after the pedestrian crossing and would reduce the risk of cars parking at the track entrance, especially on Sunday when the Columbia Road flower market is taking place

The council state that these will be 2m wide stepped cycle tracks, separated from the main carriageway by a kerb and from the pavement by a raised separator. The example they use in the consultation documents are from the recently installed cycle track on Nuttall Street but they also look similar to the recently constructed cycle tracks at Wick Road

I'm pleased that the plan is to make the cycle tracks 2m wide, rather than the 1.5m width that has been built at Wick Road. That really should be the minimum width for uni-directional cycle tracks, as it safely allows people to comfortably cycle side by side, which is especially important if parents are accompanying their children to school by bike.
My only concern with the design of the tracks is that it does appear from the plans that, just as on Wick Road, the narrow kerb will be the only separator between the cycle track and the roadway. Ideally there should be a wider buffer between the cycle track and the roadway, even if it is only 0.5m or so.

A narrow buffer between the cycle track and roadway in Eindhoven, the Netherlands
A diagram at the bottom left of this page states that the roadway is going to be 6.4m wide, so there is the space to narrow that further as there is really no justification for each vehicle lane to be any wider than 3m, a narrower carriageway would also ensure traffic speeds are kept lower as well.

The very wide Queensbridge Road. All car parking and the central hatching will be removed to make way for cycle tracks. There is space here for a buffer between the cycle track and roadway
Dunloe street is to be closed to motor traffic either side of Queensbridge Road, which is an excellent improvement. Both of these side roads are very busy with motor traffic using it as a short cut to avoid waiting at the traffic lights.As well as reducing conflict between turning vehicles and people cycling on the track this will also be a great improvement for people walking on Queensbridge Road, who will no longer have to give way to the constant flow of rat running traffic at these side roads. There will also be a parallel pedestrian and cycle crossing linking both halves of Dunloe Street, which is a positive addition, although the wiggly and indirect planned quietway along here is yet another waste of funds, it's quite clear the vast majority of people will simply stick to the more direct and useful Hackney Road instead; this is the East - West route that needs intervention and to become a safe cycle route!

The existing zebra crossing at Edith Street (which did used to be an actual street with terraced housing on it, but is now a walking and cycling "street" within Haggerston Park), will be rebuilt as a raised crossing. The council declare that this is unsuitable for a parallel pedestrian / cycle crossing, although I'm unsure why they have come to this conclusion. I often use it to cross from the Park into Queensbridge Road northbound if I'm cycling from Goldsmith's Row, as do many others. Once these changes are complete many people will continue to do this, especially families cycling home from Seabright Primary school or the children's centre right alongside. It would surely be better to make this a legal manoeuvre.

With the filtering of Dunloe Street the only side road remaining to be dealt with in the section under consultation is Kent Street. The plan here is for a "blended pedestrian crossing giving priority to pedestrians", the design of which looks very similar to the treatment given to the side roads at Wick Road, although unlike on Wick Road here the cycle track does thankfully remain alongside.

Side road treatment at Wick Road
As Kent Street can be reached by car via other roads, such as Thurtle Road, I do wonder why the street can't be filtered here. I'm sure the council will have considered it and have their reasons for ruling it out, in which case there surely can be no justification for not making the road one way for motor traffic but keeping it two way for people cycling. This would then reduce the side road to just one lane, instead of two lanes as the plans indicate, much further reducing the chances of a collision as people cycling would not have to worry about cars both going into and coming out of Kent Street. Ideally an angled buffer should be in place between the cycle track / pavement and roadway either side to slow traffic down as it crosses

This side road is entry only for cars but two way for bikes, limiting the amount of interactions anyone cycling here with have with motor traffic, as well as limiting the amount of motor traffic accessing the street. An angled kerb also slows down motor traffic as it turns to ross the cycleway and footway
On the opposite side of the road is the only section where the protected cycle track becomes a painted cycle lane, in order for it to go around the cycle hire stand. If the cycle hire stand cannot be moved to a different location close by then perhaps the cycle tracks could run inside the cycle hire stands instead, acting as a buffer between the roadway and turned 180 degrees?

Wardour Street in Soho where a cycle hire docking station has been used as a buffer for a contraflow cycle lane 
The scheme once again ends shortly before the traffic lights at Whiston Road where it returns to painted cycle lanes and ASLs, rather than continuing right up to the junction. My only other concerns would be the colour and surface of the cycle track, it would be great if Hackney could follow the example of Waltham Forest and use red asphalt

Waltham Forest 
and also the treatment at the estates where there are bin stores. Unfortunately on Wick Road the cycle track dips down to roadway level, it should really be the other way for a route that is only used by bin men once a week!

One of several examples on Wick Road where the cycleway undulates for bin access

Note the angles kerbs on the left of this cycle track so bins can cross the cycleway, The cycle tracks stays level 
Overall though this scheme is very much worth supporting, with a few tweaks. Please do have your say and respond to the consultation before the end of Monday 30th September.


  1. I have just used the new Queensbridge Road cycle lanes to go between London Fields and Shoreditch. The surface has been laid so poorly and unevenly that I will continue to use the much smoother and comfortable road. Thank you.

  2. I have just used the new Queensbridge Road cycle lanes to go between London Fields and Shoreditch. The surface has been laid so poorly and unevenly that I will continue to use the much smoother and comfortable road. Thank you.