Saturday, 26 October 2019

Six years of the Goldsmith's Row cycle counter

August 2019 marked six years since a cycle counter was added onto the newly reconstructed Goldsmith's Row and so it is time for my annual update on the numbers of people cycling along this bicycle only road
As I reported last year the number of people cycling along Goldsmith's Row in the 2017-2018 year was a record low, along with some record low days, weeks and months, so I was keen to see if there had been any increase or if cycling along this road has seen a long term decline. 2018-2019 started well in September, with over 108k people cycling along here; that was an increase of over 8% on September 2017 but still lower than the other four Septembers on record - 16,000 more people cycled along here in September 2014 than they did in September 2018. October saw 113k cycle trips, a big increase again on last year and the highest October of all time. November saw a slight decrease on last year but December was up over 14%, although still the second lowest December recorded.

2019 started well with over 88k cycle trips making it the highest January of all time and February saw a huge increase of over 20% on last year. The "Beast from the East" broke the cycle counter for two months in 2018 so we can't do year-on-year comparisons for March or April. May saw a slight increase on last year but June 2019 was down over 8% on June 2018 and the second lowest June of all time. July 2019 saw record breaking temperatures which tends to bring more people out on their bikes; over 128k people cycled along Goldsmith's Row in this month, the second highest month of all time. 108k cycle trips in August was also a slight increase on last year 

The July heatwave meant that two days from this year made their way into the Top Ten; July 23rd is at No. 7 and July 24th is at No. 9 with temperatures of over 30c on both days. 

Ten highest daily totals:

03/06/14     6624
09/07/15     6380
20/08/13     5825
19/07/16     5817
21/08/13     5785
17/09/13     5778
23/07/19     5776
13/09/16     5706
24/07/19     5668
06/08/15     5643

And Christmas Day last year makes it into No. 9 on the top ten lowest days. The 13 lowest days all fall on either Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Years Day. 

Ten lowest daily totals:

26/12/17     251
01/01/14     256
26/12/14     292
25/12/15     300
01/01/17     318
26/12/13     321
26/12/16     349
26/12/15     359
25/12/18     368
25/12/16     369

Total for the year is a few thousand short of 1.2 million. Technically a big increase on last year but the counter did not work for two months last year so a year-on-year comparison isn't really possible 

The total number of bicycle trips along Goldsmith's Row for the six year period between 1st September 2013 and 31st August 2019 is 7,059,327 (although two different periods of outages will mean the total will actually be slightly higher than that).

In Summary; more people cycled along Goldsmith's Row this year than they did last year but fewer people are cycling along here in 2017, 2018 and 2019 than they were in 2013, 2014 and 2015. I do wonder if people have switched to other routes since the construction of protected cycle infrastructure under Boris Johnson. I used to cycle along Hackney Road everyday from 2013-2016 but have now switched to CS2 instead, which has seen a 54% increase in cycling according to TfL. It's also interesting to note that even though Goldsmith's Row has been upgraded to a "quietway" and linked with Shoreditch via the Columbia Road quietway this has seen no increase in people using it by bike, quite the opposite. Surely the time has come to finally construct protected cycle tracks on Hackney Road. 

Thursday, 17 October 2019

The stonewashing of Worship Street

Worship Street, despite being less than half-a-kilometre long, runs through the boroughs of Islington, Hackney and the City of London. It has been in existence for centuries and is clearly visible in the same location on a 500 year old Tudor map of London, although surrounded by fields, rather than offices as it is today.  As Worship street crosses over from Islington into Hackney it dissects Cycle Superhighway 1 in two with people cycling on CS1 having to give way to motor traffic on Worship Street in order to cycle into the City

Worship Street, where it crosses Paul Street & Wilson Street (Cycle Superhighway 1)
As is clear from the photo above it can be a busy street at times making it difficult for people cycling on CS1 to cross, as many motor vehicles use it as a main route between the Ring Road at Great Eastern Street and City Road, rather than continue on the ring road via the Old Street Roundabout

Worship Street, highlighted in green

You'll note that all traffic using this route has to technically "turn" either right or left and use Curtain road. Whilst Worship Street runs east to west between City Road and Shoreditch High Street (as it has done for over 500 years), motor vehicles have been prohibited from using this direct route for over 25 years. This is due to the IRA Bishopsgate Bombing which resulted in a huge security cordon being placed around the City; initially policemen with traffic cones around the financial district and then a more permanent solution, with nearly 50 streets at the edge of the city sealed off with bollards, leaving them inaccessible for motor traffic but still open for people walking or cycling.

This is how Worship Street looked at the vehicle closure point at the beginning of this year, with a photo I took on New Years Day:

Photo taken from Appold Street in the City of London, looking at Worship Street and Curtain Road, in Hackney 
As you can see there is a narrow through route for bicycles and this is a route I use on a fairly regular basis, if I am cycling on CS1 from dropping my daughter off at school and going to my workplace on the other side of Liverpool Street. Although very quiet in the New Years Day picture above that is not the case at peak time in the morning and you often have to stop and give way to other bicycles, as well as mopeds, coming from the other direction. Worship Street is also generally an unpleasant route to cycle on at peak times as it is very busy with vans, lorries and taxis using it and the road surface is in a terrible state, filled with potholes and sinking manhole covers. Despite using this route dozens of times to cycle from CS1 into the city I didn't notice until I was here on foot on New Years Day that there is also another cycle route on the opposite side of the bollards

This cut through is only really worthwhile if you're coming down from Curtain Road and turning left into Worship Street to head towards Bishopsgate, hence why most people use the other route in both directions instead. You may also notice how the cycleway in the picture above is even narrower, barely wide enough to fit a bike tire in it. This is due to the construction of Principal Place, a newly opened 15 storey office block alongside, built between 2015 and 2018 on long empty land between Curtain Road and Shoreditch High Street, where the disused viaducts into Broad Street station stood until 2014. It also has an enormous 50 storey residential tower alongside it, next to Shoreditch High Street (where over a dozen flats are on the market in excess of £5 million). As part of the planning permission the developers had to contribute various sums to invest in local infrastructure; £10m to Crossrail, £4m for off site affordable housing and various amounts to Hackney Council; from £198k for libraries, £240k for local education and £850k for Highways improvements.

At the beginning of the year Hackney Council decided to invest some of that Highways money to refurbish the area outside, removing the bollards and island in February:

It was a little disappointing to see cyclists dismount signs, considering these were signed as Hackney Council works and there was still a clear route available for people on bikes.

Towards the end of February Worship Street and Curtain Road were closed to motor vehicles altogether either side of the works. A route was kept open through the middle of the works for people walking or cycling

A few days later the "cyclists dismount" sign reappeared even thought the route was signed as "cycle access only" just beyond it.

People continued to cycle through the works and it worked well as a temporary shared route for people walking and cycling, although mopeds were also still using it, which didn't work so well, leading to local police taking action

The following day the "cycle access only" sign was removed and replaced with another cyclists dismount sign. Again, a little disappointing from Hackney Council

By late April Worship Street and Curtain Road had been closed for two months and I'd got used to the quietness. Local businesses seemed unaffected; deliveries were being made by motor traffic either side of the closure whilst the street was filled with the sound of people chatting as they walked; a huge improvement on the motor dominated street it was at the beginning of the year.. There was also an added benefit for people cycling nearby on CS1 - with no through traffic on Worship Street crossing the road became much easier

Three months on from the closure and a sign appeared on Appold Street to say it would be "closed from 20th May for six weeks"

By early June most of the street works seemed to have been completed, but both roads remained closed with cyclists dismount signs on all approaches

In the middle of July Worship street reopened to motor traffic, having been closed as a through route for six months by that point

A street used only by people on foot or bike for six months, Worship Street returns to a street filled with motor traffic using it as a was to avoid the Inner Ring Road
Appold Street remained closed, with cyclists dismount signs still there, for what appeared to be just a toilet parking spot. There was easily the space to allow a cycle route past here

The signs didn't stop the many mopeds from continuing to use this route

By August Appold street was still shut, with the sign at the beginning of the street stating that the closure was in place for "six weeks from May 20th", although the closure had been in place for over three months by that point. As there was actually very little sign of any work taking place I assumed this was due to the wide gaps either side of the new bollards where a motor vehicle could drive through with ease, therefore bypassing the entire ring of steel and driving into the city completely undetected

However at the beginning of September Appold Street finally reopened after four months, with the large gaps either side of the bollards intact, debunking my theory altogether

The bollards were very close together making them a tight fit, I could only just get through with the crate on my front bike so I'm not sure a cargo bike would be able to, although motorbikes could - just about

Then a month later the workmen returned to remove one of the bollards and reconfigure them, to allow slightly larger gaps to cycle through. New bollards were also placed on the footway to plug the gaps

Six bollards became five bollards about a month after work here was completed. Still too narrow for the man on the cargo bike with boxes, who opts for the pavement instead 
Some changes have occurred to Appold and worship Street within the city of London - firstly Worship Street has been resurfaced from Shoreditch High Street and had the contraflow cycle lane painted all the way along it.

Previously you could contraflow cycle along this one way street (for motor traffic) but then have to navigate around a bus stand into oncoming traffic! The contraflow cycle lane continues around the corner to (almost) Primrose Street. The cycle hire stand has also been moved around the corner to accommodate this (although annoyingly the road has not been resurfaced and the former electrical points for the cycle hire stand remain as a line of badly sealed up holes in the tarmac)

Another peeve is that the cycle lane is just a painted lane so naturally I've seen delivery vans parked in it. A kerb protected cycle lane would have been better. It also stops just before the traffic lights at Primrose Street where a "normal" junction with ASL remains, despite this only being accessible by bike (although I've seen black cabs drop off and U-turn here, which could well still be legal)

Despite the cost and time taken for this upgrade Worship Street has not been resurfaced either side of the fancy new paving area, and remains in a terrible state

As for the new paved area of Worship Street, this is the very definition of a stonewashed street

The nearby Leonard Circus has a similar design and looked as good as this on day one but soon had damaged street furniture, now a constant sight

I think these tree cages must have been replaced at least five times each by now
It appears as though some of the street furniture has already been hit on Worship Street, not that anyone particularly wants to sit and eat lunch inches from a lorry tyre! 

It is a real shame that Worship Street was not permanently closed to through motor traffic as part of these works. It was closed for six months and didn't seem to have too much of a drastic effect on surrounding roads. I cycled through and around the closure many times in that period and there was no gridlock or carnage on surrounding streets. A walking and cycling only street, with more trees and benches and an easier crossing on CS1, would have made this a much nicer area than some fancy paving under lorries that should really be using main roads nearby instead.

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.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Going Dutch in Hackney Central

The very northern section of Mare Street is Hackney Centrals high street, known as the Narroway. A Narrow street along most of its length (hence the name) it was part of the Hackney Central one way system until the 1980s but remained one way (southbound) when the gyratory was removed but only to be used by local buses, people cycling and deliveries. This made it unpleasant to walk on, due to narrow footways, and was an obstacle for people cycling, who could only do so in one direction and so faced a lengthy diversion. Although many would still cycle the wrong way, often on the pavement, causing further issues for people walking. Ten bus routes served this street but the bus stop at the southern end of the street could only accommodate a couple of buses so any delays in passengers loading, unloading or paying (in the pre contactless and oyster days) could result in a long line of stationary buses queueing along this street. I'm not exaggerating by stating that on some days it took me ten minutes to get from the top of the street down to the bottom on a bus; a distance of less than a quarter of a kilometre.

The pedestrianisation of the Narroway was an obvious improvement for both pedestrians and bus journey times so in June 2013 all buses were removed from the Narroway and diverted to use the same route northbound buses used; via Dalston Lane and Amhurst Road. Cycling was also permitted along the street in both directions but in order to prevent cyclists from "owning" the roadspace it was redesigned to ensure it was clear this was "shared space"

A photo I took of the Narroway in 2013, shortly after the buses had been removed, you can see how narrow the pavements were, with the space on the right a loading bay for deliveries 
Image taken from the architecture practice who designed the temporary layout
Hackney conservative councillors came from their wards in the north of the borough to protest alongside local traders who feared removing the buses would result in a loss of trade, however following a six month trial the scheme was deemed to be a success and a bid was made to TfL for funding for a permanent  redesign of the street. A consultation took place in late 2015 where 90% of people responded supported the plans, with only 6% against them.

A total of 8% of respondents to the consultation expressed concern at the risk of conflict between people walking and cycling in the new layout, this was the highest concern of all responses. Hackney Council claimed in late 2015 that there had been no reported collisions between people cycling and walking since the start of the trial in 2013. I really want to thank Hackney Council for making the sensible decision to allow cycling on the Narroway and taking an evidence based approach to this decision

A high street in Northampton, typical of many pedestrianised high streets in the UK that do not allow cycling. Since I took this picture part of this street has had the pedestrianisation removed to allow motor vehicles to return 
I've cycled on many shopping streets in the Netherlands which, like the new Narroway in Hackney, are signposted as pedestrian zones with cycling allowed, and have never found conflict between people walking and cycling to be an issue

Although I have noticed that these motor traffic free streets will sometimes have the markings of a road and footway on them, to indicate roughly where people can expect bicycles or service vehicles to be (although people can, and do, walk anywhere they like on the street)


The Narroway was also initially planned to have a similar layout, to reduce conflict between people walking and cycling

However the Royal National Institute of Blind people stated that they did not support the tactile strips, instead calling for detectable kerbs to separate the "cycle lane from the footway". The council agreed to remove these strips and any features that may resemble cycle lanes from the scheme, with the road designated a "Pedestrian Zone" which allowed considerate cycling. The scheme was budgeted at £3.25m, with nearly £2m supplied by TfL, just over £1m from the council and the rest via S106 agreements. Reconstruction began in January 2017 and was meant to last for a year but hit delays and took until late 2018 before it was fully completed

Reconstruction underway in 2017
The Northbound street remains no entry for all vehicles, except cycles

Southbound the street is signed as a pedestrian and cycle only zone, except for loading between 6pm and 10am. There are no loading bays marked on the street with local retailers asked to observe considerate parking when loading

Entering the street Southbound 
New seating, trees and additional cycle parking has been added

The cycle parking is well used, although I'm not personally keen on the steel designs and would have preferred traditional cycle stands 

Catenary lights have been used, suspended from wires attached to the buildings either side of the street to avoid the need to use poles 

Catenary wire systems are also often seen in the Netherlands to hold lights and tram wires on main roads in cities, leaving more space on the carriageway for cycling infrastructure 

It's a really lovely street to walk, cycle and sit to have lunch on now, much improved from the bus clogged place it used to be, and certainly a huge upgrade from the gyratory days of the 1970s! 

The Narroway in 1975 and 2019 
At the top of the street the original plan was to have an uncontrolled crossing over Dalston Lane / Lower Clapton Road, which seems like an odd decision considering how busy the road is. During construction this plan was changed and thankfully a wide signalled crossing was installed instead

although this meant that it was illegal for people cycling to use this crossing, although there was really no other choice. Thankfully within a few months this was changed and the crossing became a toucan crossing

The new toucan crossing allows people to cycle onto the footway on the other side and then up Clarence Road, which is a fairly quiet road to cycle on, due to all streets to the west of it filtered to through motor traffic at Pembury Road and a left turn only onto Lower Clapton Road, forcing drivers coming from the top of Clarence Road or from Lower Clapton Road back in the direction they have just come from. This means that Clarence Road is not a useful through route for cars and only really serves as an access road to the streets leading off it. It does however serve as a popular cycling route from Hackney Downs to the Narroway due to its directness and quietness.

Unfortunately it is still illegal to cycle up Clarence Road from the Narroway, as a clear "no entry " sign demonstrates. The plan outlined in the consultation was for a "No entry except cyclists" sign to replace it but nearly three years on from the beginning of the scheme construction and a year after it was completed this has still not yet happened for some reason. There are also no signs to indicate the pavement at the bottom of Clarence Road is shared but surely as it is a toucan crossing it must be. Perhaps a short bidirectional cycle track from Clarence Road to the crossing and a clearly marked bicycle and pedestrian crossing, as there is on Hackney road at Columbia road, might have been better.

The wide toucan crossing is a vast improvement on the staggered crossing that it replaced, however the new central strip on Dalston Lane forces cyclists into primary position on a very busy road and one of Hackneys busiest bus routes. The space here could have been used for protected cycle tracks instead.

Dalston Lane has changed a lot in recent years, due to the Pembury Circus / Atkins Square development on the north side of the road, which has delivered over 200 new homes, a new supermarket, a cafe and a community centre, where the Hackney cycling campaign hold their monthly meetings. As part of this development the footway was extended and is now gigantic all the way from Pembury Circus to the Narroway

A rather wasteful use of the space available when right alongside people are expected to cycle on a narrow road either in the doorzone of parked cars or on a very badly surfaced road. This road is used by over a hundred buses an hour at peak times and over 10,000 motor vehicles everyday which means families in the new development have no safe way to cycle to the Narroway, although in reality most will simply cycle on the huge footway instead.

Five years on from Hackney Council declaring that they want their roads to be the safest roads for cycling in the UK, where it is second nature for anyone, no matter what their age to cycle. Dalston Lane certainly isn't somewhere where that can happen

A better use of the space would have been a bidirectional cycleway linking Pembury Circus with the Narroway, whilst still leaving ample space for pedestrians, trees and street furniture

It's better to make the roads safer for everyone 
Whilst the Narroway does have a safe route leading to it from the north, via Clarence Road, the same cannot be said about accessing it from the south (unless you count an awkward and indirect route through St. Johns Churchyard from Q2 at Churchwell Path). The vast majority of people cycling on the Narroway will want to get to and from the Hackney Grove cycleway that leads to London Fields and you really only have one option; to brave cycling on Mare Street. Cycling towards the Town Hall you'll almost certainly first meet a wall of buses and other motor vehicles at a red light at the Graham Road junction, with no ASL and no way to filter through

Once through the green light you'll then have to manoeuvre across into the second lane as the lane you're in is for left turning traffic only. Often this will involve using lane one until you get to the lights at Morning Lane, only to then try and swing right into the ASL, assuming it isn't blocked. I've downloaded a couple of TfL traffic camera clips from one recent morning rush hour below to show a typical example of this

It may not surprise you the hear I've never once seen a child cycling to school at during the rush hour here!

The traffic lights are on red at the Mare Street / Morning Lane junction as I took this photo. The ASL is almost completely blocked by a bus and two cars. Would you filter through that queue of cars and lorries with your family on bikes here?
Once you get a green light on Morning Lane you either choose to swing back to the left again to allow traffic to pass or, knowing you're about to turn right onto Reading Lane to get to the cycleway leading to London Fields, stay on the right of the lane in the middle of the carriageway and have motor traffic passing you on both sides until you "take the lane" at the pinchpoint to use the right turn filter.

Cycling south from Reading Lane to the Narroway isn't much better, or possibly even worse. If you scroll up to the top of this page you'll see my header image is a picture of this road, a shared bus lane on a road six lanes wide. Once though the Morning Lane lights you can then use the left hand lane to go ahead, rather than being forced to manoeuvre into lane two, but often you're either sandwiched between traffic or will have to brave it and filter through

Before you get to the Narroway where you want to turn right into it

If you're lucky the pedestrian crossing will be on red round the corner, giving you a clear chance to do so. Often though it won't so you either block the road waiting to turn right, and get honked at, or wait in the middle of the road with buses passing close by on both sides of you

Cycling through Hackney Central is for the brave few, and certainly not for the many. Last week I saw this family cycling along the fantastic new Narroway, perfectly safe and chatting away with each other

To be fair to them, when they got to the bottom of the Narroway they waited and then carefully made their way up Mare Street cycling in the carriageway. Then they got to Graham Road and a wall of motor traffic greeted them where they, understandably, crossed over the pedestrian crossing and continued up to the Hackney Grove cycleway by cycling considerately on the pavement. Who can blame them? Cycling with your family on the road here is frankly not safe and I would never do it.

The other issue is that Mare Street is also a destination for families, with the Picturehouse cinema holding family screenings at the weekend and the Hackney Empire regularly often featuring shows for children. It makes sense for some local families to arrive here by bike but they are really left with little option but to use the pavement

Give these families a safe route through Hackney Central and they won't be cycling on the pavement. The present layout is simply not safe enough and is one of the worst locations for cycling collisions in the borough

It was very disappointing that a few years ago the local police announced that pavement cycling was the priority crime that they would be dealing with

Yes, pavement cycling is annoying but lets focus on the real danger here, which is people walking and cycling being inured or killed by motor traffic.

A pavement on Mare Street in Hackney Central. Is pavement cycling really the issue here?

If you want to stop people cycling on the pavement in Hackney Central then providing safe conditions for them to cycle is the clear solution. This solution was presented to Hackney Council back in 2015 when Andrew Gillian was the cycling commissioner and Quietway 2 was planned to go via the most obvious route, linking the Hackney Grove cycleway and the Narroway

Option 1 - a bidirectional cycle track running along the western side of Mare Street, linking Reading Lane with the Narroway and finally making Hackney Central a place that is safe enough for anyone to navigate on a bike. Option 2 was stepped cycle tracks running on either side of the road
Hackney Council had the funding, plans and support to go ahead with this years ago but instead chose an indirect and unsafe, busy back street route instead

Hackney Council in their 2015-2025 cycling plan 

The future of Hackney Central - have your say

Two years ago Hackney Council received £10m in funding to finally introduce protected cycle tracks on Mare Street in Hackney Central, redesign the Pembury Junction and make Amhurst Road, which runs between the two, a through route for buses only.

Amhurst Road is already four lanes wide so with a bus gate protected cycle tracks can easily be accommodated. Bus priority is achieved without the need for bus lanes, because the private motor traffic will have been removed 
Hackney Council are inviting you to have your say on these improvements. Obviously protected cycle tracks running the length of Mare Street though Hackney Central will be required as that is what the TfL funding is for. Any reversal of this proposal with an attempt to force people cycling in with buses would have to result in the funding being withdrawn and given to other councils who are enabled the necessary changes to ensure their roads safer for everyone.

As well as submitting your comments on moving through Hackney Central you can also add comments to a map, which covers a wider area. Perhaps you'd like to see Chatham Place filtered on Q2 or modal filters on the Naverino Road cycle route? Perhaps the contraflow cycle track on Paragon Road should be made bi-directional and run all the way from Mare Street to Morning Lane to link the proposed cycle tracks on Mare Street with the recently constructed cycle track on Wick Road?

If you live, work, shop or travel through Hackney Central then please do let the council know what changes you'd like to see to the roads and junctions that would enable families to get about by bike and ensures that the safety of people walking and cycling comes first.