London’s newest piece of cycling infrastructure has just opened in Stratford. It is an extension of Cycle Superhighway 2 from the Bow flyover to Stratford town centre. It runs along Stratford High Street and much of it is in segregated lanes. DiamondGeezer wrote a fantastic summary of it on the 1st November and it’s various flaws. One of the core problems seems to be removing road space that could be used as a bus lane and using it for the new cycle lane, leaving very wide pavements untouched. However it a big step forward, and finally installing a cycle lane detached from traffic is to be welcomed. Jostling with cars, buses, and lorries on packed roads puts off many people from trying cycling. This has made me think about a cycle lane project that could be established in SE London that will result in big benefits if enacted.
Segregated lanes alongside roads are pretty new for London but commonplace in many other cities. The Cycle Superhighway Stage 2 does offer a big improvement on Stage 1 which is mostly on-road and consists of a bit of blue paint splashed down. This offers no protection from traffic at a cost of millions of pounds. Cars can move into the lane and even park in it at certain times. Just yesterday a cyclist sadly died after a collision with a lorry on stage 1 of cycle superhighway 2.
The issue with dedicated lanes separate from roads is that existing road space can be removed for them causing much more congestion, instead of utilising wide paving space if it exists, as it does in Stratford. A better solution would have been to build the cycle lane into space currently used for excessively wide paving, and install a bus lane in the road space now used for cycling. New developments should also be built 1 or 2 metres back from existing pavement lines allowing the pavement or cycle lanes to be widened where appropriate. Removing street clutter, guardrails, excess signage from paving space, and placing street lighting off buildings or on pole on paving the opposite side from the curb would also allow better use of space.
On the subject of cycling, Greenwich council have just launched a new cycling draft strategy document. The consultation page is on the Council web site at http://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/haveyoursay.
One piece of segregated cycle infrastructure that would bring big benefits would be on Harrow Manorway in Abbey Wood. This is the main road from Thamesmead to Abbey Wood station, heavily used by buses. The station is just about to start its rebuild and will be the terminus of Crossrail, bringing many more passengers. Bus journeys will only increase in coming years when Crossrail opens, and when/if any sort of much needed river crossing opens.
The road will also shortly see a large new Sainsbury’s supermarket constructed alongside, as well as many new flats and houses. Traffic travelling from Thamesmead, including buses, use sparsely populated dual carriageways until this short single lane half mile section on the approach to the station. With added buses and cars using the station this will increasingly become a bottle neck. Let alone when a large supermarket and housing development opens with it’s sole entrance facing onto the road. See the Google maps photo of the road below –
As can be seen, there is ample space either side for the road to be widened and dedicated bus lanes to be installed. In addition a segregated cycle lane would be an easy thing to install by using some of the grass either side of the road, with or without road widening for bus lanes. Cyclists would then not need to dice with the many cars and buses running along the road stopping at various stops. Many new houses are being built to the right of the roundabout about at the end of the road. The roundabout is where the dual carriageway to Thamesmead begins. New housing is currently being built to the right of that including a new tower.
The reverse view is below. New housing and Sainsbury’s will be to the right. Crossrail ground floor station entrance behind that.
A short new cycle lane is already planed for here running past Sainsbury’s as shown in the picture below but it will not extend along the length of the congested Harrow Manorway towards Thamesmead and the Ridgeway.
An aerial map below shows two lane roads in blue, the single lane Harrow Manorway in red, and a possible new cycle lane in pink which would avoid the road using existing disused land with the potential Ridgeway cycle lane in brown. New developments are in the green squares and the new station in sky blue.
How would it be funded? Well Sainsbury’s have only just got planning permission, and I don’t think the substantial section 106 payments they will make to the council have been allocated. In addition Crossrail have a budget for public realm works which could be used. Other funding sources such as EU funds and TfL Local Implementation Plan money could be utilised, along with money from TfL’s cycling budget (if Greenwich do get around to meeting TfL’s cycling chief Andrew Gilligan). There’s no shortage of potential funds. It’s a case of whether the will and vision is there from Greenwich. Given the borough boundary between Greenwich and Bexley boroughs is in the middle of the road also offers the possibility of no action. However , the new developments and ground floor crossrail station entrance are in Greenwich borough so they would ideally take the lead here.
The Greenwich consultation mentions plans for a cycle lane on the ridgeway atop the sewer from Thamesmead to Plumstead. A cycle lane from Abbey Wood crossrail station using Harrow Manorway would cross the ridgeway to reach Thamesmead using the already existing ramps and bridge underneath and beside the dual carriageway. Thus a north – south route from Thamesmead to Abbey Wood passing the ridgeway would offer a junction with an east – west Thamesmead – Plumstead route. All segregated from roads, fast and direct and offering massively better provision.
London needs much more dedicated cycling space but not at the cost of removing bus lanes. Where possible paving space and unused verges could be used. The new developments in Abbey Wood offer a great chance to put it into practice.