|Cycling in London - is it safe? Image: Wikimedia Commons|
The LBH&F Cycling Strategy was apparently adopted by the council’s cabinet when it met at Hammersmith Town Hall on Monday 12 October.
Take a look at their plans, and it all sounds sincere, worthy and good. But what does it actually mean in practice - and will our roads actually get better - and safer - for cyclists?
I recently cycled down to Hammersmith Tube from Shepherd's Bush, and was astonished by how unpleasant the journey was. I shouldn't have been surprised. Most main roads (I guess I should have taken the back streets) in London are totally unsuitable for cyclists - there isn't any space for them, and a lane shared with lorries and buses isn't an appealing prospect. I ended up walking my bike along the pavement - it was faster, and a lot safer.
Things get even worse if you try to commute into the West End on a bike. Try cycling up Holland Park Avenue and see how you get on. Once you have crossed the terrifying Shepherd's Bush Roundabout, you quickly find yourself sandwiched between buses and lorries, stuck in stationary traffic and inhaling noxious fumes from the back vent of a giant diesel engine. You can't pass on either side as there is no space.
Try it once, and you're unlikely to do it again. No wonder then that cyclists often jump red lights and cycle on the pavement - the roads just aren't safe for them.
|LBHF's 2013 vision of the Uxbridge Rd. No cars, just cyclists.|
Here in Shepherd's Bush, the Green has recently been redeveloped, and both Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road have been repaved by the Council, with a new, narrower road, and more space for pedestrians.
This is all good news, but where are the cycle lanes? There aren't any. Not even a painted stripe on the road.
The original plan set out by the Council included: "Improvements for cyclists: Install up to two-metre wide cycle lanes in both directions on Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road". This never happened.
So did happen? Presumably LBHF changed their minds. But didn't bother to tell anyone.
Why can't things be different? When I talk to Londoners about proper cycle lanes, like almost every city in continental Northern Europe has, the most common reply is "we don't have the space". But there isn't space in Amsterdam either, and yet they have found a way to accommodate cyclists.
In London, if we could get more people on their bikes, there would be more space for cars. Creating cycle lanes would reduce congestion, not increase it.
LBH&F's new strategy is full of fine words - but where is the delivery?