Whitechapel Cycle Superhighway is a mess - why we don't want this to happen in Green Lanes
“Cyclists in London are typically white, under 40, male, with medium to high household income”
ARTICLE UPDATE 29.9.15 : WILL BORIS JOHNSON'S VISION FOR CYCLING DELIVER WHAT IS PROMISED?
This article 'Whitechapel High Street cycle superhighway bus stop bypass is a mess" has been reproduced from the Guardian and looks at the first cycle superhighway through a local high street, in Whitechapel, East London, on the fringes of the City. This is the closest example to the proposed route along Green Lanes and also through Enfield Town.
"One of the more conspicuous of Boris Johnson's cycling infrastructure initiatives is doing little for the East End high street it has carved up"
"The introduction of segregated facilities may attract more commuting cyclists, but won't achieve its other expressed objectives - namely use by 8 to 80 year olds,
not clad in lycra, and a reduced casualty rate. Tilting the balance further in favour of movement (primarily high speed cycle commuting) will not attract more, slower cyclists"
Here is the article reproduced in full, with key issues which are highly pertinent to Green Lanes and the Enfield Town scheme highlighted in red.
One of the more conspicuous of Boris Johnson's cycling infrastructure initiatives is doing little for the East End high street it has carved up
Should London's streets be designed for facilitating traffic movement or enhancing them as attractive places? The right answer is generally some variant of both, and takes different forms according to the type of street and the priorities of the people making the decisions.
Boris Johnson is, of course, such a person thanks to his much vaunted Vision for Cycling and its ongoing, high profile implementation on many of the capital's roads. The hard part is getting the combination right because that is where the arguments begin. Some of the most fraught are about where cycling should fit in. Here's a view from the author of the Cycle And Walk Hackney Blog about a major street in his borough:
Dalston's Kingsland High Road is a thriving shopping street by day and one of London's most important (and coolest) night time economy destinations. It's a busy bus corridor and arterial road into central London. It was regenerated only a few years ago to give the street an uplift. Whilst nominally a TfL road, the borough, Hackney, and the local cycling group had a great influence on its redesign. Result?
"It is now still a busy motor vehicle street and an important bus corridor, but the balance between movement and place has been tilted in the direction of its 'place' function. The pavements have been widened, paving material improved, clutter removed along with the removal of the central white line. Its now a more pleasurable street for people to visit, shop, linger and enjoy...It is regarded as a good cycling environment by the local cycling group - the lane width is wide enough (4.5 metres) for cycle to safely pass bus and bus to pass cycle. Formal pedestrian crossings are provided for, while informal crossing is also easy".
The author of this appreciation is perhaps a little biased: he is Vincent Stops, a Labour councillor in Hackney for the past 13 years and chair of the borough's planning committee for the last nine. That said, Stops is also a policy officer with London TravelWatch, the body funded by the London Assembly to represent the interests of all transport users in and around the capital as a whole, and a London cyclist for almost two decades. He was also the organiser of a lecture given last January by the famous Danish urban designer and cycling advocate Jan Gehl, which drew a full house to the Hackney Empire despite the fact that I chaired the event.
As you'll have grasped, Stops is a strong believer in street design meeting a multiplicity of needs including those of cyclists, bus users and pedestrians, and with the "place function" to the fore. He goes on to contrast what Hackney has done with what is happening on Whitechapel High Street in Hackney's neighbour Tower Hamlets, where major works are taking place to bring about the segregation of the mayor's Cycle Superhighway 2:
Like Kingsland High Road, Whitechapel High Street is a busy bus corridor and arterial road into central London and most importantly, is also the local high street, with the diverse mix of shops that should be found in any thriving high street environment. However...unlike at Dalston the balance between movement and place has been tilted further in the direction of movement. Pavements have been narrowed, reduced to six feet (narrower than many residential streets) along some sections where there is a huge amount of pedestrian movement.
Stops takes particular exception to a very conspicuous piece of cycling infrastructure that's been installed – a big, blue bus stop bypass
It is the first busy street in London in which cycles are routed around the back of newly installed bus stops - so that cyclists cycle between the pavement and those getting on and off the bus. These so-called bus stop bypasses are designed to facilitate high speed cycling with cycle priority, so that cyclists do not need to slow down or need to overtake a bus which has paused to pick up passengers.
The outcome seems to be good for youthful cyclists hurtling through Whitechapel to and from the Square Mile but not so good for everyone else - that's certainly been my impression the couple of times I've been down to have a look. Stops says that "visually impaired pedestrians and [bus] passengers will be most disadvantaged" by the bypass and that off-peak car parking within the street's bus lanes "will mean slower bus journeys and more congestion off-peak".
As for the "place" function:
There is less space on the street now to stop or linger. Informal crossing of the street is made more difficult because of multiple additional raised kerbs on which one must perch before crossing. Wheelchair users, buggy pushers, luggage pullers and cycle pushers can no longer informally cross the street without having to navigate these additional obstructions...Boarding and alighting from the bus now means dodging cycles travelling at speed. The consequences for those with businesses on Whitechapel High Street remain to be measured, but the street is being made a less pleasant environment in which to linger - so it is conceivable that fewer people will visit to shop.
Can't say I disagree with that description either. The bypass is a wide, blue gash carved through the pavement, a litter magnet and already disfigured with skid marks. A lot of cyclists just ignore it. It hasn't enhanced that section of the High Street at all. It looks a mess.
Section of cycle bus stop by pass, Whitechapel High St. Photograph: Dave Hill
Stops's conclusions include this:
The introduction of segregated facilities may attract more commuting cyclists, but won't achieve its other expressed objectives - namely use by 8 to 80 year olds, not clad in lycra, and a reduced casualty rate. Tilting the balance further in favour of movement (primarily high speed cycle commuting) will not attract more, slower cyclists.
He argues that cycling campaigners have successfully shifted London's street management policies away from measures that simultaneously assist all "sustainable modes" and foster truly living streets towards favouring a certain sort of London cyclist at the expense of everyone else
You can read the original Guardian article here
and the Cycle and Walk Hackney blog on which it was based here
This is another video from the blog that show that
"cyclists dip into the cycle lane depending on traffic conditions.
Some use the new lane, others prefer to stick to the cariageway. All maintain their speed"
Author of the blog Vincent Stops describes "a new breed of pedestrian is developing on Whitechapel High Street - the percher, pusher-througher and up-and-over-mum"
If you want Enfield Council to put a halt on the Green Lanes cycle route before damage to the local community is done, please take part in the consultation.
There needs to be an alternative route.
If you are unsure how to do this go to the saveourgreenlanes.co,uk website
The first Boris cycle superhighway through a suburban high street is the best example we have of how the Green Lanes cycle route will be disaster