City of London criticises Mayor's Quietways for directing cyclists into historic streets full of pedestrians

Narrow streets with pedestrians in are not suitable for cyclists, says City

by Sarah Barth   March 23, 2014  

London Cycle Grid.png

The City of London Corporation has expressed concern at the Mayor of London’s plan for a network of cycle Quietways around the centre of the capital, saying they could put cyclists in direct conflict with pedestrians.

60 miles of Quietways, made up of quiet backstreet cycle routes connecting all areas of inner London, are currently under consultation and will be named or numbered on a map intended for cyclists who are not in a hurry and want to avoid main roads.

TfL says these are “the new kind of cyclist we want to attract”.

Many of the new Quietway routes will run parallel to Tube lines or bus routes, with a “Circle Line Quietway” and a “Victoria Line Quietway” among the routes published last year.

A number of Superhighway and other main-road routes will also form part of the Grid, most fully or semi-separated from traffic (with solid kerbs or traffic wands) where they run on busy roads.

Iain Simmons, the City of London’s assistant director for city transportation, told TransportXtra the proposed Quietway routes in the City were “the best that meet the technical criteria for Quietways, being the least trafficked” and had been agreed by officers at a meeting with TfL in December.

He added: “The streets with the lowest volumes of motor traffic tend to be more historic, less direct, and generally narrower. This has the impact of directing cyclists into areas that are often full with pedestrians.”

As we reported late last year, According to the London assembly: “The proposed Quietway routes are aimed at those who would like to cycle now, but are put off by having to do it on busy roads.

“The long-term purpose is to broaden the demographic mix, and change the culture, of London cycling.”

Mr Johnson said: “We are creating a new network of routes for a new kind of cyclist: routes for people who want to cycle slowly, in their ordinary clothes, away from most of the traffic. These are your secret cycling passages through London, taking you everywhere you need to go, directly and easily, using routes you might never know existed until we showed you.

“The Central London Grid will, I hope, de-Lycrafy the bicycle, reduce the testosterone levels of cycling, and move towards a continental-style cycling culture, where cycling is normal.”

10 user comments

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But there are cars on these routes? They're happy to mix pedestrians with cars, but not bikes?

I must have mis-understood...

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [263 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 16:37

36 Likes

I would never in a million years describe the embankment or upper Thames street (an HGV infested death trap) as "quiet".
One can only live I hope.

posted by arfa [542 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 17:02

27 Likes

I've read the original quote, and I don't see any criticism. It was an observation, and a fairly obvious one.

"this has the impact of directing cyclists into areas that are often full with pedestrians"

Someone will undoubtably have prepared a lengthy risk assessment, whilst someone else in the future will be paid to analyse accident rates for any deviation from the historical norm. But that does make it all sound terribly dull doesn't it?

posted by bikebot [789 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 17:09

32 Likes

As above - if these are in fact "streets" then there will be much larger and more dangerous traffic for pedestrians to deal with.

This would be an opportunity for the City to integrate some shared space between pedestrians and cyclists.

Ride your own ride

posted by CanAmSteve [169 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 18:37

28 Likes

They may have a point, there are narrow quiet streets in london that are effectivly pedestrian areas, and I find it very frustrating trying to pass the slow moving people, who are just ambling along, and who change direction without looking, and thats just when i'm walking, I couldn't imagine what it would be like on a bike.

posted by mrkeith119 [86 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 19:58

17 Likes

It's not completely daft, but:

1. I wish they would't go on about the kind of cyclist they want, and de-Lycrafying cycling. Yes, we want to attract more people to cycle; but don't turn it into politicians judging which cyclists are 'good' and which are 'bad'.

2. In the Netherlands, people cycle because it's safe and convenient (direct) - there are cycle routes everywhere there are roads. I'm not convinced that you're going to encourage people to cycle by giving them roundabout routes. People may be nervous about cycling, but that is not the same as them wanting to go slowly or take a long time to get where they're going.

posted by HarrogateSpa [133 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 21:07

22 Likes

Well the city has some form when it comes to crap infrastructure. An example would be narrowing (yes narrowing) cheapside which is a major bus route so that there is no way a vehicle can overtake a bike if traffic is in the oncoming lane. Combine this with traffic islands just in front of bus stops (you overtake a bus pulled in at the stop, it pulls out on you and you are forced into the traffic island).
Anyway, as I said earlier I live in hope.

posted by arfa [542 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 21:16

2 Likes

"Iain Simmons, the City of London’s assistant director for city transportation, told TransportXtra the proposed Quietway routes in the City were “the best that meet the technical criteria for Quietways, being the least trafficked” and had been agreed by officers at a meeting with TfL in December."

So, firstly you decide we need something called quietways to encourage cycling, then decide where they should go based on where they already are, and not whether they will actually encourage (or be safe for) cycling.

"He added: “The streets with the lowest volumes of motor traffic tend to be more historic, less direct, and generally narrower. This has the impact of directing cyclists into areas that are often full with pedestrians.”"

And yet there isn't a problem bringing pedestrians into conflict with motor vehicles? Maybe this is why TfL are responsible for 1 KSI every day by buses alone...

"As we reported late last year, According to the London assembly: “The proposed Quietway routes are aimed at those who would like to cycle now, but are put off by having to do it on busy roads."

Great, so people have to choose between riding miles out of their way or chancing their lives. Change the busy roads - make them less busy and create high quality, prioritised segregation and people will ride without fear.

posted by teaboy [187 posts]
24th March 2014 - 9:32

10 Likes

HarrogateSpa wrote:
I wish they would't go on about the kind of cyclist they want, and de-Lycrafying cycling. Yes, we want to attract more people to cycle; but don't turn it into politicians judging which cyclists are 'good' and which are 'bad'.

Agreed. Planners and civil engineers may need to take the different needs of different cyclists into account in order to make sure that everybody is catered for adequately, but phrases like "in a hurry" are judgemental and unhelpful. Nearly everybody is in a hurry sometimes. A six-year old can be in a hurry to get to school. A seventy-year old can be in a hurry to get to a yoga class on time. A classification of cyclists based on a binary division between cyclists who are in a hurry and cyclists who are not in a hurry is inherently and deeply flawed.

posted by bambergbike [87 posts]
24th March 2014 - 11:48

12 Likes

They seem to have missed the point that even confident, fast, lycra'd cyclists can feel intimidated by heavy traffic on roads designed exclusivly for motor-traffic.

Until cycling is priotitised as the go-to method of transport as it is in the Netherlands no meaningful change will be achieved. Policy and road design should be aimed at modifying behaviours. In the UK roads are designed in response to demand so more cars = more car centric design. As cycling becomes more popular we are starting to see a slight shift in thinking but it is purely reactive rather than proactive.

posted by Matt eaton [498 posts]
27th March 2014 - 10:04

3 Likes