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London's Quietways routes include busy roads shared with HGVs and narrow one-way streets made two-way for cyclists, with no protection for those on bikes, setting a "dangerous precedent", say campaigners...

Nearly all of London’s Quietways will fail to meet the Mayor’s criteria to be quiet, direct and suitable for a range of ages and abilities to cycle on, according to campaigners.

When he set out his Cycling Vision in March 2013, London Mayor Boris Johnson said there would be “a network of direct back-street Quietways, with segregation and junction improvements over the hard parts”, as well as cycle superhighways on main roads. However, unlike the cycle superhighways on Transport for London roads, Quietways are on roads controlled by London boroughs.

A raft of Quietway consultations recently released by London Boroughs show some quietways using busy main roads, without any protection for cyclists, or narrow one way streets in Central London made two way for cyclists with only raised junctions and bike logos painted on the floor.

Pedestrian crossings and painted bike logos on asphalt: Westminster's latest "Quietway"

The LCC’s infrastructure campaigner, Simon Munk, told road.cc there is a “failure of ambition”, and a lack of clarity over where responsibility for the failure lies, and says the original vision is “compromised”.

“There’s a failure of ambition in the Quietways,” he says.

“We agreed with the principal that they should be direct and suitable for a wide range of people and that they protect cyclists at junctions, and that hasn’t been happening in nearly all the Quietways. What is happening is the Quietways often aren’t quiet enough.

He adds: “They are setting a dangerous precedent, that the Quietways will become like the old LCN+ [London Cycle Network] so politicians can say: 'Look what we are doing for cycling' when what they are doing doesn’t have an impact”.

Munk says the problem is notable on Central London Quietways.

On Exhibition Road, a supposed “shared space” street with thousands of motor vehicles using it per day, the only improvement for cyclists is additional road signage.

The Quietway route from Fitzrovia to Pimlico, meanwhile (consultation closes next Friday) makes one-way Wardour Street in Soho two-way for cycling, but, as Munk puts it “There’s no fundamental proposals to quiet traffic whatsoever".

“It’s quite fast moving at times,” he adds.

Part of Wardour Street will see a contraflow protected cycle lane, but along some parts of the road cyclists will share a 3.4m gap between parked cars, shared with oncoming traffic.

In outer London there are similar problems. Munk says “On Quietway 5 through Wandsworth there is a section along a road that’s heavily used by HGVs accessing the industrial park nearby - Cavendish Road - it is a very busy road, and the Quietway runs straight down it. That really isn’t appropriate.”

Munk says it has been difficult to find out where the problem lies: “I have gone back and forth between boroughs and TfL and delivery partners and as an external campaigner I can’t tell where the buck stops and that in itself may be an issue.

“We have multiple organisations failing to take responsibility, or taking responsibility for only parts. There’s clearly gaps - something’s going wrong somewhere and no party is turning around and saying we are doing this, who’s doing that and how much power each one organisation has, I can’t tell.”

He added: “We want to see Quietways that someone aged eight to 80 can use, we want them to be routes that people can feel confident using for long stretches, and at the moment that’s simply not the case.”

Earlier this week London Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan told road.cc the next London mayor will need to prioritise cycle superhighways on Transport for London-controlled red routes, because of the difficulties the Quietways programme has faced with the London boroughs. The first of seven Quietways, from Waterloo to Greenwich, is expected to be completed this month.

He said: “I think [the mayoral candidates] realise that the Quietways are important, but we haven’t got much done with the Quietways because it depends on the boroughs, whose roads they are, and if you want to get serious volumes of people cycling it’s got to be cycle routes on the direct main roads.”

The many consultations that are currently live across London have been added to a London Cycling Campaign map with links to each consultation, and the LCC is encouraging people to add their comments.

 

13 comments

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davel [1242 posts] 1 year ago
10 likes

There needs to be a concerted effort to campaign, not just for decent infrastructure, but against crap 'solutions'. Too many implementations of what might have seemed good ideas in design turn out to not be fit for purpose, yet they allow councils etc to take credit for spending n pounds on cycling.

The message that people won't use shit infrastructure, so it's a waste of money, needs to be heard by the idiots responsible.

Avatar
bikebot [2120 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes

Remember, it's a 1000x more important for you to go to the consultations and comment there, than comment here.

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JeevesBath [183 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

"We want to see Quietways that someone aged eight to 80 can use".

Am I the only one who's ever seen an typical 8 year old ride - they're all over the shop. Cycling with my children was a constant stream of "keep to the left! look out for [blank]! keep to the LEFT!!!!! watch out for that bike going past....." I feel very sorry for any London commuters that are attempting to share a cycle lane with these uncontrolled missiles.

Avatar
davel [1242 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
bikebot wrote:

Remember, it's a 1000x more important for you to go to the consultations and comment there, than comment here.

Totally agree: and I tend to get involved locally (not London). But I hope that increasing the rumble of discontent on any forum over shoddy infrastructure will help persuade other people to get the message back to councils etc.

Often, cycle paths are trying to be all things to all men (as above comment) and end up being nothing to anyone, and sometimes they're so bad you couldn't imagine anyone on a bike using them.

Avatar
bikebot [2120 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
davel wrote:
bikebot wrote:

Remember, it's a 1000x more important for you to go to the consultations and comment there, than comment here.

Totally agree: and I tend to get involved locally (not London). But I hope that increasing the rumble of discontent on any forum over shoddy infrastructure will help persuade other people to get the message back to councils etc. Often, cycle paths are trying to be all things to all men (as above comment) and end up being nothing to anyone, and sometimes they're so bad you couldn't imagine anyone on a bike using them.

Doing both is also great  3

In fact as the many residents associations and stakeholders start objectings, it'll be necessary to express support in many places.

Here's a nice example of the sort of BS they're already attracting via the "Friends of Clapham Common".

Quote:

Quietways #ClaphamCommon 

Public cons mtg Mon 7th Mar 7pm @WindmillClapham
(Quietways = walkers&cyclers&all crashing into each other? Ouch!)

src - https://twitter.com/claphamcommon1/status/697494658243563521

Avatar
P3t3 [383 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
JeevesBath wrote:

"We want to see Quietways that someone aged eight to 80 can use".

Am I the only one who's ever seen an typical 8 year old ride - they're all over the shop. 

 

That is precisley the point.  Kids can't ride on much of Londons' streets because its an extreme sport amongst the cars and they just aren't safe to do so.  Its exactly the same reason why so few women use a bike for transport.  

If you want to fix congestion, ill health, pollution and all the rest of it then cycling is a really powerful solution.  If you want to encourage cycling then you have to provide space for it be safe enough to be normal rather than scary.  And if you want to make cycling a normal mode of transport then you need to focus on the next generation of cyclists, thats kids.  Thats the school run, and that is a good chunk of who the quietways should be set up to cater for.  

We have had at least 2 generations for whom cycling is a toy, they never rode to school, and to the vast majority of them don't even understand the concept that it could be a transport option because they have never seen it in action.  One of the reasons there is so much opposition to installing cycling infrastructure is because there is a generation in their 40s (and the ones below) who are incredulous about the concept that they would ever use a bike!  Its just not an option they would ever consider, despite the fact they are no different to their dutch equivalents that do cycle regularly.  

 

Back to the original article - looks like the cycle superhighways history repeating itself.  They build it in paint the first time round, then people die and the penny drops that things need to improve.  Its depressing, since it would be nice if they could learn from previous mistakes, but I guess its just the process happening...  

Avatar
bikebot [2120 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
P3t3 wrote:

Back to the original article - looks like the cycle superhighways history repeating itself.  They build it in paint the first time round, then people die and the penny drops that things need to improve.  Its depressing, since it would be nice if they could learn from previous mistakes, but I guess its just the process happening...  

Unfortunately it's more like the same mistake repeating itself.  Most of the Quietways are following the same routes as parts of the LCN, with very few changes that improve their safety or convenience.  It's just LCN redux, because that worked so well first time.

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P3t3 [383 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
bikebot wrote:

 It's just LCN redux, because that worked so well first time.

 

Not familiar with LCN but that sounds even more depressing than I thought.  Just when it was starting to look like they were learning, we are back to square 1...

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50kcommute [66 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I use the London quiet ways in rush hour sometimes when I feel like a more chilled ride... My experience is that they can be more stressful than the main arteries of town.... Cars/vans/lorries parked blocking cycle lanes, using them as a rat run...far more pedestrians stepping out...there's usually just so many more hazards.  I think they're great in theory, but as so many people say here, a few signs and a lick of paint does not sufficient infrastructure make! 

Ps....is there a site where we can see what consultations are happening in the area? 

 

Avatar
50kcommute [66 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I use the London quiet ways in rush hour sometimes when I feel like a more chilled ride... My experience is that they can be more stressful than the main arteries of town.... Cars/vans/lorries parked blocking cycle lanes, using them as a rat run...far more pedestrians stepping out...there's usually just so many more hazards.  I think they're great in theory, but as so many people say here, a few signs and a lick of paint does not sufficient infrastructure make! 

Ps....is there a site where we can see what consultations are happening in the area? 

 

Avatar
bikebot [2120 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
50kcommute wrote:

Ps....is there a site where we can see what consultations are happening in the area? 

http://lcc.org.uk/pages/consultation-map

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/cycling/grid-and-quietways-consultation...

Avatar
Username [206 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
50kcommute wrote:

I use the London quiet ways in rush hour sometimes when I feel like a more chilled ride... My experience is that they can be more stressful than the main arteries of town.... Cars/vans/lorries parked blocking cycle lanes, using them as a rat run...far more pedestrians stepping out...there's usually just so many more hazards.  I think they're great in theory, but as so many people say here, a few signs and a lick of paint does not sufficient infrastructure make! 

Ps....is there a site where we can see what consultations are happening in the area? 

 

 

That's the problem, 'quiet' in name only.

 

Taking my daughter to school, there is a section of typical Victorian terraced housing we have to go down. I dread it, it should be a quietway, it's not a main road, there are cars parked on both sides, as normal in London, and only space for one road user at a time.

 

Even when I'm riding alone, at a reasonable lick, it is uncomfortable because following rat-running motorists quickly become impatient and there is no space for them to overtake. Nowhere for me to pull over either - even if I was minded to do so. Accompanying my slower riding kid is even more nerve-wracking. Drivers' patience is sadly lacking and we've had morons blowing the horn at us.

 

Frankly, I would prefer to take her on a main road if I could to avoid this stretch.

 

The definition of a quietway ought to be 'no through motor traffic, only limited access only'.

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alexb [161 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I use a fair bit of the old NCN route 5. It is for the most part, pretty reliably quiet.

The article makes mention of Cavendish Road which is, in theory, the part I should be following too. However, I never use it because it's exactly the sort of ratrun any sensible cyclist would avoid like the plague if they had any sense.

There is a quieter alternative, which is a bit longer, but so much nicer to use. There's the problem - on the one hand Quietways seek to be "Direct" and on the other, "Quieter".

It's really difficult to find a route that manages to be both, simply because the cars tend to occupy all the "best" direct routes  and these are being converted to Cycle Super Highways as well.