City legalises two-way cycling in one-way streets

AA President gives scheme cautious welcome but calls for national network of dedicated cycle routes

by Rebecca McIlhone   January 28, 2009  

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DAVID Cameron was caught out doing it but soon City commuters will be allowed to cycle the wrong way up certain one-way streets in London.

City of London Corporation has announced a pilot scheme to allow two-way cycling in seven one-way streets to promote safety and convenience by enabling cyclists to avoid busy streets where most accidents happen.

According to a Corporation spokesperson, if all goes to plan, the £45,000 improvements will be completed by early Summer.

The Streets and Walkways Committee report recommending the proposal says it is a low cost way of providing benefits to 600 people, while the equivalent formal provision would cost £1M.

Edmund King, president of the AA, told road.cc he has concerns, having witnessed near misses between cyclists and pedestrians on a one-way stretch where cyclists are already permitted to go against the traffic.

He says: “There’s a stretch near St James’ Park tube where road traffic or motorized traffic goes one way and the cycle lane goes the other way but it’s not very well signed. I cross it every day and pedestrians quite often look to the left but don’t look to the right when they cross the cycle lane.”

Mr King, himself a cyclist, said he’d welcome the pilot if there was adequate signage but said dedicated cycle routes are needed across the country to make commuting by bike safer.

He said: “I think what we really need is a much fuller network. If it’s a dedicated route people know it’s there.”

The City of London Corporation spokesperson said it had spent a lot of time and effort researching the safety aspects of the project.

“This research included motor vehicle speeds and volumes and various site observations,” said the spokesperson.

“In addition, we compared the proposed sites with the alternative routes cyclists are currently legally supposed to use so we could make a balanced decision. This will provide us with a very good opportunity to learn and will help us should we wish to extend the project to other streets in the future.”

Charlie Lloyd, cycling development officer for the London Cycle Campaign, told road.cc he wanted the new rules extended to all one-way streets in London, where safe to do so.

“We would advise the possibility of contraflow cycling should be considered for every one-way street in London and only not allowed when there’s an obvious danger," he said. 

“This is nothing new. It’s a restoration of what we had before.

“It’s what we call permeability - you increase the number of routes available to cyclists to areas where one-way streets have made cycling very inconvenient."

The streets where the changes are to be made are: West Smithfield, Fann Street, Cloth Fair, Creechurch Lane, Finsbury Circus, Salisbury Court and Throgmorton Street.

1 user comments

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I understand the motivation behind the change, and the fact that London has (and continues to) enjoyed a significant upsurge in cycling, but will it really benefit the relationship between people on bikes and people in vehicles.

I read - and then commented on, someewhat sarcastically - a thread about this on the website of one of the London tabloids (Evening Standard maybe?): http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23629978-details/One-way+....

Sadly, it seems that, in spite of the increasing numbers of people on bikes, the relationship between them and other road users is as strained as ever. It's not as bad where I live (Manchester), but that's because the city is much smaller, and we therefore have fewer cyclists (in real terms, no idea about relative terms).

I wonder, therefore, if it isn't a bit of a pyhrric victory and won't really change anything.

posted by ourmaninthenorth [93 posts]
29th January 2009 - 11:22

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