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"Failure of ambition" on London Quietways

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 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 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.


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