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Kingston's Portsmouth Road cycle tracks finally complete

After a total design overhaul, local cyclists are (generally) happy with the outcome, more than two years after plans were announced

A new cycle route, two years in the making, finally opened this week.

The final touches were added to the 1400m fully segregated riverside route, on Portsmouth Road in Kingston upon Thames on Tuesday, one of six routes planned as part of the borough’s £30m “Mini Holland” programme.

Although there is a “shared space” section beside a zebra crossing, and the junctions are slow to navigate, campaigners say designs are the best option for the route and have been improved almost beyond recognition from their early incarnations.

Kingston overhauls Mini Holland plans after criticism

Kingston Cycling Campaign Co-ordinator, Jon Fray, told “Kingston Cycling Campaign is pleased we have got proper segregation pretty much all the way along”.

“I think [the council] have done just about the best they can do.”

Kingston council faced backlash after its original designs were little more than advisory bike lanes - as Fray puts it “white lines separating bikes from traffic”. After more than 700 people responded to a consultation on the scheme, many calling for better protection for people on bikes, the council increased the segregated portion of the route from 20 per cent to 85 per cent.

Fray said pedestrian crossings and narrow road width limited the council’s options for the route, other than a small amount of “shared space” with pedestrians. He said once the adjacent riverside path is reopened, many people will use that.  

He said most of the route is not shared space, though that isn’t always clear from designs. “The design changes along the length. At the narrowest point the track is not a thing carriageway height, it is at footway height. This may cause some confusion because people may think it's footway but it is actually intended to be 'cycles only' and is signed as that, not as shared. 

“By the junction with Woodbines Ave there is a bit of shared use, but with the crossing there and access to the riverside that doesn't seem unreasonable.”

“Part of it was opened in the summer and there was some aggro between drivers being aggressive for cyclists not using the very short bit of cycle track, but it wasn’t continuous and you had to cross traffic to get to it, so we are hoping people will make use of it. It’s certainly better than what we had before.”

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The previous advisory cycle lane was less than half a metre wide and disappeared at the narrowest parts of the road.

A council spokesperson told “The developments are aimed at relieving the pressure of a growing population on the borough’s transport network by providing new facilities for cycling and walking, while improving road safety and public spaces.”

“The two-way segregated cycle lane on Portsmouth Road is nearly 1.4 km long. It follows the recommended minimum width set out in TfL’s London Cycle Design Standards, which is three meters wide, allowing for comfortable use by all types of bicycles, less confident riders, and the increasing number of bicycle users that will come with population growth.”

One local cyclist has filmed the entire route, and has highlighted some issues with the designs.

David Williams says in one direction, travelling on the same side of the road as the cycle route, is simple. However, he says, the opposite direction is less straight forward because cyclists need to cross the road twice, to enter and exit the cycle lane.

He says: “This hasn't been thought through as well as it could have. Riders are expected to mount the pavement with a sharp left and use the tiger crossing. You could just signal right and cross the traffic if you felt confident. 

“Coming off the other end is more complicated. There are toucan crossing and you are expected to mount the pavement, in practical terms most cyclists will leave the cross and join the carriageway. I am told there is a full red phase where cyclists could cross in any direction. It would be nice to have some green cycle lights to show when this is.”

Consultations on schemes covering Kingston Station, Wheatfield Way, Surbiton to Kingston and Fountain Roundabout took place in the summer.

Now, consultations on three further cycling routes are open, and end on 17 November - from Kingston to Kingston Vale, New Malden and Tolworth.

The Kingston Vale route is 2.5 miles long, linking a local hospital, a university and Richmond Park. A mixture of kerb protection, “quietways” on low traffic streets, and shared space with pedestrians will be used.

Money was awarded three Mini Holland schemes in outer London in March 2014, intended to become a showcase of town centre streets, which prioritised people moving by bike and on foot over motor traffic.


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