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"Future can't be rolling back cycle routes because politicians and taxi drivers get angry": Cyclist numbers rise on one of London's most heavily-criticised pop-up bike lanes

Transport for London's figures show usage is on the rise...just as six-week consultation looms to decide infrastructure's future...

One of London's most frequently criticised pop-up cycle lanes is attracting rising numbers of cyclists, the latest Transport for London figures reveal.

However, the increase comes with the looming six-week consultation from TfL to decide if the protected infrastructure should be made permanent, modified or scrapped.

TfL's data shows the route has been used by up to 2,400 cyclists a day, with 365 an hour using the bi-directional route along the western flank of Park Lane during peak times.

The lane has received fierce criticism from some who say it has increased congestion, and is unnecessary considering it runs adjacent to the shared-use path inside Hyde Park. Although TfL's data shows the parallel route remains more popular than the pop-up infrastructure, it has cut the number of people cycling along the path shared with pedestrians.

Evening Standard health editor Ross Lydall shared the news of the increased cycle numbers after the monthly data was published in response to a freedom of information request.

Counts were carried out at three points during three different time periods, painting a picture of increased infrastructure usage.

The Park Lane lane was built in May 2020 in response to the the pandemic, as part of the Streetspace programme to encourage Londoners to opt for active travel instead of public transport during the first wave.

> London 'in real trouble' if emergency bike lanes not built soon (+ gallery of new pop-up lane on Park Lane)

The average number of users in the morning peaked at 213 an hour last September and 365 in the evening last July. Increased usage during the summer months is another noticable trend, with the lowest numbers coming with 76 an hour in the morning in February, and 146 in the evening last December.

In total, of the seven months that can be compared on a year-on-year basis, five or six show increased usage.

Simon Munk, of the London Cycling Campaign, told the Evening Standard: "The future for London can't be rolling back cycle routes because some politicians and some taxi drivers get angry with congestion in general.

"If we're serious about the climate crisis, about active travel, inactivity, pollution and road danger we need to connect this route up, we need a lot more routes like it, and we need an end to endless rounds of opposition to any and every cycling scheme by some politicians and vested interests."

Conservative member of the London Assembly, and previously vocal critic of the now-scrapped Kensington High Street cycle lane, Tony Devenish, said the lane is "still remarkably empty for much of the time".

"Bus times have got a bit better but buses are still being held up by a lot of traffic on that road. Often I feel Mr Khan is trying to push cars off the roads but all he is doing is causing more congestion."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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21 comments

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thereverent | 1 year ago
2 likes

The bit of Park Lane used for the cycle lane is the old coach parking area. The remaining car lanes have been reduced but this seems to be TfL trying to reduce it being a car park due to all the roads off Park lane being two lanes wide at most.

They never mention how much of Hyde park was used to make the northbound lanes (to ease congestions, but just filled up).

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Karlt | 1 year ago
1 like

You've got to stop putting these articles on FB, Road.cc. They just attract loads of trolls coming out with the usual hatstand nonsense we've become used to.

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TriTaxMan | 1 year ago
6 likes

Loving the comments on Facebook....

"why do cycle lanes need to be so wide?"

I'm tempted to ask why cars need more than one lane for two way traffic.

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chrisonabike replied to TriTaxMan | 1 year ago
9 likes

It's clearly still too soon for this in the UK but I'm just going to put this down here: mass cycling requires sociable side-by-side cycling.  Just like when you drive around with that seat next to you in case someone else wants to sit in it.

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mdavidford replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
3 likes

Bah - I don't want people trying to socialise with me while I'm cycling!

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 1 year ago
6 likes

it's actually a very useful cycle lane as you can avoid Marble Arch and cut through Mayfair to TCR and be in Regent's Park very quickly. Otherwise the lane through the park goes up to Marble Arch and then to go east takes longer and is more congested. Please TfL - don't scrap this cycle lane. Park Lane already has six lanes for motor vehicles - keep just one for cycles. 

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brooksby | 1 year ago
10 likes

So, a segregated and dedicated new pop up cycle lane is more popular with cyclists than a well established shared-use path. There's a lesson to be learned here, i think...

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JoanneH replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
6 likes

It doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I used to use the shared-use path through the park every day when I worked in an office and commuted. It's a right pain - despite there being a pretty wide path for pedestrians, and the cycle bit being clearly marked by solid white lines, pedestrians tend to wander in and out of the cycle lane. It's 10x worse when there's an event on, especially Winter Wonderland. For added discouragement it has speed bumps. Joy.

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Brauchsel replied to JoanneH | 1 year ago
5 likes

Yep, I used to hate it too. Badly-lit, and with lots of little side-paths that unsuspecting pedestrians would step out from or head towards from the grass straight across the cycle lane. 
You'd think these staunch defenders of pedestrians would be glad that off-pavement cycle provision has been made...

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OldRidgeback replied to Brauchsel | 1 year ago
4 likes

I used to use that cycle lane through the park regularly on my commute. It was pretty bad for oblivious pedestrians crossing it without looking even 20 years ago! I took the shorter pedestrian route through the centre of the park many times when it was empty, either in the morning or evening. I remember me (on my MTB) and a roadie with clipshoes being stopped by a park police officer and made to walk, despite the complete absence of any pedestrians. And it irked me as the previous day I'#d ridden up park Lane on my motorbike, sticking to the 30mph limit whil being overtaken by cars doing around 40mph. 

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Secret_squirrel replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:

So, a segregated and dedicated new pop up cycle lane is more popular with cyclists than a well established shared-use path. There's a lesson to be learned here, i think...

Errm thats not what the article says though....  More people are still using the shared use path.

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brooksby replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
0 likes

It was first thing this morning - give me a break  3

It's actually interesting - the article says that "the parallel route (in the park) remains more popular than the pop-up infrastructure but it has cut the number of people cycling along the path shared with pedestrians."

Does that mean that some cyclists have just disappeared, or does it mean that some of those previous park riders are now using the pop up lane instead?   

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hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
11 likes

We surely know for a fact that if everyone uses a car, then the roads get hopelessly congested (plus all the side effects of pollution, angry drivers etc). How can it possibly be forward thinking to not build cycle infrastructure in high density areas?

Once you get over a certain number of people, the personal car becomes impractical as you need to keep building more roads to try to cope with the traffic, and as you give more and more space over to roads, facilities (e.g. shops, schools, businesses) will necessarily be spaced further apart. This then leads to a requirement for more roads and increased traffic (each person now has further to travel) and facilities become every more separated.

Geometry does not favour individual cars.

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eburtthebike | 1 year ago
10 likes

"Conservative member of the London Assembly, and previously vocal critic of the now-scrapped Kensington High Street cycle lane, Tony Devenish, said the lane is "still remarkably empty for much of the time"."

So are most roads, so presumably he's in favour of removing them?  As the sole representative of the Association of British Cyclists, I think we should apply the same principles to all transport modes, not just the ones hypocritical tories don't like.

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Rendel Harris replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
13 likes

A cabbie on Twitter the other day put up a photo of the Park Lane facility empty at 11AM on a Sunday, saying it proved it should be torn out. I responded with a screenshot from my GoPro of PL empty of cars on the same day at 8.30AM and asked if this showed we should tear Park Lane out. Oddly he didn't respond.

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ktache replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
4 likes

Don't cabbies have some sort of knowledge that might allow them to find different routes that avoid the cycle route caused congestion on park lane?

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Boopop replied to ktache | 1 year ago
7 likes

I'm beginning to think it's that sort of knowledge that's actually unethical. My impression is it generally involves using cut-throughs on residential streets...which explains why so many of them hate low traffic neighbourhoods.

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brooksby replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
3 likes

Exactly. If all roads were congested all of the time then I think there would be a very serious problem, as I'm sure Devenish would agree.

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jaymack | 1 year ago
10 likes

I know it shouldn't surprise me but it does, when will the public work out that it's the motorcar that's the problem? And don't even get me started on whether most people in that part of London actually need a car.

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Rendel Harris replied to jaymack | 1 year ago
3 likes

You're right of course that most people in that part of London don't need a car – though they have to have a very expensive one to show their status - but it's not really locals that are the problem on Park Lane, it's more through traffic resulting from the fact that it marks the edge of the congestion charge zone so it's the quickest north to south route through London without paying the charge. If a certain Boris Johnson had had the courage when Mayor to keep the western expansion of the CC zone and to remove the free routes through it (which included Park Lane) it wouldn't be a problem, but he scrapped it to ensure he kept the favour of the Tory electorate in Kensington and Chelsea.

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thereverent replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
1 like

Park lane was always a 'free route' through the congestion charge zone even during the western extention (as was the Westway)..

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