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Cyclists despair as bike markings painted in door zone "without any thought", but council claims project "carefully developed in line with guidance"

One cyclist described the road update as "the usual paint is not infrastructure planned by someone who has never ridden a bike"...

A London council has defended its decision to deliver on its promise that "safety is top priority" by painting bicycle markings along a Soho street including, to some cyclists' despair, in the 'door zone' of car parking bays.

One rider, who goes by the Bob From Accounts name on social media, said Old Compton Street had become an example of "how not to do urban planning" and could end up "persuading cyclists to cycle into parked cars" or their opening doors.

"It's a one-way street which allows cyclists to cycle up the wrong way," he told road.cc. "One morning last week, the council painted a lot of bike signs on the road with no thought about the existing parking spaces or door zones. The usual paint is not infrastructure planned by someone who has never ridden a bike."

However, when asked about the road update, Westminster City Council insisted that "safety is the council's top priority" and said the proposals were "carefully developed in line with Department for Transport guidance".

Bike markings Old Compton Street, Soho (Bob From Accounts)

Explaining the markings further, a spokesperson went on to state that in line with Cycle Infrastructure Design (LTN 1/20), regular signage on contraflow cycling routes was required, at no greater than 75m intervals, before and after side roads, loading/parking bays and bus stops.

The council also suggested that the fact a cyclist would not be able to ride in primary position anyway, due to the contraflow nature of the route, meant the cycle symbols had been positioned no closer than 0.5m from the kerb. A Stage 2 Road Safety Audit was also conducted with any safety concerns highlighted investigated using LTN 1/20 guidance.

The whole situation did however leave Bob From Accounts wondering why the council does not just "close this road for 20 hours a day".

"Apart from deliveries no one should be encouraged to drive into Soho," he suggested. "My main bugbear is that private vehicles should not be encouraged on Old Compton Street. It's a thriving area that would benefit from fewer vehicles and Westminster Council should have the courage to restrict access and limit it to timed deliveries only.

> "This is not safe cycling infrastructure": Cyclist calls out much-criticised painted contraflow cycle lane between door zone and oncoming drivers that "invites conflict"

"In the evenings it's a horror show of thousands of pedestrians having to dodge traffic. Equally, as someone who cycles down this street every day, I'd be just as happy for no cycling on this street if Westminster would restrict through-traffic in Soho. Wardour Street is nothing but a rat-run between Shaftsbury Avenue and Oxford Street. It's embarrassing that such a major city has all this traffic running through one on the most iconic nightlife areas in Europe."

The council also commented: "Cycling is a great way to get around the city, and the council aims to enhance cycling and walking routes across Westminster to reduce carbon emissions and improve the health of our residents."

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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12 comments

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mitsky | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

I don't know what the formal meaniing is for those bike markings on roads.

But given cyclists are fully legally allowed to use any road (except motorways)... unless the road is actually one-way only without being two-way for cyclists, then I think the markings are absolutely redundant and a waste of money.

At no point will we ever see a similar marking on a road of a car or other form of motorised transport, nor horses etc.
Why is it the case that we need them for cyclists?
Is it not a case of discrimination?

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OldRidgeback | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Apart from deliveries, you'd be mad to drive down Old Compton Street. It'd be good if it was closed to traffic during peak hours with deliveries only allowed in the early hours of the morning. 

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LeadenSkies | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

I would not want to use that contra flow cycle "lane". It isn't a lane anyway as there isn't even any magic paint let alone proper delineation of a cycle lane. The bike markings on the road don't clearly indicate a contra flow bike lane so will undoubtedly lead to conflict with car drivers. The road isn't wide enough for parked vans, cars and a contra flow bike, just asking for conflict. Another example of crap infrastructure and if it meets the guidance then it doesn't say much for the quality of the guidance either.

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Topgearsgone | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

An accident waiting to happen, but not because of the cycle road markings or their position, but because the council seem to think it's a good idea to have cyclists riding against the flow of traffic. The road is not wide enough to allow vehicles to pass cyclists riding in the opposite direction particularly if there are parked vehicles as shown in the picture, and who is going to give way, certainly not the cyclists given their new powers under the hierarchy of road users.

Surely a more sensible approach if it's absolutely necessary to allow cyclists to ride against the traffic flow, and the obvious need to allow vehicle parking, if only to load/unload, would be to prohibit parking on the right side (left side looking at the photo), allow parking or at least loading and unloading on the left and create a proper cycle lane on the right hand side for cyclists travelling against the traffic flow. Simples! But obviously not that easy for our councillors or those who design our roads.

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jkirkcaldy replied to Topgearsgone | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

The road is actually wider than it looks in that photo. and traffic is moving so slowly it's pretty safe to cycle down. (it's part of my commute) 

 

TBH, I don't think this is much of an issue. in the mornings nearly all the traffic is delivery vehicles and people were already cycling down that road before it was allowed. The council putting the paint down is only really just to let the other road users that the people on bikes are allowed to cycle now. 

 

Shutting the road to traffic other than deliveries wouldn't make much difference as appart from delivery vehicles, the rest of the traffic is mostly Taxis and they get a pass for most things these days because of their usual arguments. 

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dubwise | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Is this not the norm though? I can think of a number of cycle lanes with this issue.

Obviously not right but this isn't an isolated case.

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wycombewheeler replied to dubwise | 3 weeks ago
2 likes
dubwise wrote:

Is this not the norm though? I can think of a number of cycle lanes with this issue. Obviously not right but this isn't an isolated case.

If anything, as bad as this is, at least with a contraflow lane the cyclist is approaching the parked vehicle from in front of the driver. So they should be seen.

But the council quote a lot of guidance about these marking, but none that specify they should be painted in the door zone. If anyone gets injured by a dooring here the council should be sued for negligence.

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ymm | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Flipping hopeless decision making and delivery. The lack of thought and common sense is plain to see. Non-cyclist thinking in evidence. Why not put the bike symbol in the centre of the lane? Seems so obvious to do so if you have ridden a bike.

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stonojnr replied to ymm | 3 weeks ago
1 like

Because its a contra flow cycle route, the markings are there to reinforce you can cycle the wrong way up a one way street.

they aren't there to provide some kind of desire line or cheat guide route for you to follow.

Though I'm sure if they did put the cycle logo, note theres no lane markings, as you suggest, someone else on twitter would complain it was encouraging cyclists to ride in a dangerous head on position to oncoming vehicles.

It's Old Compton Street, there's a bit of give and take needed for navigating these roads safely.

Bobfromaccounts needs to worry less about stuff like this and just ride

You ride where you need to based on what's infront of you

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Bungle_52 replied to stonojnr | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Completely agree with your comments and completely disagree with this from the council :

"The council also suggested that the fact a cyclist would not be able to ride in primary position anyway, "

I would be able to ride primary and I would ride primary, until the car heading towards me slowed down or stopped when I'll move into the gap they leave. It's worked for me every time I use the contraflow in the center of Cheltenham with similar markings.

I think the marked narrow lanes in dooring zone are much worse because they do imply that the cyclist should be in the marked lane.

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stonojnr replied to Bungle_52 | 3 weeks ago
1 like

theres a section of NC51, so its National Cycle Route, as you head into Felixstowe, nearly two miles of advisory cycle lane, most of its treated like a car park anyway, but theres two significant sections where you are put right in the door zone for cars parked in marked spaces, or just fully on the pavement

here (and just so people know a cyclist was killed and crushed under a truck at that roundabout)

https://maps.app.goo.gl/5TXr7X1hQuq8x3gWA

and here

https://maps.app.goo.gl/ghyZfvoF5n8bAJcG9

so do I ride rigidly in those lanes, no I do not. I assess the danger and ride accordingly.

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john_smith replied to stonojnr | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Yup. Not that difficult really.

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