Sunday, 16 October 2016

Whiston Road

Hackney Council are currently consulting on proposals for Whiston Road as part of the Central London cycle grid. This section of road is historically known as LCN+ cycle route 16, running from Goldsmith's Row to the A10, and then beyond towards New North Road by Shoreditch Park to link up with the route into the City of London via Shepherdess Walk. It also crosses Cycle Superhighway 1 at Britannia Junction, the most dangerous junction for cycling in all of Hackney. It's a very unpleasant road to cycle on as there are no restrictions for motor traffic and so drivers can use this route as a shortcut all the way from Bethnal Green to New North Road.

The diagram of the consultation plans starts in the West where Whiston Road meets the A10. No changes are planned at all here; no restrictions to motor traffic, no protected space for cycling and the awful speed cushions remain. Once under the railway bridge this part of Whiston Road has changed dramatically over the past few years. Or at least the buildings either side have but nothing much has changed on the road itself.

Whiston Road as it was four years ago and today, via Google maps streetview
As you can see despite the regeneration of the buildings either side no changes have occurred on the road, apart from those cycle symbols painted onto the carriageway fading slightly. The road is wide here so a real shame the road was not also reconstructed at the same time the estates were and that safe dedicated cycle tracks were not constructed on this 'cycle route'.

If you're travelling along the pavement on Whiston Road in a wheelchair or with a pushchair then you'll have to walk in the road here. Despite the building on the left only being a couple of years old there is no cycle infrastructure or even wider pavements here yet car parking remains on both sides of the carriageway. The car parking isn't even marked out on the consultation map so I assume they have just ignored it, rather than any plans to remove it,
Just next to here the proposal is for a "raised table with uncontrolled pedestrian crossing and build out". They have recently constructed one of these further along on Whiston Road so this gives a clear indication of what to expect

Clearly easier to cross for pedestrians but a nasty pinch point for people cycling.

A road I used in the Dutch village of 's-gravendeel where the pinch point was in place for drivers, not for people cycling. Also note the road surface here which slows traffic down as cyclists share with drivers in this 30kph (18mph) street
Further east by the junction of Bryant Street a zebra crossing is planned, with build outs again. Bryant Street is a new street, constructed as part of the estate regeneration

This road is mainly used as car parking for the replacement flats (and presumably deliveries as well) but it is not filtered and links Whiston Road with How's Street, two streets that it was not possible to directly drive between before the regeneration. What does not exist on the plans in this consultation (or even on open street map) is two more new roads that are also not filtered on the north side of Whiston Road that now make it possible to drive directly between Whiston Road and Laburnum Street north of it, something that again could not happen before the regeneration began

Thanks to the historical feature on Google streetview we can see exactly how peoples homes have been turned into roads for through motor traffic
This is quite a theme for the regeneration here and it continues on the new estate north of the Regents canal, which was also part of this regeneration scheme. Simply move the slider back in time on google streetview here or here to see some examples of more new through routes for motor traffic

An entrance to a large residents car park under the apartments from one of the new roads. Note how awful it is to cross the car park entrance on foot, especially for those in a wheelchair or with a pushchair as there isn't even a dropped kerb in place
These roads may well be needed for people to access parking and any disabled residents who perhaps need dropping off as close to their door as possible but a shame the new roads could not be built as filtered roads so they can only be used as through routes by people walking and cycling

A residential "access only" road that is also a main cycling route and filtered to motor traffic in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
"Swimmers Lane" is another new route directly alongside the long disused Haggerston Baths, and has been created as a cycling and walking route linking Whiston Road and Laburnum Street

It can be a handy cut through if you want to avoid cycling on the A10 or Queensbridge Road, although I'd personally prefer a wider Dutch style red tarmac cycle track with a slight height difference. It is also used heavily as a cut through by local moped delivery drivers so I'm not always keen on letting my daughter walk through there ahead of me. I also wish they'd install motorcycle parking on the carriageway nearby as the cycle stands are currently often used by motorbikes

They'll be a raised table here making it easier to access but I suspect any children using it will continue to use the pavement once they get to Whiston Road, something I see often and don't blame them!

At the Queensbridge Road junction the proposal is for "low level signals with early release for cyclists" assuming you're willing to ignore the Department for Transport's advice and are eager to continue onto the ASL

East of Queensbridge Road and the plan is for another set of early release low level cycle signals for those cycling West along with another raised table by the entrance / exit to Haggerston Park.  Between the Park and the very busy Goldsmith's Row cycle route there are actually some decent proposals; a removal of all on street car parking (a total of 17 spaces, with some moving to minor side streets). Assuming the new double yellow lines are enforced this should be an improvement, it is just a shame that no car parking is planned to be removed from the western section in this consultation. Another improvement is low level early release signals on all arms of the Goldsmith's Row / Pritchard's Row junction, hopefully putting an end to the regular occurrence of drivers turning right into Whiston Road in front of people cycling ahead towards Broadway Market

So, some minor improvements along the eastern section of Whiston Road but virtually nothing for the rest of it and overall a very poor consultation which offers little to people cycling. Compare it to Camden Council's Central London cycle grid, recently consulted on

Actual dedicated safe cycle tracks, so no sharing with the buses or speeding cement mixers planned here 
Whiston Road between the A10 and Queensbridge Road is easily wide enough for dedicated cycle tracks

Car parking along both sides of the carriageway, two wide traffic lanes and a child cycling on a narrow pavement earlier today
Whether this is cycle tracks along both sides of the carriageway as per the Camden consultation or, if car parking was to be retained, a bi-directional cycle track instead

A bi-directional cycle track I used on a residential road in Breda, the Netherlands. The road as nowhere near as busy with traffic as Whiston Road is but it was a distributor road to other residential roads and also had one bus service running along it. 
Closing the two new roads north of Whiston Road to motor traffic so they are only accessible from Laburnum Street would ensure this cycle track was safe with no turning movements across it risking a collision. Between Haggerston Park and Pritchard's Row there would also be the space for this treatment if the proposed removal of on street car parking were to happen. I fear that the short stretch of Whiston Road outside Haggerston Park is probably too narrow for cycle tracks whilst maintaining two way traffic so perhaps a solution could be turning Whiston Road one way for motor traffic along here to accommodate a cycle track?

A one way street in Haarlem with ample space for two way cycling. Could a similar layout work on The Central London Cycle Grid in Hackney?

This would mean a short diversion of the 394 bus route, perhaps a quarter of a mile south of here via Hackney Road instead, but I would support this if this was to achieve safer cycling conditions, and I say that as a regular user of the 394 having used it twice this weekend.

In their 2015-2025 cycling plan Hackney Council state that they want to make Hackney's roads the safest for cycling in the UK and somewhere where it is second nature for everyone, no matter what their age to cycle. Unfortunately these plans will do little to achieve those aims. If Hackney is, as also stated in this plan, still serious about achieving 5% of primary school children and 15% of secondary school children cycling to school within a little over 8 years time then they seriously need to go back to the drawing board. Unless they want scores of children cycling on the pavement every morning then Hackney Council need to realise that riding in primary position outside of the door zone along Whiston Road, with motor traffic behind you will not appeal to most school children, never mind their parents. If this is what Hackney Council truly believes is a cycle grid then those targets will likely never be met. In the Netherlands 49% of primary school children go to school by bike and more than 90% of children aged over 12 do so, it is surely sensible for Hackney Council to look abroad (but beyond Jen Gehl) if their cycling targets are to be met and children in the borough are to remain safe on bikes.

The consultation closes this Friday 21st October, please respond here

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Quietway 6

Tower Hamlets Council are currently consulting on proposals for their section of the quietway 6 cycle route. This quietway will run from Mile End to Barkingside and the section up for consultation runs from CS2 in Mile End to Hackney Wick on the eastern edge of the Tower Hamlets Border. Since CS2 and CS3 were completed I have switched my cycle commute home from work and now use CS3 and CS2 instead of battling it out with lorries on Hackney Road and cement mixer trucks on Bishops Way. It takes a little longer but it has literally changed my life having a mostly stress free and enjoyable cycle home from work at the end of each day. Presently I come off CS2 at Mile End and use the Regents Canal towpath up to Victoria Park; a very pleasant journey, if a little busy with pedestrians on sunny days. However very soon Victoria Park will be closing shortly after 4pm each day and so I'll have to find another route. As Quietway 6 will run very close to my flat in Hackney Wick this route sounds perfect for me and so I cycled home along it a couple of times last week to check it out.

The first section of this quietway begins by turning off CS2 and left onto Bancroft Road. This is not a welcoming manoeuvre to make as a much more welcoming cycle track stretches out ahead of you on Mile End Road! Every time I have cycled on Bancroft Road it has been busy, which is to be expected with the main entrance of Mile End Hospital located on it, Queen Mary University either side of it and, I suspect, people using it as a cut through from Globe Road to the A11.

I'm not sure a couple of "cycle friendly speed humps" will do much to change the environment here

The route quickly turns left into Alderney Road, where a continuous pavement is planned across the arm of the junction giving priority to pedestrians.

This is great to see but a shame more were not installed along the main road further south when CS2 was built. I'm also not sure why just this one side road gets this treatment in this scheme or even why this is part of a cycling scheme at all - why not just gradually introduce continuous pavements on every side road as part of every future road improvement scheme in Tower Hamlets?

Once into Alderney Road you're travelling West, the same direction you've just cycled from on CS2 so this doesn't exactly feel like progress. I found Alderney Road pretty busy as well with a fair amount of traffic and Mile End Hospital recommend this as a route to drive to the hospital if coming from the East, which possibly explains why. The route then continues round the North Eastern edge of Carlton Square, a very nice green area with pretty Victorian Houses along all sides of it. The plan is to create a "raised area to slow cornering vehicles" at the sharp bend at the top of the square, however from looking at the map a much better solution would be to filter the road here to create a pedestrian and cycling only section. This would also be a positive addition for pedestrians coming out of Carlton Green as well as creating quieter and safer streets for people living in the area

Continuing north along Portelet Road and it is interesting that in a ward where 66% of households have no car roughly the same amount of road space has been allocated for the parking of cars. Three "cycle friendly road humps" are to be installed along this road and my main experience of using these kind of humps is on CS1, which is mostly dreadful to cycle along. I did meet one speeding van but on the whole this street was fairly quiet and both times I cycled along here I saw someone having a driving lesson; a sure sign of low traffic! This area is naturally filtered as with the railway line to the North, the canal to the East and no way to cross either I would assume most people driving here will be either be a local resident or a visitor to the Hospital or University. I still feel a few additional "De Beauvoir Town" style filters would help create a nearly car free area and vastly improve the area for local residents.

At the end of this road Quietway 6 passes under the railway line on an already filtered road, albeit it one that is terrible to access.

The cycle hire docking station will be moved from here and positioned onto the side of the roadway slightly to the left, so no longer any need to cycle up onto the pavement and back down again in a very tight space

If I was to suggest anything here it would be that cycles using Portelet Road and the underpass get priority over the busier Bancroft Road, or even better if the northern end of Portlet Road was closed with a Tiger Crossing leading into the underpass. The underpass itself will get "Lighting improvements and street art" along with "a contrasting surface at same level for indicative cycle track"

The recently refurbished "Dommeltunnel" bicycle tunnel in Eindhoven featuring a clear, smooth cycle track, pavement and a John Cleese Silly walks mural. Something similar here would be fantastic! 
Hopefully the road north of here will be resurfaced as it is in a terrible state and unpleasant to cycle on

The route then takes a zigzagged course into Meath Gardens and I had to get the map out to check which way to go. I'm sure it'll be clearer with cycle way finding signs painted on it but this route does not feel direct. In Meath Gardens itself a few quietway signs are due to be mounted onto posts, along with Shared use tiles inset into the path. Granite rumble strips are also planed to be installed to slow down cyclists but thankfully look easy enough to avoid as the ones in Hyde Park are. The path is a little narrow here - fine for locals to walk or cycle to and from the shops or work but I feel a separate cycle and walking path would be required if this became a well used cycling route, as is the case in Mile End Park nearby.

One things I am pleased to see is the two new apartment blocks either side of this path have direct access for people cycling to their homes, something I saw a lot in the Netherlands,

The route continues on a bridge over the Regents Canal, the same bridge Sadiq Khan used as a photo opportunity when he promised to make London a "byword for cycling" before he became Mayor of London. He is taking his time about it and four people have died cycling in London since he took office, so hopefully plans much bigger than this quietway will be announced soon.

As I cycled over the bridge I looked down onto the canal towpath I usually use to get home and it seemed to have taken longer to get here, having cycled an indirect 1.3km as opposed to .85km had I used the more direct route and stayed on CS2. At the bottom of the bridge the plan is to create a new path to replace the grass where the desire line is

And then routed into a "hidden" part of Mile End Park; tucked away behind the climbing wall it is not visible from the main park or canal path and so most do not know it is here. It is popular with sunbathers who want some peace and quiet but the signs warning that "Uniformed and plain clothed police officers patrol this area" makes me think this quiet and secluded part of quietway 6 is not a viable route to use after dark.

The Toucan crossing over Grove Road is to be widened from 4m to 6m but you still have to hop onto the shared use pavement and then back down onto the road, an awkward manoeuvre that risks conflict with pedestrians on the pavement. I hit the button on the Toucan crossing and waited. And waited, And waited. It was nearly a full minute until the green man appeared and I suspect many won't want to wait that long and will just cross the road on red. As I waited to cross I spotted a woman and her daughter cycling along the pavement on the opposite side of Grove Road and thought, not for the first time in this journey, how resources would be better spent on building protected space on main roads like this, rather than on quietway routes.

The route continues East along fairly attractive residential roads, although the majority of road space is, of course, given over to car parking.

The road is in a terrible condition in places so hopefully resurfacing will solve this

No new filters are planned and the one which has existed for many years is to be slightly improved by removing the two posts either side of the bollard.

basically returning it to how it was a few years ago

Image via google street view

A shame an actual "bicycle road" isn't planned to be built here instead, similar to this scheme on Brill Place in Camden

Image via google street view
After crossing a fairly busy St. Stephen's Road I was then cycling along what felt like an entrance into an estate car park, and the sign on the road then confirmed that is exactly what I was doing.

In a narrow access road alongside the car park I was eyed suspiciously by some local youths gathered around a moped and an aggressive looking dog being taken for a final dump before bed. I don't think I'll be revisiting this section again, especially after dark.

The route then goes onto a shared footpath and then down Galahad Mews, a very narrow alleyway which doors from the block of apartments alongside open directly onto. Surely only a matter of time before someone is hit by a bike as they exit their apartment block if this scheme goes ahead.

Had you been cycling along here a few years ago then you would have been cycling through the Safeway Supermarket car park. That supermarket was demolished some time ago and the site stood empty due to various planning issues. A new Tesco supermarket did finally open here a year ago with blocks of apartments built above it and on the car park with car parking transferred into the basement. The quietway passes between the Tesco entrance and the library, sorry I mean the Bow Idea Store, next door.

You'll have to negotiate through various street furniture and shoppers to progress, probably fine if you're cycling to Tesco but this is really not suitable as a long distance cycling route. It continues round the side of Tesco into Cardigan Road

Across Roman Road and over an improved filter on Libra Road (which is apparently blocked on market days)

And then into Centurion Lane to head north along Armagh Road, a road which I know fairly well and can say with certainty that this is totally unsuitable to be called a quietway. This road is busy and there is an awful lot of car parking in the estates and houses alongside

The plan is to create a "waiting pocket" in the middle of Old Ford Road in order to cross it to access Sycamore Avenue, this is needed as it is a busy road and I found it very difficult to cross last week.

The view of the current "cycling infrastructure" in place on Old Ford Road as you cross over it
It becomes clear the council are desperately trying to find a quietway, as you have to negotiate through cul-de-sacs

Before we run out of quiet roads and the route uses Parnell Road and Jodrell Road, overlooking the small fact that these two roads are lorry and concrete mixer superhighways

The plan here is to paint "Large cycle logos with chevron markings, placed centrally in each lane"

This road already has large "20" signs painted centrally in each lane and these are completely ignored. Speeding is a real problem along here

This road is very busy with motor traffic all day long and I try to avoid it at all costs, as do others. This is not at all a place for those "who want to use quieter, low-traffic routes, providing an environment for those cyclists who want to travel at a more gentle pace" and no amount of centrally placed cycle chevrons will change that.

The mini roundabout on Wick Lane is "to be consulted on separately" and no changes are planned at all for Cadogan Terrace alongside Victoria Park, which should clearly be filtered, particularly as the six lane A12 runs directly alongside so would hardly be an inconvenience.

Halfway along Cadogan Terrace and you turn right as you touch the border with Hackney, to travel on the hooped bridge over the A12

Not sure how that sign could have been damaged at 20mph
Which gives a good view of the quietway on Wallis Road below. It is a bit awkward to access from the bridge so ideally Wallis Road should be closed to motor traffic here and a tiger crossing installed a little to the left of where the current zebra crossing is located

Every single building in this photo to the right of Wallis Road is either currently, or very soon will be, demolished to make way for bland apartments in the sky. Expect an awful lot of construction lorries to be using Wallis Road over the next few years.
The priority at this junction will be changed so cyclists no longer have to give way to travel to the left under the railway line at Hackney Wick station

There used to be a mini roundabout here, which was removed just prior to the Olympics in 2012 and so it seems a shame to be spending money altering the layout of this junction again after just a few years. The road is very narrow under the bridge and I've lost count of the numbers of times I've seen buses almost collide here.

Once past this bridge you're in the London Borough of Hackney, where the quietway will continue into the Olympic Park into Newham and beyond, to be consulted on by different boroughs.

To cycle from CS2 to this railway bridge using the quietway route was about three miles, whereas had I travelled my usual route it would have been just under two miles. Ironically it also would have been a much quieter route along segregated cycle lanes, canal tow paths and Victoria Park and no interaction with concrete mixing lorries. Which leads me onto the question of why this quietway is being proposed at all? There are no real interventions here, it is mainly just adding signs onto some back streets. No filters or traffic reduction is planned and the roads will all stay the same as they are now, except for some reshaped speed humps. Almost every single street is too busy for children to cycle down and families won't be riding on this quietway when it is completed, just as they aren't now. 

Tower Hamlets Council state on the consultation page of this quietway that:

"Quietways are a network of high quality, well signed cycle routes throughout London which run along quieter streets, parks and other off-road routes across inner and outer London. The routes will link key destinations and are designed to appeal to people new to cycling and those who already cycle who want to use quieter, low-traffic routes. Quietways will complement other cycling initiatives in London, such as the Cycle Superhighways."

Yet very little of that is true when you experience this route on a bicycle. In their cycling strategy the council commit to building segregated cycle tracks along Grove Road, linking CS2 with Victoria Park. This is exactly what is needed, along with either a later opening of Victoria Park or segregated cycle tracks on somewhere like Old Ford Road (which would need to be made one way for motor traffic to achieve this). Tower Hamlets Council should be concentrating on building networks and grids along main roads, where people want to go and building cycling routes that connect some of the already excellent routes that exist. Filtering residential roads and building continuous pavements should continue as part of a programme to create better streets for all residents with the added benefit of giving children the option of cycling from their home onto a main road nearby where cycle tracks are available.

Quietway 6 just feels like the council have been given the funding and told they must produce a quietway in their borough. A real waste of resources.

The consultation closes this Friday 30th September. Please respond here.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

A look at the "completed" Cycle Superhighway 1

Last year Transport For London consulted on plans for Cycle Superhighway 1, which I looked at in detail at the time. Construction started almost exactly a year ago and I had always assumed it was due to be completed before Boris Johnson left office, just as the other Superhighways consulted on around the same time were. According to the TFL road modernisation page CS1 is listed as "delivered in April 2016", which is also reiterated in this TFL press release but as you'll see in this post it is far from finished according to the original consultation, although no works have taken place on it since around April. I ideally wanted to wait until it had been fully completed before reviewing it but as it looks like it could be many months, or perhaps even years, before all construction work is completed I'll review it as it is now and then try to come back and write about any more sections that are completed at a later date.

Although Cycle Superhighway 1 was a TFL consultation and paid for from the Mayor of London's "cycling vision" budget the Hackney section of CS1 was designed by Hackney Council and delivered by its contractors.

Section 1

The only change that was planned for the start of the route (or end, depending on which way you're travelling) was for "Signs to highlight the start and end of CS1". A symbol of a bicycle with "CS1" written under it does now exist, painted onto the road at the beginning of Wilson Street (the first of many along this route). A new sign stating that this is Cycle Superhighway 1 is also attached to the lampost informing you that Hoxton (roughly half a mile away) is a 5 minute cycle, cycling to Dalston (around two miles) will take 13 minutes and it is 35 minutes to cycle to Tottenham (nearly five miles away). Therefore the assumption is that you'll be travelling at an average speed of between 8 and 11mph along here; I would personally have preferred it if these signs displayed distances rather than times as obviously not everyone cycles at the exact same speed. Despite the promise there is no sign to mark that you have reached the end of CS1, just an ASL at a busy crossroads in the city with no indication as to where to go next. Assuming you want to travel west into the City or the West End then your choices are to either carry on to the end of Wilson Street where you'll eventually end up on either London Wall or on Moorgate, both very busy, hostile streets with no cycling provision provided, despite their widths.  The most popular option is to turn right into Finsbury Square and a very unpleasant squeeze through three lanes of traffic and parked cars; a route I used to take everyday and am thankful I no longer have to. Although hopefully Islington Council will provide some much needed cycling infrastructure here one day in the near future. Or perhaps, like the City of London, they won't.

Back on CS1 and in the consultation Wilson Street was to be closed to through motor traffic between Worship Street and Dysart Street using two sets of bollards:

But none of this has happened, although the road has, bizarrely been resurfaced with the car parking spaces that were meant to be removed repainted alongside "CS1" signs on the carriageway. There was nothing in the response to the consultation to declare that this scheme would not happen so not sure why this has not been constructed as detailed or why CS1 is listed as "delivered" on the TFL website when there are clearly some fairly major omissions. In the response to this consultation it was declared that they would "remove the bollard from the junction between Wilson Street and Christoper Street, improving access to Finsbury Square for cyclists" but this still hasn't been done, despite seeming like quite a simple piece of work to do.

When I looked at this scheme last year I suggested that CS1 should take priority over Worship Street but unfortunately this was not considered and so it remains difficult, and indeed dangerous, to cross the road on a bicycle here due to it being a very busy rat run that taxis and lorries use between the ring road and Moorgate, rather than use the Old Street roundabout.

Section 2

The plan in the consultation was for the vast majority of space on the "cycle superhighway" along this section to be retained to park private motor vehicles along both sides of the road, although with parking restrictions in place with no parking for five hours from 7-9am or 4-7pm on weekdays. According to the signs these restrictions are still not in place and it is free to park here before 8.30am. The restrictions wouldn't have done anything for me anyway as I tend to head down this way after 9am once I had dropped my daughter off at nursery very close to CS1 in Hoxton. I find this section one of the trickiest to navigate at that time as it seems to be full of  lorries

The Northbound contraflow cycle lane remains in the door zone and is almost always unusable

Underneath that Lorry is a contraflow cycle lane for people cycling in the opposite direction

No changes were ever planned for Leonard Circus as Hackney Council spent half a million pounds turning this into a "Dutch" shared space junction a few years ago. It could actually be quite a nice area but it is totally dominated by motor traffic. All of the cages protecting the trees have been hit and replaced (some several times) due to drivers crashing into them.

Perhaps time to put cages around the cages to protect the cages?
Despite the claims I've never seen anything like this in the dozens of cities, town and villages I've visited in the Netherlands. I certainly can't imagine "anyone of any age" cycling here and it must surely be awful for visually impaired pedestrians.

Section 3

Paul Street was meant to be resurfaced and parking again restricted for five hours a day between 7-9am and 4-7pm but neither of these happened (again you can park here for free until 8.30am) and it remains a super-lorry-park-way.

In the original consultation the road that links Tabernacle Street to Paul Street was to be turned into another "shared space for motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians". However it was stated in the consultation response that this would "no longer be implimented as part of CS1 due to this being a traffic management route for developments currently under construction in Shoreditch." Which basically explains why this area is packed with lorries at peak times. The contraflow cycle track was, however, widened instead. The consultation response states that "The London Borough of Hackney expects to redesign Taberncle Square in the future, although not within the CS1 timeframe." A translation of that is that Hackney Council will rip up the cycle track as they are determined to do this to all cycle tracks in the borough, such as in Eastway and Wick Road. As I said in the post last year this area should be turned into a pedestrianised square, with a cycle track through it, like a smaller version of Haarlemmerplein in Amsterdam.

Section 4

Last year I supported this proposal and stated that this was the only section of the entire course of CS1 where it actually looked like a proper cycle route.

I was, of course, being naive to think that Hackney Council would actually go ahead and build what was consulted on and promised.

Spot the cycle track?
Instead of constructing a clear cycle track through the junction linking Pitfield Street with Paul Street they instead installed some paving complete with dreadful "shared space" signs on them, something that was not in the consultation at all and I would have been very strongly against it if it were!

The cycle track had no height difference to the pavement and was almost the exact same colour so most pedestrians did not recognise a distinction between the two and often exclaimed surprise as to why some one was "cycling on the pavement". This arrangement was dire for people cycling as well as for people walking. I assume the reason for this nonsense being built was so as a tarmacked cycle track didn't ruin the "sense of place" here, yet there is seemingly no problem with motor traffic having six lanes of very distinct tarmac, freshly resurfaced out of the cycling budget, along with speed limit of 30mph. Why not just make the whole area shared space and have thousands of lorries and buses mix with pedestrians? Because it would be absolute chaos, that's why!

The well used cycle track crossing City Road in Islington, I assumed something similar to this would be built in Shoreditch
I was surprised, but also delighted, that in his very final act on his last day as Mayor of London Boris Johnson issued a decision to order the removal of the shared space cycle track 

The scheme which has been built differs from the visual illustrations  which were in the consultation. The cycle track is not distinct in terms of surface colour and cycle symbols at most points  and is labelled as space shared with pedestrians. This has caused pedestrian-cyclist conflict and confusion, with many pedestrians not realising that they are on a major cycling route. It is clear in the visualisation that was used during the consultation that the track would be marked with cycle symbols, not shared space symbols. TfL committed to “investigating the technical feasibility of further improving the colour contrast between the virtual ‘cycle track’ and the surrounding footway.” This is technically feasible and should be implemented without delay.
Serious questions remain unanswered as to how engineers were allowed to differ so much from what was consulted on and it is an absolute disgrace that public money has been spent on fixing this.

Meanwhile on the approach to the crossing from Tabernacle Square tarmac was used however, despite a promise to removed them in the consultation, the three trees that were there were left in place. In the middle of the cycle track.

The cycle track was moved and widened but the trees that were supposed to be removed to make way for it have been left there, leaving the cycle track as too narrow. An utterly ridiculous decision, why not simply have moved the cycle track further to the left if the trees were to remain?
The former Mayor also called for "installation of appropriate and effective vehicle blockage of Pitfield Street" and this does need to happen, but as yet has not.
A segregated cycle track does now finally exist on Old Street if you're cycling Eastbound, between the Fire Station and Pitfield Street, but it is only around 50 metres long and so offers only a very brief respite from the appalling cycling environment of this road. It would be pleasing if it ran all the way from the Old Street roundabout (soon to be removed and gain cycle tracks) to eventually link up with the Clerkenwell Boulevard to the West and Victoria / Olympic Park to the East via Hackney Road.  TFL state in the consultation report that it is not possible to include segregated cycle tracks as "this route forms part of the strategically important Inner Ring Road and that segregated cycle tracks would require the removal of general traffic lanes or the cutting back of footway". Old Street here is six lanes wide, whereas the Inner Ring road either side of it on Great Eastern Street and on City Road is 'only' four lanes wide. Meanwhile the six lane section retains either a wide central reservation or right turn filtering lanes into minor side streets, such as Singer street.

There just simply isn't enough room for a cycle track here
The very first piece of work to take place as part of CS1 last year was to build a "raised table crossing" along Singer Street where it meets Old Street when what they should have done was close it altogether. Once traffic enters Singer street it has to turn left and go through the one-day-to-be shared space Tabernacle Square and then more than likely onto the shared space Leonard Square which means motor traffic cannot be removed from Tabernacle or Pitfield Square without extensive work to change the one way system in the entire area. Although it probably suits TFL to keep rat running vans along CS1 and away from the strategically important Inner Ring Road.

Section 5

When the original consultation was launched I did not understand how turning Pitfield from one way for motor traffic into a two way road benefited cycling. Now this has occurred I can say with definite conviction that this has not benefited cycling in anyway. Closing Pitfield Street at Old Street has made it slightly quieter in terms of motor traffic northbound but this is mainly due to the ban on traffic tuning right into Pitfield Street from Great Eastern Street. Any traffic on Old Street can still access Pitfield Street by using Boot Street and stand here any day of the week and you'll see a constant stream of Taxis, vans and cars performing this manoeuvre all day long.

Before CS1 came along it was impossible to drive South along Pitfield Street for around 350 metres as only cyclists could travel southbound. Since making Pitfield Street two way the road has quickly filled up with drivers using it to access Old Street southbound, something that could not be done before

A recent collision where a southbound driver on Pitfield Street turned left across the path of someone cycling northbound, a conflict that would have been impossible here before CS1 was built 
Leon Daniels: "Many existing and potential cyclists are not aware of direct cycle routes along quieter streets, such as the route that CS1 would follow. These plans will provide a clear and safe cycling route into central London" 

One argument I have heard about this change is that this creates an opportunity to filter Pitfield Street but if this is the case when why was filtering not part of the original consultation? To make Pitfield Street a truly quiet "access only" street suitable for anyone to cycle on you'd need to close at least half a dozen roads to through traffic, something I'm not too sure would happen following the councils disastrous London Fields filtering consultation. For the time being Pitfield Street is now open for through traffic in both directions and so the only people who have benefited from this section of the scheme are drivers who now have a handy cut through south to Old Street

Surely keeping Pitfield Street one way for motor traffic (whilst also closing the Southern end of it) would have been a way to create more dedicated space for people cycling ? 
A number of "raised tables" were promised for some of the side roads along Pitfield Street, these have been carried out but continuous pavements would have been better

A small improvement for pedestrians crossing the side road here but this layout makes it look like the car has priority whereas a continuous pavement makes it appear as though pedestrians do. In fact just north of here and a continuous pavement has actually been installed

This is past a bin store for a block of flats, a shame this wasn't trialled on some of the side roads. Also disappointing that the pavement slopes down to roadway level to help the refuse collectors who use it once a week!

Section 6

In the post looking at CS1 last year I was very much against creating yet another massive pavement here and forcing cyclists to take the lane in primary position on a narrowed road, with so much space available.

I stand by that comment, although the new green space outside the shops is very nice indeed, I can't understand why space was not reserved for creating dedicated space for cycling on the road, with so much space to play with. The new arrangement would be fine if Pitfield Street was filtered and was truly quiet but it isn't; this road can still be very busy, especially at rush hour.

School Children cycling home on CS1. Unfortunately they are using the huge pavement to do so, not the road alongside
This is one of the reasons I was a bit dubious about the London Cycling Campaigns "mini Holland for every Borough" pledge in the London Mayoral elections. Whilst Waltham Forest are working on some excellent schemes with the funding I fear that if you offered Hackney Council money for a mini-Holland then they would widen a lot of pavements with cyclists left on a narrower road to act as a traffic calming measure, and then label it as a cycling scheme.

Will removing cycle segregation and forcing people to cycle in primary position in front of lorries always disappoint? For the vast majority of the population of Hackney it will, yes. 

Section 7

This is one of the worst sections of the entire route of CS1 to cycle along. It is absolutely dominated by motor traffic travelling through here all day long and no measures were ever planned to change this. All that was offered here was a very slight reduction in parking and some cycle wayfinding signs.

before and after the superhighway; the cycle symbols have been removed and replaced by cycle symbols a metre further away with "CS1" written underneath them. 
I've had more close passes cycling along here in the past year than I have on every other road in Hackney put together

If you use this route on a daily basis then, whilst the majority of drivers will likely be driving safely, you will still get aggressive drivers, close passes, abuse for being "in the middle of the road" and various other situations which most London cyclists deal with on a regular basis, before many often decide the risk isn't worth it and finding alternative forms of transport

Councillor Feryal Dimirci: "This will be the first time in London that we will be creating a safe haven for cyclists and pedestrians over so wide an area"

Whilst Hackney Council do offer free cycle training they, just like TABS, are clear that this has limitations and many people are unlikely to cycle in these conditions, trained or not.

From the Hackney Council cycling plan

The new speed humps have been built with a smoother shape and are fine to cycle over but the reason they exist here at all tells you that this route is simply not suitable to be a "Cycle Superhighway"

A new smother speed hump on CS1 on Pitfield Street, alongside the aftermath of a high speed crash
Mark Mascar, CS1 project manager: “CS1 is a great opportunity for people to ride and walk safely in an environment that is dedicated for them and away from traffic on some of London’s most congested roads."

Boris Johnson: "This Cycle Superhighway will provide cyclists with a direct, protected route along quiet streets, making it even easier for people to hop on a bike rather than getting in their cars."

Phillip Glanville, Hackney Labour Mayoral candidate: "some of our roads are too narrow to provide segregation, high quality public realm, and sustain bus times. But where there is space let’s use it to improve the space for cycling and pedestrians, some of our best schemes like Pitfield Street do this, but I know there are still obstacles on these routes."

Some car parking was moved from the carriageway onto the pavement as Hackney Council are happy to give up pavement space for cars, just never for cycling

anytime I see a child cycling here it is always on the pavement and I don't blame them, this road just is not safe enough and it carries far too much motor traffic. 

The google Maps streetview car even caught a couple of adults cycling on the pavement when it travelled along here this year

At the point where Pitfield Street becomes Whitmore Road we come to a crossroads, known locally as Britannia Junction, where Cycle Superhighway 1 meets LCN+ cycle route 16. No changes were planned here as Hackney Council spent £600,000 removing the roundabout here five years ago, compete with mammoth unused pavements and forcing cyclists to ride in a central position on a narrowed road. This was despite there being plenty of space available for cycling infrastructure and (although both being labelled as cycle routes) these roads being exceptionally busy with motor traffic. In the three year period after this boondoggle project was created statistics show that this was the most dangerous junction for cycling in Hackney, with more than twice as many cycling casualties occurring here than at any other junction in the borough. The Times also reported that this was the 7th most dangerous junction for cycling in all of the UK. Ideally the crossroads here should be removed and replaced with a roundabout, with segregated cycle tracks on it rather than creating a vanity project which focuses on places looking pretty being more important than ensuring people travelling through those places are safe.

A British version of a Dutch roundabout created by Paul James - ideal for a cycle superhighway
North of Britannia Junction  and they drilled down to the old cobbles here to resurface it, reshape the speed bumps and paint CS1 and parking spaces on it. The problem is it is still dominated by motor traffic and so children cycle on the pavement, where they are safe.

Whitmore Road more than a year apart, before and after CS1

In my post on the consultation this is what I had to say about this section and I still think this

A horrendous place to ride a bike and the type of road which makes people give up cycling once they get to a certain age, or after a certain number of close passes. It is nothing short of a scandal that no dedicated cycling provision or removal of motor traffic is being offered here, on what is meant to be a "cycling superhighway"

I also suggested that the Georgian Whitmore Bridge should have painted cycle lanes on it with cars giving way to each other but that never happened and so parents with children cycle on the pavement here instead. 

I must admit I have cycled on the pavement here with my daughter on my bike to get to the safety of the Regent's Canal from her nursery nearby, something I don't like to do but I've encountered far too many speeding, texting, aggressive drivers along here to risk it

The only way to make this section safe and inviting for anyone to cycle on would be to turn the whole stretch one way for motor traffic to create dedicated space for cycling or close around 20 roads to through traffic.

Section 8

The improvements planned for De Beauvoir Road at Northchurch Terrace have not happened. Once CS1 turns left into Northchurch Terrace conditions improve hugely and this is the only section of CS1 that is truly suitable for anyone, of any age, to ride a bike. The reason for this is due to over half a dozen filtered roads keeping out through motor traffic creating an almost car free area. These roads have all been closed since April 1974 following effective campaigning from local residents and I've written how the closures came about here.

The Culford Road / Englefield road junction was another part of the scheme that was used as a visualisation in the original consultation.

However this junction does not look anything like this as no works have taken place on it and so it remains a very awkward junction to cross on a bike. TFL stated in the consultation response that "we are further evaluating the the merits of the current proposal compared with alternative design solutions, with a view to providing a solution that benefits cyclists and pedestrians, while also accommodating the needs of local residents". In my post last year I welcomed the filtering of Ardleigh Road but stated that with no filtering of Culford Road I was concerned that this scheme would actually push more motor traffic onto CS1. I was therefore delighted when TFL launched another consultation shortly later which proposed not only filtering Culford Road but also several other roads in the area to make the Northern half of De Beauvoir Town free of through motor traffic, just as the Southern half has been for over 40 years.

I was a little surprised to tune into the local TV channel London Live one morning after this consultation was launched to hear two local residents both arguing against this scheme due to the restrictions for their car journeys. One of the residents even complained that this would cost her more money per year as she would have to use more petrol to drive to her house!

One of the roads that was proposed to be filtered is Tottenham Road and local residents campaigned for this road to be closed to through motor traffic outside the school back in 1975

"Homes before roads". Members of the De Beauvoir Association campaign for Tottenham Road to be closed to motor traffic in 1975  and the same view today. 
It is wonderful to see that the filter on Tottenham Road will go on the exact same spot where local residents campaigned to close it 41 years ago. Whilst the road has remained unfit for kids for all that time local children will now be able to safely use the road to get safely to school by bike and can safely play in the road after school as well. However I find it very sad to see in the consultation report that in 2016 the De Beauvoir Association opposed these road closures as it would lead to"longer journey times" and also due to the "cycling danger to pedestrians". What a difference 40 years makes; De Beauvoir Town is a very affluent area these days and it is a real shame that some local motorists oppose these changes. Transport for London had a very good response to this in their consultation report:

As for impact on surrounding roads with displaced traffic causing congestion or additional pollution the closures will go in under an 18 month experimental traffic management order so this can be monitored and closures either revised or removed if there is significant impact. This also occurred in 1974-1975 in the Southern half of De Beauvoir Town before the closures became permanent so hopefully this can be a standard procedure when further area wide filtering is proposed anywhere in the borough in future.

Section 9

The public opted for Option B on Balls Pond Road; a bidirectional segregated cycle track running from Culford Road to Kingsbury Road. A year and three months on from committing to this (subject to technical and operational feasibility) and nothing has happened here.

A bidirectional cycle track along Edward Street on Quietway 1 via The Ranty Highwayman - why has a similar layout not been built on CS1 yet?
I find it odd that CS1 is listed as "delivered" when major gaps like this exist in the scheme

Local residents campaigning in the 1970's for a safe pedestrian crossing on Balls Pond Road for their children and the same spot today where a crossing now exists. A cycle track should also now exist here to allow children to safely cross by bike but as yet has not been constructed. 
Section 10

Most of the changes along Boleyn Road appear to have been carried out but these are just cosmetic changes; this road is totally unsuitable to be a cycle superhighway without drastic changes, as it is far too busy with motor traffic

Before and after CS1 on Boleyn Road
Wordsworth Road has not been closed at the junction with Boleyn Road as was planned in the original consultation. In the consultation response it was reported that "The London Borough of Hackney will investigate a scheme to reduce through motor traffic from surrounding roads, and make the wider area more cycle-friendly. If an area-wide scheme is not achievable within CS1 timescales, the current proposal to make the junction of Wordsworth Road and Boleyn Road cycle-only will be implemented."

Section 11

Last year I wrote the following about this section:

"Wordsworth road is a busy rat run and whilst the closure of the southern end of the road may help reduce this, traffic can still use it as a through route from the A10. Therefore Bennett Road should also be closed to ensure this can no longer be used as a through route. The roundabout should also be removed"

And I'm delighted to report that late last year, at the same time as the De Beuvoir filter consultation was out TFL ran a consultation on exactly that and Bennett Road will be filtered, along with Wordsworth Road and Salcombe Road, which will enable the removal of all through traffic from this small area. This should make a very short section of CS1 along Wordsworth Road suitable for anyone to cycle on but, more importantly, over half a dozen streets in the area will become much, quieter, nicer areas for local residents to live and safer streets for local children to use, just as is the case in De Beauvoir Town. There was some opposition from local residents to this and I do agree with them to a point; Cycle Superhighways should not be sent down residential streets. Changes such as this should occur to allow safe roads for local children, elderly and other vulnerable people to make their way by bike to the A10, or other main roads, where segregated cycle tracks await them. The fairly recently built layout at the filtered end of Wordsworth Road is not a very good layout considering the space available

The Northern end of Wordsworth Road before and after on google streetview. The cycle track is too narrow here and difficult to see, leading to possible conflict between people walking and cycling
Below is a residential road in Breda, in the Netherlands which has been filtered. Although not a perfect layout this is what the cycle track should look like

This is not a "cycle superhighway" just a residential road filtered for local residents to use but through motor traffic is kept out. Cycle tracks are also available on main roads nearby

Nevill Road and Defoe Road have been resurfaced and CS1 signs repainted on them but these roads are again not suitable for a cycle superhighway; they are busy, sometimes narrow and have car parking along both sides of them

Section 12

The two new traffic islands providing a safe waiting area for cyclists crossing Stoke Newington Church Street have not been built and therefore it remains unsafe to cross Stoke Newington Church Street. This is a very busy street with over 70 buses an hour at peak times with two cyclists seriously injured in collisions at this junction in recent years. It was always a mistake to route the superhighway along here without segregated cycle infrastructure

And that is pretty much where my preview of the plans ended last year and where my review will this year as I honestly can't bear to cycle any further north along here. I haven't even seen an inch of CS1 in Harringay but from what I have seen on twitter I'm not missing much

The vast majority of Cycle Superhighway 1 in Hackney is not suitable to be called a superhighway. In fact most of it is not suitable to be called a quietway; how can a cycle superhighway contain so much motor traffic and have so many speed bumps? There is absolutely nothing super about it at all. It continues to amaze me that something like CS1 in Hackney and CS3 in Central London are two of the same thing; CS1 feels like the past and CS3 feels like the future.

Transport for London commented on routing CS1 away from the A10 in the consultation response: "As stated in the Mayor's Vision for Cycling, Cycle superhighways need not run along busy arterial roads. Alternatives should be considered if they provide cyclists with a good level of service, as they do in this case. We are confident CS1 will provide an inviting and pleasant cycling environment for existing and, crucially, new cyclists. This supports the Mayor's strategy to normalise cycling in London. Perhaps the most successful section of existing superhighway, CS3 between Tower and Poplar, runs on side streets."

CS1 and CS3 along side streets. Which would you prefer your children cycle on?

I've cycled from Mile End to Buckingham Palace at the weekend with my four year old along CS2 and CS3 but I wouldn't cycle along any of CS1 with her despite the fact she went to nursery right alongside it for a year! As long as Hackney continues to focus on cycling infrastructure which only suits fast, confident adult cyclists then the growth of cycling in Hackney will always be limited. I don't want to be fast when I'm cycling with my daughter; I want to be safe. CS3, CS6 (and most of CS2) manage this.

I only used CS1 after dropping her off as it was the most convenient route into Central London, now she goes to school further East I'll use the A10 instead. Cycle Superhighway 1 should be on the A10 as that is the most convenient route for most people. It would link Tottenham, Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, Dalston, Haggerton and Shoreditch directly with the city and pass the main shops and busineses that people want to visit along the way. It could continue down to London Bridge and link up with CS3, forming a grid and truly making Hackney a cycling borough. Tweaking decades old back street cycling routes will have little effect on people taking up cycling and continuing to ignore the A10 will mean it'll remain the most dangerous road for people on bikes in Hackney.

Anna Hughes has also written about CS1 in her blog here. Michal has uploaded a video of him cycling the entire route of CS1 here.