In a development with huge significance for the London Cycle Map Campaign, Transport for London has published a report entitled Central London Grid: Changing the Culture of Cycling in London.
Much of the report reads like a recap of the points I’ve been making on cyclelifestyle.co.uk for years.
TfL are promising to build ‘a new network of routes for a new kind of cyclist’ in the capital; ‘routes for people who want to cycle slowly, in their ordinary clothes, away from most of the traffic’. These ‘Quietways’, on ‘quieter side streets – along with routes through parks and on canal towpaths’, will provide ‘secret cycling passages through London’; they will ‘take you everywhere you need to go, directly and easily’. Ultimately, the network will ‘reduce conflict between other vehicles and cyclists’ and get ‘more woman and older people cycling’.
The report rightly acknowledges that ‘many of these routes already exist – it is often just a matter of guiding cyclists to them’; in addition, the network will incorporate the existing and forthcoming Cycle Superhighways. The overall goal will be to ‘use the quietest roads possible while balancing the need for directness, usability and safety’. ‘Critically’, the routes will involve ‘fewer or no heavy goods vehicles of the type which are hugely over-represented in cycling injuries and deaths’.
As for how the network of Quietways will be engineered, these will be ‘low intervention routes’ on which ‘segregation will not usually be necessary’, since ‘traffic is lighter and travelling more slowly’, and (once again) ‘there are fewer or no heavy goods vehicles’.
It is difficult to overstate the consistency between all of these points and the message the London Cycle Map Campaign has been disseminating for years. For instance, almost nothing in the report hasn’t already been argued for in the 100 Reasons for a London Cycle Map I compiled last year.
To this extent, the Central London Grid report represents a major step forward for the campaign, not to mention a vindication of our efforts, which have been almost entirely unsupported by the major cycle advocacy groups in London as well as nationally.
However, the campaign champagne will remain on ice until the final make-up of the promised network has been established. The report features a few pages of maps showing proposed cycle routes in central London. TfL is inviting feedback on these routes and on any other routes that ‘you think might be missing’, as well as general feedback on the Central London Grid. Also delayed for the time being is ‘any decision about the design of the signs and markings’; TfL needs first to ‘consider the findings from focus groups and research that we commissioned’.
I have written to TfL to emphasise the specific proposals that the London Cycle Map Campaign favours in regard to how London’s cycle routes should be organised, signed and mapped. You can do the same, or explain your own views to TfL, on email@example.com. The deadline for feedback is 14 February, 2014.
Here is a segment from my message to TfL:
For almost four years, [Cycle Lifestyle magazine has] been running the London Cycle Map Campaign, calling for a single 'London Cycle Map' that is clear and easy to use and corresponds to a unified network of signed cycle routes throughout London: the cycling equivalent of the London Underground Map.
Our campaign, which won Ordnance Survey’s GeoVation competition in 2011, has attracted almost 2000 petition signatories and the support of Rob Penn, and has been meticulously articulated in a number of ways, including...
100 Reasons for a London Cycle Map
London’s True Colours: the film for the London Cycle Map Campaign
The London Cycle Map Campaign Guide
‘Leading the campaign for a simple London Cycle Map’ [Guardian article]
...as well as through numerous press releases and blogs which can be read under the ‘London Cycle Map’ menu heading on www.cyclelifestyle.co.uk.
In large part, we have championed the London Cycle Map envisaged by Simon Parker, which employs his clever Compass Colour System.
The Compass Colour System shows how London’s tangle of cycle routes could be re-organised as a series of long, straight, parallel coloured routes. With signs and markings on the roads corresponding to those routes, cyclists could get from anywhere to anywhere on the network by following no more than three coloured routes – an economical solution to mapping, coding and signing the routes on the existing cycle network.
Has TfL been listening to the London Cycle Map Campaign all along? It certainly seems so, but who knows.
I just hope they take this latest piece of advice. After all, the success of the cycle network they are promising will depend on how easy it is to use, and to my knowledge no-one has come up with a better blueprint for creating a useable network of cycle routes in London than Simon Parker.
We’re almost there; let’s hope it’s not so near, so far.
Once again, TfL can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline 14 February 2014.
TfL's Central London Grid report...
Image from the report: ‘Potential examples of wayfinding signage (left) and carriageway markings (right)’