#67: MULTI-SPEED ROUTES. The LCC’s Go Dutch campaign is calling for segregated cycle lanes on London’s main roads and major junctions. While such developments would a good thing in some cases (some cases: we can’t, and wouldn’t want to, shove cars and trucks out of the way indiscriminately), there are numerous problems with the LCC’s proposal, which I’ve discussed elsewhere.
The LCC’s main argument for Go Dutch – one which they deem to defeat all criticisms – is that main roads are faster to cycle on. I’m not convinced this is true, especially when there’s traffic congestion (or when red lights are abided by). But let’s admit for argument’s sake that when the traffic is moving quickly and the green lights are smiling, cyclists on main roads can get up a head of steam better than they can on the generally wavier, quieter streets of the London Cycle Network.
The thing is, this would all change with segregated cycling facilities on main roads! Suddenly, cyclists on these roads would be confined to a narrow space where overtaking is harder. Generally, the fastest possible speed would become the slowest rider’s speed.
The speediest cyclists could of course move back into the main flow of traffic, but then they’d be in more danger than they would be if the segregated cycle lanes weren’t there, since there’d be less room on the road.
In other words, segregated cycle lanes on main roads would either slow cyclists down or make them more vulnerable – not the intended result. It always helps to read between the lines: if you really want cycle quickly on main roads, then don’t Go Dutch!
On the routes of the London Cycle Map, a range of cycling speeds would be possible. Because drivers would soon swap their cars for bikes or choose roads with fewer pesky cyclists, the whole road space in any direction would generally be available to stream cyclists according to speed. The fastest cyclists could overtake the slowest ones, like on a motorway.
London Cycle Map routes would be multi-speed routes. They’d almost always be faster than segregated routes on main roads where the slowest rider sets the pace.