Why aren’t the authorities and the LCC telling people to stop cycling on Bow Roundabout?

In four years of running Cycle Lifestyle magazine I have resisted the urge to comment whenever a cyclist is killed in the capital. I find it crass that newspapers and campaign groups all converge on the news, like in one of those feeding frenzies shown on David Attenborough's Blue Planet. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.

And nothing attracts a crowd like ill-thought out, rhetorical nonsense.

Cycle Superhighways are ill-thought, rhetorical nonsense dressed up as policy. Most people, including most cyclists, are wary of cycling on main roads. So TfL pandered to the fears of everyone by daubing blue paint along a handful of the capital’s biggest, most salient main roads.

Never mind whether those roads, with lorries and buses and cars hurtling along them, were actually made safe by the blue lines, or whether there were alternative cycle routes that could have been made more accessible.

Keep it simple and sensational and the media will gather round.

So too, it seems, will the cycle campaigners. The London Cycling Campaign is, in effect, calling for the continuation and expansion of the Cycle Superhighways policy (no surprises there: the LCC is partly funded by the government) by imposing cycle facilities, albeit better ones, onto more main roads and major junctions in London.

Never mind whether this dream is remotely feasible in practice. Never mind how the economy is supposed to function when the capital’s motor arteries have been attenuated by cycling infrastructure.

Keep it simple and sensational and the media will gather round.

Why aren’t the authorities and the LCC telling cyclists to stop cycling on Bow Roundabout (at least until suitable infrastructure improvements are made, assuming they can be made at such a complex traffic interchange)? Is it because neither the government nor the campaigners can admit that their ideas have been wrong? Is it because the greater the ongoing ‘conflict’ between motorists and cyclists in the capital, the more government officials and cycle campaigners need our money to fix things?

I’ve never been to Bow, but when I’m cycling I take the backstreets so as to avoid massive, potentially dangerous roads and roundabouts. If I can’t avoid them, I dismount and use the pavement.

I want to help all cyclists avoid the worst areas for cycling in London. So Cycle Lifestyle is calling for a Tube-style ‘London Cycle Map’ showing a network of signed cycle routes on quieter streets or on main roads and major junctions that have already been provisioned properly for cyclists, enabling cyclists to get safely from anywhere to anywhere in the capital by following a few trails of colour. The whole project would cost a fraction of the Superhighways scheme, but that doesn't mean that future cycle developments on main roads should never been an option, simply that the priority for these developments, where they are possible at all, should be making the routes on the network more direct.

A London Cycle Map doesn’t sound simple or sensational. But its results would be.


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