Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Local roads in London: up to 75% of peak traffic is now people on bicycles and yet there is no consistent policy for making those roads safe for cycling

Here's one we don't have. Protected bike lane down the centre of Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC.
US Senate in the distance. 
Back in June, Transport for London issued the results of a detailed central London bicycle census. The numbers showed that during the morning peak, 24% of all vehicles inside the congestion charge are bicycles. Average that out across an entire 24 hours and you get 16% of all vehicles.

For some reason, however, TfL never published the full results at the time.

Handily, I have now obtained those results and the more intrepid among you can delve into the data yourselves. I've uploaded the morning peak data and the afternoon peak data.

For those of you who don't want to trawl the data, here's the morning rush hour data in summary. I was fairly stunned to see the numbers on Kennington Park Road, a route I use most mornings. The percentages are also fairly stonking. But what's just astonishing is to see figures in the high 50%+ range even outside the congestion charge area on places like Chelsea Bridge or, in fact, Kennington Park Road. Just as staggering are the numbers at places like Parliament Square which is downright hostile for cycling. The entry roads are all designed in a way to actively suppress cycling (in my view) and yet people have to cycle here and do so in huge numbers.

Morning peak - cyclists between 7 - 10am at various sites
Most of the streets listed above are fairly sizeable roads. It is equally telling to look at quieter streets on local roads. Streets like Black Prince Road in Lambeth where people on bikes are 65% of the traffic in the mornings; Paul Street in Hackney (75%); St John's Street in Islington (54%).

What is so damning about all of this is that even on local roads where the number of people on bikes is more than 50% of the peak traffic, the quality of the experience for cycling is utterly random.

Bike counts on local roads in London, rather than main roads, during the morning peak

Black Prince Road is a residential street with one bus route. Apart from a few elephants' feet road humps which do nothing to slow the traffic, motor traffic can roar down here as much as it likes. Paul Street, however, is 'filtered' so that motor traffic can't blast through the entire street, it only really makes sense to drive here if you're going somewhere on this street. St John's Street has a laughable bike lane filled with parked cars despite the massive width of the street. It is to London's shame that routes that are dominated by bike-traffic are so utterly inconsistent and the experience for cycling on these bike-dominated routes is made deliberately haphazard in a way that would never be acceptable for driving.