Saturday, October 23, 2010

Victoria Gyratory - London's Worst Cycling?

There is no shortage of contenders for London's worst cycling roads, but Victoria gyratory is a particularly strong play.

The approach to Victoria along Ebury St is not bad - contraflow cycle lanes and relatively quiet. As you get to the end of Ebury St, this is what awaits you:

The logical thing to do would be to go straight on into Beeston Place, but no, TfL don't want you to do that. They've made Beeston Place no-entry. They'd rather you had fun riding round the busy multi-lane gyratory, which is both longer and a lot more dangerous.
The first leg of your detour takes you up Grosvenor Place:

Notice it's plenty wide enough to squeeze in a cycle lane, but TfL don't want to do that. They've avoided all unsightly lane markings so it's a total free-for-all.

As you approach the junction with Lower Grosvenor Place (above), notice how wide the right-turn lane is. Tons of room for a cycle lane there.
But not a sausage - not even an advance stop line. Never mind, maybe it'll get better round the corner in Lower Grosvenor Place, so we'll turn right:

Nothing. Roadspace in spades, but nothing for cyclists. That's what TfL refer to as 'balancing transport modes'.

Above, we approach the Buckingham Palace Road junction,

It's 2-way now. As you can see, there's acres of space. You could get a wide mandatory cycle lane in and still get an oil tanker in the remaining tarmac. At least there's no parking though.
Duh, spoke too soon. (above).
Above: no approach lane and no ASL at the junction of Buckingham Gate and Birdcage Walk.

Above: what an embarrassment to London. This is the sovereign's residence on the left, and there's a motorway running past it, like she lived on a Birmingham council estate. No wonder Her Majesty doesn't ride a bike.What must the tourists think?

Victoria sums up what's wrong with cycling in London. Just when you need decent cycle facilities, there's nothing. You cannot easily avoid Victoria without a considerable detour. Yet there is plenty of roadspace here: TfL don't even have that excuse. In addition, they've turned Beeston Place into a one-way rat-run for no apparent reason.


  1. Yes! And another thing is, try coming over Vauxhall bridge and getting on to Victoria Street but avoiding the ridiculous loop around Wilton Road and Bressenden Place.

    I know, you think, just turn right off Vauxhall Bridge Road into one of the side roads. How about Francis St? Oh wait, it's one way. Rochester Row then? No right turn. Udall St? No right turn. Bloomburg Street? No right turn. Stanford Street? No entry. Osbert Street? Raised kerb in the way. Chapter Street? No entry. Argh.

    This is obviously a deliberate move to stop traffic cutting through the back streets, but to confine cyclists to such a restrictive system is dangerous. Practically everyone makes an illegal right turn, mounts the pavement or goes the wrong way down a one way street at some point rather than going round an unnecessary loop which has you jostling with all the Victoria bus station large vehicles and taxis, not to mention the very high traffic light density to deal with the station footfall.

    I hate Westminster Council.

  2. But streets like these are just too narrow to put in safe, convenient cycling infrastructure like they do in the Netherlands!

  3. Even if you walk your bike through Beeston Place it's nearly impossible to enter Lower Grosvenor Place because the light sequencing doesn't allow any gap in the traffic.

    This gyratory is horrendous and like most systems of its type, generates traffic volumes and speeds that are totally out of place in a city centre. I sometimes housesit for a friend in Pimlico and the Victoria gyratory is an unavoidable part of my route to work. I normally cycle everywhere, but after a week of this I almost always start taking the bus because it (along with Trafalgar Square) is so unpleasant to cycle through.

    TfL gave me this enlightened response when I enquired:

    Transport for London does have an ongoing programme of works for improvements across all modes. We currently have a scheme at preliminary study stage for Grosvenor Gardens, Ebury Street and Beeston Place; the aim of which is to make cycling at this gyratory safer for cyclists. As this is currently at study stage we do not have a definite date for delivery of this scheme. As with all schemes, delivery will be subject to consultation, approvals, prioritisation against other schemes and funding.


    PS Just came across your blog and read back pages and pages, very insightful. Happy cycling!