Monday, September 20, 2010


Gridlock in the West End this lunchtime. Here's Bedford Street at the junction with the Strand:

And here's The Strand itself, looking east:

The traffic was backed up all the way from Trafalgar Square, the whole length of The Strand to Aldwych. Meanwhile, traffic could not turn right out of Bedford Street, causing traffic to back up, thus snarling up the grid of streets north of The Strand.
The cause of this? The Pope? Critical Mass? No, roadworks on Pall Mall. Well, not exactly: the cause of it is too much motor traffic. There are roadworks every day on the road system; it's a fact of life, and no-one's figured out a way to get rid of them. You could, however, reduce the amount of motor traffic.
These conditions are exacly what might encourage people to hop on a hire bike (or even their own bike) rather than take a taxi or a car. But because motor traffic has free passage along almost every street in Central London, and there are very, very few cycle lanes, there's nowhere for cyclists to get away from the congestion. While congestion lowers speeds, it increases the chances of a low-speed crash, as you manoeuvre your bike through the available space.
If people switched to bikes, there would be fewer vehicles on the road and less congestion. But they don't, partly because of fear of traffic. TfL have got to get it through their heads that in order to use roadspace efficiently, some of it needs to be dedicated to cycling. If they don't, they need to answer the question: in whose interest is the current state of affairs?

1 comment:

  1. As smug as filtering can make me feel, the Strand is rediculosly tight due to the central reservation and the amount of buses using it. I understand that the excuse often given for a lack of cycle infrastructure is that London streets are too narrow. Aside from the fact that many are quite wide (Portland Place, Regent Street, Park Lane, Victoria Embankment etc etc), if London does have such narrow roads, surely that makes it MORE important that large vehicles that take up more room ought to be restricted, and small vehicles like bicycles prioritised?