Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CSH#8 - Cycle Superhighway - Chelsea Bridge Crap

CSH#8 is now approaching completion so I thought it was time to shine the Cycalogical spotlight on TfL's handiwork.

Let's take a look at the journey home (southbound) over Chelsea Bridge. This is one of the more difficult junctions to get right for cyclists, but it would not be impossible given a bit of imagination.

Here's the approach along Grosvenor Road:

There's a nice wide cycle lane, wide enough for one cyclist to pass another, still awaiting the blue paint.

Above: The cycle lane comes to an end, well before the junction with Chelsea Bridge.

Above: A long queue of stationary cyclists who can't get to the advance stop box because there's no approach lane. They'll have to jostle for position with each other and with two lanes of cars and left-turning HGVs when the lights turn green. The situation might improve if a 'ghost lane' of blue paint gets put in, but based on the similar situation that we have on CSH#7 as you approach Clapham North, I doubt it.
Above: The canny cyclists go onto the pavement (this is legal: it's a shared path at this point) which also enables them to avoid the red light.

Above: Once on the bridge there is no cycle lane. The traffic in rush hour is slow-moving, so you have a choice of filtering right (where there's not enough room between the south and northbound lanes) or left (where you could end up blocked off, or in the wrong position to make a right-turn into Battersea Park, which a lot of cyclists do).

Above: trying to filter on the right.

Above: Finally, the blue lane starts on the left (although it has no white line so has no legal status).

So far, so crap. OK, so what would I have done?
First of all, an advance stop box with no means of approach is useless, and it can't be approached on the right unless you're not intending to make a left turn. There's not a lot of foot traffic along Grosvenor Road, so it would have been possible to narrow the pavement somewhat and/or narrow the general traffic lanes to provide some sort of approach lane to the advance stop box. The layout as it is can only be described as very dangerous. The other useful thing would be to provide a left-turn bypass so that cyclists can avoid waiting at the junction to make the left-turn. There's room enough to provide such a facility, and this would reduce the conflict between cyclists and motor vehicles at the junction.
Why have TfL not provided a cycle lane on the bridge? The situation they've created gives the worst of all worlds. The wide general traffic lane will encourage speeding when the traffic is light, but when the traffic is congested, the lack of enforced lane discipline will cause problems for cyclists and motorcyclists trying to filter on the left southbound, and on the right in both directions. Finally, there needs to be a proper turn into Battersea Park. Currently, you either have to get into the right and hope the crossing lights change in your favour before you get rear-ended, or make the manoeuvre onto the pavement, across the crossing then double back on yourself. The sensible thing to have done would be to put a proper junction between Queenstown Road and Carriage Drive North so that it's possible to make the right-turn, and the lights should have been organized so you don't have to wait for a pedestrian to activate the crossing.

In short, TfL have failed to tackle any of the obvious problems in this section of CSH#8. All they've done is put cycle lanes in where the road was wide enough to accomodate them to start with. That's a pretty damning indictment of infrastructure that aspires to be the best in London, and hardly likely to create any kind of cycling revolution (except maybe the kind that gets rid of Boris Johnson).


  1. Any idea why CrapWalthamForest blog has been taken down?

  2. There's not enough bike infrastructure where I live either - but I get along ok because I have a Montague folding bike. I can't ride the whole way in to work, so I put the bike in my trunk and drive the first half, park, and ride the rest of the way in. Once I get into the city, it's actually pretty good, but there needs to be more bike lanes/bike-friendly roads out to the suburbs.

  3. The footways on Chelsea bridge are wide and, currently at least, not much used (there being little in the way of public transport on either side, other than buses crossing the bridge - this may change when the Battersea Power Station development is eventually finished). The roadway on the bridge is narrow. Wouldn't it make sense to reassign the lesser-used (eastern?) footway as a shared-use path?

  4. Worse than this - I believe that on Chelsea Bridge the pavement heading south was previously "Shared Use". However, a 'no cycling' sign seems to have recently appeared.

  5. Another shitty decision on CS8...

    The current LCN south of Battersea Park uses Macduff Road and the Carriage Drive inside the park itself - a pleasant off road route.

    CS8 instead uses Prince of Wales drive - a narrow, busy, road that is bumper to bumper in the mornings from Macduff Road to Queens Circus. Do TFL suggest cyclists squeeze down the gap alongside the parked cars or take their chances with the oncoming traffic?