Monday 11 October 2010

Olympic cycle ways and Whipps Cross

I received a comment the other day which kindly outlined the proposals for new cycle paths linking around the Green Man Interchange near Leytonstone to the olympic park via Newham.

Now, the fact that work looks like it has been scheduled is good news. It is also good that Whipps Cross Road, one of the few 40mph roads in the borough will have a cycle-path. One hopes that this cycle path is not set on the road, as in the summer it will just turn into convenient parking spaces at the weekend.

The scheme looks like linking up the cycle ways under the Green Man Interchange to a larger cycle network to the Olympic site. The Green Man interchange is an example of cycle provision that is OK. I don't generally like these underpass cycle systems as they are OK in the day but can be intimidating (for good reason, sometimes) at night, but this seems a better example.

Unfortunately, at the other end of Whipps Cross Road, we have the Whipps Cross Roundabout which is intimidating for cyclists at any time of the day. It isn't too clever for cars either, the width of the roundabout generally means motorists speed around and don't slow as they enter it.

The comment set me thinking that I had seen some glossy brochures about the re-design of this roundabout to a light controlled junction which would be far easier for cyclists and pedestrians. I hadn't heard about this for a while, and decided to see what is happening. Well, digging out news from 2008/09 on, it appears that at that time the council had decided this was too expensive and had proposed another solution. WFcycling was concerned, with good reason. Now, the plans are nowhere to be seen on the council website so I assume it has been canned completely.

However, the plans are archived on the site, and reprinted below. They are quite illuminating.

At first glance, there appears to be cycle provision - indeed ofroad cycle paths that cut across the junction. But a look at the cycle routes reveal why so many of these paths, however well intentioned, turn out to be useless and unused.

I have highlighted the route a cyclist would take going south on Leabridge Road. The provision involves them crossing the roads using no less than eight separate crossings. Cars doing the same route would have three lights and I presume that they would be synchronised to try to provide speedy traffic flow. Whereas the cycle lights probably wouldn't.

This is where cycle provision falls apart. Unless the cyclist is really not in any kind of rush and wants to savour the majesty of Whipps Cross Roundabout, all this provision would do is inconvenience the cyclist - many would simple use the road instead.

So, good news that cycle provision to get to the Olympic is progressing. Here's hoping that the design is better than much of what gets thought up for cycling provision.

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