Monday 15 November 2010

Cycling at the epicentre of the Olympics

Newham's website doesn't really hold much false promise about the conditions for cycling in their borough. As pointed out in another post, the key advantage that Newham council has made for cycling in their borough is that it is relatively flat.

But why are Newham's councillors hiding their achievements in such a way? Could they be just excessively modest? After all, many other boroughs are painting a couple of lines and bicycle symbols next to parked cars and calling it a cycling revolution! After travelling around Stratford, Newham should be less bashful about boasting about their cycling facilities! Like the one below

For those struggling to find the cycling facility, I would point your gaze to underneath the bendy-bus parked in the bay. Of course the bendy-bus blocking the lane isn't too much of a problem as the cyclist can simply move into one of the three car lanes, taking care to avoid being taken out by the psychotic driving that seems to be de rigeur  on this ring-road. I think that it is nice that the road system allows motorists to really put their foot down around this busy pedestrian area, albeit briefly before getting snarled up again in the narrow roads leading to and from it.

Excitingly, I think this might not be the only cycling facility that Newham are installing. Although not signed, I have a suspicion that the pavement to the right of the picture has been configured for an off-road cycling facility. It is just like Amsterdam! Look, the council have even made sure that cyclists don't get carried away and cycle recklessly by installing a lampost and bus shelter at either end. Although it may look a bit short, it does continue after giving way to a minor side road :

I am not too sure whether this is a cycle "farcility" or not. Since no signs are up yet, it is difficult to discern. A couple of cyclists tentatively tried it before hopping off the kerb at the end into the three lanes of traffic. Interesting to note that the council have continued the "cycle traffic calming using lamp posts" motif along this section as well. It is nothing if not consistent in its quality.

The citing of the cycle lane does have to make one reflect. It probably costs quite a lot of money (in cycling terms) to get a transport official to dream up this cycle path, and then some contractor to lay down the slabs in an attractive way and add the edging. Yet at no time does it seem that they have thought that having lamp posts stuck in the middle of one of the lanes could possibly affect the functionality. Maybe I am jumping the gun, maybe they are going to move the lamp posts and I am being overly cynical. But seeing as moving the lamp posts would cost money, and would surely be done before laying nice new paving slabs, I think it unlikely - it looks like this might be the intended result. And yet, if anyone had thought about it for 30 seconds, they could have maybe moved the path slightly to the left, or increased the "central reservation" and widened the left hand cycle lane to compensate. Just a bit, it wouldn't take any meaningful space away from the pedestrian side, just make the cycle path usable. 

As it is, if this is indeed going to be a cycle path, then another council will have managed to implement another crap scheme purely because they didn't think it through, but at least they will be able to boast about it on their website - maybe even win a "Waltham Forest style" award.

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