Thursday, 15 September 2011

Lambeth Bridge and gutter cycling

 I've finally had occasion to nip over Lambeth Bridge and back. I much prefer the wider cycle lane, shown above, going towards North London over the unbelievably narrow predecessor. It's a shame that TfL couldn't take the opportunity to improve the approach to the cycle lane, though I suspect it'd be a larger project than could be encompassed in a resurface and repaint.

However I think TfL could have done better going towards south London. To achieve a wider northbound cycle lane they've removed the southbound one, which was also stupidly narrow. The Bus Lane going south gives a useful space for cyclists. So far so fair. Lambeth Cyclists saw the draft plans for the layout and made the following comments:


GOING TOWARDS LAMBETH

a) The bus lane to be the correct width to discourage buses from trying to squeeze past cycles.
b) The Bus Lane marking must be amended to Bus and Cycle Lane, and should have cycle logos in the middle of the lane to encourage cyclists to take the lane rather than hug the pavement. The cycle logos are particularly important where the private motorist can enter the nearside lane towards the end of the bridge, reminding drivers that they must not squeeze in on cyclists in their lane.
c) We applaud not having a feed in lane to the ASL.

We look forward to your feedback on the points we have made.


Despite chasing TfL, Lambeth Cyclists didn't receive any feedback or revised drawings before the work was undertaken.
The works are done but there are no cycle logos (on this cycling section of the Jubilee Greenway!) encouraging cyclists to 'take the lane'.

 though riding in the gutter may encourage an unpleasantly close pass by a bus or taxi
 Towards the end of the bridge the bus lane ends and general traffic can enter the lane. Here TfL have painted cycle logos over the red lines encouraging cyclists to approach the roundabout on the far left even if going straight on or right and suggesting they should be out of the way of motorists joining their lane.
Lambeth Cyclists believe the cycle logos should be in the centre of the lane reminding drivers that they are entering a lane where they can expect to find cyclists continuing from the Bus Lane.

Finally, below shows why this is not the place that a cyclist going straight on or right wants to be when the lights change. This van driver is indicating left, but a worrying number of left-turning drivers don't bother.
 
I think these works graphically demonstrate how TfL marginalises cycling when they should be going full-out for modal shift towards it.

For geeks, below is the correspondence history that suggests TfL's original resurfacing plan didn't even include widening the northbound cycle lane.
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Shortly before Christmas 2010 I heard that Transport for London intended to resurface Lambeth Bridge between Christmas and New Year. I quickly emailed London Streets at TfL saying, "Please can you let me know whether the works will include widening the cycle lane on the northbound carriageway? If not at this time, is there an intention to do in the very new future?"

I received a quick and encouraging reply, albeit one which suggests it wasn't in the original plan, "It now appears the predicted temperatures will be too low for us to carry out the resurfacing works on Lambeth Bridge as planned. We will re-programme this work for when the weather has improved, and we will include the replacement of the failed expansion joints within a re-scoped scheme instruction.

We now have a little time in which an assessment of the possibility of a slight widening of the northbound cycle lane can be carried out. We are not currently able to give a date, but if it proves to be possible, we will adjust the width of the cycle lane as part of the resurfacing works."

At this point I wrote to Lambeth and Westminster Cyclists, and Lambeth Council suggesting they push for improvement to be made, adding, "I favour getting a full width lane northbound by removing the southbound cycle lane and moving the bus lane across. The southbound cycle lane is dangerous in my view because it too is narrow but also it encourages cyclists going straight on or right at the roundabout to approach in the cycle lane where they are at risk of being left-hooked by vehicles turning left to South Lambeth Road.

This bridge forms part of the Jubilee Walking and Cycling Greenway so it is crucial that it is made very cycling friendly."

Lambeth Council's Transport Policy Manager wrote to TfL saying, "Lambeth would very much support the comments he has made" and received a reply in late January saying, "The resurfacing project will include amendments to the road markings over the bridge, to improve the width of the northbound cycle lane. I attach for your information the current proposal, which is currently being safety audited (which again suggests it wasn't in the original plan)."

That proposal was discussed by Lambeth Cyclists who were particularly perturbed that, while wider, the new northbound cycle lane was shown as Advisory (dotted line) where the existing lane (solid lane) was Mandatory. Mandatory, by the way, in this context means motor vehicles are not allowed in it rather than cyclists have to use it.

Lambeth Cyclists wrote to TfLraising the following points:


1. Can we check that these works are relatively small scale remedial and resurfacing works to the bridge and not part of a full redesign of the bridges layout? Our recommendations are made on the basis of a minor rather than major fix on this understanding. We note the significant increase in cycling traffic across all London bridges (http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.com/2011/02/2011-more-bicycles-than-cars-will-cross.html) and the need to nurture modes of transport that are greener and less space consuming per head.than the private car. In the near future it is important that the problems with the roundabouts at each end of the bridge are also resolved.


2. Provided that these are only remedial works and not a redesign that a MANDATORY 1.5m cycle lane is installed on the upstream side of the bridge going towards Westminster, and going towards Lambeth the current cycle lane is removed and the bus lane becomes a 24 hour bus and cycle lane

GOING TOWARDS WESTMINSTER:
a) The cycle lane towards Westminster MUST remain Mandatory rather than be changed to Advisory as shown. It is absolutely unacceptable for this to become Advisory given there is no frontage (shops, houses), no parking requirements, plus adequate general lane width.

. b) Consideration is needed on how to to prevent motorists cutting into cyclists at the entrance to the bridge as they do at the moment. At the start of the1.5m mandatory cycle lane at the Lambeth end of the bridge a tiny bit of segregation is required. The exact length needed can be seen from the length of the current mandatory line that has been worn away by motorists driving over it.This could either be physical segregation or time segregation via the traffic signals having a cycle phase.

c) We would like to see the plans showing where the line between the cycle and general traffic lane ends and how the merger of the two is facilitated. The faciliation is needed to avoid the tendency of cyclists to continue to hug the left towards the roundabout; to facilitate cyclists turning right; and to counter the assumption motorists tend to have here that they have right of way over cyclists wishing to merge here. Is there a policy on 'merge lanes' markings within DfT/TfL?

GOING TOWARDS LAMBETH
a) The bus lane to be the correct width to discourage buses from trying to squeeze past cycles.
b) The Bus Lane marking must be amended to Bus and Cycle Lane, and should have cycle logos in the middle of the lane to encourage cyclists to take the lane rather than hug the pavement. The cycle logos are particularly important where the private motorist can enter the nearside lane towards the end of the bridge, reminding drivers that they must not squeeze in on cyclists in their lane.

c) We applaud not having a feed in lane to the ASL.

We look forward to your feedback on the points we have made.


Despite chasing TfL, Lambeth Cyclists didn't receive any feedback or revised drawings before the work was undertaken.

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