Friday, 2 November 2012

Cycling? What's that?

I receive comments on my YouTube videos all the time. Most I ignore as they are often abusive (I know how to make friends!). Occasionally though there are comments that are worth replying to. Recently when I went online to reply to a comment an advert began playing at the start of my video. This one caught my eye.

It was a video advertising the company Tarmac, and discussing work they did for Transport for London on a particular junction. The video can be found on YouTube and is embeded below. It is worth a watch.

I was surprised to have a video advert on one of my videos discussing safety improvements at a junction. However, what surprised me the most was what was completely missing from the video. Cycling. It wasn't once mentioned, and when you look at the junction on the video there is not one piece of cycle infrastructure there. Not one. Not even a badly designed bit. You also didn't see one cyclist on that road during the whole clip.

Actually the above isn't entirely true. If you watch the clip closely, you will have seen one cyclist who appeared to be using the path. That, along with some some other (difficult to see) evidence suggests that there might actually some cycle infrastructure there. It looks like the dreaded shared use paths. Far from ideal for either cyclists or pedestrians.

Of course I know absolutely nothing about the area (I'm sure someone will come along to help me there) but I can't understand how major works at a junction like that could be allowed to go ahead without any consideration of cyclists who might not want to use convoluted shared use paths. Cycling should be made easier, not more difficult!

They pointed out that the improvements had reduced congestion in the area, which is good of course for local residents. Crossings had been improved. Great. However, am I the only one looking at that video feeling that they have entirely missed the point?

Yes, congestion is less of an issue now. What they have done is improve the junction in such a way as to allow traffic to move faster. In effect you will have more traffic passing the junction within a specific time period. So drivers who may have taken different routes to avoid the congestion will realise that they are now quicker going through that junction.

Induced demand.

So by smoothing the flow of traffic, instead of reducing traffic, this junction is likely to increase traffic. Yes, it will be travelling quicker than before....but wait, does that actually improve the area for residents? Less snarled up traffic, easier crossings, but more traffic.

Is that better?

Perhaps someone who knows the area might want to comment.

Was there another option here? As I've said, I don't know the area, and perhaps there are other reasons that cyclists don't go here (I saw only one on the video, but hundreds of cars), however, this junction even after the 'improvements' looks hostile to cyclists. It looks like a barrier. For all I know there could be wonderful cycle paths either side of this junction, but having that junction in the middle would put many off. Shared use paths requiring cyclists to make multiple crossings isn't going to encourage

Imagine though that the area had good quality cycle infrastructure leading to it and through it. Imagine that 10% of the traffic in that video was replaced with people on bikes. Imagine how big the improvements in air quality would be. Imagine how much more pleasant the area would become.

Is the best way to deal with heavy traffic to make it quicker for that traffic to pass, inducing more traffic or is it better to deal with the root problem? If we don't start solving this problem at the source, we will be continuing the spiral of ever more congestion and ever more pollution.

It's time to think beyond the car.


  1. Henley's corner? You want to talk to Londonneur

  2. Londonneur is very local; the Vole and I live about 7km away and he may have blogged about it. It's horrendous for cycling and there was a Great Barrier Ride which included it.


  4. Safety = more faster traffic .... well maybe not. Henleys Corner - used to be another one on A4 near Heathrow, where Henleys had another garage or was that Henlys Corner?

    A1 in to Finchley is a frightening travesty of an urban road 40 and 50 mph with 6 lanes and then that plugs in to the Finchley road 4 lane raceway down to Swiss Cottage. All the local parade of shops and changing from 1930's houses to blocks of flats all with this racetrack where a street should be. In some ways its nicer and safer to use the A5 - even though that is also a pretty nasty road up through Kilburn