Cycle “superhighways” looking, well, a bit rubbish *update*

Simon Usborne
Cycle stupidhighway 225x300 Cycle superhighways looking, well, a bit rubbish *update*

Thin blue line

They were billed as the answer to the battle for London’s streets raging between motorists and riders – dedicated lanes  to provide cyclists with direct, continuous, safe passage along key commuter corridors.

A dozen “cycle superhighways” like spokes leading to the capital’s hub would bring a slice of Copenhagen to Clapham and beyond as part of Boris Johnson’s pledge to make his city a haven for bikes.

So how’s it going? Not great. The first two routes don’t open officially for another few weeks but long sections have already appeared, painted in a rather garish blue over existing cycle lanes.

Critics say there’s little super about these early highways, as this photo taken this week by Roger Geffen, a campaigner at CTC, the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation, shows.

Geffen had just returned from a trip to global cycling centre, Copenhagen, where, he says, “cyclists are made to feel gloriously welcome on the city’s streets, with wide areas of blue paint to give you clear priority through even the busiest  junctions. The blue paint in London leads you into the back of parked cars.”

More damning is this helmetcam video taken in South London. Note how nobody pays attention to the blue lane – cyclists or motorists. Worse still are the riders who undertake the bus in the first few seconds of the video via the pavement. ALWAYS overtake. And if there’s no space, wait, well away from the kerb, or else risk being crushed on the inside.

In the meantime, let us know if you’ve had the pleasure of one of Boris’s superhighways, which are sponsored by Barclays (does that explain the colour?). What did you think?


Blogging cyclist, Paul Battley, identifies two main problems with the first sections of the superhighways.

The second: “The blue paint is invisible at night under the yellow sodium lights. This is basic physics, but didn’t seem to occur to Boris and crew.” Daft if true – we are investigating.

Meanwhile, the excellent New York-based online magazine, Slate, has a piece about superhighways around the world. It  takes in  Johnson’s blue lines and points out it’s early days for the Mayor’s plans. Even the genuinely super lanes in the Netherlands and Denmark took a time to evolve. Should I cut Boris some slack?

  • Dan Cash

    I commute to work on my bike everyday therefore I feel qualified to tell you how much I HATE and am ashamed of cyclists who ride on the pavement. They give us all a terrible reputation. And look at them, all dressed up in their little helmets in case they bump their poor heads when they collide with a pedestrian. YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN A CYCLEPATH; USE IT!

  • nightside242

    I don’t know the ins and outs of how these new superhighways work, but they don’t look any different from traditional cyclepaths, apart from the paint. Can anyone enlighten me?

  • Tim Lennon

    Painting a big blue line which randomly starts and finishes, which isn’t enforceable by the police, and which still follows the engrained presumption that cars rule the roads, is an expensive waste of time and money. This isn’t going to make a jot of difference to the ordinary person’s perception of cycling as dangerous, and is unlikely to encourage anyone new to get on their bike.

  • Rhodris

    I was recently knocked off my bike on one of these super highways. A car turned left accross the blue lane and I went flying over the bonnet of the car badly damaging my leg/ankle and bike. They are not as safe as you are led to believe. Does anyone know who has right of way here?

  • davedavenotdave

    I think the main idea is strength in numbers – rather than multiple routes used by a few cyclists, it’s thought better to have cyclists grouped together, so that drivers are expecting them.

  • finsburyparker

    I used to like riding my bike, many years ago, gave up about 20 years back, far too dangerous!
    So, O.K, motorists do take liberties with pedal cyclists, no way round that, similarly, bikes on pavements take liberties with pedestrians.

    Regardless of the ‘Rights & Wrongs’ of whom has the right of way, it’s no good being ‘Right’ and crushed/crippled/dead, the fact that you are right will not undo the damage caused to your body, ‘Right or Wrong’!

    One other thing as regards cyclists, where I live in Finsbury park, I have noticed of late, women on pedal bikes with a rear attachment for young babies/children in tow!

    Now, they may be the safest cyclists in the world, and never put a spoke wrong, but, how bloody selfish/stupid of them to expose a baby/child to the risk of a drunk, careless, ignorant driver running over the said baby/child in tow! A case in point of being ‘In the Right’, at the cost of a life!……..The mind boggles at these ignoramuses putting young lives at risk!

    G. Peasemould.

  • Lirone

    I cycle across one of the cycle routes at Stockwell and the new layout seems to have made the route worse for people turning towards Brixton – the old turn left cycle lane has more or less vanished, which is bit of a nuisance. Is this a pattern elsewhere on the network?

  • Lirone

    I cycle across one of the cycle routes at Stockwell and the new layout seems to have made the route worse for people turning towards Brixton – the old turn left cycle lane has more or less vanished, which is bit of a nuisance. Is this a pattern elsewhere on the network?

  • Pingback: London Cycle Hire scheme ‘not ready for launch’ | Simon Usborne | Independent Cyclotherapy Blogs

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