Thursday, 26 March 2015

Cycle Superhighway 1

In 2008 TFL first announced they planned to build cycle superhighways and the original map (below) shows that almost all of them were planned to be built on the main roads leading into and out of Greater London. This was following a 12-month study of the most popular roads already used by cyclists.


These were expensive routes despite just being some bright blue paint on the road which offered no protection whatsoever and had cars parked on top of them in many places. After several people died cycling along CS2 on the A11 TFL are now upgrading most of the superhighways that have already been built and making the majority of the routes properly segregated.

Despite the original study showing the A10 is a popular cycle route and therefore where the superhighway should run TFL, under pressure from Hackney Council, relented and agreed to build it on back routes instead. This is despite Hackney council stating in the recent cycling plan that:

"Creating a quality environment for cycling is generally recognised as being concerned with providing accessible, direct and convenient, attractive, safe and comfortable routes for experienced and less experienced cyclists alike to provide access to key destinations such as the borough’s town centres and other key destinations for employment, education and leisure.  Cycling routes need to legible and intuitive, continuous and uninterrupted by barriers or loss of priority.It is inevitable that cyclists will continue to use our busy high streets and strategic roads that carry high volumes of vehicular traffic because often they are the most direct and quickest routes."

As well as being a very popular cycle route the A10 is also the worst road by far for cycling casualties within Hackney with 28% of all serious injuries sustained in a cycling collision in the last ten years occurring on the A10 and 50% of all cycling fatalties also occurring on the A10 within this period. Hackney council stated in their cycling plan that they "will continue to lobby TfL and work with them to resolve the cyclist accident problems along the A10 corridor in Hackney" but the way they plan to do this is take people off a useful, direct main road and push them onto back roads instead, something which is itself a major barrier to mainstream cycling. It also means that the proposed route is not actually a "superhighway" at all, at least according to the Mayor's vision for cycling:

"We will offer two clear kinds of branded route: high capacity Superhighways, mostly on main roads, for fast commuters, and slightly slower but still direct Quietways on pleasant, low-traffic side streets for those wanting a more relaxed journey." 

Therefore CS1 should instead be referred to as a quietway as, certainly on the section within Hackney, it runs almost entirely on side streets and not on the main roads. It also isn't a new cycle route either but instead  improvements to the existing parallel LCN+ route. TFL dress it up in the consultation by describing it as an "A10 bypass" forgetting to point out that this also bypasses the town centres, shops, homes and businesses that people need to access in the area. TFL would never propose to amend the bus services from Central London to Tottenham to run along side roads for the simple reason that unless you live on these back roads you generally won't want to visit them. Likewise Hackney Council are not intending to make the pavements along the A10 narrower to try and force pedestrians to use back roads in an attempt to stop them being exposed to pollution or whatever other excuse they're drumming up for moving CS1 off the A10.

Despite the fact that CS1 should run in its entirety along the A10 this, mistakenly, is not an option out for consultation by TFL. Therefore I shall review the consultation for the section of CS1 which is proposed to run through Hackney.

Section 1


It starts off with a sign which highlights this is the start of CS1, which is just as well as without that it would just look like any other car dominated street. It continues north  with car parking remaining on both sides of the road. The cycle lane into Finsbury Square, which is actually part of the ring of steel, needs widening. The route should take priority over Worship Street.


Section 2


The very poor contraflow cycle lane remains and continues to run outside of the parking spaces so cars need to cross the cycle lane to park with the threat of 'dooring' remaining. A lot of car parking remains although this is restricted between 7am-9am and 4pm-7pm which doesn't help people like me as I tend to cycle to work after 9am. Also people park on double yellow lines here all the time (forcing cars to drive into the contraflow cycle lane) as there is no enforcement so I can't see the new parking times being enforced either 





Leonard Circus could be a nice public space but it is dominated by motor vehicles. Some do slow down and move through quietly whilst others speed through the area, indeed one of the fences around the trees has had to be replaced already as a vehicle crashed into it at high speed. A lot of lorries and vans travel through here as it's a very busy rat run, especially for people trying to avoid the Old Street Roundabout - only expect this to get worse when works start on improving the roundabout. Many of the streets in the area here bounded by Great Eastern Street / City Road / London Wall / Bishopsgate need filtering.


Section 3


The road that links Tabernacle Street to Paul Street is to be turned into "shared space for motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians". Sounds lovely.





This should be closed to motor vehicles and returned to a motor free Square. There should be a clearly marked cycle path from both Tabernacle Street and Paul Street to the crossing at Apex Corner, ideally a different colour from the rest of the street surface and at a different level, even by an inch or so to avoid any cycle / pedestrian collisions. The planned 7-9am and 4-7pm restrictions on parking will be probably be as enforced as the double yellow lines in front of the current cycle track entrance are at the moment


Section 4



The artists impressions of the plans above for Apex Junction is what TFL use first in the various press releases about this scheme for a good reason - this is where it actually looks like a proper cycle route!  
I strongly welcome the closing of Pitfield street although worth noting that traffic that can't currently access Pitfield Street from Old Street westbound mostly uses Boot Street and therefore both Boot Street and Coronet Street should also be filtered to stop this from happening.
I like the segregated track eastbound on Old Street approaching Pitfield Street and it is great to finally see the mistakes that were made of providing no cycle tracks when the Shoreditch one way system was returned to two way in 2002 are now being corrected. I'm pleased the large amount of cyclists travelling from the Old Street Roundabout towards Hackney Road or the A10 now get some dedicated space but disapointed to see nothing for people cycling westbound towards the Old Street Roundabout. Brian Jones came up with a decent rough sketch so I'm sure TFLs engneers can do better. The Loading bay on the eastbound carriageway should be outside the cycle lane, ideally with a "loading bay bypass".


Section 5 


Pitfield Street is to be restored for two way traffic but I can't see how that is an improvement for people cycling at all. Simply turning a one way street into two way does not automatically make it an improvement for people cycling and I've never understood why the Hackney cycling campaign say that they want ALL roads in Hackney to be returned to two way. Keeping roads one way for motor vehicles can help to reduce the amount of motor traffic in the area whilst leaving more room for cycling infrastructure. Mark Treasure has covered this in a very good blog post and the image below is just one example that we could use to base similar treatment of Pitfield Street on.




The side roads along here get "raised tables" and below is an example of a side road off Queensbridge Road that has recently been upgraded by Hackney Council



Whilst this is a definite improvement it is still designed to appear that the pedestrian gives way to the car so I  would much prefer continuous pavements on these side roads instead.


A recent example of this in London, via The Ranty Highwayman
A Dutch example, via The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain

Section 6


Well this is just insane. The entire area below is to be ripped up, turned into two way for all vehicles yet to be rebuilt as a narrow road with no space whatsoever for people cycling; you're just expected to man up and take the lane 



How is this in any way a proposed cycle superhighway when with such a large amount of space available to reallocate and don't give an inch of it to people cycling? Expect motor vehicles to continue with close passes as the car is doing in the picture below


Whilst the removal of the roundabout will make cycling through here a lot safer keeping roads such as Bevenden Street and Fanshaw Street open is only going to either keep traffic levels high in this area or perhaps even increase them, due to making Pitfield Street two way.

Section 7


This section of Pitfield Street and Whitmore Road is currently an unpleasant road to cycle along and it is such a disappointment to see hardly any measures whatsoever to change this. Motor traffic, and white vans in particular, dominate this street and race through it at high speeds; this is a road where we should be concentrating our efforts on getting enforcement of the current 30mph speed limit before pushing for 20mph. 


Is it any wonder only 2% of children cycle to school in Hackney when you look at the picture above, this is cycle superhighway 1 right outside St John the Baptist primary school (where nearly 10% of children arrive at school by car). There are no plans for this stretch of road in the consultation beyond resurfacing. 


This whole area needs a lot of road closures, not just on Pitfield Street but also on the side roads so it can no longer be used as a through route between New North Road, Hoxton Street and the A10. This also includes the re-routing of bus route 394; you can't promote a road as a "cycle superhighway" run it along back streets and then continue to run bus services along these back routes and keep them open to the large amount of rat running traffic that already uses it. It is ludicrous.




Just look at the amount of space available below as it turns into Whitmore Road yet the consultation here calls for nothing more than "carriageway resurfacing, "cycling wayfinding" and "speed bumps rebuilt with smoother shape" with not an inch of car parking removed as far as the eye can see, and way beyond



This is about as far from 8 to 80 cycling as you can get, and keeps cycling in Hackney firmly in the 18 to 38 category. Absolutely no chance of children or the elderly cycling here in comfort and safety and not a place where it is, to quote from the Hackney Council Cycling plan, "second nature for everyone, no matter what their age, background or ethnicity to cycle"

As I took these pictures the bully in the van below revved his engine and beeped his horn as he overtook two people cycling obscured from view.



A horrendous place to ride a bike and the type of road which makes people give up cycling once they get to a certain age, or after a certain number of close passes. It is nothing short of a scandal that no dedicated cycling provision or removal of motor traffic is being offered here, on what is meant to be a "cycling superhighway"

As we cross the Regents Canal over the Georgian Whitmore Bridge the road narrows so you have to take the lane. An option of painted cycle lanes on either side of the road with cars giving way to each other through the centre would be a good addition here



Meanwhile the next bridge along on the canal, the Georgian Kingsland Road Bridge which carries the A10 over the canal also narrows meaning no room for bus lanes. Even though this fails the Hackney test it does just mean the bus lanes stop for a short section but then continue immediately after, rather than using that as an excuse to not build any bus lanes on the A10 whatsoever



As Whitmore Road turns into De Beauvoir Road it continues to be dominated by car parking along both sides of the carriageway and is an unpleasant place to cycle. It also doesn't feel like the safest place to be after dark so best follow the advice of the Hackney cycling campaign here as "busy main roads are the safest bet for personal security after dark". The A10 runs parallel to the cycle superhighway here so just a short diversion is needed after 4pm in the winter, it is just a shame that the A10 is narrow here so just does not have the space for cycle tracks



Section 8


As we turn into Northchurch Terrace we're round the corner from my old flat. I've written about De Beauvoir town and how much I like it before so I won't repeat myself again. Interesting to note there is some 'filtered permeability' here on Northchurch Terrace (installed 40 years ago), the first road closure we've encountered on the superhighway since at Old Street, over a mile away. Culford Road should take priority over Englefield Road as this could cause a lengthy delay for people cycling the route at peak times; Englefield Road is not a quiet road by any stretch of the imagination. The closure of Ardleigh Road outside my old local is a positive proposal however as it is a busy road for rat runners and with no closures planned for Culford Road I worry that this will just push even more motor traffic onto the cycle superhighway. Another four way closure should happen at the crossroads just north of the Scolts Head but the only improvement at where I took the photo below is to remove the traffic island I'm stood on and extend car parking on both sides of the road




Section 9



Balls Pond Road is a busy road used by approximately 100 buses an hour at peak times (including bus route 38 which is London's busiest bus route by frequency with 35 buses heading this way from 7am to 8am on weekdays), as well as many other motor vehicles and is clearly no place for someone to share the road whilst on a bike. It is three lanes wide with one of these lanes an eastbound bus lane, TFL state that 90% of buses do not use it; not a single vehicle bar bicycles used it for the ten minutes I was stood here.  



It therefore makes sense for this space to be reallocated to bikes instead. Option A offers no protection whatsover and therefore Option B should be installed but with a feeder lane for people already cycling eastbound to access the cycle track at the crossing instead of the enlarged pavement.


Section 10


Boleyn road is far too busy to be used as a cycle route unless you install cycle tracks on it or close it to through motor traffic. I used to use this road a lot when I lived in Dalston to travel towards Newington Green and it is a busy road, there is easily space here to add provision for people cycling




Section 11


Wordsworth road is a busy rat run and whilst the closure of the southern end of the road may help reduce this, traffic can still use it as a through route from the A10. Therefore Bennett Road should also be closed to ensure this can no longer be used as a through route. The roundabout should also be removed



Nevill road is far too busy to be classed as a cycle route and needs many road closures due to the high volume of motor traffic using this as a through route




Section 12


Defoe Road and Nevill Road are lined with cars on both sides of the carriageway so there is only just enough room for a car and cycle to pass with little room for error.




This might be adequate if both streets had several closures to ensure they could only ever be used by residents of the properties here but as these streets are currently used as through routes for traffic I fear the road will only be used by the type of people who already cycle in Hackney. We need to make roads like this feel safe for people of all ages if we want to see an increase in cycling



Stoke Newington Church Street is a very busy street carrying a lot of fast motor traffic, including about 70 buses an hour at peak times with several cycle KSI collisions occurring here in recent years. The road is wide enough for cycle tracks and these are needed, just as they are on Balls Pond Road


Without them people will either continue to cycle along the pavement here or not cycle at all


Section 13 onwards


More of the same really, car lined residential streets mixed with main roads with no proposals for cycle infrastructure



None of these roads should be in the consultation as he A10 is more than wide enough north of Stoke Newington station for cycle tracks



The A10 before it became one way in the 1970s via @HistoryOfStokey
So that's the "not very super highway that has very little cycling provision 1". In a way it is almost a shame that TFL didn't stick some blue paint down on the A10 a few years ago as we now might be getting money spent on upgrading cycling facilities on the A10, just as they are currently doing along the A11 in Tower Hamlets.

CS1 might be a decent cycle route for you if you live on or just off the route, you've generally confident cycling among motor traffic and want a route from somewhere like Stoke Newington Church Street to De Beauvoir Town (as long as it is before nightfall). However it does nothing whatsoever for people who live and work to the east of the A10, such as in Haggerston or Clapton. Likewise if you're a driver then you shouldn't be inconvenienced too much as you can still access the vast majority of it and I'm sure the clever cabbie will still be recommending people to use the majority of route, as he or she already does with other sections of LCN+.

There should really be no need to have this consultation; improvements such as the closures of Pitfield Street and Wordsworth Street should be standard highway improvements that local councils carry out continually. Large investments and lengthy consultations should consist of schemes such as the East-West Superhighway; High Quality cycle tracks on main roads. Any other city in the world planning CS1 would reallocate space on the A10 for it; either do it properly or not at all.

Hackney Council needs to stop ignoring the main roads and move away from using the hierarchy of provision on all of the boroughs roads. Reducing the impact of motor traffic on the back roads is always welcome and Hackney Council can be applauded for some of their schemes to close roads to through motor traffic, although there is nowhere near enough of it in this consultation for my liking. However lorries, buses, vans and cars all need to use the main roads in the borough to access shops, business and homes just as people on bikes do. Hackney  Council and TFL need to allocate proper protected space for people cycling here (which does not mean 4.5m wide roads, such as in Dalston Kingsland). The reason CS1 is no longer planned to run down the A10 is due to a political decision, not one based on technical reasons. In the last ten years 65% of all serious injuries and 80% of deaths in cycle collisions within Hackney happened on the main roads and these are the roads that need to be improved to make them safe for cycling for all. The Council themselves even committed to this in the 2014-2024 cycling plan:

The Council recognises that cyclists use a combination of routes depending upon their levels of confidence and the fact that is often difficult to avoid busier principal roads to reach your destination. Busier principal roads with heavier traffic flows also tend to be faster and more direct than quieter routes and are often used by more confident commuter cyclists.   The previous chapter established that the majority of cyclist accidents in the borough occur on the busier principal roads. Therefore in addition to completing our network of Quietway routes on quieter roads that are ideal for less confident cyclists we will also look to develop and improve conditions for cyclists on our principal routes.

The A10 is a busy route for all types of motor traffic but that is because it is a place where people live, work and want to visit and is the most direct route both connecting and leading directly through the centre of Tottenham, Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, Dalston, Haggerston, Hoxton, Shoreditch and the City. This is the same reason that the A10 is a popular cycle routeThe one thing we don't need is even more buses ploughing down the A10, we need a reduction in bus journeys and active travel promoted as a safe and serious alternative. Improvements to back roads and filtered permeability are great improvements for the local community as a whole and are vital if we want people to cycle from their homes to their school or place of work. Improvements such as this are needed throughout London but only if it is in addition to clear, safe and direct cycle routes on the main roads so people can ride wherever they like, just as they do in the Netherlands. If Hackney is to continue to deliver cycling improvements yet none of these include clear protected space on the main roads then I fear the 93% will stick to using alternative methods of transport and roads such as the A10 will continue to be the biggest graveyards for people on bikes in Hackney. 

The CS1 consultation is open until Sunday 29th March. Please respond here.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Ten years of serious and fatal cycle collisions in Hackney

At the end of last year I wrote about fatal and serious cycle collisions within Hackney from 2009-2014. I have since acquired the same statistics for cycle collisions from 2004-2009 and so now have a complete breakdown of all 2095 collisions within Hackney involving people cycling that caused some kind of an injury for the ten year period up to the end of June 2014. Of these 2095 collisions 283 of them resulted in either serious or fatal injuries to the person cycling and I have mapped all of those collisions here:

Click here to view the map

Once again I've included the vehicles involved, age and sex of the person injured or killed and a brief description of the collision itself (again please note that these descriptions are lifted directly off the police report and not my own words). Here is a breakdown of the statistics:

Of those 283 collisions 271 resulted in serious injuries with 12 of them fatal. 65% of the collisions occurred on the main roads and 35% on B or unclassified roads.

Once again the A10 is the worst road in the borough by quite some distance for serious collisions with a staggering 28% of all cycling KSIs occurring on it. The A10 is a clear desire line for people cycling in the borough as it is a direct route though the heart of Hackney linking Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, Dalston, Haggerston, Shoreditch and the City together within a few miles . I know I used this quote from the Hackney Council cycling plan in the last post but it is worth repeating here:

It is inevitable that cyclists will continue to use our busy high streets and strategic roads that carry high volumes of vehicular traffic because often they are the most direct and quickest routes.

I'll save my thoughts on the recently announced Cycle 'Superhighway' 1 for another time. The Shoreditch Triangle, Green Lanes and Mare Street in Hackney Central were also other collision blackspots

Statistics on the age and sex of those involved in the collisions is not that surprising: 42% were aged 18-29, 26% were aged 30-39 and 7% were children. 72% were male and 28% female.  If you've spent any time on a street corner in Hackney watching the demographic of people cycling then it will not come as any great surprise that over 70% of people involved in these collisions were both male and under the age of 40.

As for the type of vehicles involved in the 'serious injury' collisions more than 70% involved people cycling being struck by a car with buses, lorries, vans and two cyclists colliding all accounting for about 5% each.

As for the twelve fatal collisions six of them, precisely 50%, occurred on the A10. Two were on the A106, one on the A102, one on the B113 Morning Lane (the point where it is a dual carriageway outside Tesco) and one occurred on Broadway Market. Five of the people killed were aged 18-29, six were in their thirties with the death in Broadway Market classed as "age unknown". Eight were male and four were female. As for vehicles involved again it is probably no great surprise that a Lorry was involved in just over half of the deaths, two involved a car and one each for bus, taxi and two cycles colliding. The fatal collision on Broadway Market was the fatal collision which involved two bicycles colliding; whilst the main roads in the borough are the most dangerous for people cycling, these tragic collisions can still occur in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Please take time to view the map and feel free to use it for your own research. In the eight months since this data was collated another two people cycling in Hackney have lost their lives and no doubt many more have suffered serious injuries. Lets hope that Hackney can learn from other countries and make improvements to the roads where these collisions occur.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Olympic Park 2.5

This week marks two-and-a-half years since the closing ceremony of the Paralympic games and the Olympic Park being sealed off again to be transformed into legacy mode. My first post was written in the Summer of 2013 when the Northern section of the park reopened to the public. I followed that up when the Southern half opened up around nine months ago. Since then there have been a few small changes to the park and, as I continue to live close to it, I thought I may as well continue to keep you updated on some of these changes, in particular when it comes to accommodating cycling.

For us local residents living on the Hackney side of the Park a new pedestrian and cycle bridge recently opened into the park from Fish Island. Unfortunately as I pointed out on the day it opened it isn't great if you're intending to use it on a bike or with a pushchair (the two main ways I use the bridge) as you're directed to use the zig-zag path to the side of the steps, having to make six very sharp turns, something I found near impossible on my Dutch bike with its big fat front wheel


So like most people who cycled here I just used the desire line instead



But they've put a stop to that now, the bastards.



So if you do want to visit Fish Island with your family on a cargo bike then I'm afraid you'll just have to find another route. Fish Island is mainly known for its graffiti-ed warehouses which contain artists studios (worth a trip during the Hackney Wicked festival when they are opened up for the weekend). It's also home to some small independent businesses such as the cafe and roastery that I buy my coffee beans from, a smoked Salmon factory and the new home of Trumans Brewary. The empty warehouses won't be hosting pop up events for much longer though as there are many planning applications, which you can view here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, to demolish a large chunk of Fish Island to make way for more characterless and unaffordable flats, most of which will be high up in the sky. Indeed some independent local businesses have already left so some of the unique features of the area are due to be lost forever

Fish island is not actually an island in the traditional sense of the word, it's just nicknamed that as it is hemmed in on all sides by either water, the A12 or victorian sewers. There is also only one road in and out which gives it the advantage it shares with other areas that have no through roads and that is a real lack of motor traffic. The bike and foot have a high mode share around here, perhaps beaten only by the learner drivers crawling around the streets at a very slow speed. I'm not sure how long it'll stay that way though as on a trip up to the top of the orbit I noticed the future map of the park on display showed the newly opened pedestrian bridge is to be replaced by a road bridge with a replacement pedestrian and cycle bridge built just a little further south instead. That seems to be confirmed by a similar layout on this map and also the new pedestrian bridge can be found here in this planning application. It'll be a real shame if another road is built into Fish Island which allows unlimited amounts of motor traffic to pass through. Currently everyone in Fish Island is either here for a reason or is lost; the South end of Hackney Wick was the same from 2007 until White Post Lane reopened last year. This area, along with Sweetwater on the other side of the river, will one day be home to thousands of people so it seems the London Legacy Development Corporation want motor vehicles to be able to speed through these areas unhindered, much like they've already allowed to happen within the Olympic Park itself.

Sweetwater is the name given to what is currently a vast empty area on the other side of the new bridge and where the worlds largest Mcdonalds traded for a few weeks in the Summer of 2012, along with the megastore. Sandwiched between the stadium and the river Lea it will one day have over 600 homes, a primary school, two nurseries, a library and a health centre. It was meant to stay empty until nearly 2030 but will now be completed within the next decade as development has been brought forward by a number of years in return for a reduction in the number of affordable housing, which sounds like a bad trade off to me. Back in the spring of last year the road leading into Sweetwater looked pretty much exactly the same as it did during the Olympics, when it was part of the ring road that ferried athletes to and from the Stadium:



And here is a picture I took in the Summer of last year, just as they had ripped everything up to start rebuilding the road again:



with the new final layout pictured below



I really don't understand why with all the space available here we have, yet again, ended up with the modern East London trend of building unnecessarily wide pavements whilst people cycling are expected to do so on the road directly in front of motor vehicles, presumably so as they can function as human speed bumps. You can pretty much guarantee the mums and kids heading to the nurseries or primary school here probably won't be cycling on the road. Below is an image of the new road compared with the Google maps Streetview image from the same location shortly before the Olympic games took place



I just think it is crazy to not build any provision for people cycling here if you're going to spend all that money ripping it up and replacing everything. This will not be a quiet road; it's named "loop Road" as, you've guessed it, this is the main road that loops around the southern half of the Olympic Park. It'll have flats on one side of it, a school and canal park on the other and it leads directly to the 54,000 capacity West Ham Stadium so the wide pavement should make an excellent car park on a Saturday afternoon in a couple of years time. Just to the left of here there is a shared path which runs alongside the River Lee so one could argue that there is no need to build cycle specific infrastructure on this road but the path is very narrow and also pitch dark from late afternoon at this time of year.




And don't get me started on the cobbled surfaces; I still find it a pain on the Dutch bike but tend to avoid it all together when I'm here on either my road bike or my fixed gear bike



They've now opened the new path round the back of the former Big Breakfast house in the spot where the Planet 24 production gallery and offices used to be on the Bow Industrial estate. Hard to believe that everyone from Hollywood stars through to pop stars have been in this spot over the years but now it's the loneliest spot in the park. If you fancy a bit of quiet time alone then come down here or to the Great British Garden next to the stadium as you're unlikely to be disturbed.



Although I couldn't help but notice all the CCTV cameras about this area and didn't want to be too obvious taking photos unless I was evicted from the park. It is easy to forget that around here, just like in the cycling friendly Canary Wharf, you're not wondering round a public park but are on private property.

Back on the loop road the lamp post on the pavement shows us that the speed limit here is 20mph



It remains 20mph up to White Post Lane, the junction in the distance, where the speed limit changes to 30mph. Turn right onto White post Lane itself and at the traffic lights 60m further on the sign on the lamp post indicates that the speed limit halves down to 15mph (although The Ranty Highwayman assures me the legal limit here would still be 20)



Note the desire line on the grass here! Turn left at these lights and after a short 200m drive over the London Overground line you come to Waterden Road; turn left from Tower Hamlets into Hackney and it is 20mph, turn right into Newham and it is a 30mph limit. The changes in speed limit is confusing me just writing about it so it must be a nightmare for people driving here. Not that it matters of course, everyone just drives through here at whatever speed they fancy, safe in the knowledge that it is not enforced and probably never will be.

Let us do that left turn into Hackney and onto Waterden Road which remains the best main road in Hackney to cycle along. It is rare for me to have to make a journey along here but when I do I love cycling along the cycle track where I can slowly pedal along without having to worry about motor traffic, just as I do when I visit the Netherlands



Here is Prince Harry using the cycle track in the same location of the picture above (before the pavement was boarded off for redevelopment works). 


Picture via @HereEast
Can you seriously imagine him riding helmetless and so casually on other main roads within Hackney such as the A10 or Mare Street? 

An image you won't be seeing anytime soon, Prince Harry on Hackney Road.
Original picture by Ross photoshop skills by Schrödinger's Cat
The cycle track also has priority over the side roads here and is set back from the main road providing an area where motor vehicles can wait to enter Waterden Road without obstructing the cycle track, and also an area to give way to people already cycling on the track, with good visibility



The road crossing the cycle track above will one day lead to some of the homes in East Wick and also a new primary school is due to be built here. Fantastic news that the residents and school children have the option to move around this area away from motor traffic and can safely navigate this junction based on a similar design that the Dutch have been using for years

A still from this video by Mark Wagenbuur showing how to build safer junctions 
There have been some strange comments from some within the London Cycling Campaign recently about the effectiveness of these kind of junctions but with three cyclists killed by lorries in London in the last three weeks, and two of those within Hackney, I strongly feel we should be implementing the junction layout above at many more locations in London. This cycle track is not as well designed as others I have used in the Netherlands but it remains a damn fine cycle route and I hope to see many more of these within the borough of Hackney in the future.

The Hackney cycling campaign don't agree with this cycle track however; in their vision for Hackney Wick they call this cycle track "poor-quality cycle-specific provision ... which should have no place in Hackney" and, quite unbelievably, that "ideally, the street would at some point in the future be upgraded to a shareable width". I simply do not understand why anyone would wish to rip up a perfectly good cycle track and instead share the road with lorries, buses and cars

These cars on Waterden Road are queueing to get into the car park at Westfield shopping centre, 1.3km further down the road.
It is simply not appropriate for children to share the road with buses and lorries on a main road like this in the same way that ripping up the pavements and expecting children to walk with lorries wouldn't be. I can't believe this even needs saying.

The children cycling here on Waterden Road are oblivious to the ambulance on an emergency call on the road alongside them

I was under the impression that LCCs motion 3 was quite clear in its meaning but apparently campaigning to remove cycle tracks and force people into vehicular cycling is in line with this policy. Someone will have to explain this to me as I just don't get it but in the meantime I'll continue to not renew my LCC membership until they no longer adopt a vehicular cycling policy within Hackney.

I've always found it strange that Waterden Road is the only road within the park to get this treatment. Elsewhere roads have cycle tracks that stop before any obstruction, tracks that don't stop for any obstruction, cycle lanes that are so small you can't even use them and others, such as in Sweetwater, offer nothing at all. The original planning application to upgrade Waterden Road back in 2011 granted permission for a dual carriageway to be built:



The original plans here show, just like on Westfield Avenue, cycle tracks on the pavement that give up way before you get to the junction and two-tier cycle provision with ASLs also at the traffic lights to cater for the eight people in Greater London who still want to cycle among heavy traffic.

For some reason this design was changed with another proposal submitted in early 2013 to instead create a single carriageway road. Planning permission was granted but included a number of conditions including regularly carrying out traffic surveys "to analyse traffic conditions on, and in the vicinity of, Waterden Road to demonstrate the performance of the road network. The performance of Waterden Road and the associated network will then determine if the road should be retained as a single lane, two-way route or to be widened to a two-way dual carriageway as per the original planning condition." In the most recent survey they've measured the amount of "vehicles" using the road but this presumably means only counting vehicles that use the road, with people using the cycle track not taken into account.


The survey also shows that traffic travels at an average speed of 30mph along here, despite having a 20mph speed limit.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a public transport destination they say here on this page explaining to people visiting the Copper Box Arena how to use the over-twice-as-long-as-the-Copper-Box Multi-Storey car park located in the North West of the park, which has space for 554 cars. Meanwhile this page says if you are not using a specific venue then they advise to use the 5,000 capacity car park at Westfield shopping Centre and they also talk of how the car parks are free of charge at the VeloPark and at the Hockey and Tennis centre. They don't even mention the 850 capacity Stratford International multi storey car park which is also located within the Olympic Park. Not forgetting the large amount of on street parking available and the total lack of enforcement when it comes to pavement parking. So it definitely is a public transport destination except for the fact they provide parking for thousand and thousands of cars and if enough of you do drive here then they'll rip up the cycle track and slap a dual carriageway down instead. Still, they've paid a web developer to write the sentence "public transport destination" on their website.

Westfield avenue and its assault course cycle track is now something didn't think could be possible, it is actually even worse to cycle on than it was last year. Firstly these roadworks have been in place for a few weeks



The vast empty space alongside Westfield Avenue where the army searched spectators during the Olympics has recently been both a circus and Hill Valley. This means the track often gets used as a storage area for barriers when the shows are over



and due to the dropped kerb here to allow security to let various vehicles into the central area of the park people like to use the cycle track as a car park or drop off point



Even the Google Streetview car caught a lorry doing this when it drove down Westfield Avenue last summer. Still, within the next year construction is due to start on the International Quarter here where a large number of Skyscrapers will be built, as you can see in this render here on the website of the Financial Conduct Authority, who will be moving 3000 staff here. TFL are also moving thousands of staff here so expect that cycle track to get much busier with parked vehicles.

Meanwhile the cycle track along the southern section of Westfield Avenue has been closed since last summer and will remain closed until 2016



With "Cyclists dismount and use other carriageway" signs in place but no temporary temporary cycle facilities have been built on the other carriageway to assist anyone



The closure of the cycle track is due to what is currently some concrete stubs but will soon be Glasshouse gardens, two towers of 30 and 17 storeys that don't look too different to the council blocks over the road in the Carpenters estate to me. Due to much needed local affordable housing in East London these were launched in Singapore and Hong Kong and Rightmove are already flogging compact one bedroom flats for just over half a mllion pounds

All of these closures and obstructions on the cycle track could have been avoided had the cycle tracks been built to Dutch standards in the first place, which should have been easy enough considering the Olympic Park was a complete blank slate. Astonishing to think that Westfield Avenue was just some mud in a building site exactly five years ago.

A lot has changed within the park over the last two-and-a-half years and there will be many more changes over the next few. Construction of the apartments in Chobham Manor and Glasshouse Gardens is underway with East Wick and Sweetwater due to start soon. The Olympic Stadium will once again welcome spectators during the World Cup later this year before West Ham move in a year later. By then it'll be a major workplace with people moving into offices in Here East and the International Quarter just in time for Crossrail to arrive in about four years time. The park will be a very different place with billions of pounds pumped into it. Let's hope they spend just a small amount of it on repairing the cycle infrastructure and make it a truly great place to cycle rather than the frustrating experience it can be now.