Recently 5 cyclists died in London within a short period of 9 days. At the same time New York CitiBike just just completed 5 millions rides over the first 5 month without a single person killed. Consider the CitiBike is used by all sorts of people from young to elderly, including tourists, this contrastic experience between London’s deadly “Cycling Superhighway” and New York’s bicycle friendly design contains a lot to be learnt.
A short video released by The Guardian provides a close look of London’s “Cycling Superhighway”. An experienced cyclist will be able to point out a few design issues relates to cycling safety. Some say more death is expected because new bicycle facilities attracts more people to use bicycle and therefore more accidents is inevitable. I think this is purely nonsense. If that’s true, New York should report similar number of cyclist death during that 5 millions rides.
Apart from feeling sad for those families and friends of the victims, I believe there are important lessons to be learnt for professional road designers:
“Your job is directly affecting people’s life and everyday wellbeing, please consider the vulnerable road users when designing.” If New York can do it, so does other cities, just don’t repeat the mistakes made by London’s road planners.
Looking at the video, I cannot imagine the one who design this so call Cycling Superhighway will cycle on it themselves. Let’s first check out the video:
I captured screenshots of area that is showing some safety issues. I will add more comment tomorrow. Feel free to add your comments in Facebook here:
Fig. 1 Wide and straight, does this looks like a road you can drive fast?
Painting half a car lane and call it a bicycle superhighway, this design suggests bicycle is to mix with high speed traffic ..
Fig. 2 Driver abuse the bike lane by parking there, exactly as some people mentioned the reason not to have bike lane… but it doesn’t have to be like this. In New York, the parked cars are used to provide a safety barrier between cyclist and fast moving traffic.
Fig. 3 The “Bike super highway stop abruptly, not transitition space to prepare the dirvers and cyclists to slow down when they have to directly mix on the road. Extremely dangerous, by design.
Fig. 4 Here an example of a fast van just over took the cyclist (who took this video) very closely because the driver is forced to share half a lane with the bicycle.
Fig. 5 Finally a segregated section of the BSHW, it only allows one bicycle at a time and the separation from big lorry is way too little. Pathetic, but at least it is relatively safe compare to other parts.
Fig. 6 The separation suddenly stop!!?? What are you supposed to do here, the cyclist is right at the blind spot position of turning long vehicles.
Fig. 7 The yellow lorry on the right can easily eat into the “invisible” BSHW and kill a moving cyclists there, and the driver will say, honestly, “I didn’t see him!” another example of “likely accident caused by road design”
Fig. 8 The BSHW reappear again
Fig. 9 The BSHW suddenly end right before a junction. What are the cyclists supposed to do here?
Fig. 10 Let’s mix with the traffic again..
Fig. 11 Dangerous crossing , by road design (or the lack of it!)
Fig. 12 Now this is a proper bike lane, wide enough and with good separation when there is fast moving traffic.
Fig. 13 The end of the better part of the BSHW
Below is how my friend Calvin Boo describe his experience of riding in London last year:
Having heard about and seen the painted cycle lanes and advanced stop boxes of London, I thought London was cycle-friendly until I tried riding on the city roads one evening … and nearly got knocked off the bike twice on a short 25mins ride (once by a car, once by a bus).
Personally, the poor cyclist safety in London is not just a question of infrastructure, although it stems from infrastructure. The road culture in London is, to sum up in one word, aggresive; aggresive drivers, aggresive cyclists. Aggressive attitudes from both sides does not serve anyone well.
On London roads, I see cyclists riding at speed along the roads, not alone, not in twos, not in threes … but in hordes. And this at peak hours of the day. I haven’t been to Amsterdam, but from the many videos I have seen, my feel is that the road culture is different.