CS5 – one step closer to cycling utopia?

CS5 has been unofficially open and in use for a little while now but the segregated two-way lane across Vauxhall Bridge it had its official launch today. The Mayor came down along with many of the head cycling planning honchos from TfL.

The Route

CS5 existing route

The existing part of the route which was officially opened today

The ultimate goal of CS5 is to link Victoria Station up to New Cross in South East London. However, at present the part built links Pimlico to the Oval. From there it meets up with CS7 currently, but at some point in the future will hopefully continue down Camberwell New Road and onwards. On the North side of the bridge it also connects with CS8 along Embankment.

Even though the route is not finished yet, it does provide safer passage around what was previously a pretty nasty junction for cyclists. It is also a nice connection between North and South London at a convenient point. I personally have always avoided this area and often cycled a greater distance just so I don’t have to go around the Vauxhall junction.

The video above is by CycleGaz on YouTube of the route thus far.

Vauxhall Bridge

“This is probably, in a hotly contested field, one of the most difficult things we’ve had to do. It’s caused an awful lot of agro, particularly with senior colleagues in government and parliament who like to travel around in cars and I understand their concerns but we are moving as fast as we can to get it all done.” Said Boris Johnson when referring to the 2 way cycle lane along the East side of the bridge.

Boris Johnson

While talking with us, the Mayor took some flack from people in vans driving past who clearly don’t appreciate any alteration to their driving experience and the feeling from them was quite anti-cyclist. It is very clear that this has been a hard project to get in place and that the vehicular disruption has upset some. It wasn’t all abuse though, some people cycling past said thanks to him.

“I tell you, the people I met on the cycleway seem to love it.” Boris said, having cycled over the bridge to get to the gaggle of press standing at the other end. “It’s as smooth as a piece of virgin tarmac laid by TfL!” It is a pretty smooth section of road, and the markings for turnings are clear.

It certainly is well used already, standing on the path for 15 mins dozens of cyclists came past me. Other than the journalists getting in the way (and swearing at some of the cyclists who told them to get out of the cycle lane, not a great start) it seems like it works well. I have not had any experience of using the junctions later on, and it did seem that there was some issue with cyclist and pedestrian segregation in parts, but that is often true of any rush hour junction, sadly.

Cyclists on CS5

What’s next?

“It will be a wonderful thing for London. This is just the beginning, as we know, of a massive program. The East-West is on its way…and we are going to keep going” In response to being asked if this two year effort would continue, Boris told us “It is really think t’s very very important that the momentum doesn’t stall. There are a large number of cycle superhighways still in the pipeline….Theres a lot of work still to do but this is an example of the kind of transformation that can take place. Its vital if we are going to get people out of their cars, ease congestion and encourage fitness and walking and cycling.”

There are 12 routes planned in total by TfL, with 4 already open, 5 now with this official section of CS5, and another 3 planned to be in place by the spring. The big one for TfL now is the East-West route which will connect Barking to Acton eventually. This will be the longest route at 18 miles and the first section, Barking to Paddington is due for completion in May. The remaining routes will be hopefully started not too long after that.

TfL feel that the biggest dangers to cyclists on major roads are turnings, delivery lorries and bus stops. The easiest way to combat these hazards is to put in segregated lanes. Therefore on major routes, such as when the East-West route goes through Westway, the focus will be on trying to provide segregated lanes wherever feasible. Hopefully this will be something that they continue to roll out across other superhighways and infrastructure projects in the future.

Have you used CS5? Is it part of your regular commute? Does it make your cycling life easier and better?

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

9 Responses to CS5 – one step closer to cycling utopia?

  1. Matt Leng 19/11/2015 at 3:09 pm #

    Used it a few times now. Seems ok to be honest and takes the edge off the frentic adrenaline rush that is the gyratory.

    Slight issue near the MI6 building, where the pedestrian path narrows a bit and you have to keep a keen eye on any missteps. Plus, the raised bobbly sections of the path for the visually impaired are to be cycled over carefully, given the bends, but overall, seems positive.

  2. Bikesy 19/11/2015 at 4:24 pm #

    For some reason, Mr Nicholas Ferrari, of LBC radio, was really rather unhappy about the state of affairs on this morning’s radio programme. Calling for cyclists that were not using it to be charged with a criminal offence he seemed aggrieved that bicycles can share the rest of the road with cars. I think his real problem is that he is not allowed to be driven down it in his limousine, thus reducing his commute even further.

    I really hope I get put through on his radio programme soon to explain to him that every hour spent on a bicycle equates to an extra hour of life expectancy. The same cannot be said for his limousine ride.

    • Matt Barker 20/11/2015 at 10:44 am #

      They may not have realised it was open, or they were going on a route away from it. Once there is a real grid of cycle paths and nearly car free roads, I would bet anything that you would very rarely find cyclists sharing with large volumes of traffic. So far, CS5 looks like a ‘road for cyclists’; it is how it should be! Infra should be good enough for roadies, shoppers, the elderly, commuters and children going to school, to pluck a few examples out of the air. Hopefully in time execs in their limos may want to try the routes and enjoy them as they feel safe, not sharing with motor traffic

    • nigel foster 20/11/2015 at 1:05 pm #

      Listening to LBC for an hour shortens your life expectancy by 2 hours

  3. MJ Ray 20/11/2015 at 7:54 am #

    This one looks better but I’m concerned that CS2 in East London seems to be built wrong, with the track sometimes returning to carriageway across junctions without kerb protection, but also too late for cyclists to “take the lane”. As a result, cyclists are reporting getting left hooked. When will TFL return and fix those junctions? Close the side road entrance, continue the kerbs and raised surface, or at least cut the kerbs back further so brave cyclists can merge back onto carriageway in good time. I don’t care which but the current situation is a dangerous bodge.

  4. Dom M 20/11/2015 at 11:04 am #

    The lane across the bridge is great although I’m curious about how/if they are going to clean it/de-ice it. If you’re coming from the West to go northbound, it’s not/clear time-consuming to get across to it… and there’s now less space (and no ASL) on the northbound side. You do save time as the lights are better phased though once across. They’re not if you’re going south… you’re quicker staying on the road until John Islip and then going onto CS5 to make the lights across Millbank.

    It does stop slightly abruptly though at the Oval. I followed it up assuming that it would take me to Oval station but it stops short at a toucan crossing – where you then need to cross back over and join the bus lane to get up to CS7. Not particularly clear – but it wasn’t officially open yet so might just need signage.

    But definitely a big step in the right direction.

  5. Iain M 20/11/2015 at 11:30 am #

    This is all well and good but as ever with London’s infrastructure the South East of London seems to be the Cinderella. I live in Plumstead and see little attempt to link anything East of Greenwich to Central London.

    • Gary W 20/11/2015 at 11:50 am #

      I also live in Plumstead and second Iain’s remarks. I did hear last year that there was highway in the works going from Woolwich to London Bridge, but heard nothing since

  6. Paul SW11 23/11/2015 at 9:56 am #

    Yes, I use this new route every week now and it’s a welcome change for cyclists to separate us from the road users at this very busy dangerous junction. The Brits like to moan about everything, just use it, it helps cyclists and is a change in the right direction.

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