Here’s what the future of cycling in London looks like

Cycle super highway Stratford via TfL

Last week, cycle campaigners up and down the UK, choked on their morning cup of coffee, in sheer shock, as TfL revealed their plans for extending Cycle Superhighway 2.

The plans provide a glimpse in to the future of cycling in London. A future that cycle campaigners have been screaming for.

It has to be noted that these are currently just plans. For them to happen, people need to show their support, which they can do using the online survey here.

What it will be like to cycle in London in future

Currently, to cycle in London you need to be prepared to mix with traffic. You have to be aware that vehicles will overtake you at speed, at the bare minimum passing distance. At times you’ll be able to reach out and touch those vehicles. You also need to know how to navigate tough junctions, designed for cars. As Boris Johnson said: “you need to have your wits about you”.

That’s all well and good for those of us who’ve become accustomed to this environment. However, it makes cycling in London inaccessible to new cyclists, who are scared off by the conditions.

In future, bike rides in London will feel very different. Instead of battling it out with traffic, you’ll be able to cycle in separate safe lanes. These will provide enough space for faster cyclists to overtake.

This is the kind of infrastructure that has made cycling in countries such as the Netherlands become mainstream, as opposed to leaving it in the sidelines.

There are some improvements of course, such as the need for angled kerbs, as covered on the Alternative department for transport blog. An angled kerb would provide easier access  for wheelchair users and makes it less likely a cyclist will clip the kerb.

Also, we now have our very own first ever cycling commissioner

Further to the announced plans by TfL, it has been revealed that Andrew Gilligan will be fighting the corner for cyclists, as the first ever cycling commissioner.

There’s a great post on the Cyclists in the City blog about Andrew Gilligan’s views on cycling that I recommend reading.

Over to you!

What do you think of the potential redesign of Cycle Superhighway 2?

Leave a comment below!

Further reading:

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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38 Responses to Here’s what the future of cycling in London looks like

  1. Rob Elliott 18/01/2013 at 10:30 am #


    Great news for cyclists in London, and a positive move for the UK, as hopefully cities all over will see the (hopeful success) and follow suit!

    I’m envious of those who will be able to use this, and will wait and see what comes of it.

    • Padma 18/01/2013 at 1:43 pm #

      This is excellent news..I once cycled along Howland St, off Tottenham Crt Rd, and noticed although the road was narrow, they had successfully seperated cycle from traffic lane and it worked well…so this is v.good…now wont have to battle with mindless coaches, buses, lorries who ignore the cycle highway and intimidate cyclists onto the kerb?!


      • Jessie 19/01/2013 at 6:48 pm #

        The only issue with the cycle lane you mention is that it’s two-way. Better than nothing..

  2. Pieter 18/01/2013 at 11:15 am #

    Looks encouraging. One thing that’s always puzzled me is why the Cycle Superhighways are blue. Why can’t they be the colours of the tube lines they are closest to following? Wouldn’t this be an additional way to encourage people who’ve never travelled above ground?

    • Nick Evans 18/01/2013 at 4:30 pm #

      The CS following the northern line wouldn’t show up very well!

      • Pieter 18/01/2013 at 5:02 pm #

        Fair point but I’m sure a creative solution could be found for this one detail.

    • GazH 18/02/2013 at 2:33 pm #

      They are Barclays brand blue

  3. GL 18/01/2013 at 4:09 pm #

    I am going to go out on a limb here and disagree with nearly every other cyclist. Ok. Here goes……

    I don’t think segregated cycle lanes are a good thing.

    There. I said it.

    The reason for this outrageous statemenent is as follows. Most of the problems with agression towards cyclists from motrorists results in the fact that motorists don’t think cyclists have a right to use the roads. By segregating us, we are confirming this belief and therefore when we DO have to cycle on the road (not everywhere will have segregated cycle lanes!) we will be more vulnerable! Instead we should eductae drivers that cyclists have a right to cycle on the roads, not take us off them!

    In my opinion, cyclists do often put themselves at unecessary risk. Why bother trying to squeeze up the inside of that bus to get to the ASL. You wont get killed by waiting behind it! I see this everyday on my 8 mile commute into works and back, and frankly terrifies me!

    • Schrödinger's Cat 18/01/2013 at 4:58 pm #

      1973 called for you GL, they want their failed cycling policy back.

      • GL 18/01/2013 at 5:10 pm #

        The policy would work if there was a policy! When has a drinving test ever made mention of cyclists?

        The policy of pushing for segregation is a “oh, let’s avoid the problem instead of solving the problem it” policy.

        Unless we can provide segregated cycle lanes on all roads, it is not going to help but make the relationship between cyclists and motorists worse.

        Let’s come back here in 30 years and see whats works shall we?

        • Schrödinger's Cat 18/01/2013 at 5:40 pm #

          We already *are* 30 years into the future. This “share the road” nonsense has been the mantra since the 1970s and it’s resulted in 2% modal share nationwide.

          The Netherlands, however, opted to provide dedicated, good quality routes for bike users, and it has a national share of around 30%, with a high of 65% in Groningen.

          Sharing the road has failed. It is a proven failure. Anywhere it has been implemented, cycling share is tiny.

          Separate infrastructure is a success. It is a proven success. Anywhere it has been implemented properly, cycling share grows.

          Please, do some research, find out the facts, and ask around – people don’t want to ride a bike amongst motor traffic.

          Have a look at these photos:

          Can you imagine young children riding on the road in the UK? Seriously?

  4. Steve 18/01/2013 at 10:25 pm #

    GL has a valid point the road infrastructure of London is such that it will not be possible to have segregated cycling lanes everywhere. Therefore educating motorists and cyclists to use the same space in harmony has to be the answer. Personally putting a 10 second delay at traffic lights to give cyclists time to get ahead start and take a safe road position is a far simpler and much easier option to implement all over London which I am sure will reduce accidents immediately

    • Schrödinger's Cat 19/01/2013 at 4:48 am #

      No, GL doesn’t have a valid point. Are you both new to all this by any chance?

      Of course there won’t be separate cycle paths *everywhere* – where has this been suggested? Even the Dutch merge bike users and motor traffic, but only where speeds or volumes are very low. Main roads need separate cycle paths, or the vast majority of people will never consider riding a bike.

      “Educating motorists” didn’t work in the 1980s, and it won’t work in the 2010s either. The Dutch have proved that better infrastructure works, whereas the British have proved that “education” and “encouragement” don’t work.

      The 10 second delay is rubbish, by the way, don’t fall for it. What if you arrive when the lights are already green? Does a 10 second delay mean you’d be happy for your grandparents or your children to ride a bike in London? Plus, the way TfL are implementing it, the “head start” is in fact an “always stop” for bike users:

      Stop looking for an easy answer and a cheap fix. Yet another poster campaign isn’t going to make the slightest difference to the modal transport figures, nor is a larger ASL or trixie mirrors. The only solution which is *proven to work* – and, as a bonus, has an entire nation as a test case – is the Dutch solution.

      • GL 19/01/2013 at 8:14 pm #

        Yes I do have a point. It is you that is barking up the wrong tree along with all your fellow segregationists.

        Why would any cyclist want to take cyclists off the road and make us second class road users. That is what mororists want. Simply idiotic.

        Also, as stated by another comment, the culture in Holland, Denmark and all other high bike use countries is different. The high bike use cannot be put down to segregated bike lanes alone. To say that is ridiculous.

        Education is always they key not segregation. Segregation, throughout history, has never worked!

        And no I am not new to this. Don’t be so patronising. Oh, and also, I cycled on the roads as child. It taught me how to and I use those skils everyday.

        • GL 19/01/2013 at 8:29 pm #

          I just had thought. Maybe it is you who is new to this cycling malarky and that is why you are so lacking in confidence to cycle on the road and hence you want a segregated lane (sorry for being a little antagonistic, but I hate being patronised in the way you tried to).

        • Schrödinger's Cat 20/01/2013 at 12:35 am #

          As you’re still dividing the world into “cyclists” and “motorists” I think I can see that we won’t have a sensible debate. I ride a bike and I drive a van, both tools are appropriate at the given time, and I define myself by neither mode of transport.

          So to say that “that is what motorists want” shows that you’re more interested in point-scoring than actually creating a system where anybody, from toddlers to octogenarians, can feel safe riding a bike.

          I get the feeling you’d rather bike riding remained the niche sport it is now, dominated by men aged 20-50, rather than a safe and easy transport choice that anybody can make.

          Do you really think that the infrastructure in the Netherlands has no bearing on people’s transport decisions? That they cycle *despite* the motor traffic- free routes?

        • GL 20/01/2013 at 1:36 am #

          I am a motorist when I am driving a car (which I do) and I am a cyclist when I am cycling a bike (which I do). When I walk I am a pedestrian. We need a word to describe those different situations so don’t wheel out that “stop labelling people” rubbish.

          It would be a bit long winded if one had to say “a possible cyclist, and almost certainly (I expect) a pedestrian who happens to be driving a car at this moment in time” every time they wanted to describe someone driving a car. So if it is ok with you, I will use the words the English language has provided me with and call them “motorists”.

          So, with that settled, I will finish my contributions to this post offering the following:

          1. Motorists need to accept cyclists and their right to be on the road. In fact motorists should be reminded that every cyclist is one less car to cause congestion. By removing cyclists from the road we exclude us from being a road user. Not good at all.

          2. Cyclist need to act like road users to be accepted as road users.

          3. Bus drivers need more training before they are let loose.

          4. Cycling is a sport as well as a mode of transport. We should embrace anyone on a bike whether they are simply getting around or dressed head to toe in Lycra. Accept both forms.

          5. The UK is not Holland. The Dutch method is not a universal solution. Stop pretending it is.

          6. Statistics are dangerous in the wrong hands. Unless you are a statistician, don’t bother.

          And finally;

          7. My opinion is your opinion is wrong. Only time will tell who is right.

        • Schrödinger's Cat 20/01/2013 at 3:02 am #

          Time has already proven you wrong, GL.

          The vast majority of people don’t want to ride a bike while surrounded by cars and vans and buses. The UK has a low number of bike users, but a high bike user death and injury rate.

        • GL 20/01/2013 at 10:03 am #

          There are so many flaws to your whole argument it is laughable.

          You cannot compare Holland and London. Considering your user name is a theoretical scientific experiment you clearly don’t even have a basic grasp of science. If your going to compare two things to determine a potential outcome they need to be comparable.

          For example, here are a few reasons you cannot hold Holland up as an reason segregation will work in London.

          1. You are comparing a city to a country.

          2. London has a fast and convenient underground system. No city in holland does. Therefore in stands to reason why people look for an alternative to walking.

          3. A large number of Dutch towns have trams. Trams and bikes don’t mix making segregation important.

          4. I don’t have the stats but I am willing to bet that next to no people living in zone 1/2/3 drive to work. Therefore adding segregated cycle lanes in central London will not get people out of cars. It may get a few pedestrians onto bikes or even a few people of the tube but it will not reduce car numbers.

          5. People who commute in from 5 to 8 miles away in a car will not be persuaded to get on a bike by segregated lanes. Sensible people get the tube anyway and again you may encourage a few of those bit you will not reduce car numbers.

          6. Again, I don’t have the stats but I would wager that the majority of vehicles on the roads in London are either taxis, minicabs or trade vehicles. Those type of “car users” (happy with that term?) are not going to get on a bike.

          So, all you will achieve is making cyclists second class road users (who will be in more danger when they need to leave your precious segregated lanes) and maybe encourage a few pedestrians to hop on a bike.

        • GL 20/01/2013 at 10:08 am #

          p.s. in the interest of good science, if you can provide stats against my assumptions I will revisit my arguments. Oh and posts to your own blog do not count as evidence.

  5. Steve 19/01/2013 at 9:31 am #

    No I’m not new to commuter cycling I commute 9miles into central London daily for the past 5years, there is no point keep banging on about what is happening in holland, yes it is fantastic what has been introduce over there. Firstly we need to change every bodies approach to all kinds of commuting, we do not and have never educated people in this country about how to deal with cyclist whilst learning to drive. And secondly how long do you think it is going to take for our government to introduce these segregated cycling, everything moves slowly here due to red tape and debate, I’m not saying they are a bad thing just that they are not the only answer.

    • Schrödinger's Cat 20/01/2013 at 12:39 am #

      “it is fantastic what has been introduce over there”

      Excellent, I’m glad you agree with me!

      “we do not and have never educated people in this country about how to deal with cyclist whilst learning to drive”

      Say we introduced this today, how long would it take for a majority of drivers to be “cycle-aware”? 25, 30 years? Whereas the Dutch infrastructure – which you admit is fantastic – could be nationwide in 10 years.

      You’re right that other measures are needed – the Dutch solution isn’t cycle-paths everywhere, it’s filtered permeability for bikes, removal of rat-runs, separate routes for motor vehicles, and so on. But cycle-paths play a big part in this, especially along the direct, busy roads which make up the bulk of a city journey.

      London has already started! Don’t oppose it, Steve, I can tell you’re a good guy at heart. Don’t be left behind by progress.

  6. Steve 19/01/2013 at 9:38 am #

    Also the reason for the 10 second delay is there are a lot of near misses due to the amount of cyclists pulling away from the traffic lights at the same time as motorists. This time will give the mass of cyclists to adjust there position and sort out the slow from the fast cyclists

  7. briedis 19/01/2013 at 12:04 pm #

    First. It’s not true: “This is the kind of infrastructure that has made cycling in countries such as the Netherlands become mainstream”.

    The truth is, cycling was mainstream even before building this kind of infrastructure in Netherlands. Segregation didn’t cause (even not increased) cycling level there. There’s official data: . The green line shows km traveled by bicycle (flat). Blue line – km traveled by car (increasing).

    Second. I don’t see anything like “battling” or “fighting” at the London streets. You should see the REAL fighting in other countries, to understand there’s only interaction between road users in London. It was fight before, but not so much now. Not saying there’s no room for improvement, but we should admire increased numbers of people cycling in London, achieved in it’s own way – London’s way.

    At this point new Facebook group is created”

  8. briedis 19/01/2013 at 12:08 pm #

    First. It’s not true: “This is the
    kind of infrastructure that has
    made cycling in countries such
    as the Netherlands become

    The truth is, cycling was
    mainstream even before
    building this kind of
    infrastructure in Netherlands.
    Segregation didn’t cause (even
    not increased) cycling level
    there. There’s official data:
    nl-modal-split.png . The green
    line shows km traveled by
    bicycle (flat). Blue line – km
    traveled by car (increasing).

    Second. I don’t see anything
    like “battling” or “fighting” at
    the London streets. You should
    see the REAL fighting in other
    countries, to understand there’s
    only interaction between road
    users in London. It was fight
    before, but not so much now.
    Not saying there’s no room for
    improvement, but we should
    admire increased numbers of
    people cycling in London,
    achieved in it’s own way –
    London’s way.

    At this point new Facebook
    group is created „LoveCyclingGoLondon„

    • Schrödinger's Cat 20/01/2013 at 12:30 am #

      You choose a handy graph, which starts only in 1985. For a fuller picture, how about this:

      Of course the number of kilometers travelled by car has increased over time – cars have become cheaper, and people travel further. But the number of kilometers travelled by bike over the same period has increased (albeit not by much) whereas the UK has steadily fallen.

      Add to that that a bike user in the UK is 3x more likely to be killed than one in the Netherlands. Once you remember that small children, the frail, the elderly and people with disabilities all ride in the Netherlands, as opposed to the UK where the vast majority of bike users are confident, fit men aged 20-50, you can see how much safer the Dutch system really is.

      Also, if you look at the journey share, cycling does rather better. It makes sense that more kilometers are done in a car – that is what cars are good at, travelling longer distances. People use bikes for shorter journeys, which are made more often. In the UK, 40% of journeys under 3 miles are done by car, which is when the car becomes a nuisance.

      • briedis 20/01/2013 at 10:12 am #

        “You choose a handy graph, which starts only in 1985. ”

        Yes, that is the time when Dutch started building their new segregated infrastructure. And as the graph shows it didn’t help to increase cycling rate, instead car usage increased. So, please, stop spreading the myth.

        “The Dutch have proved that better infrastructure works, whereas the British have proved that “education” and “encouragement” don’t work.”

        That’s the Dutch proved the education does work. Dutch children are taught how negotiate traffic on their bikes in elementary school. That is a big part of their cycling culture.

        “The vast majority of people don’t want to ride a bike while surrounded by cars and vans and buses.”

        cycling rate in London, Paris and other similar cities keep growing every year. Also, the same rate of dutch people did it before their built segregated lanes, look at the previous graph, look at this video:

        • Schrödinger's Cat 24/01/2013 at 5:39 pm #

          No, they started in the mid-1970s.

          And the cycling rate in London and Paris is pathetic, and it grows by a tiny amount.

          Dutch people don’t cycle amongst heavy traffic. But then neither do Brits, apart from the few committed souls willing to tolerate the conditions.

        • briedis 29/01/2013 at 10:37 pm #

          they only decided at mid-1970s , but building of infrastructure started quite later. It is a long process and it continues to these days. But it it doesn’t help to increase cycling rate for Dutch, look at the table again , instead car usage increased, face the truth. Don’t be obsessed with this promotional ‘go dutch’ style videos.

  9. Sam 19/01/2013 at 8:50 pm #

    I personally think this is a great thing although if they could make it one way lanes that would be better but on our streets perhaps it is not possible?
    Also why can you not have the infrastructure and the education. It’s true that when I got my liscence I wasn’t taught how to help cyclists at all.
    One little inkling for me as an experienced cyclist in London I do think about the new congestion for us cyclists this would cause. It is a bit daft but I like over taking other cyclists and going as fast as I can. This would be harder now if we have to ride behind a line of slow cyclists… but I may live longer. Better to be alive I think.
    You win some, you lose some.

  10. Ranty 19/01/2013 at 10:56 pm #

    How dare they take away traffic lanes from Stratford High Street, it is so nice to be able to mix with my fellow road user. If I have to use a segregated lane, how will I get the buzz from nearly being squashed by a grab lorry, or playing tag with the buses (well, I could wait until I reach the Bow roundabout I guess!)

  11. Dan 20/01/2013 at 11:49 pm #

    It’s a nice idea in some ways, dangerous in others. Although the segregated blue lanes will be safer, there are lots of places in London where it will not be financially feasible or even possible to implement this, and these roads would be to my mind less safe than before.

    Driver and cyclist education and awareness would be my answer, not partial segregation. Chances are it’d never make off the drawing board on cost grounds alone anyway.

    • Gavin 21/01/2013 at 10:38 am #

      Could not agree more, I receive daily punishment passes to force me into non existent cycle lanes. Where such lanes do exist, the greatest hazard is from the vehicles parked or attempting to park in them. Separated lanes only reinforce some drivers believe that cyclists have no right to be on the roads. We need a high profile national campaign to educate drivers and cyclists how to share the existing facilities.

  12. Steve 21/01/2013 at 8:34 am #

    I do not oppose the segregated cycle lanes and I do agree that education will take 1 or 2 generations before progress will show, but my argument is 1 segregated cycle implemented by a couple of politicians to bleat on about and then do nothing else is my problem. Especially as that 1 lane will affect less than probably 10% of the London cycling community. But it is an improvement as long as we get it right and lets hope this is not the only solution our government is looking at.

  13. Tom 21/01/2013 at 10:29 pm #

    So how will these segregated lanes deal with side roads? I hope it’s better than the way the current one from Canary Wharf to Tower Bridge, where in my experience all drivers just ingore it and turn across it without looking.
    Segregated lanes are a great idea, in theory, in practise I really don’t know how well they can work on london’s streets, there just isn’t the space…I cycle from Leyton to Bermondsey every day, the worst bit of it is along Bethnal Green Road, I can’t see how it’s possible to put any form of cycle lane along there what with the relatively narrow pavement, the bus lanes, the street market, the traffic islands, etc. I’m sure there will be a handful of token segregated lanes, but they just aren’t a practical thing for the majority of people’s daily cycle routes.

  14. Michael 28/02/2013 at 1:11 am #

    I live in London and I think separated cycle lanes would have an impact on my decision to ride a bike more often. Currently I am fearful of the dangers and have been put off (the scare stories plus a lack of confidence in my own cycling skills). I think it would be a psychological boost for me if there were separated lanes for bikes. Obviously this needs to be coupled with teaching drivers and cyclists about road safety. I only took my driving test four years ago but pedestrians, motorcyclists and other cars were always noted ahead of cyclists (in fact cyclists were hardly ever mentioned!). Making driving tests include sections on how to drive around cyclists would be a start and failure to do so in the test meaning not passing.

    One thing that I think should be encouraged in road safety lessons for cyclists at schools. I noticed recently my local primary school has begun taking groups of kids out for lessons on the road (which has buses going along and is a busy local shopping area) and I think this is key to cycling’s development. Building confidence from a young age is essential and the more kids cycling before they get cars means the more new drivers aware of the issues cyclists face.

  15. edriordan 01/10/2013 at 3:50 pm #

    There is a massive problem with these once you get the roads blocks with cars and lorries there will be no way they can get out of the way for emergency vehicles yet again boris has made a great move but has cocked the it up you cannot modify roads designed for cars and lorries to then have half one side bricked off.

  16. Terry 30/10/2013 at 3:42 pm #

    As someone that lives in Stratford i can tell you that this is an absolute joke, everyday Stratford Hight Street is one big traffic jam because buses have lost a lane, also buses at certain points have to park in the actual bicycle lane to pick and drop off passengers who consequently wait for the bus by standing in the cycle lane, our roads are not as wide as Holland and are much more congested. Adding more of these bike lanes will bring London to a stand still.

    This is not the answer, educating both cyclists and motorists to share the roads responsibily is the answer however unfortutnely common sense seems to be lacking by the majority of both. Cyclists jumping red lights and thinking they aren’t required to give arm signals before cutting you up and motorists with the mindset that they pay road tax hence having right of way all the time. Our roads are Victorian, same as the train lines, they never visioned the amout of people we’d have in our country, we are too over populated, therefore the infrustration can’t cope, Simples.

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