Two visions for the cycle superhighways

The first few pictures have been emerging of London’s much hyped cycle superhighways. But which of these two visions do you think is more likely to be realised?


  • Wide paths with room to overtake cyclists and travel at a decent speed
  • No vehicles in the cycle lanes
  • Cycle paths not too near to parked cars to avoid dooring incidents
  • Uninterrupted and as direct as possible routes into the capital
  • Pothole free cycling on great road surface with no snow, ice or leaves
  • Traffic lights specifically for cyclists
  • Service stations to allow you to fix punctures and pump up tyres
  • “Green wave idea” – where if you travel at a certain speed you will hit green lights the full way
  • Plenty of bike parking along the route
  • Narrow paths with a blue lick of paint
  • Vehicles regularly enjoying the new parking the mayor has created for them in these weird new blue lanes
  • Close proximity to parked cars meaning vision 15 seconds into the future is required to predict motorist behaviour and prevent injury.
  • Constantly stopping and starting ensuring an average speed of less than 10mph.
  • Potholes fitted as standard.
  • Strong chance of getting caught by every traffic light on the way into the capital thus doubling the amount of time it takes
  • No additional bike parking added after all that is what lampposts are there for


By the way the first vision isn’t just me letting my imagination run wild it is what the cycle superhighways are going to be like in Copenhagen. Thanks to Rob from RealCycling for the picture of the cycle superhighway.

In my opinion I think the superhighways are much more likely to resemble the second vision however I hope to stand corrected.

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15 Responses to Two visions for the cycle superhighways

  1. Hollywood 22/02/2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Interesting read.

    I really like the “Green Wave” Idea – lights always annoyed me when I commuted into town – but I bet that the Green wave would mean a red wave for motorists – so it sounds really unlikely to happen!

    • Pedestrian 24/06/2010 at 5:02 pm #

      Just cycle on the pavemen ts. Screw the pedestrians

  2. Phil 22/02/2010 at 1:34 pm #

    Based upon my experience with woeful and poorly-considered “provision” for cycling in the UK, in my opinion you are more likely to end up with the latter option. Boris Johnson talks the talk, but like all career politicians he’s firmly in the pocket of big money which has a vested interest in maintaining a profitable status quo. I sincerely wish to be proved wrong, but until it happens I remain sceptical.

  3. Angi 22/02/2010 at 5:16 pm #

    Given that this is London…I’m going with the second column. 🙁

    After having spent a couple of days in Amsterdam…and all the lovely safe safe cycling…I’m having serious thoughts about moving there…even had a look at what jobs were on offer there!

    Copenhagen…I have yet to visit there…I’m hoping it will be soon though.

    If they had a law about the blue cycle routes…something like the double red lines…so cars couldn’t stop on them…hmm…but I suppose even that is dreaming a little too hard. 🙁

  4. Andreas 22/02/2010 at 7:07 pm #

    Hollywood, I love the “Green wave” idea too and I have to admit it is a new one to me.
    Phil, I think it was summed up well when Boris was asked whether the experience for cyclists would be improved with detriment to motorists. He minced his words but basically said no. This is one of those times where if you don’t make things slightly worse for motorists you can’t make things better for cyclists
    Angi, Nooo angi don’t give up on London! Very jealous of your trip to Amsterdam. Copenhagen is a place I want to visit along with the Netherlands were bicycle adoption is huge

  5. Jim 23/02/2010 at 11:30 pm #

    My guess is that we will end up with something that’s pretty good for an unsegregated cycle lane, maybe even quite close to version 1, but that’s all. By themselves they’re not going to encourage many more people to cycle. You need to fundamentally change the attitude of all the relevant authorities to driving to achieve that.

  6. Angi 24/02/2010 at 8:47 am #

    @Jim Totally agree that the fundamental attitudes of drivers need to be changed first and that is something which will take a long long time I suppose.
    Whilst in Amsterdam, I noticed how much more patient drivers were of cyclists and just accepted them…as a lot of them seemed to cycle themselves too.
    I am jealous and wish we could be like that.
    One day…

  7. John 24/02/2010 at 4:13 pm #

    I am depressed by this post about cycle superhighways. I used to cycle the 10 or 11 miles to work every day New Barnet- Old Street but stopped when I had children. My wife asked me how often I had close shaves with cars. I had to admit that I probably averaged a a close shave every couple of weeks (cars overtaking way too fast and way too close for example). I realised to my dismay that cycling across town was an irreponsible activity for a parent of young children and stopped. Now I spend £1200 each year on the train, I am less fit, more poor and, of course, less happy.

    I was kind of banking on the cycle superhighway from Finchley to finally get back on my bike. But if its going to run down the A1000 and not be properly segregated from the cars and busses then it’ll simply be unsafe and I’ll have to stay poor, unfit and miserable 🙁

  8. Andreas 24/02/2010 at 6:33 pm #

    @John – definitetly a tough argument as the stakes are obviously much higher when you have a family to look after. My suggestion.. take a quick course on proper cycling that is run by CTC. They really teach you some great tips for staying safe. Then head out there and start cycling. Of course the downside is there is nothing you can do if some idiot plays the “sorry made I didn’t see you card” and we’ve all heard stories about that

  9. John 25/02/2010 at 10:09 am #

    Andreas – thank you for your positive suggestion. Doubtless the CTC could teach me some good stuff. However, I am (was) already an assertive and confident cyclist with no qualms about taking up the lane where I perceive it to be safer and shouting to let people know I’m there.

    The bottom line, for me at least, is that on busy roads (which seem to be unavoidable on my journey to work unfortunately), we, as a city, are going to need proper segregation of bikes and cars if we’re going to tempt people onto their bikes. I bet there are loads like me who would love to cycle if it could be made properly safe. Its why I think that Boris Johnson’s bike hire scheme is flawed. The problem is not access to bikes. The problem, surely, is a lack of safe routes – and a lick of blue paint is simply not going to cut the mustard.

    Anyway, thank you again for your suggestion.

  10. Andreas 25/02/2010 at 10:56 am #

    Seems like you have the correct cycling tactics in place!

    I agree with you that some of the main arteries into the city could do with proper cycle paths (not blue lick of paint 1.5 metres wide). Hopefully the superhighways will be the start of something bigger!

  11. Jim 26/02/2010 at 12:19 pm #

    TfL have released new images of what the ‘superhighways’ are likely to look like:

    If these are in any way accurate, I’ll have to retract my previous optimism – they look awful, particularly the two-way lanes ‘superhighways’ on which you have a choice between crashing into an on-coming cyclist or an oncoming lorry.

  12. Folding Biker 31/07/2010 at 1:16 am #

    Is this still using money that was actually taken from the cycling budgets of the local London borough councils or are these super highways being made with additional funding?

  13. 4x4 pickup trucks 03/09/2010 at 7:30 am #

    Hey if all the points which are mentioned in this post would be true then biking would have become my everyday passion. I agree with some of the points but sure the post has covered good points to be noticed while driving a bicycle. Potholes have become an everyday visual for me.

  14. jim 26/01/2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Totally agree that the fundamental attitudes of drivers need to be changed first and that is something which will take a long long time I suppose.

    It will be okay if the cyclists is aware of what he/she probably doing.

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