Cycle superhighways: are they a joke?

That’s the most common question asked in the responses to the London Assembly transport committee survey

Thanks to Jim who pointed out in the comments to the Cycle Superhighways Report post that the raw data from the survey is actually publicly available for us to play with.  (I <3 data, so Jim’s London geo data visualisation blog is the latest addition to my googlereader.)

The GLA have kindly published the raw data from the survey online:

I’ve done some quick sums, which indicate that you’re right about the difference between the two routes. Of the 135 respondents who said they used SH3, 53% said they felt safer, compared to 36% of the 303 who used SH7.

You can do a variety of other breakdowns from the raw data if you’re interested. And the ‘other comments’ parts are fascinating.

So users of the more off-road CS3 have a more favourable view of the relative safety of their route than the main-road CS7 users, though even on CS3 TfL can hardly claim an overwhelmingly positive response.

The other thing that interested me was the group of 11 respondents who said that they had taken up cycling because of the Superhighways — which superhighway had converted them.  Well it’s 4 of the 135 CS3 users and 6 of the 303 CS7 users.  One person who said that they had taken up cycling because of the cycle superhighways stated that they had not used either (“none in the area I want to ride”).  Of the 4 CS3 users, however, two said that they had been cycling in London for longer than 6 months, and one of those had only used CS3 once, so perhaps they had clicked the wrong options.  Of the 11 individuals who stated that the cycle superhighways converted them to cycling only 5 use them more than once a week.  Note that a number of people stated that both the bike hire and superhighways together converted them to cycling — 14 CS7 users and one “occasional” CS3 user.

I don’t know what these numbers mean.  CS7 is better at converting people to cycling than CS3?  People in the CS3 catchment area were already cycling on its precursor segregated bike paths so there was nobody to convert?  They might mean nothing at all, the numbers are really too small for any serious scholarly analysis.

Below the fold are a few quotes from the responses…

The mentality of a cycle superhighway fan:

I believe that you are a great asset to London as a mayor and have made positive changes to the way we live in London.

It seems that we quite like Cable Street, but want more of it (each paragraph is a different person’s comment):

I only use a small part of the superhighway, on Cable Street, and that part is very good.

there are a number of very narrow parts of the cycle superhighway that make it difficult for the volume of traffic at rush hour. Also, the priority on some streets is still given to the turning cars. A segregated way means that the cycles have the right of way.At some places they are too narrow for the volume of cyclists, eg. Cable Street with two way cycle flows

CS3 is too narrow in many places for the number of cyclists it carries (this was true before it became a Superhighway and very little has been done about this).

Cable Street lane is not wide enough for the volume of cyclists.

Can t really pass other bikes on cable street, which makes the most protected portion less usefull for me (lots of slow traffic, and fear to hit a pedestrian)

unclear why CS3 didn’t simply close Cable Street to motor vehicles — can’t see what the case for their continued presence is, given extensive network of alternative roads surrounding it.

The view of a thirty-something male with an 18 mile commute from Kingston:

Encouraging a congolmerate of cyclists onto single routes seems to be creating more problems as cars don’t respect the lanes, and even more so, allow little if any space for differentials in speed between cyclists.  To overtake a slower cyclist, you’re forced well into the road against cars that already don’t want you there.  And it’s encouraging far more slower cyclists, hence increasing the risk.

Damn those slower cyclists increasing road danger.

With friends like these:

The reason I cycled is that I promote cycle as part of my job – at LB Merton – I think the scheme is brilliant

What do the survey respondents want?

Would feel much safer if was physically seperate to vehicle traffic.

The off-road sections, completely segregated from traffic is much more comfortable to cycle on and encourages me to switch my route to use it.

To describe a narrow non-continuous advisory painted strip with no physical separation from the main vehicle highway as a Cycle Superhighway is to perpetrate a supreme confidence trick on what is fortunately becoming an increasingly cynical public. Boris had better beware the coming backlash against his betrayal of cyclists.

Utterly pointless. Don’t solve the main problem with existing cycle lanes (i.e. that they don’t confer any safety benefit to cyclists), as there is still no physical separation from fast-moving traffic

Why are they not off-road lanes? No matter what lanes are painted on my mother wont be cycling on the A3.

GOOD idea but they should be completely separate from other traffic

because the superhighway is physically seperated from the road, the journey is enormously safer than previously.

Superhighway 7 via A24-A3 does not provide a physical separation for bicycles, so cyclists have no protection and/or priority over buses, cars, motorbikes, etc. Other vehicles do not respect cyclists, making the journey quite stressful and dangerous on occasions. It would have been much better to have a physical separation between other vehicles and bycicles.

Quiet and off road cycle routes and paths should be more of a priority for the GLA

I’ve cycled on the section of CS3 along Cable Street and I believe that the physical separation of cycle and car traffic provides a much safer environment for cyclists.

raised cycle lanes (e.g. Cable Street) are great!

SUperhighway should be a seperate highway not on the road shared with busses and road traffic

Other traffic does not recognise the separation only segregated lanes work for cyclists safety

The “superhighways” are a complete joke – they are just paint down the side of a bus  lane. They need to be physically separated from motor vehicles.

Would benefit from having some separation such as a kerb

Painting the existing road and gutter blue does not make for a safe cycle highway. The lanes should be separated from other vehicles. These have been designed by idiots!

And in the “suggestions for improvement” one person simply wrote:

See David Hembrow’s blog:

That’s from quickly scrolling through just about a quarter of the answers to just one of the questions — I couldn’t be bothered continuing, it’s all just more saying the same things over and over….

9 thoughts on “Cycle superhighways: are they a joke?”

  1. The “forced” to overtake idea is lifted straight from the driver’s playbook of excuses, and probably carries over from British ideas of road use (be at the front, no matter what) far more than the type of cyclist that rider is.

    Interesting stuff nonetheless – thanks for the summary.

  2. A TfL traffic engineer told me that he is not allowed to reallocate space from cars. If a junction allows 100 cars at every change of the traffic lights, his job is to keep those 100 cars and add 10 bicycles – Even though some of the car drivers are supposed to shift to bikes? Yup!

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