Wednesday, 2 June 2010

When cycle paths meet roads: Hackney versus the Netherlands

These photos show a major cycling route near Hackney Town Hall, where a dedicated cycle path on Hackney Grove crosses Richmond Road, leading on to Martello Street and London Fields.

It’s another piece of classically mediocre cycling infrastructure of the sort which is never going to lead to mass cycling.

Cyclists and pedestrians have to GIVE WAY to motor traffic on Richmond Road and are not even given a zebra crossing or signalled lights, even though cycling and walking flow is high and traffic flow is relatively light. The message, as always, is that those who choose to travel around London in a car are the top priority, and those who cycle or walk are an inferior species, who must at all times defer to the primary transport mode.

In the Netherlands (see last photo, taken from here), where cycle paths cross roads, motor vehicles are obliged to give way to cyclists, who have priority.

This Hackney cycle path is not adequately segregated from pedestrians, some of whom choose to walk in the cycle path (probably because they perceive it as providing a more attractive walking surface) and pedestrians, unsurprisingly, subliminally perceive the marked cycle path crossing as an implicit zebra crossing. It’s a design shambles, as is the entire recommended cycle route from here to Islington and The Angel. More on that another time.

Note that the adult and child seen approaching along the cycle path in the first photo, switch to the pavement to continue their journey (below). Another symptom of poor cycling infrastructure (yet that are those who, unbelievably, claim that Hackney is "just like Copenhagen").

The view from the other side. This couple (below) waited ages before they could cross. And their walking route brought them into conflict with the cycle path.