First, Cycle Fridays. This is an attempt to get Londoners to cycle to work by accompanying them on the roads. On Fridays it's possible to ride with other commuters through the traffic to get to work. Six different routes to four destinations are on offer. On the best day so far, this attracted just 88 people shared between the six routes.
Second, the London Sky Ride. This involved closing 15 km of streets to provide a car free experience. 50000 people took part. Even that is only 0.6% of the London population, but it's orders of magnitude more than were tempted by Cycle Fridays.
I've said it before, and no doubt I'll say it again. If you want to see mass cycling, the experience has to be pleasant, safe and convenient. Riding in London traffic doesn't score very highly for any of these things, which is why it was less popular than "Sky Ride" which at least achieved two of them.
In attempting to grow cycling, Britain seems willing to try almost anything other than the only thing that actually works - which is... building proper infrastructure for cycling.
|TfL's idea of a Superhighway.|
Riding in in a blue stripe
with a bus in it.
|Segregation so complete as possible|
in Assen. 2.5 m wide one-way path
|Normal Dutch 2.5 m wide one-way|
cycle-path. Behind the bus-stop.
Neither of these are described as superhighways, of course. They're simply efficient city cycle paths. Junctions on them have been shown previously.
|Dutch superhighway by busy road.|
I have a similar path, though with somewhat more separation from the motorway, on my commute. It's designed so that high speeds are possible and I typically stop just once in 30 km.
Another thing London needs to address is that they are simply not aiming to put the routes close enough together for them to be effective. This was researched by the Dutch back in the 1970s, results were published. A very fine grid of subjectively safe cycle routes is essential for a high modal share. This successful policy has been followed ever since, leading to the Netherlands having the highest cycling rates in the world. Why try to re-invent the wheel ? And why do so badly ?
I noticed something else very odd about the first fake photo from London. The cyclist is scaled down relative to everything else and is no taller than the gray car which is about the same distance away. This gives the impression that the cycle lane is wider than it is.
And another thing. I've had a few people say that London adding cycle lanes is a good thing and that I shouldn't be complaining about it. Here's the explanation: Yes, adding cycle lanes is a good thing. However, if they're going to describe them as "superhighways" then a bit more effort is called for. Compare what's on offer with a mere "fietsroute+" in the Netherlands, or indeed just an average "cycle-path".
Update 11/10/2009: London has produced a video display which works by pedaling an exercise bicycle so you can see how the "superhighway" will look. This also doesn't look particularly impressive.
9/11/2009: TFL changed their website to get rid of the "artists impression" with the miniature rider above, replacing it with the super cheesy "supercyclehighway-man" seen on the left.
In other news, the "superhighway" is now revealed to be a 1.5 m wide cycle lane on the road, with the only unique feature being blue paint. Given that the minimum recommended width for an on road cycle lane in the UK was already 1.5 m, with 2 m being recommended in areas with more motor traffic, this doesn't sound all that "super"
What's more, the standards where we live now call for single direction cycle paths to be a minimum 2.5 m wide, and bidirectional paths to be 4 m wide. They are separated from the road by a minimum of 1.5 m. That's the measure of a "cycle path" here, without the hyperbole of calling it a "super" anything.
Finally, to see more about cycling "superhighways" in the Netherlands on a completely different scale (intercity routes which will cover the entire country), look at the other posts tagged with superhighways.
For more on the London "superhighways", click here. Don't worry that decent infrastructure costs too much. It's cheaper to invest in it than not to. Even the benefits to employers add up to rather more than is spent. So go on, London, do a proper job !