City cycling in London is a joke

Door mux op donderdag 9 juli 2015 21:25 - Reacties (67)
Categorie: Fietstechniek, Views: 34.388

Earlier this year I was involved in a small discussion thread on bicycle paths on Reddit. The thread was about new 'cycle superhighways' in London. I commented that to me, these bike paths looked - at best - about on par with mediocre Dutch bicycle paths. Some redditors, presumably from the immediate area, convinced me that actually there is a lot going on in London to improve matters. In fact, in their opinion biking in London is alright. And the cycle superhighways are great!

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/article6472922.ece/alternates/w620/Boris%20Johnson%20waves%20on%20his%20bike.jpg
Boris Johnson, the current Mayor of London, revolutionized city cycling in London (image reproduced from The Standard without permission)

Well, this is interesting. I'm an avid cyclist - one of millions in the Netherlands - and I have a more than passing interest in infrastructure. Also, I happened to be in London with the missus for about 5 days. The stars aligned, taking our folding bikes turned out to be not only possible but also one of the cheapest options, so we went for it. Let's try out London on a bike.


Can you tell by the title of the blog how it turned out?

So, London has terrible, abysmal infrastructure. So much is wrong with it that my very limited amount of time there I was easily able to collect enough for a meaty blog post. I'll start off this blog with general remarks about the infrastructure and finish off with some awesome 'bicycle' infrastructure pictures. I'm in full-on rant mode, so bear with me. There will be pictures to offset the rambling.

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/9PVa9WKvx5SPZw3clpxEPkGA/full.jpg
So, exactly how does this bike path work?


No explicit right of way
One of the first very obvious problems with London infrastructure is the lack of explicit right of way marking and signage. For instance, I have not seen a single priority sign ([XXXXXXXXXXXXX]) or temporary priority sign ([XXXXXX]) at all in the city. This has the consequence that in a lot of places, car traffic becomes Indian. Cars just merge and split willy-nilly. Side roads with optional 'we tried to give you the feeling that you might want to probably wait for other traffic before you get on the main road'-markings - can apparently be used as priority roads.

https://postedinparis.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/priority-to-the-right1.png
Explicit priority signs. Known in the Netherlands as B-series traffic signs (left to right: B03, J08, B01, B02)

In places where right of way is explicitly handled, the inconsistency boggles the mind. For instance, priority pedestrian crossings (often without zebra stripes) have these little yellow light bulbs on stalks to indicate to drivers that there's a pedestrian crossing. Only problem: these yellow bulbs have the world's dimmest light bulbs in them and are invisible during the day and even in lightly cloudy skies. Some crossings have added brighter yellow LEDs around the bulbs, but that's just an afterthought at best.

http://www.idgo.ac.uk/Images/zebra_crossing.jpg
Typical pedestrian crossings; this one with zebra stripes and definite stopping lines for motor traffic. Note the poles with yellow bulbs; even in this image they are not easy to make out against the sky!

Worse still, cars do not observe right of way for unequal traffic, e.g. pedestrians and cyclists. Cars coming from a side road onto a main road will just stand right on the pavement, so any pedestrians or cyclists have to go around. Pedestrians do not get explicit right of way at crossings either, the crossings are just crossing indicators, not zebra crossings. This essentially means that the deadliness order becomes the de factor pecking order, which is exactly the wrong way around. In a well-designed traffic situation, pedestrians are gods, cyclists/minor motor vehicles have second dibs and large motorized traffic just has to wait for the rest. In London, motor traffic rules and even within motor traffic the biggest cars win out. Which is buses. Who drive like lunatics. Speaking of which...


Traffic consistently drives WAY over the speed limit
So I've been told that the general within-city-limits speed limit is 30MPH (on par with most EU countries - about 50km/h). Because of a combination of extremely lax policing and very loose tolerances on the speed limits, you can apparently get away with consistently driving at least 10MPH over the speed limit. This means that on most city roads, cars drive way too fast. I didn't have any proper measurement equipment for this, but just judging by eye, the majority of drivers on roads like Clapton Ave. are driving in excess of 70km/h. Combine this with bicycle paths generally being either absent (i.e. you have to drive in the gutter) or unsegregated and very tight, and by Dutch standards you will be overwhelmed with a feeling of thorough unsafety when driving on the roads.


London is in a permanent state of disrepair
http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/zOxUUvsLhA0oGeF0rx9QkgDT/full.jpg
Can you count the repairs? Can you tell what the primary road surface was?

Words like 'abysmal' and 'horrendous' will frequently occur in this blog, and not without reason. Anywhere you go in the city, one thing is almost perfectly consistent: road surfaces are a patchwork of 15+ year old primary road surfaces littered with repair upon repair upon modification upon modification. I've seen patchworks where the primary road surface has had both transverse and longitudinal repair patches, repair cobbling (this is NEVER supposed to be permanent in an asphalt road!), closed gutter resurfacing and crack repairs. Oh, and the primary road surface was so incredibly far worn-in that the top surface was basically gone and the lower - coarse-grained - asphalt showed. All in a 20-meter stretch of road. Was this the worst part? No, this was not far off the average. Really!

It seems like large stretches of London have had recent(ish) re-done waterworks. So a sizeable minority of the roads have these very long repairs where obviously the road surface was removed, a gutter was dug, stuff was done, gutter re-closed and the road surface repaired. But they didn't properly fuse the asphalt together, so lots of roads are now left with giant longitudinal ridges that are just begging to catch your bicycle tires and cause you to fall over, preferably when a large speeding bus is just behind you. Horrendous. Abysmal.

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/fWs1D9JpDInP4ptv2Z3bG2Eq/full.jpg
This manhole cover - with sharp ridges - was at least 3-4 inches (8-10cm) lower than the road surface. Imagine biking in heavy traffic with these kinds of sudden obstacles!

The state of disrepair goes further than just the roads, though. My girlfriend commented that almost on every road, somebody is busy fixing or maintaining something. A huge amount of work seems to be going on just to keep things from falling apart completely, which leaves little resources to modernize. But that's just conjecture on our part.


Haphazard placement of infrastructural features
And once you get through all the big, generalizable problems with London infrastructure and you really start looking at the road in more detail, it becomes so clear why the roads feel so bad. It's not just the road surface, it's not the crazy drivers, it's not the fact that animal instincts prevail over design and order. The biggest problem is that infrastructure is not laid out holistically. Everything is just placed haphazardly, as needed, as if the rest of the road does not exist.

Hey, we need to make pedestrian crossings. Let's improve safety by extending the pavement onto the road a little bit and adding a little guard rail. We are smart! Eh, no, you have now made things a million times worse for cyclists who have to navigate an even narrower road together with motorized traffic. Also, even if cyclists want to get out of the way of danger they can't because there is a fence in the way!

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/cZbElo7PypU7Obbw8FbTCTtN/full.jpg
So, where do I bike? By the way: note the 'give way' sign! I complained about that earlier!

Hey, we need to put this big, immovable box somewhere. What is the best possible location for this box? We can choose between 500 yards of empty pavement, or this one spot where we already placed a lamp post and an electrical installation. Right where the pavement is the narrowest anyway. Can you guess where they put the box?

Hey guys! I have an AWESOME idea that will improve traffic safety for pedestrians and cyclists who want to cross one of the busiest roads in London. Let's put a traffic light here, just for them! Let's also put it just about 50 yards over from where people actually want to cross the road and make sure it takes at least 3 minutes before they can go, so that they can just give up and cross the road weaving through traffic anyway. Seriously, I timed it. 180 seconds, to the second.


So now let's talk about bicycles


Cycling in the Netherlands
I come from - depending on who you ask - the number one or number two (after Denmark) biking country in the world. Bicycles in the Netherlands are very popular in pretty much every form. You can go from anywhere to anywhere in the Netherlands on 99+% segregated, safe, well-maintained bike paths. Here, let me show you a random bike path a few hundred meters from my house:

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/wCrbIwDPnS0NF3j6JUBhrlcb/full.jpg
The bike path along the Grindweg/Bergweg Zuid between Bergschenhoek and Rotterdam

This is pretty much totally representative of average bicycle paths. A lot of the Dutch infrastructure budget goes towards this, because almost everybody uses them regularly. Everybody has a bike. We don't use them just for couriering, or just for pleasure, or just for getting a work-out. We use them mostly just to get from A to B because they are convenient, comfortable and fun. And for sub-5km rides - often faster and a lot cheaper than a car.

There is no uncertainty on the bike: I don't have to plan a route to my destination and specifically seek out bicycle paths. They are just there, everywhere, always, in excellent condition. With plenty of waymarkers.

If you're interested in some very good videos about bicycle paths in the Netherlands - from recordings of bike trips to informative videos about some historical or infrastructure facts - I highly recommend the Youtube channel 'BicycleDutch'.




Both of these videos are a great watch - highly recommended if you like infrastructure porn!


London bicycle infrastructure in general
Switch to London. Car infrastructure is badly designed and maintained, but in most cases bicycle infrastructure is simply absent. It is certainly not a 'London bicycle network' - as they like to proclaim on large signs. Bike lanes start and stop within 100 meters. Or, my personal favourite, little bike drawings are put on the road. I guess to indicate... the existence of bikes? Come on, London - you can't just draw a bike somewhere and expect people to seriously call that a bike lane. It takes more effort than that!

In a lot of places, it's too dangerous to ride on the road, but to go on the pavement would mean:
  • Bothering lots of pedestrians
  • Riding over uneven terrain (plants, uneven pavement)
  • Riding through wildly changing widths of pavement, from road-lane-width to squeezing yourself between obstacles
  • Having to negotiate tall pavement sidewalls
Not having a designated place on the road means that cycling is a free-for-all, and the cyclists consequently will act like they're not bound by any rules. Which upsets drivers. The drivers, by the way, are nice - much nicer than I would have expected. I ride like a Dutch person - I try to avoid being run over, look around, indicate direction, etc. Cars seem to appreciate this and give way to me when I'm overtaking, let me cross, let me turn. I mean, not buses, but most other drivers are just fine.


Low effort
I've mentioned effort in bicycle infrastructure before, and this really is a running theme. Anywhere you go, bike infrastructure is a third, fourth or tenth priority. Actually, I really question the arguments given for the poor design of London roads. A lot of people say it's the age of the city and its road network, but this is obviously bullshit. The same crazy infrastructure extends into areas with plenty of space and besides - we have plenty of equally old cities with orders of magnitude better infrastructure.

So what is low effort? It ranges from simply not giving a shit:

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/vaZoRCB5pUhUSgsx8JMA9qTR/full.jpg
There is no other reason than laziness for the wrong order of painting here

to realizing that they forgot to budget a bike lane into a new road design and just divert bikes over... a construction site?!

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/YaJZHL1mMrkqaGZZg2vMSUeq/full.jpg

Yes, this is the official bike route. Here are the waymarkers:

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/VALxtwdldGYYLB8oRlet7bte/full.jpg


Giving up after medium effort
Sometimes things go well. For instance, this bridge could be in the Netherlands. Sort of. The bike lanes are tiny:

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/fN4cGuXYgLRbWaKJaDENym6L/full.jpg
My folding bike for a size comparison - this two-way bike lane was about 1.70m total width - a tad over the prescription minimum single lane width in the Netherlands

But there is a completely segregated, walled off bicycle lane over this bridge! I must be in Valhalla. This bridge has an awesome view - the O2 and ExCeL on one side, the City and the inner city on the other:

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/adSPcNwqmY678OVSGmtAI8xV/full.jpg

This is awesome! That was a great view. I feel like a tourist now. Let's see if there's more!

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/OpDA1seo6CJyC0N3k0S6cD64/full.jpg

Wait... what is that... is that...?

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/Nl5r32xihhNxj6Meo3mTe39u/full.jpg

Well, jeebus. You managed to outdo yourself, London. In case it's not obvious yet: what is happening here is:
  • Cyclists descend from the bridge
  • Still on the decline, having gathered quite a lot of speed, you are expected to make a sharp left turn
  • Immediately after the sharp turn at tremendous speed you have a non-priority crossing over a road with very poor visibility and equally poor positioning (oncoming traffic cannot easily see bikes, nor can bikes see the oncoming traffic due to the bushes and fence in the way)
  • After crossing the road onto another segregated bike lane, within 30 meters there are roadworks completely blocking the way for bikes, blocking all sight and forcing you onto the road again with NO indication of this happening when descending from the bridge
They try. They try so hard. For about 10 seconds, and then they just throw in the towel and fuck everything up. London, you're a funny guy.


The London Cycle Superhighways
LOL


The London Cycle Shitways
Dear readers of my blog, I present to you, London CycleShitway 3. See? It's not just a bicycle drawn on the road. It's got blue paint around it and a designation in large letters under it. See?

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/Hqte6km48uudQQz3aq0aSR2C/full.jpg

Truly the mark of not just a cycleway, not just a cycle highway, but a SUPER highway. Hey, pay attention, we're bending off to this way now!

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/B2ceL0FmQS87l7W0mTXZQnDh/full.jpg

No, we didn't have any paint left to give cyclists here right of way or... well, we didn't even have enough blue paint to finish the bike path. But we tried! Honest! Speaking of which, the path didn't really fit well in with the existing road and we really didn't feel like spending the extra 200 pounds to move the parking spots to the other side, so... uh...

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/ZVDFzl2aSqIxMzlH0zzrknqK/full.jpg

Yeah, we decided just to reverse directions. Oh, and we decided to leave one lane out because, you know, paint shortage and all. By the way, SUDDEN INCLINE!

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/5PEb1Ikitk9hW1bMSECS14Al/full.jpg

sorry, we couldn't fit something more reasonable. A 12% slope was the best we could do. In the middle of a completely flat section of the city. Besides, cyclists are all 25-year-old bike couriers with a death wish anyway. Right? Anyway, this was necessary to fit this AWESOME bike bridge!

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/NloQ9AzyJwv8xjCgkFcRTbMD/full.jpg

did you blink? I guessed so, because obviously you were supposed to switch lanes on the bridge! Also, if you can just nudge left a bit more.... excellent! Now all the bikes go on the left, pedestrians on the right. Excellent.

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/NsRwpjzrHjdUSKXpXHmAG1a4/full.jpg

sarcasm aside: yes, the lanes switch direction at some indeterminate place between before and after the bridge AND they merge into the one lane. This is a cycle superhighway! This is DESIGNED bicycle infrastructure meant to express London's commitment to be a better cycling city. This is effort!

So that pedestrian/cyclist crossing that was misplaced that I was talking about earlier? It's in CS3. See that cyclist? She's actually going straight over the road as the CS3 path goes - that crossing is completely cock-eyed. Also; no mention of CS3 on the crossing; no blue paint, no kiddie bicycle paintings on the road. Nothing.

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/8r0teIKFSFURi1U5EAXmy3NI/full.jpg

Now it just continues over the middle of the road because who gives a fuck at this point anymore.

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/VdkXPMi5vz4QkLlvwTIOznj6/full.jpg

wait... wait a minute... This is actually half decent!

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/3Rv0yNimBfFAJKyKYoJFxM3I/full.jpg

ehhh....

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/wWNTu6ny7x9pIPXMJ0qsxs63/full.jpg

Ah, I knew you'd fuck it up within 100 meters. Good job, London. You've proven yourself again. In case it's not obvious: there is a right-angle crossing right in the middle of a cycle superhighway. Superhighway. What would you say if a motor vehicle highway suddenly made a right angle turn unannounced?

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/3xYOoY0q7hfHyOkc8bckyRY7/full.jpg

Well, at least you hired somebody over 7 years old for this drawing. You know there are templates for this? You don't need to draw them by hand!

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/1O74VLT7Kmk0EmPrp4SlyHKI/full.jpg
Excuse the mediocre image quality; I didn't take my dSLR

And in true London fashion, just to tie it all together like a diarrhoea turd, the first of two dedicated bicycle traffic lights has bicycle masks for all of the little bottom lights and two of the top lights, but they forgot to put the sticker on the top red light. Also, the traffic light is broken and NEVER turns green.

By the way, at this moment of writing I'm in the international train from Brussels to Amsterdam. I look out of the window randomly. I see this intersection. This is not even the Netherlands, the road surfaces may be a bit scratchy but literally nothing in London even comes close to being as well-designed as this. Again, I'm stressing; random picture:

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/LCr2sYLKd6pYezVNGnXTFtA0/full.jpg
A view from the train bridge near Berchem station, Antwerp

Oh, you were still interested in the CS3? It just ends. It. Just. Ends.

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/3q4lC5sCVGaroKIu2fVTAHYO/full.jpg

By the way, these photos are not cherry-picked locations many miles apart. You can take all these photos in a 5-minute time span (plus 3 minutes of waiting for the traffic light). It's mistake after mistake on this cycleway.


BREAKING NEWS: A GOOD SECTION OF BIKE PATH
This image is in The Angel, Islington:

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/m6RvUa20b9rNG3djAwB18dVV/full.jpg

This is 50 meters of decent bicycle path. Transmission ends.


Conclusion

London city cycling infrastructure: not impressed in the slightest. Token effort at best, intentionally homicidal by the road 'designers' on average, entirely neglected and absent at worst. Every other country's capital where I've been has better infrastructure, and this includes China.

Now, don't get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in London. I even enjoyed cycling, and it can be reasonably safe. I mentioned that most drivers are actually pretty good to us. I just can't accept that the financial capital of Europe, a city that should be an example to the rest of the world, can have such crappy infrastructure. I especially expected much more from a 'cycle superhighway'. I know that CS3 is known to be one of the worst examples, but still: don't call it a superhighway! Don't get people's hopes up, but this will do nothing but invite ridicule.

I'll come back to London one day, and I'll certainly take my bike then. Let's hope things are better by then!

http://static.tweakers.net/ext/f/x29nhfMQYOjYoXY981woHUY6/full.jpg
A photo I took near Lijang, China when I visited there in 2005. The cars are decripit, it smells really bad and the area is very poor. But they sure know how to maintain a road!

Volgende: Doe mee met de fietstelweek! 09-'15 Doe mee met de fietstelweek!
Volgende: Why fuel cell cars don't work - part 4 03-'15 Why fuel cell cars don't work - part 4

Reacties


Door Tweakers user Dead Pixel, donderdag 9 juli 2015 22:17

Je bedenkt het je eigenlijk nooit, maar Nederland heeft toch een van de veiligste infrastructuren. Leuke lees!

Door Tweakers user mux, donderdag 9 juli 2015 22:20

Toch valt het soms best mee. In Berlijn zag het er prima fietsbaar uit; er waren zelfs een paar ligfietsen die ik daar was tegengekomen. Londen is echt een negatieve uitschieter wat mij betreft. Ondanks dat ze het fietsbeleid hard aan het pushen zijn!

Door Tweakers user MittaM, donderdag 9 juli 2015 22:20

Very nice rant, loved your post and writing style.

Door Adam, donderdag 9 juli 2015 23:17

It is true that the cycle infrastructure in the UK is bad, however there are several things in this post about general driving in the UK that you didn't seem to understand.

The diamond-shaped priority road sign is not used in the UK because it's not necessary. We don't have the stupid 'priority to the right' rule, so the diamond sign is not needed to override that rule. The way it works here is the minor road has Give Way markings and often a Give Way sign too, but the major road has no sign. The only reason it looked like the priority was not observed was because you were in London. Elsewhere in the country, especially outside of big cities, the priority is clearly observed. If you come to Give Way markings, you MUST give way, just like in the Netherlands. At T-junctions, the road that ends automatically has to give way. Everyone knows this, so zero signs and road markings are necessary at minor T-junctions.

Where there are Give Way markings (and signs), the priority IS explicitly handled.

All pedestrian crossings in the UK have studs to mark the crossing. Zebra crossings have studs and stripes, whereas traffic light controlled crossings have studs only. This makes it very clear to the pedestrian if they have absolute priority on a crossing (studs and stripes), or if they have to watch the traffic signals (studs only). When I was in a country which had zebra stripes on all crossings, it was not immediately clear to my friend if it was a zebra or signal controlled crossing, which caused confusion.

When I was in the Netherlands, one thing I did notice was that everyone seemed to drive over the speed limits consistently when on larger roads, noticeably more so than in my (fairly rural) town in England. Observing speed limits is a problem in both countries I feel.

The flashing lights in the Belisha beacons at zebra crossings improve visibility at night. They're not to highlight the crossing during the day. I don't understand how they're difficult to see in that photo.

Moving to the end of a side road is often necessary to be able to see the traffic on the major road ahead. Yes, pedestrians do have to go around. I do like the practice in the Netherlands where the pavement continues across the side road, which gives a sense of priority to the pedestrians.

About the traffic lights on CS3: the reason for the lack of bike symbol on the large red aspect is because that never used to be allowed in the UK. Only this year are red bike symbols allowed, so they didn't "forget" to put a red cycle symbol in. The traffic lights on CS3 have been upgraded to include red bike symbols, I believe. You said the lights never change. Did you try pressing the button?

Door Tweakers user Plasma_Wolf, donderdag 9 juli 2015 23:18

We should send this to one of those comedy panel shows, I suggest Mock the Week :)

It's more going to be Mock London for the the next decade, but still.

Door Tweakers user masauri, donderdag 9 juli 2015 23:39

Please, go visit copenhagen by bike.
I've been there in may and for cyclists it's very good!
We would have to be more carefull for bikes then for cars there :)

Door Tweakers user derx666, donderdag 9 juli 2015 23:53

The best way to travel in London is the underground (well except today ofcourse :) ). I think riding a bike in London equals a deathwish :) Drove through London several times with a car, and although I like it, it's not for the faint hearted who aren't used to heavy traffic, weird intersections, and even weirder roundabouts:

[img]http://xplrr.blogger.de/s...%20cross%20roundabout.jpg[/img]

I drive through London for fun, not to get somewhere, I use the Tube for that...

[Reactie gewijzigd op donderdag 9 juli 2015 23:55]


Door Tweakers user mux, vrijdag 10 juli 2015 11:04

Adam schreef op donderdag 09 juli 2015 @ 23:17:
The diamond-shaped priority road sign is not used in the UK because it's not necessary. We don't have the stupid 'priority to the right' rule, so the diamond sign is not needed to override that rule. The way it works here is the minor road has Give Way markings and often a Give Way sign too, but the major road has no sign. (...) Everyone knows this, so zero signs and road markings are necessary at minor T-junctions.
This is still implicit right of way. Which has been done away with for decades now in the Netherlands and most of the rest of continental Europe, and with good reason!

The issue with implicit right of way is that psychologically, even if people know the 'rules', you can't rely for shit on people's adherence to them. This is fine in low-speed areas - the 20MPH residential zones for instance - but I've seen many cases in London where dangerous situations occurred because people felt it was okay to just bend the rules a little on the major roads because there were very few explicit markings or signs to remind them of the exact rules.

This works very well, and this works measurably! Simply refreshing the road markings and adding priority signs/'shark teeth'/give way signs to the intersection Rijswijkseweg/Jan v/d Heijdenweg in The Hague reduced the number of traffic incidents on that (very busy) intersection by more than 25%. There are a bunch of implicit rules on the intersection that were simply not observed, e.g. the fact that trams always have right of way.

But this is, if anything, a fairly minor point. I'm used to seeing lacking road markings in most countries, including Belgium. If anything, I was most surprised by the apparent lack of right of way of pedestrians on the pavements. Side roads that terminated in an up/down section where it crossed the pavement regularly had cars blocking the way for pedestrians. This is not an acceptable situation in any way. If the intersection is designed in such a way that a driver has to handle two completely disparate traffic streams at the same time, you're creating mental overload and you're just asking for conflict situations. Especially with an infrastructural feature that occurs thousands of times in the city. This problem is compounded by an apparent lack of rules on where you can park your car, which means that often you had cars parked very near an intersection, so that a car coming onto an intersection from a side road has no visibility until they're right at the end.

These are simple things to fix. Get rid of parking spaces within 30 yards of the intersection, pull back the pedestrian crossing to create a waiting space for cars between the pavement and priority road, get rid of other visually blocking elements on the pavement (trees, electrical boxes, etc.). Doesn't require any more space and it improves safety so much. The fact that this was done absolutely nowhere just seems like there is no effort put into the intersection design. This is not a rural town, this is a very busy capital! You're going to get hundreds to tens of thousands of conflict situations on a single intersection each day. It actually pays to fix this!
All pedestrian crossings in the UK have studs to mark the crossing. Zebra crossings have studs and stripes, whereas traffic light controlled crossings have studs only. This makes it very clear to the pedestrian if they have absolute priority on a crossing (studs and stripes), or if they have to watch the traffic signals (studs only). When I was in a country which had zebra stripes on all crossings, it was not immediately clear to my friend if it was a zebra or signal controlled crossing, which caused confusion.
I can understand this confusion, although this is probably a regulation difference as well here: in the Netherlands every pedestrian always has priority everywhere. You can literally walk anywhere on public infrastructure (within city limits) and everybody has to stop for you. In Dutch: "De plaats op de weg voor een voetganger is overal binnen de bebouwde kom". Traffic lights help to regulate traffic on crossings, but you can (and have the right to) cross when the traffic light is red, it is just not advised for a multitude of reasons. It's also obviously quite rude if there is a lot of traffic.

The biggest reason why this is done is because studs are pretty much invisible to drivers, especially in bad weather. I'm not sure exactly when this became standard practice, but I think it is before I was born. Studs as road markings are only allowed for optional guiding situations, there are definite other marking types for compulsory road situations. This is also the reason why we don't have the zig-zag lines (they blend in with straight line road markings), but we have definite exclusion areas (solid line encircling an area with diagonal stripes), shark teeth and solid, extra thick stopping lines perpendicular to the driving direction. Not to say that zig-zag lines don't help - they measurably do - but there are even better ways of handling these situations.
When I was in the Netherlands, one thing I did notice was that everyone seemed to drive over the speed limits consistently when on larger roads, noticeably more so than in my (fairly rural) town in England. Observing speed limits is a problem in both countries I feel.
Can't really say anything without data to be fair. I felt like people were consistently driving over the speed limit and felt slightly threatened by that on my bike, much more so than in the Netherlands. But obviously that is also compounded by the lack of segregated bike lanes. I wouldn't disagree that a lot of people in general drive over the speed limit, regardless of country.
The flashing lights in the Belisha beacons at zebra crossings improve visibility at night. They're not to highlight the crossing during the day. I don't understand how they're difficult to see in that photo.
They have very low contrast and at night they are nigh-on invisible due to the weak lightbulb in them. Yellow does not stand out against the average whitish yellow colour of the sky. Some of the beacons have improved this with a LED strip around it, but I don't really see the point in having these beacons at all. No other country in the world handles pedestrian crossings like this. Especially the addition of fences near pedestrian crossings in London seems daft and can't be safe - how are cars supposed to see children or wheelchairs who are about to cross?
About the traffic lights on CS3: the reason for the lack of bike symbol on the large red aspect is because that never used to be allowed in the UK. Only this year are red bike symbols allowed, so they didn't "forget" to put a red cycle symbol in. The traffic lights on CS3 have been upgraded to include red bike symbols, I believe. You said the lights never change. Did you try pressing the button?
That's very interesting. It just seemed to fit in with the half-assedness of the entire cycle superhighway. It was certainly a dedicated bike light, so why would they not use the bicycle masking sticker on the large red light if they had it on the smaller one as well?

Yes, I did press the button. It honestly doesn't work! I've passed this point three times during my visit and none of the times have I seen it on any other indication than red. Nobody observes this particular traffic light anyway.

By the way, it may seem like I'm just saying that everything is the absolute best in the Netherlands and that London can't do anything right. London does indeed not do that many things particularly well, but the Netherlands is far from perfect. I could write ten times as much about stupid infrastructure in the Netherlands. It's just that I was a bit hyped up by the terms 'bicycle superhighway' and 'Boris Bikes' and very, very disappointed in the result.
masauri schreef op donderdag 09 juli 2015 @ 23:39:
Please, go visit copenhagen by bike.
I've been there in may and for cyclists it's very good!
We would have to be more carefull for bikes then for cars there :)
Definitely planning on visiting Denmark on my bike! I hear it's ahead of the Netherlands in general, and looking at Google Street View this really seems to be the case. Even on remote islands with almost no population, they have extensive segregated bike path networks to get everywhere. There are a lot of places in the Netherlands - much more populated than e.g. Bornholm - that don't have separate bike lanes in rural areas!
derx666 schreef op donderdag 09 juli 2015 @ 23:53:
The best way to travel in London is the underground (well except today ofcourse :) ). I think riding a bike in London equals a deathwish :) Drove through London several times with a car, and although I like it, it's not for the faint hearted who aren't used to heavy traffic, weird intersections, and even weirder roundabouts:

[img]http://xplrr.blogger.de/s...%20cross%20roundabout.jpg[/img]

I drive through London for fun, not to get somewhere, I use the Tube for that...
Obviously. But I wanted to try anyway :) I'll probably do it again when I have the chance. I still enjoyed my time on the bike.

Door Tweakers user fotografie999, vrijdag 10 juli 2015 12:04

Thanks for this nice post!

Door Tweakers user GrooV, vrijdag 10 juli 2015 12:30

mux schreef op vrijdag 10 juli 2015 @ 11:04:
[...]

I can understand this confusion, although this is probably a regulation difference as well here: in the Netherlands every pedestrian always has priority everywhere. You can literally walk anywhere on public infrastructure (within city limits) and everybody has to stop for you. In Dutch: "De plaats op de weg voor een voetganger is overal binnen de bebouwde kom". Traffic lights help to regulate traffic on crossings, but you can (and have the right to) cross when the traffic light is red, it is just not advised for a multitude of reasons. It's also obviously quite rude if there is a lot of traffic.
Bullshit, please read the dutch traffic rules before you start walking everywhere within the city limits. They have to walk on the sidewalk, when there is none they can walk on bike paths and if those are not there they are allowed to walk on the side of the road.

And the part where you can walk through a red sign is also false and it will even cost you 65 euro (http://www.boetes.nl/boet...-bij-verkeerslicht-lopen/)

[Reactie gewijzigd op vrijdag 10 juli 2015 12:32]


Door Tweakers user mux, vrijdag 10 juli 2015 12:51

Well, apparently things have changed since 1994 :P I'm quite familiar with the Wegenverkeerswet 1993/4, which has suggestive but not compulsory guidelines ("de voetganger gebruikt het trottoir, indien deze niet beschikbaar is het fietspad, indien deze niet beschikbaar is de berm of zijkant van de weg"). Apparently, this has been fixed and is now compulsory language.

You learn something new everyday :)

By the way, you're still allowed to cross the road in any place within city limits as long as you're not obstructing traffic. The penalties are for obstruction!

Door Tweakers user Jeroenneman, vrijdag 10 juli 2015 13:42

GrooV schreef op vrijdag 10 juli 2015 @ 12:30:
[...]

Bullshit, please read the dutch traffic rules before you start walking everywhere within the city limits. They have to walk on the sidewalk, when there is none they can walk on bike paths and if those are not there they are allowed to walk on the side of the road.

And the part where you can walk through a red sign is also false and it will even cost you 65 euro (http://www.boetes.nl/boet...-bij-verkeerslicht-lopen/)
Even if you cross a red light as a pedestrian, and are hit by a car, judges will always penalize the "stronger participant" or the car...

Door General_Snuss, vrijdag 10 juli 2015 14:42

mux schreef op vrijdag 10 juli 2015 @ 12:51:
Well, apparently things have changed since 1994 :P I'm quite familiar with the Wegenverkeerswet 1993/4, which has suggestive but not compulsory guidelines ("de voetganger gebruikt het trottoir, indien deze niet beschikbaar is het fietspad, indien deze niet beschikbaar is de berm of zijkant van de weg"). Apparently, this has been fixed and is now compulsory language.

You learn something new everyday :)

By the way, you're still allowed to cross the road in any place within city limits as long as you're not obstructing traffic. The penalties are for obstruction!
Not correct. If there is a pedestrian crossing within 30 meters you will have to use that one. And you will be fined for not using them. You cannot cross anywhere you like!

Door Tweakers user mux, vrijdag 10 juli 2015 18:13

I'll just go ahead and shut up until I read through the actual law document :P

Door Tweakers user afraca, vrijdag 10 juli 2015 23:01

edit2: Somehow, my comment got obsolete on some browser refreshes...

edit: I enjoyed your overview! Though I'm hardly ever that firm in my words. I do however think we've done a terrific job here on the cycling paths.

[Reactie gewijzigd op vrijdag 10 juli 2015 23:02]


Door Tweakers user Sissors, vrijdag 10 juli 2015 23:37

Token effort at best, intentionally homicidal by the road 'designers' on average, entirely neglected and absent at worst
Isn't intentionally homicidal worse than entire neglected and absent :P.

Door Tweakers user FreshMaker, zaterdag 11 juli 2015 10:54

derx666 schreef op donderdag 09 juli 2015 @ 23:53:
The best way to travel in London is the underground (well except today ofcourse :) ). I think riding a bike in London equals a deathwish :) Drove through London several times with a car, and although I like it, it's not for the faint hearted who aren't used to heavy traffic, weird intersections, and even weirder roundabouts:

[img]http://xplrr.blogger.de/s...%20cross%20roundabout.jpg[/img]

I drive through London for fun, not to get somewhere, I use the Tube for that...
Was in London last may,
At first we decided to go by car, to have soms 'freedom' to roam around.
Little research clearly stated ( the already known obviouce ) the change of road-rules and left hand drive wouldn't become me ( the missus surely wouldn't drive ;) )
Decision was made, Eurostar & public transpo ..

First day we really liked the 'rental bike stations' so I thought about getting a couple, but one hour later, we've seen several near bike related accidents ( it really seems a bonushit to hit a (rental) bike )
Unlike Paris, where the traffic is a hell too, but the Parisiennes sort of SEEM to make an effort NOT to run into bicycle's ;)

We extended our oyster, and enjoyed the busses instead :)

imho London is great, I love the place, but walking & (motorized) public transport is my/our thing :)

Door Tweakers user derx666, zaterdag 11 juli 2015 12:57

We did made a nice trip through Schotland a few weeks ago, and after a few minutes of driving I was again comfortable driving on the wrong side :P
Just made 1 mistake when we got back from the supermarket, and made a short right hand turn... Quickly realised my mistake, and went over to the other side. Don't think anyone saw me :)

But in a big city like London, Paris or even Amsterdam, the public transport system works, and gets you around cheaper and quicker than a car (parking spots anyone). So I go there by car, get a nice hotel which has onsite parking, and do the rest by public transport.

Door Tweakers user mux, zaterdag 11 juli 2015 13:03

Sissors schreef op vrijdag 10 juli 2015 @ 23:37:
[...]

Isn't intentionally homicidal worse than entire neglected and absent :P.
Intentionally homocidal at least means they put in some effort to a definite effect. Absence and neglect means they don't even care either way.

Door Tweakers user Blokker_1999, zaterdag 11 juli 2015 15:15

Thanks for giving Berchem a thumbs up ... altough that intersection is also still an exception on the belgian roads. That intersection is also the start of a bike highway between Antwerp and Mechelen (you can see most of it from the train window). But that highways is still not good since it had to fit in with a lot of bridges that go over the train tracks so every few kms you have to stop and cross a road because they didn't have the budget to replace those bridges and have the bikes go under normal traffic.

But it's a start :)

Door kazan, zondag 12 juli 2015 15:37

Whats up with the apologists here? Why make up excuses for this shit? "Have you pressed the button on the light"? Really?

And no, I do not believe that people in the Netherlands consistently drive 10mph over the limit. There are plenty, plenty of speed cams and they trigger at a mere 2, 3 kmh over.

Door Tweakers user Dennis.deVries, zondag 12 juli 2015 23:13

Hoe kan ik blogs rapporteren? Nederlands is de voertaal op deze website.

Door Tweakers user aap, zondag 12 juli 2015 23:20

A cycling infrastructure and culture isn't built overnight. the Netherlands is at least a century ahead of London, so I think it is a tad unfair to impose dutch standards on London.

An optimist could commend London for trying and expecting they will do better on their next attempts.

Even a poor cycling infrastructure may set off a spiral of improvement: any infrastructure will trigger at least a few people to attempt cycling. When more people start cycling, more budget may become available for the infrastructure and also the experiences of the early adopters may result in better road design choices in the future.

Redo you evaluation of London in 10 years and see if it has improved!

Door Tweakers user Jerrythafast, maandag 13 juli 2015 00:56

Adam schreef op donderdag 09 juli 2015 @ 23:17:
When I was in a country which had zebra stripes on all crossings, it was not immediately clear to my friend if it was a zebra or signal controlled crossing, which caused confusion.
mux schreef op vrijdag 10 juli 2015 @ 11:04:
I can understand this confusion, although this is probably a regulation difference as well here: in the Netherlands every pedestrian always has priority everywhere. You can literally walk anywhere on public infrastructure (within city limits) and everybody has to stop for you. In Dutch: "De plaats op de weg voor een voetganger is overal binnen de bebouwde kom". Traffic lights help to regulate traffic on crossings, but you can (and have the right to) cross when the traffic light is red, it is just not advised for a multitude of reasons. It's also obviously quite rude if there is a lot of traffic.
Some people above already pointed out the explanation by mux is outdated, but that means that for Adam the confusion remains: what does it mean to have zebra stripes and traffic lights at the same place, like it is almost everywhere in the Netherlands? The answer is this: the marks on the road (zebra stripes and shark teeth) provide a set of 'fall-back rules' for when the traffic lights are out of order. If the traffic lights are working, people (cars, pedestrians, anyone) should wait for the red light and may cross at the green light, which is obvious. If the traffic lights are out of order, precedence determined from the marks on the road: the zebra stripes are an explicit sign that pedestrians have priority there.
Adam schreef op donderdag 09 juli 2015 @ 23:17:
Moving to the end of a side road is often necessary to be able to see the traffic on the major road ahead. Yes, pedestrians do have to go around. I do like the practice in the Netherlands where the pavement continues across the side road, which gives a sense of priority to the pedestrians.
Note that this is not just a sense of priority: pedestrians truly have priority when the pavement is continued across the road like that.
Adam schreef op donderdag 09 juli 2015 @ 23:17:
About the traffic lights on CS3: the reason for the lack of bike symbol on the large red aspect is because that never used to be allowed in the UK. Only this year are red bike symbols allowed, so they didn't "forget" to put a red cycle symbol in. The traffic lights on CS3 have been upgraded to include red bike symbols, I believe.
Wow, it was not allowed? Here in Wassenaar we even have traffic lights for equestrians[/quote]. (For those in the area: the cyclist traffic lights on [url=http://www.stefanvanderkamp.nl/2011/01/24/zondags-rondje-hartekamp/]these pictures have been replaced with equestrian traffic lights about 2 years ago; cyclists can now pass under the busy road thanks to a brand new tunnel. Yes, they really put the figure of an equestrian on them.)
Dennis.deVries schreef op zondag 12 juli 2015 @ 23:13:
Hoe kan ik blogs rapporteren? Nederlands is de voertaal op deze website.
Blogs met duidelijk verwerpelijke inhoud kun je rapporteren op GoT/Schop een Modje. Deze blog is echter geheel binnen de regels: de enige echte regel die er is, is dat er geen aanstootgevend of illegaal materiaal op staat. Het blog hoeft niet in het Nederlands te zijn, hoeft niet met technologie te maken te hebben en mag zelfs pure reclame voor het een of ander bevatten. Mux' Engelstalige reeks over waterstofauto's was zelfs Tweakblog van de maand Februari 2015.


@Mux: In the article that was linked on Reddit is a picture of a cycle path with separate regular-width lanes for cyclists who wish to make a left/right turn. Do you know of any Dutch cycle path that has that? The only ones I know of have ridiculously narrow lanes because they didn't reserve any extra space for the extra lane, which makes it pretty much worthless. Google only finds me some pictures of this one which is actually pretty decent. I know of many places where they could have done this.

[Reactie gewijzigd op dinsdag 14 juli 2015 20:36]


Door Daniel Bell, maandag 13 juli 2015 10:49

This is #1 cycle infrastructure in London, behold and weep

http://i.guim.co.uk/img/s...07e97524733aa3bfaac6cc871

Door Tweakers user mux, maandag 13 juli 2015 11:13

Dennis.deVries schreef op zondag 12 juli 2015 @ 23:13:
Hoe kan ik blogs rapporteren? Nederlands is de voertaal op deze website.
Tweakblogs.net worden geheel gecureerd en gemodereerd door de houder van het blog zelf, en zijn dus niet onderhevig aan moderatie of regels vanuit Tweakers.net. Er is overigens ook geen officiŽle voertaal van Tweakers. Enige uitzondering hierop is wetsovertreding of anderszins content die niet door de beugel kan. Ik heb bovendien al vele malen eerder Engelstalige blogs geschreven, deels om de tienduizenden lezers uit niet-Nederlandssprekende gebieden te bedienen en deels omdat het - zoals hier - over een onderwerp gaat waarvoor Engels een veel logischere keuze is.

Ook deze blogpost wordt door veel meer Engelstalige lezers gevonden dan Nederlandstalige! Volgens Google Analytics is 44,95% van de pageviews uit de Verenigde Staten, 37,12% uit Nederland en 7,05% uit Groot-BrittaniŽ, met nog wat kleine percentages vanuit andere landen.

@Jerrythatfast: Thanks for the further explanation. There is so much to infrastructure, it's quite incredible.
Jerrythafast schreef op maandag 13 juli 2015 @ 00:56:
@Mux: In the article that was linked on Reddit is a picture of a cycle path with separate regular-width lanes for cyclists who wish to make a left/right turn. Do you know of any Dutch cycle path that has that? The only ones I know of have ridiculously narrow lanes because they didn't reserve any extra space for the extra lane, which makes it pretty much worthless.
I know I've come across a bunch, but I can't say I remember exactly where they are.

This one was recently updated, but the total bike path width is still only about 3.5m for 3 lanes, which is narrow by Dutch standards

Funnily enough, this intersection has been essentially downgraded to older, inferior standards (requiring cyclists to mix with other traffic instead of being, as they should, always right of traffic and having a forward waiting area across the width of the road). This is particularly bad because the cycle path widths are completely to specification, which is now kind of a waste of space! They could have used this extra room to build a separate cycle path on the other side of the road.

I don't know if I would immediately be excited by those extra lanes. I have a couple of issues with it, that is not to say I oppose the notion, but:
- In the proposal, at intersections the bicycle lanes are narrowed to an unacceptable 1.2-1.5m with physical barriers in between the lanes.
- While there are left/right turning lanes, there are no good sight lines between cyclists and motorists (see how cyclists and motorists on the picture are right next to each other; this is simply *wrong*, they should both be able to see each other while looking forward, i.e. the right-turning cycle lane on the cycle path should be angled 90 degrees towards the road)
- The pedestrian pavement is just sacrificed willy-nilly. This promotes invasion of the cycle path in heavy pedestrian traffic.
- There is no optical narrowing of the motorist route, nor are motorists slowed down. This promotes high-speed encounters and leaves very little room for error if a motorist runs a red light.
- The cycling infrastructure isn't clearly marked, all we get is a couple of studs which - knowing London maintenance intervals - will be gone within a year.

These are only the most egregious errors, there are a bunch more. Basically, while it looks alright to the untrained eye, this design wouldn't even pass 1970s design reviews in the Netherlands. The segregated cycle path itself is the only good thing, the intersections are unlikely to have a good safety record by Dutch standards.
aap schreef op zondag 12 juli 2015 @ 23:20:
A cycling infrastructure and culture isn't built overnight. the Netherlands is at least a century ahead of London, so I think it is a tad unfair to impose dutch standards on London.

An optimist could commend London for trying and expecting they will do better on their next attempts.
I'd agree with you - cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands essentially begun in the 50s and has been evolving ever since. But actually, I don't agree. Why? Because London doesn't have to reinvent the wheel! They can just copy-paste any regulation Dutch or Danish design. Or at least have a talk with somebody at CROW or the Danish equivalent. Even a 5-minute talk with an Alderman from the Netherlands would improve any project so much. Again, I'd like to use the word 'effort' here - they just can't be bothered to pick up the phone and dial out.

The heart of the issue here is that London is throwing a bunch of money at infrastructure companies that have no fucking clue what bicycle infrastructure is. So they fuck it up royally. Countries don't have to exist in a vacuum. There are other countries to learn from, and not just in marketing lingo ('Mini-Hollands' - yeah, that's the biggest bullshit I've ever heard).

This seems to be motivated by poor allocation of resources in general. There is budget for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, but this money is often diverted by local councils towards road repairs or vanity projects that offer no improvement to anything at all. If they don't spend the money, they lose the budget in upcoming years, and without a cycling plan - hell, without a cohesive traffic plan at all - they just spend it on the quickest project they can think of.

And this is compounded by a road construction and maintenance budget that is already quite a bit lower per capita/per passenger-kilometer than the Netherlands.
Redo you evaluation of London in 10 years and see if it has improved!
I will!

Door Tweakers user aidanl, maandag 13 juli 2015 12:11

You're quite brave to have cycled through London! I've seen the way cars drive there, you would have to be almost suicidal to cycle through the city center :P No offence intended!

Door Tweakers user mux, maandag 13 juli 2015 14:37

Meh, it's not as bad as people make it out to be, honestly. Yes, some parts of the city center are unsuitable and we have walked through all of Whitechapel instead of cycling because of the traffic. But otherwise it was alright.

Also, both me and my girlfriend are young, avid cyclists in good physical health. There's not much you can throw at us that will completely discourage us from cycling. We're not the benchmark :P Once children and grannies start feeling safe enough on the road to cycle their way everywhere, only then you know the infrastructure is good.

Door Tweakers user m-vw, maandag 13 juli 2015 22:20

Adding to the zebracrossing+traffic lights explanation. There is an order of what is applicable at a certain moment.

1 The rules
2 Signs/roadmarkings
3 Traffic lights
4 Instructions by police or assigned persons.

So if 3 fails, 2 applies.

Door Tweakers user Jerrythafast, dinsdag 14 juli 2015 21:06

Exactly.
mux schreef op maandag 13 juli 2015 @ 11:13:
(...)

This one was recently updated, but the total bike path width is still only about 3.5m for 3 lanes, which is narrow by Dutch standards

Funnily enough, this intersection has been essentially downgraded to older, inferior standards (requiring cyclists to mix with other traffic instead of being, as they should, always right of traffic and having a forward waiting area across the width of the road).

(...)
Fixed your links. UBB-parsing broke them (replaced commas with %2C escape codes).

[Reactie gewijzigd op dinsdag 14 juli 2015 21:07]


Door paul gannon, woensdag 15 juli 2015 11:48

Adam schreef op donderdag 09 juli 2015 @ 23:17:
It is true that the cycle infrastructure in the UK is bad, however there are several things in this post about general driving in the UK that you didn't seem to understand.

The diamond-shaped priority road sign is not used in the UK because it's not necessary. We don't have the stupid 'priority to the right' rule, so the diamond sign is not needed to override that rule. The way it works here is the minor road has Give Way markings and often a Give Way sign too, but the major road has no sign. The only reason it looked like the priority was not observed was because you were in London. Elsewhere in the country, especially outside of big cities, the priority is clearly observed. If you come to Give Way markings, you MUST give way, just like in the Netherlands. At T-junctions, the road that ends automatically has to give way. Everyone knows this, so zero signs and road markings are necessary at minor T-junctions.

Where there are Give Way markings (and signs), the priority IS explicitly handled.

All pedestrian crossings in the UK have studs to mark the crossing. Zebra crossings have studs and stripes, whereas traffic light controlled crossings have studs only. This makes it very clear to the pedestrian if they have absolute priority on a crossing (studs and stripes), or if they have to watch the traffic signals (studs only). When I was in a country which had zebra stripes on all crossings, it was not immediately clear to my friend if it was a zebra or signal controlled crossing, which caused confusion.

When I was in the Netherlands, one thing I did notice was that everyone seemed to drive over the speed limits consistently when on larger roads, noticeably more so than in my (fairly rural) town in England. Observing speed limits is a problem in both countries I feel.

The flashing lights in the Belisha beacons at zebra crossings improve visibility at night. They're not to highlight the crossing during the day. I don't understand how they're difficult to see in that photo.

Moving to the end of a side road is often necessary to be able to see the traffic on the major road ahead. Yes, pedestrians do have to go around. I do like the practice in the Netherlands where the pavement continues across the side road, which gives a sense of priority to the pedestrians.

About the traffic lights on CS3: the reason for the lack of bike symbol on the large red aspect is because that never used to be allowed in the UK. Only this year are red bike symbols allowed, so they didn't "forget" to put a red cycle symbol in. The traffic lights on CS3 have been upgraded to include red bike symbols, I believe. You said the lights never change. Did you try pressing the button?
Don't try to defend the indefensible. The blog is a very accurate assessment. BTW, actually, If the Belsiha beacon lights are not visibly flashing pedestrian priority is not applicable & a flash scumbag lawyer will get you off a charge of failing to stop - that's how stupid British road law is.

Door Bikesy, woensdag 15 juli 2015 12:04

As a Brit I just want to say thanks for stepping outside of your regular zone and entering ours. It's all too easy for the British people to get complacent with a bit of blue paint and a cycle path on the pavement.

Having you highlight the contrast between what we have and what we could really have does actually help keep things focussed.

Cheers
Tony.

Door Adam, donderdag 16 juli 2015 00:13

paul gannon schreef op woensdag 15 juli 2015 @ 11:48:
[...]


Don't try to defend the indefensible. The blog is a very accurate assessment. BTW, actually, If the Belsiha beacon lights are not visibly flashing pedestrian priority is not applicable & a flash scumbag lawyer will get you off a charge of failing to stop - that's how stupid British road law is.
I did notice after I'd written it that my comment did come across as trying to defend our cycling infrastructure in the UK. Trust me, I wasn't, I was just trying to address a few points that I thought were misunderstandings or just differences between UK and NL, rather than actual problems in the UK.

For example, the priority signs issue is just 2 different ways of doing the same thing, and the fact he saw people not giving way is because he was in London, which is known nationwide for having aggressive drivers.

I did read somewhere that in law, a beacon that is not flashing does not mean the zebra crossing doesn't apply. The problem is, I've read so much conflicting information about UK road laws that it's hard to know what's true!

I've cycled in NL several times before, and it is absolutely fantastic, and probably the best in the world. The UK's cycle infrastructure is dreadful, and I really do want the infrastructure to improve. Small improvements are being made in London and in my area, but a lot more needs to be done, and faster.

Door Adam, donderdag 16 juli 2015 00:36

mux schreef op vrijdag 10 juli 2015 @ 11:04:
[...]


They have very low contrast and at night they are nigh-on invisible due to the weak lightbulb in them. Yellow does not stand out against the average whitish yellow colour of the sky. Some of the beacons have improved this with a LED strip around it, but I don't really see the point in having these beacons at all. No other country in the world handles pedestrian crossings like this. Especially the addition of fences near pedestrian crossings in London seems daft and can't be safe - how are cars supposed to see children or wheelchairs who are about to cross?


[...]


That's very interesting. It just seemed to fit in with the half-assedness of the entire cycle superhighway. It was certainly a dedicated bike light, so why would they not use the bicycle masking sticker on the large red light if they had it on the smaller one as well?

Yes, I did press the button. It honestly doesn't work! I've passed this point three times during my visit and none of the times have I seen it on any other indication than red. Nobody observes this particular traffic light anyway.
About the pedestrian guardrail (fences): They do often design the guardrail so that cars can see through it easily, but you're right that guardrail is not a good idea. Guardrail is being used less in this country now. Some guardrail has been removed in London because cyclists have been crushed between vehicles and the guardrail, killing the cyclist.

The smaller traffic light on CS3 would have been added either this year or last year, again, because they were not allowed before. The UK is REALLY far behind in even these basic parts of cycle infrastructure. It's very odd that the push button wasn't working. I've never had an issue with a button before, but there's always a first...

I would just like to say that the rest of the blog post that I didn't comment on, I completely agree with. The current Cycle Superhighways are a joke. If you think the new Cycle Superhighways being built in London are comparable to mediocre Dutch infrastructure, then I think that's a good start. I'm optimistic about the future, but it's going to take a long time before we see really good bike infrastructure in the UK.

Door LS, donderdag 16 juli 2015 10:49

"to go on the pavement would mean:"

Breaking the law. Not that that would stop the vast majority of London cyclists.

Door Tweakers user mux, donderdag 16 juli 2015 11:06

Well, I would call bollocks on that law seeing that I've encountered a lot of (crowded!) places where a major cycle route led over what I would call 100% pedestrian pavement. For instance here. By the way, this route also just 'disappears' into a large paved area.

Cycleways very often go onto the pavement proper, with or without markings. Example 1 and Example 2 (yes, the area around the Cutty Sark is a shared space, I checked). What the fuck do I do here?.

I can remember some even worse examples, but I'm not quite sure where they were. There are plenty of examples of pavements that are indistinguishable from any other pavement, which have been designated shared space (by way of the little blue sign with a cyclist and pedestrian on it, and an arrow pointing to the pavement).

[Reactie gewijzigd op donderdag 16 juli 2015 15:53]


Door Stuart Wilkes, donderdag 16 juli 2015 11:21

The situation in the UK in general and London specifically is so frustrating. I've been cycling to work here for thirteen years, and improvements have been superficial at best.

The superhighways were, for the most part, an exercise in rebranding and joining up existing insufficient cycle lanes to form several long, continuous, insufficient (but blue!) cycle lanes. Not to mention the fact that the paint they've used in many places is murderously slippery in the wet, meaning its safer to cycle outside of the lane.

What's so frustrating is that clearly a lot of money has been spent, and the intention is there to improve the infrastructure - but because this is done in a seemingly unplanned, piecemeal fashion, the overall situation hasn't improved.

In fact in many places, it feels safer to stick to the roads and avoid the paths that have been built. When you're jumping on and off 50m of narrow path on unsuitable pavement into flowing traffic, and crossing roads with unclear priority, your better advised to stick to the actual carriageway.

I've also been subject to abuse and aggressive driving from car drivers who ask me why the hell I'm not using the cycle lane - in many senses having this patchy unsuitable infrastructure is actually making the situation less safe than nothing at all.

Having said that, I love cycling in London - if you know and plan your route, cycling feels pretty safe, and its easily the fastest way round the city. It's just sad its not more accessible and less intimdating for less confident cyclists. I look with envy at the infrastructure you have in the Netherlands!

Door Peter, donderdag 16 juli 2015 14:55

You missed one of the outstanding parts of CS3 because you took it east-to-west. Search for "So that pedestrian/cyclist crossing that was misplaced that I was talking about earlier?" in your article for it. It's on Butcher Row, just southwest of Limehouse station; have a look at https://www.google.co.uk/...x31dcc9718b6bfb10!5m1!1e3. (If the blog software eats the link, that's 51.5116825N, 0.0420212W.)

From west-to-east, CS3 also fizzles out at the crossing. There is no clear signage that indicates that the cycle route continues through the park opposite. When I encountered this cold, I just assumed that CS3 had ended because the infrastructure is crap like that, and that I should just re-join the motor traffic. Eyeballing the road layout, going south and turning east at the T junction looked my best bet to get closer to my destination. It was only once I was committed to going east that one sees the signs for No Cycling and No Pedestrians and that this a downward ramp towards the Limehouse Link tunnel. There is a narrow strip of pavement with the usual clutter that make it almost impossible to abort and turn back.

All but one of the roads that feed towards the tunnel have a large road sign that advertises the tunnel and gives directions for prohibited traffic. Now which road doesn't have such a warning sign? Like anybody needs to ask: it's Cable Street along which CS3 winds.

If anything CS3 is probably more dangerous than if it didn't exist at all.

Door christine Jones, donderdag 16 juli 2015 15:47

it's not just London, the UK in general. Try being disabled, or walking a pushchair or pram and magnify your complaints by 10. Even down to most pavements in towns being covered in abandoned cars (some call them parked) and at a 30 degree angle because every house has a driveway that slopes down to the road so the pavement is always wobbling into the road. Pavements are for dog walkers and joggers, the rest are supposed to drive because it's what people do. Without cash strapped mini bus services for disabled people, they are under house arrest. In NL you see all manner of amazing bike like contraption with and without batteries for the disabled.
When I see how even the junctions on access roads raise up to meet the pavement in NL, it is like another world. Not to mention that drop curbs at junctions are often where you have poor visibility, so you have to choose with your pram whether you go fro the drop curb and make a dash or stand somewhere else with better visibility and give your sleeping baby a shock. Crossings are rare in the sticks, you get them right in the centre and nowhere else, they are seen as things that slow down traffic flow.
Even in residential areas they stick HGV routes so you have to cross a fast busy road with kids and no help. That's why everyone drives - the only way to get to school without a series of adrenaline rushes, is to drive.
I've recently moved my kids to Utrecht because I was simply sick of the UK's pathetic attempts at infrastructure. Every day you need it and it's not there. A total failure to anticipate the needs of the tax payers daily doings. I'd rather pay tax in NL, so we do now.
I miss my friends, and yes England is a lovely place, or was before the let the car be king, a nasty stingy medieval king, that spends all the kingly money on petrol, A&E and air ambulances.
http://www.telegraph.co.u...-knocked-off-my-bike.html
I got a bit in the Utrechts AD too along similar lines.

Door Tweakers user mux, donderdag 16 juli 2015 16:20

christine Jones schreef op donderdag 16 juli 2015 @ 15:47:
it's not just London, the UK in general. Try being disabled, or walking a pushchair or pram and magnify your complaints by 10. Even down to most pavements in towns being covered in abandoned cars (some call them parked) and at a 30 degree angle because every house has a driveway that slopes down to the road so the pavement is always wobbling into the road. Pavements are for dog walkers and joggers, the rest are supposed to drive because it's what people do. Without cash strapped mini bus services for disabled people, they are under house arrest. In NL you see all manner of amazing bike like contraption with and without batteries for the disabled.
Oh man, if you only knew the debate going around here. For some perspective: at the moment, we're experiencing a quite pronounced increase in traffic accidents - mostly one-sided - because of the high age of many cyclists and people in disability scooters. A big part of this is the majority of electric bikes and medium-speed (much faster than walking) disability scooters being sold to ages 55+. There are quite a few municipalities, organizations for the elderly and disabled and other people who are trying to figure out how to elderly-proof infrastructure around here to reverse the trend!

Of course this is all aggravated by relatively tight budgets all-around.

It's true that infrastructure here is alright, in some places even perfectly good for the elderly and disabled. But there are still a *lot* of problems with this. It only takes one or two crooked curbs to discourage a whole street of grannies from going outside.
I've recently moved my kids to Utrecht because I was simply sick of the UK's pathetic attempts at infrastructure. Every day you need it and it's not there. A total failure to anticipate the needs of the tax payers daily doings. I'd rather pay tax in NL, so we do now.
I miss my friends, and yes England is a lovely place, or was before the let the car be king, a nasty stingy medieval king, that spends all the kingly money on petrol, A&E and air ambulances.
http://www.telegraph.co.u...-knocked-off-my-bike.html
I got a bit in the Utrechts AD too along similar lines.
Wow, what an article! I don't suppose you'll meet many people who do this. Very nice of you to comment in this blog, that's valuable insight.

Many people - mostly older people (like my parents) - still regard a car as almost-mandatory even in the Netherlands. We drive a lot here as well, the Netherlands has just as much regard for motorists and the transportation industry as it has for cyclists and pedestrians. To a first approximation, our economy hinges on transportation/logistics and not much else. But yes, you and I, among many others, can get around perfectly well without. It helps with things like holidays and lugging heavy things around but a car is completely optional otherwise.

Do your kids go to an international school, or do they speak Dutch fluently? Do you still visit the UK regularly? What do you experience as the biggest downsides of the migration aside from the almost total lack of nature in the Netherlands?

Edit: forgot to reply to Peter:
Peter schreef op donderdag 16 juli 2015 @ 14:55:
From west-to-east, CS3 also fizzles out at the crossing. There is no clear signage that indicates that the cycle route continues through the park opposite. When I encountered this cold, I just assumed that CS3 had ended because the infrastructure is crap like that, and that I should just re-join the motor traffic. Eyeballing the road layout, going south and turning east at the T junction looked my best bet to get closer to my destination. It was only once I was committed to going east that one sees the signs for No Cycling and No Pedestrians and that this a downward ramp towards the Limehouse Link tunnel. There is a narrow strip of pavement with the usual clutter that make it almost impossible to abort and turn back.
Yeah, all three times we/I took the CS3 was east-to-west (coming from ExCeL/City to Whitechapel).

That sounds like a horrible experience, it honestly didn't even occur to me to try and ride on Butcher Row itself, if I would have had to, I most likely would have walked there.
All but one of the roads that feed towards the tunnel have a large road sign that advertises the tunnel and gives directions for prohibited traffic. Now which road doesn't have such a warning sign? Like anybody needs to ask: it's Cable Street along which CS3 winds.

If anything CS3 is probably more dangerous than if it didn't exist at all.
Sounds extremely similar to the cycling situation on Elephant&Castle. We had no idea what to do there, apparently there is some way to cross there with the bike but we ended up having to go around, go on the pavement, cross at a pedestrian crossing and continue over another leg of the roundabout. No idea if that was the way it's supposed to go. Might have been a consequence of road works, though.

[Reactie gewijzigd op donderdag 16 juli 2015 16:27]


Door Julius, vrijdag 17 juli 2015 09:31

You're a brave man... I haven't tried cycling in London so far.

But I live in Exeter, and yeah, cycling infrastructure is barely there, and where it does exist is mostly useless. OK, one of the regular routes I cycle along is mostly away from the road, simply because it's a riverside footpath where bikes are also allowed... though even that has its issues. Quite a bit of it is simply shared pedestrian/bike space, which is sort of OK, it's mostly wide enough not to be a problem. Other bits are marked as 'bike' and 'pedestrian' lanes, which seems sensible - except pedestrians ignore it all the time, so it actually doesn't help at all.

Which brings me to another point, the widespread hate of cyclists, "they're always breaking the rules and running red lights blah blah blah" (I don't run red lights, ever, for the record). As you point out, motorists also break the rules, mostly speed limits, routinely and largely with impunity. And pedestrians walk on marked cycle paths (and get upset when you *ping* your bell and expect them to get out of the way)...

Another route I cycle regularly does indeed have painted-on, barely 50cm wide bike lanes. Which alternate between being painted onto the road and onto the pavement every 100m or so. I ignore them and simply ride on the road, of course.

And one of the industrial estates here has all the pavements marked as shared bike/pedestrian, and they're pretty wide too, so that's nice. Except there are no priority crossings (whether lights or just zebra crossings) at the intersections, just dropped curbs, so it takes forever to cross. And it's a fairly tight grid layout so there are lots of intersections. Once again, I ignore these and just ride on the road, over the roundabouts, because it's just that much faster.

(For the last two situations, it helps that I use an electric bike, meaning that in inner-city 20mph areas, I'm not that much slower than motor traffic anyway.)

I've just spent a week cycling in northern Germany, and while even there a lot of the infrastructure strikes me as a bit half-arsed compared to the Netherlands, it's certainly a different world compared to here.

Door Aussie, vrijdag 17 juli 2015 12:06

Loved the blog, but mate, if you want something to complain about, you need to come and cycle in Sydney, Australia. Some of that infrastructure in London actually looks pretty good to us. Our politicians are, this week, tearing out separated cycle lanes in the centre of the city and trying to force cyclists to carry photo ID. Don't forget to bring your helmet because you get a hefty fine for cycling without one here in sunny Australian? We even have the worst, most aggressive drivers. Don't believe me? Just ask this Danish guy who cycled all over the world and says the worst place to cycle was Sydney. http://www.news.com.au/tr...ry-fnndib5x-1227148325250

Door Tweakers user MaartenBE, vrijdag 17 juli 2015 12:12

Unfortunately it's not only a joke in London but in most of the cities of the world. Even though I'm probably spoiled as a Belgian (of course not as much as our dear Dutch friends!), I regularly get yelled at, come accross utterly dangerous situations and feel like I'm riding in an urban jungle.

But I don't give up. I will keep on cycling to work evey day cause it's healthier, better for the environment, in my case much faster than the car, and still a lot more fun!

This morning I got yelled at by a truckdriver"hey! out of the way! make room! hey! you!"" , followed by complete ignorance from my side. Usually I try to reply in a funny way (my favourite: "and a nice day to you too!".)

[Reactie gewijzigd op vrijdag 17 juli 2015 12:13]


Door Henk, vrijdag 17 juli 2015 12:25

It's not entirely true that there are no priority road markings. Essentially, the markings you describe as "we tried" markings, are probably the UK equivalent of sharks teeth priority markings in the Netherlands. (example of the UK ones here: http://o.aolcdn.com/hss/s.../rexfeatures_3737041b.jpg - a double line of big white blocks means give way). These are on virtually every road in the UK but cause confusion for foreign visitors because they are not used anywhere else in the world.

This does not take away from your point. There are a number of problems with this approach to right of way:

- You only know your priority on a road junction when you get to it, meaning you adjust your driving behaviour until you get to it (contrary to the predictability element of the sustainable safety model used in the Netherlands)
- It means there are no general rules: a road may look big and give you a sense of priority, but this may be wrong - there is no such thing as in the Netherlands where the road environment gives you an indication of expected behaviour. This can lead to erratic driving behaviour. It also means that during driving lessons (which I have had both in the UK and the Netherlands) the focus is on doing what your told by the markings, rather than on general safety awareness and reacting/anticipating what other road users may do within the confines of a wider philosophy of road use.
- At junctions where there is no such marking (very rare), no one has right of way - meaning you have to think for yourself and decide between you who lets someone else go first. This is very confusing.

On your speed limit point, I don't think that drivers in the UK are always necessarily above the speed limit. Again, this is not very predictable. Yes, it is generally 30mph. However, this varies a lot and you have to pay attention to pretty small signs to know what exactly it is. As soon as a road is wider than just one lane inside the built-up area, it can be 40 or 50 mph - but that's not always very clear. You may have felt people were driving over the limit but the limit may have been higher in that spot.

There is a broader point here as well: because of the dreadful road surface and the type of asphalt used, cars are noisier on roads than in the Netherlands. You are also much closer to them than you would be in the Netherlands. As a result, your perception is that they drive much faster than they probably do in reality. This perceived sense of safety is one of the main things that puts less experienced cyclists off from cycling on UK roads: it doesn't feel safe enough to do it.

Door Mark Wubben, vrijdag 17 juli 2015 12:29

Great post, describes my experiences cycling through London just perfectly.

Regarding that 50 meter section in Angel you concluded with, it too is of course an isolated stretch of decent infrastructure. Continue onwards in the direction the photo was taken in and it's an absolute shit show again.

That section was redone recently, especially the road leading up to the bike path. For those traveling in the opposite direction it's even become possible for two people to cross the road together, without being forced into a single file.

Of course during the construction no provisions were made for cyclists. The road was closed, with a helpful "cycle lane closed" sign… later followed by more obstructions and the ever helpful "cyclists dismount"…

Door Tweakers user field33P, vrijdag 17 juli 2015 12:49

London's road network has been completely inadequate for anything since the 18th century, if not earlier. Poor road maintenance is caused by it being a borough responsibility (IIRC), and the sad state of it's cycling infrastructure is just a side effect of it.

Door Dave, vrijdag 17 juli 2015 13:12

Adam schreef op donderdag 09 juli 2015 @ 23:17:
. You said the lights never change. Did you try pressing the button?
I cycle that route daily. The button you have to press is to your left and looks like it is for the pedestrians crossing the road to your left. I don't think pedestrians actually get a button at all. To further confuse the matter, a driver ran into the poles at that intersection (in February from memory) and the replacement button now says "Pedestrians push button to cross" rather than what the old one said: "Cyclists push button to cross". Even with the old phrasing, it was common that the person at the front of the queue had not pushed the button until I asked them to.

The next junction along to the west has an infra red camera to detect cyclists but it won't see you if you're leaning on the kerb. At least one cyclist must be in the middle of the lane or those lights won't change either.

At the cock-eyed intersection, the east-bound buttons have recently stopped working. You push the button, the indicator lights come on telling you to wait, and then 30 seconds later they just go off again. The cars don't stop and you don't get a green man. Sometimes they work fine, sometimes I have to try three times before I get a green. Most people just cross against the red.

At the risk of starting a rant of my own, that's the bit of the CS3 that I consider to be "good infrastructure" (by London's standards). Despite being annoying, at least it doesn't feel dangerous.

Door Tweakers user mux, vrijdag 17 juli 2015 14:01

Aussie schreef op vrijdag 17 juli 2015 @ 12:06:
Loved the blog, but mate, if you want something to complain about, you need to come and cycle in Sydney, Australia. Some of that infrastructure in London actually looks pretty good to us. Our politicians are, this week, tearing out separated cycle lanes in the centre of the city and trying to force cyclists to carry photo ID. Don't forget to bring your helmet because you get a hefty fine for cycling without one here in sunny Australian? We even have the worst, most aggressive drivers. Don't believe me? Just ask this Danish guy who cycled all over the world and says the worst place to cycle was Sydney. http://www.news.com.au/tr...ry-fnndib5x-1227148325250
I've been there actually, but without a bike (I was only in Sydney for a day or so). I've also used a bike in Melbourne (Tullamarine area). Once :P

Australia to me felt like a carbon copy of the USA moreso than the UK; even going between two houses not even 500 meters apart was routinely done with the car rather than on foot or by bike. It's very different to Europe, including the UK, because things are just spaced apart so incredibly far that it feels like you're in a prison without a car. Even if you like to use a bike, you have to cover incredible distances to even do grocery shopping.

London is a place where you could conceivably live completely without a car, but the infrastructure hinders you. Australia is a place where you need plate armor just to fend off spiders, let alone even thinking of using a bike or your feet to go anywhere. Infrastructure can't help Australia :P
I'm Dutch. I just... use my bike. It's a thing here!
Which brings me to another point, the widespread hate of cyclists, "they're always breaking the rules and running red lights blah blah blah" (I don't run red lights, ever, for the record). As you point out, motorists also break the rules, mostly speed limits, routinely and largely with impunity. And pedestrians walk on marked cycle paths (and get upset when you *ping* your bell and expect them to get out of the way)...
Honestly didn't get any hate from motorists. I - both of us actually - found the motorists to be very courteous and patient. I did prepare myself mentally for a cyclist-hating city, but found none of that.
MaartenBE schreef op vrijdag 17 juli 2015 @ 12:12:
Unfortunately it's not only a joke in London but in most of the cities of the world. Even though I'm probably spoiled as a Belgian (of course not as much as our dear Dutch friends!), I regularly get yelled at, come accross utterly dangerous situations and feel like I'm riding in an urban jungle.
I've been around! I'm in Germany half a dozen times a year at least, I've been in almost all countries in Europe, even in China and Australia. I found London's infrastructure to be particularly bad. Part of this was expectation (I expected more after the dozens of ambitious press releases by TfL and the individual Boroughs), part of it was a pervasive feeling of bad infrastructure design just not fitting in with such a rich, populous and modern city.
Henk schreef op vrijdag 17 juli 2015 @ 12:25:
It's not entirely true that there are no priority road markings. Essentially, the markings you describe as "we tried" markings, are probably the UK equivalent of sharks teeth priority markings in the Netherlands. (example of the UK ones here: http://o.aolcdn.com/hss/s.../rexfeatures_3737041b.jpg - a double line of big white blocks means give way). These are on virtually every road in the UK but cause confusion for foreign visitors because they are not used anywhere else in the world.
I see. It's a bit strange that they don't use universal markings - is there a good reason for this other than history?
This does not take away from your point. There are a number of problems with this approach to right of way:

(summation of points)
You've worded this much better than any of my attempts at explaining why I think this system is strange. The problem is indeed the lack of predictability because it's hard to say exactly what kind of road you're on just by driving on it. There are no distinct visual cues (well, there are but they are much sparser than what I'm used to) and the road design doesn't discourage fast driving nearly enough in places that are supposed to be low-speed non-throughways.
On your speed limit point, I don't think that drivers in the UK are always necessarily above the speed limit. Again, this is not very predictable. Yes, it is generally 30mph. However, this varies a lot and you have to pay attention to pretty small signs to know what exactly it is. As soon as a road is wider than just one lane inside the built-up area, it can be 40 or 50 mph - but that's not always very clear. You may have felt people were driving over the limit but the limit may have been higher in that spot.
This is my least strong point, because indeed I have no good measurement method. However, I've been told by native Londoners that the speed limit everywhere in the built-up area except for the dual carriageways is 30mph. So I went with that. I've actually ridden a tiny little bit (as a passenger) in one of the native's cars, which was quite an adventure.
Mark Wubben schreef op vrijdag 17 juli 2015 @ 12:29:
Great post, describes my experiences cycling through London just perfectly.

Regarding that 50 meter section in Angel you concluded with, it too is of course an isolated stretch of decent infrastructure. Continue onwards in the direction the photo was taken in and it's an absolute shit show again.
Thank you very much for posting, I love hearing from the locals.
field33P schreef op vrijdag 17 juli 2015 @ 12:49:
London's road network has been completely inadequate for anything since the 18th century, if not earlier. Poor road maintenance is caused by it being a borough responsibility (IIRC), and the sad state of it's cycling infrastructure is just a side effect of it.
But people used to cycle even more in London than in Amsterdam! There has been a steady decline since the 1950s. I can't say anything about cause and effect in this case, but there used to be a thing with the thing and now it isn't a thing anymore which makes me sad.
Dave schreef op vrijdag 17 juli 2015 @ 13:12:
I cycle that route daily. The button you have to press is to your left and looks like it is for the pedestrians crossing the road to your left. I don't think pedestrians actually get a button at all. To further confuse the matter, a driver ran into the poles at that intersection (in February from memory) and the replacement button now says "Pedestrians push button to cross" rather than what the old one said: "Cyclists push button to cross". Even with the old phrasing, it was common that the person at the front of the queue had not pushed the button until I asked them to.
Ah, that makes it clearer. So I was most likely pushing the wrong button.

So, follow-up question: does London have automatic traffic lights anywhere? Because this button pressing thing is not something you would expect in brand new infrastructure. All new bicycle intersections on bicycle throughways in the Netherlands are now (and have been for about a decade or so?) required to use these inductive loops in the road surface to detect bikes and enable the countdown for traffic lights. I would have expected this for something as prestigious as a Cycle Super... well, you know.... way.
The next junction along to the west has an infra red camera to detect cyclists but it won't see you if you're leaning on the kerb. At least one cyclist must be in the middle of the lane or those lights won't change either.
Interesting, so automated systems do exist, but only the inferior type.
At the cock-eyed intersection, the east-bound buttons have recently stopped working. You push the button, the indicator lights come on telling you to wait, and then 30 seconds later they just go off again. The cars don't stop and you don't get a green man. Sometimes they work fine, sometimes I have to try three times before I get a green. Most people just cross against the red.
We got green after a loooooooong time. I wouldn't dare cross without right of way, it was just a slow-moving continuous 2 files of traffic.
At the risk of starting a rant of my own, that's the bit of the CS3 that I consider to be "good infrastructure" (by London's standards). Despite being annoying, at least it doesn't feel dangerous.
Really? Going against the traffic direction on an unprotected cycle lane is considered not feeling dangerous? I considered that lane reversal part (maybe you don't consider this part of the good bit, but it's just 100 yards apart) one of the intentionally homocidal parts of London cycle infra :P

Door Tweakers user TwisterX, vrijdag 17 juli 2015 14:30

Visited Londen last week to hook up with some dutch friends who live there. During my first hours there i counted a few cyclists on the road, but all of them were wearing helmet cams! The friends explained that this is due to the high rate of collisions with cars/buses.

They even mentioned that they were perfectly fine riding a bicycle in Kathmandu (Nepal), but will never get on one in London. Reading some more on the topic makes me hope my suggestion to take the train out to the countryside and do some recreational cycling over there doesn't get them killed... :+

Door Adam, zaterdag 18 juli 2015 15:51

Henk schreef op vrijdag 17 juli 2015 @ 12:25:
These are on virtually every road in the UK but cause confusion for foreign visitors because they are not used anywhere else in the world.
While watching videos of (mainland) China, I have seen them use identical give way markings to the UK. And there's no doubt that Hong Kong uses UK style give way markings too. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few more countries as well.

Door Adam, zaterdag 18 juli 2015 16:16

mux schreef op vrijdag 17 juli 2015 @ 14:01:
I see. It's a bit strange that they don't use universal markings - is there a good reason for this other than history?
Ah, that would explain some of the confusion about priority. If you come across a double dashed white line, like shown in the picture above, you legally MUST give way, exactly like with the sharks' teeth in the Netherlands.

Sharks' teeth are not universal, far from it in my experience. Sharks' teeth ARE widely used, but many countries (including some European) do not use them. The reason we haven't changed I guess is because the current markings are well understood, and changing them would cause more confusion and inconsistency. Here are a few examples of give way lines I found online:

French: http://www.lyonne.fr/phot...FwM2diAkJo-_/1437661.jpeg

German (this is the worst out of all the countries I've ever seen): http://www.redet-tacheles...d05ea34129db74b7b316e25d3

Australian: http://cardriving.com.au/...or_road_Give_Way_sign.JPG

In my experience (keep in mind I haven't driven in London, only elsewhere in UK), it is generally easy to guess if you will have priority or not. I don't quite see where "Henk" is coming from when he said that you can't guess if you will have priority or not.

Maybe you found priority unclear because you personally are just used to looking out for a DIFFERENT set of clues about priority in NL, or maybe London has a particular problem that the rest of the country doesn't have (which is possible of course).

Door lacero, zaterdag 18 juli 2015 19:14

Well, I would call bollocks on that law seeing that I've encountered a lot of (crowded!) places where a major cycle route led over what I would call 100% pedestrian pavement. For instance
...
(yes, the area around the Cutty Sark is a shared space, I checked).
How did you check? Shared space in the UK means blue circle signs with a white bike and white people in them. It didn't matter how major the cycle route is, without that sign you get off and walk.

Cutty Sark especially is annoying about this. from the west ncr4 there is a sign saying no cycling. The other three entrances have no sign. The route through the college has custom floor markings and no shared space sign.

Can you cycle everywhere because it's a main route? Just in the college because it's private and doesn't need to use public highway code signs? Can you cycle everywhere except coming from the west...

It's nonsense, but it's not sharedspace by any definition I know.

Door Tweakers user mux, zaterdag 18 juli 2015 20:29

It's defined as a shared space in the reconstruction plan by the local council :P

I could not find any markings locally, which is why I went on the internet to see if anyone knows what the hell is supposed to happen there. The road just changes - without elevation change - into a homogeneous stone-paved area with a few bollards on the transition. That's all you see as a cyclist or pedestrian.

Door Lacero, zondag 19 juli 2015 21:56

Do you have a link to that at all? We (cyclists) had a lot of problems a few years ago when it was finished with people employed by the council specifically to issue fines for people cycling there. I've not seen anyone doing it recently.

I think maybe they planned it one way then realised after than having a major route with no floor markings was pretty dangerous to the hordes of children running around, and especially with the narrow bit to the east around the dock.

Door Tweakers user mux, maandag 20 juli 2015 12:09

I'll search around again. I looked it up while in London, so I don't have the link in my history.

Door Ken, maandag 20 juli 2015 16:36

Let's cut to the chase. Cycling facilities in the UK are dire everywhere (not just London) and we're patting ourselves on the back for implementing little bits of very poor infrastructure. I've had two cycling holidays in NL, one with young children. The Dutch infrastructure is well designed (direct and efficient) well maintained and most importantly, ubiquitous. The Dutch have been spending a lot of money and doing heavy engineering on this for 40+ years. The UK doesn't even have the consensus to get started. 10 years? We're light years behind, and I don't think we will ever introduce proper infrastructure. I'm pinning my hopes on driverless cars as a solution in any reasonable time scale.

Door Andy B, zondag 26 juli 2015 16:27

I've been a regular cyclist in London since 1989. My journey is 20 miles a day from the suburbs into the centre of town.

Cycling in London is actually less bad than elsewhere in the country. Don't misunderstand me though. This is not praise for London, but just a sign of how far behind we are in general with our enlightened friends in the Netherlands and Denmark.

I present to you Cycle Facility of the Month.

Please take a moment to step through the glory that is Britain's cycle facilities. Please do send the link to all your friends. We need to be ridiculed as much as possible to help things change!

---

Back to my London experience. The biggest problem is a lack of segregation. This means that you are reliant on your good sense and that of other people. The problem is that in any society, there are always a handful of nutters and people occasionally make mistakes (no matter whether on foot or bicycle or in a motor vehicle).

Cycling undoubtedly has become newsworthy in recent years. But we still need a transformation at government level, and no political party seems interested in the radical change that is needed, except for the greens - who aren't very popular.

Door Tweakers user mux, zondag 26 juli 2015 22:31

I've seen that website, are you the person maintaining it? It's awesome!

I kind of do believe that change should be possible if it's actually demanded on a societal level. For instance; for a long time my generation has been ridiculed in a bunch of ways; we were more or less the first people to identify themselves with computer games, we were the first generation to get a minority - if any - information from television. The last couple of years the political landscape in the Netherlands has changed to such an extent, because of our generation and those after us finally being a big enough part of the population, that these things are seeping into politics. Games and internet culture - just to keep with the theme of this paragraph - have been consistently taken seriously and sit on roughly equal footing with other types of media.

I believe the same should definitely be possible for cyclists. If enough people demand it, I'm sure the democratic process can and will function. Maybe in 5 years, maybe in 10 years, but it's clear from basically all your neighboring countries that having good cycling infrastructure can be of enormous value to your health, safety and economy.

Door Andy B, zondag 26 juli 2015 23:22

I'm not involved with 'cycle facility of the month', but it accurately portrays the pathetic reality here in the UK. Cycling is still something that politicians and councils feel the need to pay lipservice to, but that's the end of the story It doesn't actually have to work, and none of the people in charge would ever consider cycling to work, which tells you everything you need to know. That's the reason none of the routes ever join up. It's the reason why every cycle lane ends up depositing you in an inpenetrable mess of roads. It's the reason why nothing is fit for purpose.

If I had my way, councillors and MPs would be forced to ride to work on bicycles. It would soon educate them about what needs to be don.

Apparently, 30% of journeys were made by bicycle here in the UK until a few decades ago. Now, in London, the mayor is desperate to double the number of journeys from the current 2% to 4%. It shows you how far things need to change.

I still love cycling in London. Despite the lack of segregation, my 20 mile round-trip each day is generally a joy. But I couldn't recommend it to my mother or your child. That's the change that has to happen before cycling once again becomes a mainstream form of transport.

If anyone in the UK is reading this, please do give cycling a go. It isn't perfect, but the more of us there are, the more we may hope to change things for the better.

Be safe and have fun!

Door Andy B, zondag 26 juli 2015 23:31

One more word from me...

Next weekend is a festival of cycling in London.

http://www.prudentialridelondon.co.uk/#

These events raise the profile of cycling, and are perhaps the start.

When I started cycling in London, something like next weekend would be unthinkable. I like to think that some of the kids in the 'freecycle' event (where many of the most famous roads in Central London are closed to allow families to enjoy this car-free event) will be our future politicians. Good luck to them!

Door Tweakers user Jerrythafast, maandag 27 juli 2015 23:51

That "Cycle Facility of the Month" website is hilarious! But it also is an eyeopener to me, since it makes me realise that I have always taken for granted some of the things that make cycling easy. For instance, when I saw this bridge I laughed. To me, this is just as silly as this. But in the Netherlands you may also sometimes encounter a bridge on a cycle path. So why did it make me laugh? Well, clearly it is too narrow for a bike. But also, it doesn't have a bicycle rail on it. I honestly don't know of any bridge that doesn't have that. You can also clearly see that most cyclists who encounter this bridge decided to crawl under the pipeline simply because there is more space there.

Door Hannah, zondag 6 september 2015 11:09

Great post! I'm actually a the reverse position, as native London cyclist who's just spent a few days cycling around Amsterdam.

One of the difficulties I had in Amsterdam was that it was really unclear who had priority, particularly for pedestrians. To me, at least, the UK road infrastructure is really, really clear about who has priority, and when. On the road, you stop for red lights, give way markings on the road (the double lines), stop signs with solid line across the road, and zebra crossings that have a pedestrian on them; otherwise, you continue straight. If you're on a bike, you obey the same rules. As a pedestrian, you can walk out with impunity across a zebra crossing or at a green signalised crossing, but at pretty much every other situation (including crossing side roads) it's your responsibility to look out for traffic and cross when it's safe. It's not ideal, but at least it's clear, and the vast majority of drivers, pedestrians, and even cyclists will respect the signals and road markings.

In Amsterdam, it was a bit of a free for all. The bike lanes weren't integrated with the signalised junctions so for example when the traffic light for traffic was red, bikes could still make a right hand turn and keep going. There was complete anarchy as to what pedestrians crossing on the green light were supposed to do - continue past the green man and over the bike lane? Yield to the bike lane until it's safe to cross? The 'zebra stripe' style crossings seemed to be completely ignored by the cyclists, and indeed drivers, and the whole thing was confused because in some cases the stripes seemed to mean a UK-style unsignalised pedestrian priority crossing, whereas in other cases they just marked where pedestrians should cross at the signalised crossing (ie, no pedestrian priority). Mostly other cyclists just continued through the unsignalised striped crossings as if they weren't in there.

That's without getting into the complete nerve-wracking nightmare of 'yield to the right' and 'right-turning traffic can go through the red light/green man as long as it yields to pedestrians'. In the UK system, if you have a green light it means go, not 'go and make sure you don't run over anyone'. It's quite scary when you're used to having the green man to yourself, contending with drivers edging to make the turn. And mopeds in bike lanes - WTF??

Glad to get that off my chest :-P You're dead-on about most of the other observations - it's quite something to see an objective international assessment of what is sadly some of our best examples of bike infrastructure!

Door Tweakers user mux, zondag 6 september 2015 12:09

Glad you could try out the Dutch infrastructure, but if anyone else is reading this and thinking about coming to the Netherlands to use their bike - for the love of god, don't start in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is what I'd classify as a 'pro-level' cycling city. Traffic is incredibly hectic and there are a lot (and I mean a LOT) of tourists around at any time. It is not an easy city to cycle in.

The reason it seems so hectic is because it's really built around the idea that trying to partition and time out traffic flows with express provisions (explicit signs, traffic lights, etc.) is just not efficient enough to handle the vast traffic flows. So traffic is left to self-regulate. Which works fine if all you know is using a bicycle for everyday travel. But it's a nightmare for infrequent cyclists. I've only cycled through Amsterdam a couple of times in the last few years and every time it strikes me as such a chaotic city. Even just going to Amstelveen or Zaandam - less than 5km out of the city center - is a relief!

So next time you come here, I highly recommend picking a... quieter place to cycle. There's nothing to see in Amsterdam anyway (at least nothing that can't be experienced just as well or better on Instragram). Try Utrecht instead! Just as many bikes, but much easier infrastructure and everything is much better structured.

Door Atlas Shrugged, zondag 6 september 2015 21:07

Completely agree with shite cycling description of London cycle ways.

Any chance you could come to Cambridge and give it the same treatment. You would have a field day.

Some things to add to your list is the way they put posts in the middle of a cycle way you are trying to turn into. Placing poles exactly where you need to cycle. etc etc. Cambridge did not even bother to fix the pot holes along the Tour de France route when it passed through the city.

Door Hannah, zondag 6 september 2015 21:25

Glad you could try out the Dutch infrastructure, but if anyone else is reading this and thinking about coming to the Netherlands to use their bike - for the love of god, don't start in Amsterdam.

Heh, I got that impression! Wouldn't want to judge the entire country based on Stationsplein
- definitely Jedi master-level skills required. Out by the RAI conference centre was much quieter and more spacious, and I think more representative of Dutch infrastructure generally. A great city and great people too, the Dutch, would be lovely to see more of both!

Door Tweakers user mux, zondag 6 september 2015 21:55

Atlas Shrugged schreef op zondag 06 september 2015 @ 21:07:
Completely agree with shite cycling description of London cycle ways.

Any chance you could come to Cambridge and give it the same treatment. You would have a field day.

Some things to add to your list is the way they put posts in the middle of a cycle way you are trying to turn into. Placing poles exactly where you need to cycle. etc etc. Cambridge did not even bother to fix the pot holes along the Tour de France route when it passed through the city.
Well, do keep in mind that infrastructure aside, my girlfriend and I still thoroughly enjoyed our time cycling. And for that matter, we have no complaints in general about the British populace.

So I'm certain that we'll be visiting Britain at some point in the future. Not sure when - as a holiday destination we tend to default to Germany - but when we do I'll put Cambridge on the list.
Hannah schreef op zondag 06 september 2015 @ 21:25:
Heh, I got that impression! Wouldn't want to judge the entire country based on Stationsplein
- definitely Jedi master-level skills required. Out by the RAI conference centre was much quieter and more spacious, and I think more representative of Dutch infrastructure generally. A great city and great people too, the Dutch, would be lovely to see more of both!
Happy to hear you've seen at least a bit more than just the city center of Amsterdam. I realize it's a bit of a cop-out to say 'oh you just went to the one bad part of X, you should have tried Y'; it just goes to show (again) that also in the Netherlands, we have plenty of sub-optimal infrastructure.

Whenever you decide to visit again and decide to stay around Rotterdam, message me somewhere and I'll be happy to show you some nice bike paths. This goes for pretty much everyone reading the blog. I've had one person take me up on this already :)

[Reactie gewijzigd op zondag 6 september 2015 21:59]


Door Tweakers user Toettoetdaan, maandag 7 september 2015 08:27

You have switched two pictures below: "The London Cycle Shitways"
This rant put a smile on my cloudy monday morning :)
Thank you!

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