- Feb 28, 2020
I'm in Walthamstow as well. I think one of the issues with the new cycle infrastructure is also the (probably unavoidable) fragmented nature of it on main roads especially . All very well up to a point (if pedestrians learnt not to step/walk into them) then it too often suddenly stops and you are back to a tiny painted lane on the left gutter , or nothing, mixing with the motor traffic. As a late to cycling and not confident rider I avoid big main roads mostly anyway but I can't see the bitty nature of some of the lanes helping less confident riders out into those main roads. It would probably be better to establish more cycle friendly "quiet routes" between areas.This thread is a fascinating read. Where I live (in Walthamstow, London), we've had a lot of investment in cycling infrastructure lately as part of the mini-Holland scheme. It's put many people's backs up. There have been protests and petitions aplenty. But ultimately, it's been done and it's being extended to other areas of the borough. As well as segregated cycle lanes, modal filters have been installed on a lot of side roads, meaning they become no through routes except for pedestrians and cyclists. Debates very similar to the one between Swizz & flecc (though much less polite and well-reasoned) have raged across Facebook for years and still continue.
Advocates of the scheme have tried to persuade motorists that it's a boon for them too, because the streets they live on (by which they really mean the relatively few streets that now have modal filters) will become quieter and less polluted. Opponents of it have argued that forcing the same amount of traffic onto fewer streets will cause more congestion and more pollution overall. The comeback has always been 'build it and they will come' or, sometimes, 'YOU are the traffic, YOU are causing the pollution, GET OUT OF YOUR CAR!!!'
As a driver and a cyclist, I was a bit of a fence sitter. I wanted to be able to cycle safely but I also didn't want to see a huge increase in traffic jams. Now it's all been built, I think the overall impact has been positive... but I still definitely have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Some of the new infrastructure is brilliant. There are whole neighbourhoods that I can cycle through without meeting a car. Walthamstow Village has a totally different feel to it since they pedestrianised the high street. But other bits are ill-considered. Some of the new segregated cycle lanes have been built where there just isn't enough space for them. There's a mile or so on Forest Road where the cycle lane has been built by essentially just splitting the pavement in half. This means that there isn't enough room in places for pedestrians to walk two abreast, so pedestrians walk in the cycle lane, MAMIL-type cyclists use the road, and the cyclists who do use the bike lanes are having to dodge pedestrians. It doesn't work well for anyone but pedestrians have suffered the most. Has the 'build it and they will come' mantra stood up to scrutiny? I think to some extent it has. My perception is that there are many more people on bikes than there were before the scheme started (discounting the Covid effect - there were more even before lockdown).
So anyway, my point is that I think you're both right to some extent, flecc & Swizz. There are councils that are prepared to force through cycling infrastructure projects even in the face of huge opposition from motorists. I think it's true that if you build it, they will come... but I don't know how many of them. There is definitely an issue with space in this country; I think it's better not to have any segregation than to have half-baked segregation that puts pedestrians and cyclists on top of each other. And I also have little faith that our council is representative of the UK - I think it's true that the majority (drivers) will be prioritised in most infrastructure projects. It's definitely an interesting time to be on two wheels though!