I nearly entitled this post “words fail me,” but clearly they haven’t, because this is going to be another epic.
As Cyclists in the City point out so eloquently here, Transport for London have spent millions of pounds installing a death trap which they are now advising cyclists not to use. And I would echo that.
Please don’t cycle on Cycle Superhighway two with your children, they will be terrified and might be killed.
I was all agog to see the alternative route suggested, as I thought that both alternative routes were shut due to Olympics construction work, so I went onto Transport for London’s cycle route planner. I view this site with deep mistrust ever since I asked it for an “easy” route to Brompton Oratory and it sent me through that horrible underpass at Waterloo station, onto Westminster Bridge and round Parliament Square. I did a lot of walking that day, and I was late for church.
Here’s a screen shot of part of the suggested route (I’ve fudged the start and end points in this example, as putting up a route map from Rosamundi Towers to my work strikes me as a little on the foolish side, but the route is the same). I have also uploaded the detailed PDFs of the three routes, as provided by TfL.
I asked it for all three versions of the route – “easy,” “moderate” and “fast.” Transport for London’s definitions of these terms are as follows:
Easy: “Mainly quiet backstreets, canals and park routes. The speed is 12km/hr [7.5mph].” Represented on this screenshot with a purple line. You can see the PDF of the full route here wise road to berkeley square easy
Moderate: “Mainly back streets, with some main roads where unavoidable. The speed is 16km/hr [10mph].” Represented on this screenshot with a fuchsia-pink line. You can see the full route here wise road to Berkeley square moderate
Fast: “Mainly fastest, most direct routes. The speed is 20km/hr [12.5mph].” Represented on this screenshot with a grey line. You can see the full route here wise road to berkeley square fast
The fuchsia pink line is the “moderate” route, and requires you to dismount at a set of traffic lights, cross the road, double back on yourself (either cycling on a road which is three lanes of speeding traffic or, presumably, pushing your bike on the pavement), and go off down the Greenway. I thought the Greenway was still closed but it has, apparently, recently re-opened. I don’t know if they’ve installed street lighting as part of the renovation work. If they haven’t, there is no way you’d get me cycling down there at night. The route then goes off by the side of Victoria Park, and into London through Islington and so on.
The purple line is the “easy” route. Where the “moderate” route turns off to the greenway, the easy route goes straight on. Straight on towards Bow interchange. A junction which Transport for London (the entity which provided this route), is currently advising cyclists to avoid.
The astute of you will notice that there is no grey line on this screenshot. That is because the “fast” and “easy” routes (one of which is supposed to use “mainly quiet backstreets, canals and park routes,” remember), are identical apart from one weird jink that the quiet route goes on to go briefly through Mile End Park.
Now, I don’t know the algorithm that the cycle route planner uses. I don’t know if it is programmed so that a route which has a Cycle Superdeathway on it is automatically a quiet route, and thus suitable for beginners, nervous cyclists and kids, and if it goes on road speed to work out the fast route, or what.
But imagine this. You’ve just picked up your shiny new bike from the bike shop. You ask Transport for London to give you a quiet route from home to work, and you set off, following the blue line of paint.
And you are confronted with this (image from London Cycle Campaign).
And this (image taken from the Cyclists in the City blog, note, it is not of CS2, but it’s similar).
Actually, now I am lost for words.