I am a life-long, passionate cyclist. I am 50, I have an old Holland-style bike and use Cycle Superhighway 3 (CS3) on my daily commute from Ravenscourt Park to Cannon Street in the City. Turning onto CS3 in Westminster is a huge relief after the long stretch of dangerous shared roads, notably along Hammersmith Road and Kensington High Street where almost-accidents occur every day. There is no doubt in my mind that segregated cycle paths save lives, encourage more cycling and as a consequence ease traffic congestion and air pollution from motor vehicles. The proposed CS9 along Chiswick High Street, King Street and Hammersmith Road is a big step in the right direction, and a ray of hope for me personally.
The devil, however, is in the detail.
Cyclists’ lives are not the only ones at risk. Pedestrians, and in particular the most vulnerable pedestrians – disabled and elderly people – also deserve protection, and this must include protection from cyclists. The current plans for CS9 fail to take into consideration the interests of pedestrians to get on and off buses without the risk of colliding with cyclists on CS9, which would run between the pavement and the ‘floating’ bus stop – a major flaw which cannot be ignored, even if 59 percent of the consultation respondents expressed their support for CS9. Along the popular King Street, frequent bus stops and lay-bys for delivery vehicles make a two-way cycle ‘superhighway’ practically impossible. To find an alternative which works for all traffic participants – pedestrians, cyclists and motorists – will be difficult but achievable if all stakeholders get involved from the start.
London urgently needs a network of segregated cycle lanes – but not at the expense of pedestrians. We also need to enforce traffic rules and encourage responsible behaviour for all, including cyclists. A caring society makes decisions not just on behalf of the vocal majority, but with consideration of its weakest members.