LondonLovesBusiness.com’s senior reporter hails the introduction of segregated cycle paths
I cycle to and from work every day, five days a week, enduring cold, heat, sheeting rain, and stifling summer smog. But the weather doesn’t bother me too much. Cycling is free, healthy, and the six miles from my flat in Tooting to Victoria takes me half an hour door to door – half the time it’d take on public transport.
Nonetheless, being a cyclist in London comes with certain cons to these pros – the main one being the weight of traffic on the road, and the proximity you must have with it.
But space for cycling can be made, and things are improving.
While by no means offering London cyclists revolutionary facilities, the latest cycle infrastructure push has already made a dramatic improvement to my daily commute.
One of the most hair-raising parts of my journey home has always been crossing Vauxhall Bridge going south (or southeast if you want to be pernickety about it). The cycle path was about two feet wide, and traffic would have to pass so close that on dark wet winter nights, you could not avoid being sprayed with filthy water by the massive spinning wheels of overtaking lorries or buses that were practically brushing past your handlebars.
But now, the first phase of building for the new north-south segregated cycle superhighway is underway, and sections are already opening. To my delight, one of the new sections gives Vauxhall Bridge’s southbound cyclists a wide, safe heavenly passage over the river. For the first time cyclists can afford to look out over the river at the city, without the fear of being run down.
These few extra feet of space feel like a wonderful gift. But it shouldn’t. This is merely what good cycling provision feels like, and this is what needs to be made available across the length and breadth of London to reduce congestion and get more people on two wheels.
And it’s not just me. Over the last week, appreciative cyclists have taken to Twitter to applaud the new facilities:
— Tadg O’Keeffe (@tadgokeeffe) June 18, 2015
Cargo bike with kids on Vauxhall Bridge! pic.twitter.com/qyZBMp0L7T
— Mark Treasure (@AsEasyAsRiding) June 16, 2015
@citycyclists used it just this week and it was the first time I’ve actually felt safe cycling over Vauxhall bridge
— Rachel Humphreys (@rachel_hump) June 24, 2015
And this video shows what the bridge was like before the improvements, with buses half in the cycle lane, and after – a spacious safe crossing.
— Hush Legs (@HushLegs) June 24, 2015