Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Does TFL really have it in for cyclists?

This is written as a response to a fantastic post at the Over the Hills and Far Away blog.  "Cycle Superdeathway" is her term, but I like it so much, I'm going to use it here.

TFL's cycle route planner likes to push people to the Cycle Superdeathway route where ever it can.  The route that it suggests from my house to Clapham gives a great example of this

Prior to CS7 being put in, TFL would suggest that from my home, I cycled to Tooting Broadway, and then along what is now the "Cycle Superdeathway".  This is part of the route that I normally use to get to work, so I know it quite well.

This route is great, on the way to Tooting Broadway, most of it has a bus lane that, although time limited, cars are wary of going into as they can never manage to read the tiny signs that tell them when they can go in it, so I get a full bus lane to myself nearly all the way to Tooting Broadway.

TFL's Cycle Planner never even thinks of this as a route.

Instead it sends  me via Colliers Wood, to the start of the Cycle Superdeathway 7 for both the easy and fast routes, but on some wierd twisty offroad route for the mid option.  The mid option has changed since I looked last, and not for the better.

The easy/fast routes that they use are the same, except that the easy route adds two very dangerous right turns, that are there to avoid a single light controled right turn with an ASL on it.  I know which I think is easier!  Compared to the route I use (linked above), this route adds about an extra quarter of a mile along a narrow fast road that is used by rat running motorists, and has to have flashing signs that warn them to slow down as they are over the limit, before dropping you onto the end of the Cycle Superdeathway, which, to be fair, is better than the nothing that was there before.  This route however leaves a lot to be desired, either as a fast or an easy route. It's certainly not one that I'd want either an 8 or an 80 year old cycling to get the the Superhighway.

The mid route is so obsure that I think that I'd get lost on it, winding as it does round back streets, through a housing estate, crossing a main road, and then across Tooting Common, across another main road, over the railway on a footbridge...  Like I said, obscure.

I think that given the increased focus on TFL's approach to cycling in London, this is an issue that need to be raised with a higher priority.  Good cycling routing can be done.  Google have it for some places that they have the data for (sadly not yet in London), CycleStreets have generally done a fantastic job with theirs although for this journey they sadly fail too.

Whats the answer?  As so often is the case, better data.  Route planning is important but, as ever, very tricky, even with good data.  Without it, its impossiable.  Can cylists like myself help TFL collect this sort of data?  Would TFL accept it?  This is one more area in which the crowd can help, but can't do it all.  I'd love to hear how we can get this sort of data out of peoples heads, and into a central location that other people can benefit from it.  Thats something that the internet should be good at, but how do we do it?

Is it better for TFL to offer a poor service than none at all? I think so.

Is it better for them to offer a service that actively puts cyclist who follow their advice at risk? I'd argue not.

1 comment:

  1. Tooting Broadway way, it is most bus lanes, although time is limited, the car is never, as they can manage to read tiny signs, telling them they can go to be cautious, so I get a complete bus lane lanes on almost all the way to their Tooting Broadway.

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