High Street Hazards. #1 Cycle Superhighway Disruption

This morning I tweeted a couple of pictures of a long-standing disruption on CS2. They’re the sort of striking photos that tend to do well on social media, but I received some reasonable criticism that I’d like to address at slightly greater length than Twitter allows. Here are the tweets in question:

What the pictures show is a loading bay for the building site, which has been created out of a blocked off bit of CS2. Since it’s a weekend, someone has used it as a car park. You can stay out of the way of traffic by using the shared use pavement and re-emerging on to the track past the loading bay. This building site has been going for some time (maybe 2 years?), and the disruption to CS2 was previously even worse. In May 2015, the site simply kicked cyclists back out on to the dual carriageway:

This has now been replaced by a little sign indicating for cyclists to stay in the cycle track:

This allows you to reach a ramp on the pavement, which already existed to allow cyclists to access a crossing shared with pedestrians to get over to the south side of The Greenway:

Allowing you to emerge back on to the track here, after sharing the pavement with whatever pedestrians you may encounter, and any cyclists coming the other way (probably trying to make it from the Greenway to Marshgate Lane):

It’s a difficult to think of many other ways you’d get deliveries to this site, unless you’re ready with a boat:

So, what’s the problem here? Cyclist have a traffic-free route in a tricky environment. Still, there are a few problems here:

The signage is rubbish. A big diversion sign clearly telling riders that they are allowed to use the pavement, and will be able to get back on to CS2 very soon by doing so is really important. It should do so early, and reassure riders that they are doing the right thing consistently. Otherwise riders will get lost, or end up on a road that’s basically a motorway … and when that happens they may never attempt to use it again.

It wasn’t done well first time. A single disruption can render the entire superhighway useless to someone who isn’t happy to mix with heavy traffic. Cyclists need to know that the superhighway is a guarantee that they’ll be well protected, and have a clear route to where they’re going.

It got used as a car park. To campaign for years for something and then see it used as a car park is totally infuriating. Consideration should have been given to making the loading bay part time, and reinstating CS2 during the periods that it was not in use. At no point should a superhighway be repurposed as a car park.

Dealing with disruption well

It’s inevitable that the superhighways are going to have to deal with building and maintenance work, but how it’s dealt with is crucial. There need to be a sensible set of standards (like the ones used by TfL), and they need to be adhered to by boroughs, contractors, and building sites where they disrupt the superhighways in particular. Without a process, it’ll just keep on happening, and the superhighways will be off limits to anyone not prepared to deal with unexpectedly being abandoned by untrustworthy infrastructure.