Thursday, 13 December 2012

Cycle Super Highway 9. A Response.

Last month, believing the plans for CSH9 to be out for consultation I submitted my observations.

I have today had a response from the Head of Transport at the London Borough of Hounslow.  I reproduce it below followed by my response:

Sent: 13 December 2012 11:05
To: Martin Porter QC

Subject: RE: Cycle Superhighway 9

Dear Mr Porter

Thank you for your email and its attachment. 

This is merely an interim response as I am on leave from today, returning early January.

The consultation process has not yet begun.  Subsequent to the Central Hounslow Area Forum report, TfL expressed a wish to consult along the entire BCS9 route in a joined-up fashion – this is now likely to happen in April 2013.

The Cycle Superhighways are targeted primarily at people who want to cycle to work.  They aim to get existing commuter cyclists to cycle more, encourage leisure cyclists to start cycling into work and give new cyclists the support and confidence they need to start. They are designed to provide safer, faster, more direct and continuous routes between outer and central London.  As I am sure you will be aware, cyclists have many levels of ability and have a range of needs and aspirations in terms of infrastructure.  It is unlikely that all of these can be completely met with the provision of the cycle superhighway infrastructure but we will aim to provide a step-change in facilities for the great majority. 

Few cyclists would be able to match traffic speeds in outer London, even in peak periods, unless they ignore red lights.  Where there are long peak-hour traffic queues, we sometimes have bus lanes, which provide excellent cycling facilities.  Even fewer cyclists would be able to match traffic speeds in the off-peak, and of course even commuting cyclists may travel at different times of the day.  Facilities that allow cyclists to ride alongside motor traffic and be safely overtaken by it (and “undertake” it when the traffic is slower) should cater for the majority of cyclists needs. All the outline designs are under review prior to consultation, and the plans presented to the CHAF are clearly marked as draft and subject to further discussion.

In closing, I’d point out that my team and I are all keen and experienced cyclists, of differing levels of fitness and ability.  We are doing our best to ensure that the design of the cycle superhighway through our borough best meets all of our needs and those of our residents, workers and those who cycle through our borough en route elsewhere.



Chris Calvi-Freeman
Head of Transport
Regeneration, Economic Development & Environment Department
London Borough of Hounslow
Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow, TW3 4DN

And my response:

From: Martin Porter QC
Sent: 13 December 2012 11:59
To: 'Chris Calvi-Freeman'

Subject: RE: Cycle Superhighway 9

Dear Mr Calvi-Freeman,
Many thanks for your response which as requested I shall treat as interim and I look forward to a more full response in due course.  Please let me know if I need to resubmit my evidence for it to be taken into account when formal consultation takes place.
Although your response is interim there are some points that I feel need to be challenged.
Most cyclists can match average traffic speeds on the congested roads that lie between Hounslow and Central London (i.e. the route of CSH9).  I know this from personal observation.  I simply do not understand why you bring traffic lights into this, as both cyclists and motorists have to stop at red signals.  If speed limits are introduced and enforced that will calm the peak speeds that motorists reach as they accelerate into the next traffic queue.  Traffic lights can be phased to assist cyclists better than they presently do.
Second, a 1.5m lane is not a facility that enables cyclists to ride safely alongside a stream of traffic which includes many buses and HGVs for the reasons I have stated.  You appear to believe that if such facilities encourage cyclists to undertake moving traffic that is a good thing.  Let me assure you that is bad, not good, for cyclist safety.
Third, you imply that although the infrastructure you propose may not be helpful to me, it will assist others with different needs and aspirations.  I do not see that it will.  Many people wish to have segregated infrastructure where there is a physical barrier between cyclists and motor traffic.  For this to be worth doing it has to be done very well (“Going Dutch”).  The proposed plans with 1.5 metre wide lanes do nothing to distance motorised traffic from cyclists while at the same time they make it harder to integrate properly with traffic in the safest possible manner.
I am afraid I am sceptical that your team’s experience as cyclists is a true substitute for seeking proper advice from qualified  cyclist instructors.  I am hoping that all of your team to whose experience you refer have at least completed Bikeability level 3.
Let me assure you I am not making these observations to be awkward.  However as a taxpayer and a cyclist I hate to see public money squandered on misconceived solutions that actually make the position worse..
With best wishes
Martin Porter


  1. Wow - That response from the Council should be held up as a shining example of all that is wrong with our half arsed, complacent, wilfully and dangerously negligent approach to cycling infrastructure provision.

    Shocking, shameful and infuriating.

  2. Your suggestion that those that are deciding the future of this " Super Highway " be trained to " Level 3" is the most worthwhile point in these exchanges ! The higher the standard of training , the more confidence we , the public , can have in the outcomes ?

    What is happening in April 2013 , that after Boris's promise of a " Billion Pounds for Cycling " , requires this delay ? Are they hoping for More funds from the next UK Budget ?

  3. For commuting puposes, should consideration be given to sharing the highway in a different manner. Instead of space sharing, we use time sharing. For instance a 'moving' half hour motor traffic free zone, moving at an average cycling speed on radial routes towards the centre of a city. For instance motor traffic held by traffic lights on 'red' and a new 'cycles only green light' on a preset timer to let cycles through against the red.
    Yes it needs more thought, but give me your reactions. Computer engineers will know that data traffic is controlled in your computer by time sharing and interupts. 'The Cycologist'