London has recognised this and started to build the cycle superhighways. However, what was perfect in theory got watered down in the implementation.
Vienna should also focus on a main cycle network, but not make the same mistakes London made.
The Cycle Superhighways (CS) in London
The main idea for the Cycle Superhighways, was and is to establish fast cycle routes for commuters. But let‘s take a first look at the wording they use: CYCLE SUPERHIGHWAY. A highway is by definition a main road, especially one connecting major towns or cities; the prefix super implies that is an exceptional, extreme form of a highway. With that in mind you will propably be disappointed when starting to explore the CS in London. And here is why:
- The CS have opening hours, mostly from 7am to 7pm. Before and after that motorists are allowed to park there. Ever heard of a motorway having closing times? I‘m sure people living near the M1 would love that and enjoy a good night‘s sleep.
- The CS are suspended during the Olympic Games.
- At crossings with main roads you sometimes need to press a button at the signal light to continue your journey eg. on the CS7 at Elephant & Castle. I‘d love to see motorists having to do that too.
- The CS (eg. the CS8 along Grosvenor Road) is wide enough to be very convenient for other cyclists to overtake, but at main crossings with traffic lights, the CS narrows noticeably or even ends surprisingly and there is a gap between the CS and the ASZ (Advanced Stop Zone) that you are often unable to reach as a cyclist when lights are red.
- The CS which are not along main roads make the cyclist feel like a rabbit dodging and turning corners in slow motion. This zigzaging forces the frequent cycling commuter to find a better and therefore faster route, eg. CS7 around Elephant & Castle.
- The CS is sometimes just painted on bus lanes, which often leads to a ridiculous game of overtaking between the cyclists and buses if one is not among the faster cyclists. In any event, both types of cyclists have to squeeze themselves through a bus stopping at a bus stop and the motorists bumper to bumper at peak hours on the lanes next to it.
There are, nevertheless advantages which need to be mentioned:
- The bright blue colour of the CS is respected by most motorists who do not usually drive on it, unlike the not very visible green of the few cycle paths. Unfortunately it is not respected by the police.
- The bright colour and therefore presence on the streets also helps to raise cycling awareness.
- It might help commuters to change their commuting habits in favour of cycling as an easy way to get started. Indeed, the signsposts with important points and travelling time to these points is quite helpful and you notice that the design follows the same rules as the tube and is easy to understand.
- The CS is helpful for routes you do not travel on everyday, like short business trips to outer London.
- The CS routes are almost gapfree which usually cannot be said for the common cycle paths, which seem to have no connection.