Week off (Wednesday): CS2 upgrade survey
Last year Cycle Superhighway 2 was little more than a blue stripe on the road, and deemed unsafe. By next summer it'll be a streamlined segregated lane all the way from Aldgate to Stratford, and hugely safer than before. But right now, in the middle of the construction phase, it's an even more dangerous place to ride. Four miles of intermittent roadworks means much of the old infrastructure is coned off, and relatively little of the upgraded infrastructure is yet open. Cyclists are regularly forced into the traffic, which often has fewer lanes than before, and are left to make their own way ahead. So I've been for a walk along the whole of CS2, from west to east, to see how awkward a bike ride might currently be.
Key: upgraded/not yet upgraded/obstructed
Aldgate → Commercial Street (200m): not yet upgraded → Commercial Road (100m): cycle lane, very brief blue stripe, eventually coned off → Osborn Street (100m): inside lane barriered off, much digging in road, traffic reduced to one lane (barely one bus wide) → Davenant Street (350m): CS2 fully upgraded with segregated lane, plus functioning bus stop bypass, hurrah → Jagonari Centre (150m): new segregated lane and bus stop bypass barriered to prevent access by cyclists → Vallance Road (50m): new left hand lane and bike path not yet ready, roadworks underway → Brady Street (350m): CS2 past Whitechapel Market seemingly unimproved - an intermittent blue strip and a bus lane → Cambridge Heath Road (100m): segregated lane to, and across, fully upgraded junction → Booth Memorial (150m): major roadworks, bus stop bypass looks ready but is barriered, sign asks cyclists to rejoin carriageway (which is coned down to a single lane) → Cleveland Way (200m): short section of upgraded separate lane → Genesis cinema (100m): new bus stop bypass looks ready but has not been painted blue and is barriered off → Stepney Green station (350m): long section of major roadworks with holes and pipes, workmen busy, road barriered down to one lane → Regent's Canal (700m): long upgraded section with wand/kerb-segregated lane → Whitman Road (50m): new bus stop bypass looks ready but has been barriered off → Green Bridge (100m): new segregated lane barriered off, then pavement very narrow during major works → Aberavon Road (100m): fully upgraded junction at Grove Road (achieved by banning several useful right turns for drivers) → Coborn Street (350m): bus stop bypass open, then a fully segregated lane (one day the whole road should be like this) → Harley Grove (100m): original blue strip remains, bike hire docking station removed → Bow Road station (150m): major roadworks, several workmen busy, inside lane coned off, all traffic down to one lane → Texaco garage (200m): lampposts barriered off ready for removal, road narrowed to one lane under railway bridge → Fairfield Road (200m): no bus stop improvements, left hand filter lane not yet begun → Bow Church (150m): original blue stripe, intermittently blocked → Payne Road (150m): bus stop bypass still blocked by lamppost, so barriered off, as is the new segregated lane beyond → Bow Roundabout (100m): bus stop removed, narrow segregated lane (circa 2012) on approach to roundabout → Marshgate Lane (350m): separate lane, upgraded 2013 → Abbey Lane (300m): major roadworks adding new junction at Sugarhouse Lane, segregated lane barriered off, sign asks cyclists to ride on the pavement → Greenway (100m): construction of new apartment block has closed segregated cycle lane, continued diversion along pavement → Stratford Broadway (750m): separate lane, upgraded 2013 → Stratford town centre (500m): shared bus lane until CS2 peters out
Totting all the red bits up, approximately one third of Cycle Superhighway 2 is currently more dangerous than it was before the upgrade started. Obviously things will improve - that's the point of all the roadworks! - as further sections turn from red to green. But the price of long-term safety is short-term inconvenience and increased risk, even for the cyclists the upgrade is supposed to protect.
While I was walking CS2 I checked one more thing - the number of cyclists passing me riding west to east. I did this over lunchtime and it was raining at the time, but I was amazed how few cyclists passed me over the course of my one and a half hour walk.
Aldgate → Whitechapel (1km): 1 cyclist Whitechapel → Stepney (1km): 8 cyclists Stepney → Mile End (1km): 4 cyclists Mile End → Bow (1½km): 5 cyclists Bow → Stratford (1½km): 0 cyclists Stratford town centre (½km): 1 cyclist TOTAL (6½km): 19 cyclists
Fewer than 20 cyclists passed me during my 90 minute stroll, that's an average of one cyclist every five minutes. Only the section through Whitechapel could be described as 'busy', and even that was relatively lightly loaded. As for my 20 minute hike up Stratford High Street not one single cyclist rode by, whereas the road was busy with cars and buses and lorries shoehorned into fewer lanes than before the Cycle Superhighway upgrade. I know I'd have got very different results during the evening peak when the whole road is thronging with two-wheelers heading home. But outside these few hours each week, the expense and effort of donating road space to cyclists looks like it might be going to waste.