Cycling Embassy response to North-South Superhighway Consultation

We support these proposals, and would like to see them go ahead

While we have some reservations about the quality of the scheme in a number of locations, overall this a bold project that will open up cycling as a mode of transport for all potential users, as well as making the journeys of existing users safer and more pleasant. It will improve the physical environment of the streets in question, as well as increasing the capacity of these roads, measured in terms of people, rather than motor traffic. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, it will serve to demonstate how main roads can function in towns and cities across the rest of the country, with cycling treated as a serious mode of transport in its own right.


In general, we would like to see, where possible, the signalised pedestrian crossings of the Superhighway replaced with (informal) zebra crossings. This approach would reduce delay for both people walking and cycling. We would also like to see a reduction in signalisation where interactions are only occurring between  people cycling; these interactions could be managed instead by 'Give Way' markings.

An issue is the the quality of the major junctions along the Superhighway, for those people attempting to join (or cross) the Superhighway. At many of these locations, the quality of provision falls well below that of the Superhighway itself, and that should be addressed as part of these proposals. 

This Superhighway must connect up with the (important) King's Cross and St Pancras area; at present the plans stop well short. We want to see coherent plans that match or exceed the quality of the current Superhighway proposals, taking the route into this area, and connecting up with Camden's routes that form part of the central London Grid.

While the scheme involves  many improvements for pedestrians, including new crossings, we would also like to see the plans refined further, to reduce delay, and to reduce the inconvenience of a number of pedestrian crossings (which remain two-stage, rather than direct). Direct crossings would also allow more space for separation of cycling from motor traffic, at these junctions.

We approve of the crossing points for pedestrians at bus stops; again, these could be marked with informal zebras. The humps the crossings are placed on should be sinusoidal, to minimise discomfort.

We would also like to see the effective width of these proposed tracks maximised, with the use of shallow height kerbing, the track at an intermediate level between the carriageway and the footway. The kerbing should also - ideally - have a 45° chamfer.

Finally we would like to see left turns, on and off the Superhighway, exempted from signals, where possible, as per Dutch practice. Pedestrians could again be given priority over cycling movements through the use of (informal) zebra markings. 

Section 1a

We question why the Superhighway is not following the most direct route from the Elephant and Castle to St George's Circus - namely London Road - and is instead going around two sides of a triangle, St George's Road and Lambeth Road. 

As Garden Row is being narrowed to one vehicle lane as part of this scheme, it would make sense reallocate some of the space being gained to cycle provision on this road, as part of this scheme, with protected lanes in both directions.

Section 1b

The one-way streets joining St George's Road in this section should allow two-way cycling.

Section 2a

We note that cycling remains impossible in a westbound direction on Westminster Bridge Road, and that cycling eastbound involves negotiating with buses (and other traffic) using the bus lane, and 'taking the lane' at the junction with Waterloo Road. In short, this remains a hostile, and even unnavigable, road on a bike. Improvements comparable to the changes being made on the rest of the Superhighway route should surely be being made here.

Section 2b

While this junction looks to have been made safer and more pleasant to negotiate by bike along the Superhighway alignment, an opportunity has been missed to improve the junction as a whole, reducing its complexity, and providing high-quality cycling conditions on all arms of the junction. Arms away from the Superhighway appear to involve

  • ASLs (without lead-in lanes) which are of no use when signals are green, and can encourage people cycling into dangerous positions;
  • intermittent cycle lanes, that offer no protection where it is most needed (for instance, turning into Borough Road from Blackfriars Road, a maneouvre that appears to involve entering an ASL on the opposite side of Blackfriars Road, from the Superhighway);
  • An 'early start' facility on Borough Road, that in truth is an 'always stop' facility. 

The routes for pedestrians and people cycling need to be more direct, more intuitive, and separated from motor traffic. 

Section 3a

The 'turning pocket' arrangements at the Webber Street junction are an inevitable result of the employment of a bi-directional track in a relatively constrained space; we have concerns about how intuitive they might be, how easy it will be to observe signals, and how protected the pockets will be from the movements of motor traffic. Careful attention should be paid to these issues.

Section 3b

We have no comments on Section 3b.

Section 3c

See our comments about 'turning pockets' in Section 3a.

Section 3d

We have no comments on Section 3d.

Section 3e

We note that the Southwark Street and Stamford Street junctions remain hostile to cycle on, with unprotected cycle lanes (between lanes of motor traffic, in the case of Stamford Street). The Southwark Street junction surely presents a considerable left hook risk, with motor vehicles turning left, across cyclists who will be travelling straight ahead (presumably in much greater numbers than at present) to join the Superhighway. There is an additional risk of conflict even in this movement, with cyclists turning right onto the track coming into conflict with motor vehicles progressing ahead into Stamford Street.

As with St George's Circus (Section 2b) this is another junction that has not been considered holistically, providing safe and attractive cycling conditions on all arms. It is surely reasonable to expect, again, comparable cycling provision to the Superhighway itself at these junctions. 

See also our comments about 'turning pockets' in Section 3a.

Section 3f

We have no comments on Section 3f.

Section 4a

The Superhighway proposals through this junction connect up well with the E-W Superhighway, with no interactions at all with motor traffic at the Victoria Embankment junction, thanks to the conversion of this slip to cycling only. 

However connections in the opposite direction, with Queen Victoria Street, leave much room for improvement. Although movements onto Victoria Embankment have been designed well, with a signalised crossing directly opposite the junction, accessing the Superhighway to head north on New Bridge Street looks hazardous, with left hook conflicts from motor traffic heading onto the bridge. As with our comments on 2b and 3e, it appears that some junctions with the Superhighway have been neglected, and do not offer the same level of safety and comfort as the Superhighway itself. This should be addressed.

Section 4b

The Fleet Street/Ludgate Hill junction still involves potential turning conflicts for people cycling from the Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill arms. This is the case for people turning right onto the Superhighway from Fleet Street (where they have to turn across motor traffic progressing ahead), and for people cycling onto the Superhighway from Ludgate Hill, where motor traffic will be turning left across their path, and also conflicting with them as they turn right onto the Superhighway itself. 

These turning conflicts should be addressed, as they have been on the Superhighway itself. 

See also our comments about turning pockets, in Section 3a. The 'left turn' pocket here (for movements into Ludgate Hill) appears to be unprotected, and exposed to motor traffic heading north on New Bridge Street.

Section 4c (Option A)

We approve of Option A. We have no comments on Section 4c. 

Section 4d (Option A)

See our comments about turning pockets in Section 3a. The 'pocket' at the junction with Charterhouse Street does not seem to be convenient or intuitive.

Section 4e (Option A)

We have no comments on Section 4e, beyond the fact that the Superhighway ends abruptly here, and awkwardly.

Section 4c/d/e (Option B)

We do not approve of Option B. While we have reservations about bi-directional tracks in general, if that technique is being employed on the rest of the N-S route, it should be continued. The Option B proposals do not offer sufficient protection from motor traffic, or sufficient convenience.