Subjective Safety – Filtered Permeability

Posted: May 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

You may recall in my last post I mentioned riding home from The Big Ride with my eldest and finding some rather helpful road design in my local area. One way streets and no-through roads for cars had bicycle lanes joining them, enabling cyclists to continue on whilst cars are forced out onto the main roads unless they need local access.

Well last week I finally remembered to go back and re-visit the area with the helmet cam running this time to record it.

I left in the approach on the main road to show the conditions the roads can be used to avoid. As a fairly confident cyclist I’ve got used to the busier roads however this stretch (often heading the opposite direction) has had a few interesting bits; From drivers complaining when I stop for pedestrians crossing, drivers on their phone who moan when you point it out, reading a newspaper at the wheel not to mention the usual close passes it’s certainly a busy stretch!

A map of the area can be viewed here:

First off a little disclaimer: The wide angle lens does distort the gaps as I’m filtering, due to riding in London an awful lot I’ve come to learn pretty well what gaps I can make and what I can’t! So whilst the first 2 1/2 minutes might have you wincing as I go into what appear to be tiny gaps rest assured there was enough room 🙂

I start off the clip in the lower left corner of the map, on Leonard Road, coming round the sweeping right before doing a left on the roundabout to follow Streatham Vale/Greyhound Lane (the yellow road on the map). I ride up here until I reach Aberfoyle Road (opposite Woodgate Drive) where I wait at the lights before turning left. You can see this road is marked as one-way on the map and at the zoom level above you would be lead to believe this road does join with Abercairn Road however if you zoom in closer you can see the road is split with a narrow path between.

This can be seen in the footage at 2:51, a small cycle lane has been provided to allow cyclists to pass through, meaning we don’t need to follow the same one-way system that motorised traffic does. Whilst I am now effectively doubling back on myself imagine coming at Aberfoyle Road from the other direction to where I started and turning right onto it to start. I then proceed down Carnforth Road and turn right onto Broadview then right again onto Abercairn to come back to this point to show the end of the route you could use to avoid Streatham Vale/Greyhound Lane southbound.

At 3:55 you get the view from the opposite side of the cycle through route showing the other cycle path that joins the two roads together and thus allowing cyclists to continue on Aberfoyle Road (which is nicely blocked at this point!) and then on round to Eardley Road to join up with LCN5.

I then re-trace my previous tracks instead this time I turn left at the end of Broadview and head down Abercairn. You will need to zoom in a bit on the map to see the narrowing of Abercairn just after Bates Crescent. This is blocked off for motorised traffic with a single small cycle path to the right (wrong side of road as I approach from this direction) which can be seen at 5:05. This can be safely negotiated however as each side of the barrier is effectively a dead end.

Once I am through there I continue on Abercairn and follow it round before re-joining Leonard Road roughly where I started. This also highlighted a small problem as whilst I had excellent visibility from my left onto the roundabout of approaching traffic the view to the right was very hampered by the white van parked in the bay (I think!) on the corner, meaning I had to venture some way into the lane to check it was clear! Thankfully the Focus appear to want to turn up Abercairn so I could proceed.

As you can probably tell from this clip the backroads where very quite and felt much nicer to ride on, I think the safety point can be shown rather well at 5:00 with the children playing out on the street 🙂 The design of the roads here, by blocking off would could have been a handy rat run to avoid the often congested Streatham Vale/Greyhound Lane for motorised traffic, has ensured that they are only generally used for residential access. The cycle paths that have been provided do however mean it is practical to use for a cyclist and when I came back this way with my 11 year old daughter from The Big Ride it was much more pleasant then the main roads where I was constantly on edge.

I really do wish we had more streets designed like this over here, it may not only encourage more cycling as it feels safer it would also offer an incentive as you can go where cars can’t! Cars by their very nature are able to travel faster (in theory at least) so why shouldn’t they be sent on a more circuitous route whilst the slower cyclists is given a more direct one? Unfortunately this would probably be seen as inflicting more hardships on motorists by reducing their choices however I think this needs to be weighed up against the reduced transport choices for the 98% of our population who don’t cycle as they don’t feel safe.

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