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London's Cycle Superhighways

For Riders
November 16, 2020
London's Cycle Superhighways

In the past few years, The City of London has invested heavily in making its transport cleaner, healthier, safer, and more efficient. Nowhere is this more evident than in its commitment to building out the infrastructure of the ‘Cycle Superhighway.’ 
The City has an ambition to become a leader in creating a cycle-friendly city following in the footsteps of European innovators such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen. 

In that vein, the capital is investing in everything from creating more ‘Quietways’ through to the more conspicuous development of the ‘Cycle Superhighways.’ But how do the new Superhighways differ from the traditional Quietways? What distinguishes a Quietway from a Superhighway? Sounds like it should be self-explanatory right? But for those who need a bit of extra direction here it is:

Quiet-ways are cycle paths that are intended to help cyclists escape the hustle and bustle of the main road and are on quieter side streets making them more approachable for the less professional cyclist riding at a leisurely pace. Over the last couple of years over 100 km of Quietways have been built! 

Cycle Superhighways are exactly the opposite. A high-speed, high-efficiency motorway for the cyclist in a hurry to get somewhere fast. By 2024 we will expect to see 450 km of new cycleways.

Superhighways Emerging Fast

Currently, there are 7 cycle superhighways that stretch all the way from Tottenham in the North, to Colliers Wood in the South, as well Stratford in the east to Lancaster Gate in the South. Here we highlight them for you, some more controversial than others:

CS1 Tottenham to the City

The newest superhighway to be implemented CS1 runs from Tottenham to the city. This superhighway is actually much more like a quietway with blue branding as it runs mostly on side streets. Not the easiest route to follow but with time it will be improved. 

CS2 Aldgate to Stratford

This route is arguably the most dangerous superhighway in London. The route has claimed the life of six cyclists since its opening in 2011. Groups like the London Cycling Campaign have been actively campaigning for more protection along this route since 2014. 

CS3 East to West

Could be considered the crown jewel of superhighways. This superhighway hugs the Thames and separates the cyclist from the main flow of traffic. Since you don’t have to focus on avoiding buses and dangerous drivers, you can admire the views of the Victoria Embankment. 

CS5 Central London to Lewisham- partially open

This route is of high quality with junction treatment and a two-way track. Beautiful but short! This section is still being worked on so be sure to expect to see some expansions in the future… hopefully.

CS6 King’s Cross to Kentish Town

Get your fix for everything along this central route. From culture to retail and all the sightseeing in between, you are in for a treat along this route. Make sure to check our Camden Market to sneak a quick bite as you cycle on! 

CS7 Merton to the City

From Balham towards Tooting, you will be dodging parked cars and drivers that seem to forget the rules of right of ways. The ‘Superhighway” here might as well not exist as it seems to be like any other street and is in need of much improvement. 

CS8 Wandsworth to Westminster

Another Superhighway in need of urgent improvement, this route takes you through Battersea and onwards.

Transport of London provides a map with all open and proposed cycle routes.

London Cycle Skyway?

Can you imagine what the future holds? Rumour has it that there are plans outlined for a cycle skyway through London. These routes would be above roads and railway lines, creating a safer and quieter route for cyclists. This project already has backing from the Network Rail and Transport for London. The project involves 220-km of car-free routes that can accommodate over 12,000 cyclists per hour and improve journey times by up to 29 minutes.

Even though this plan looks like it is far off, it is important to keep these things in mind for the future. Every year, workers are forced to commute longer distances due to a number of reasons, some include gentrification and overpopulation. With the public transport prices increasing as well, there is a bigger emphasis on cheaper ways to get around. 

The Norman Foster-designed elevated bike paths would use existing rail routes to shoot cyclists around the congested city.

A proposal for a floating bike path that would use London’s oldest thoroughfare, the river Thames. The 12km stretch would connect Battersea with the Docklands and slice the cycling time between the two destinations by 30 minutes.

Is it Safe to Cycle in London?

While you may have heard of horror stories from the capital, it is actually relatively safe compared to other large cities around the world. The speed limit in most places in Central London is 20 mph. At this speed, accidents that happen on bicycles have a very low fatality rate. Here are some of the top tips for cycling in London to make sure that you are as safe as possible. 

  • Always wear a helmet. Even when following all the rules, it takes one moment to lose focus. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Check out this list of the most protective helmets that won’t break the bank
  • Use the correct signals. Just like it infuriates you when a car doesn’t use their blinker, the same can be said for cyclists. Using clear hand signals makes the road safer for everyone. Brush up on yours here. 
  • Leave extra room for parked cars and lorries. Again, better safe than sorry. People in parked cars are probably not being as vigilant as when they are driving, which can lead to swinging their doors open as wide as possible. A lot of lorries have a blind spot and it is possible they do not see you at all. Giving a wide berth to these will help you stay in the safe zone.
  • Avoid pavements unless it’s clear bicyclists can use them. Cyclists are always at fault if there is an incident with a pedestrian on a pavement. 
  • Light and bright. Invest in lights for your bicycle and bright clothing so that you can easily be seen. 
  • Stay calm and focused. Enjoy the ride but do not let anything distract you. Headphones for listening to music and checking your phone are big mistakes when riding a bike because they take your focus away from the road. Making eye contact with drivers when making a turn or at a junction, guarantees that they see you. 

Using these tips and London’s cycleways, you are well on your way to becoming a pro. Make sure that you plan your route ahead of time so that you are not distracted trying to find your way. As cycling is projected to increase after lockdown, getting started early will only help you become a more confident rider.

To find out more about London’s super cycleways or just cycling in London in general, check out Transport for London and the London Cycling Campaign. We also have some super cyclists on the team so don’t be afraid to reach out to Ryde directly!

Aeron Brackenbury
Aeron Brackenbury

Aeron is the Business Development Manager at Ryde. She lives to ride.

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