The Society is certainly not against responsible cycling in Chelsea, but it has to be acknowledged that central London is a very dangerous place for cyclists, and too many of them suffer injury and even death. Moreover the polluted air in central London is not conducive to the health of people engaged in strenuous activity such as cycling. The Evening Standard wrote on 26th April 2017 “Deadly toxic air enters bloodstream 15 mins after cyclists inhale it. …. cyclists were found to be particularly at risk because their lungs work harder.”
It is perhaps possible to make cycling in central London safer but it is not possible to make it safe. The Mayor is determined nevertheless to encourage more cyclists on to the roads.
He has therefore designated certain streets as Quietways as part of his Cycle-grid for the use of cyclists who are nervous about riding on busy roads in London. In Chelsea two routes have been designated:
- a route running north-south from South Kensington to Albert Bridge, passing the Royal Marsden and Royal Brompton hospitals, Chelsea Fire Station and a connection on Oakley Street to …
- … a route running east- west from Belgravia to Oakley Street, via Holbein Mews, Turk’s Row, Franklin’s Row, St. Leonard’s Terrace Tedworth Sq., Redesdale St., Alpha Place, Oakley Gardens and Phene St.
We do not believe that it makes sense to channel large numbers of cyclists into these designated routes, and if large numbers are not expected there is little point in designating the routes at all.
Large numbers of cyclists using a street do have an impact on pedestrians. They make it more difficult to cross the road, they are less visible than cars to other road-users and some do not wear high-visibility jackets. Some ride without lights on their bicycle at night, some ride on the pavement, some do not warn pedestrians of their silent approach (some do not have a bell at all) and some ignore the traffic lights. Large numbers of cyclists in a street would also add to the hazards faced by local residents when driving or parking their cars.
With the aid of the A-Z or Google Maps, cyclists are capable of planning their own route to avoid the busiest roads, and they do not need to be directed. They will each have their own point of origin and destination and are therefore unlikely to concentrate so as to add significantly to cycle-traffic on any of the roads they have chosen. Cyclists tend to be independent people and don’t like to be herded.
Generally the Society is opposed to the proliferation of road signs (including those painted on the road) and “street-furniture.” They are unsightly and are distracting for drivers.
We have consulted with Residents’ Associations for some of the streets affected, and they will be making their own detailed submissions to RBKC.
A large increase in cycle traffic in Turks Row would be particularly undesirable, as there is a school there and the street is congested at the beginning and end of the school day. Also, some of the streets have “speed-bumps” which are a hazard to cyclists, but local residents do not wish them to be removed.
It is difficult to see how a busy street like Oakley Street could possibly be designated a Quietway.
Dovehouse Street has many problems with difficult junctions, speeding cars, aggressive drivers, some very thoughtless cyclists, serious ambulance-and-other-delivery-vehicle-related congestion at the northern end of the street and generally quite difficult conditions crossing the street for the oldest and youngest residents at morning and afternoon/evening rush hours.
This Cycle-grid is likely to be a costly exercise, and the Society would like to know how much the tax payers would be expected to pay for it.
29th March 2015