Camden Council has recently implemented a scheme to allow ‘contraflow’ cycling on a number of otherwise one-way roads in the South Hampstead / Kilburn area. We are generally very pleased with this scheme, and grateful for the Council for going to the trouble of proposing it, consulting on it and putting it into effect. However, we have some recommendations about how the signage could be improved; we think this is necessary as many motorists seem unaware that cyclists can now ride against one-way traffic on these roads. This can make using these facilities unpleasant and dangerous. We would also like to continue to press for three small extensions of the scheme.
What’s new here?
The map above shows the South Hampstead/Kilburn area bounded by Kilburn High Road on the east, the railway line on the north, Finchley Road on the west and Belsize Road on the south. Many of the residential streets in this area (e.g. Priory Road and Fairhazel Gardens) are one-way, presumably to prevent rat runs. Others are one way to make room for a bus route. Unfortunately, this produces an impenetrable jungle for cyclists wishing to traverse the area and to avoid the busier roads such as West End Lane.
New north-south routes “I’ve just finished reading the London Cyclist cover to cover! I welcome the idea of permeability and I would love to see contraflow traffic allowed down Priory Road (NW6) where the road is divided by two blocks of one way traffic (in opposite directions). And also up the section of Broadhurst Gardens from Priory Road to West End Lane. This would mean cyclists could avoid the most congested and fume filled section of West End lane.” In the area east of West End Lane, Priory Road and Fairhazel Gardens both now provide two-way cycling throughout, potentially enhancing route choices. We had for many years tried to get two-way cycling in Priory Road and in April 2010, we received the email quoted on the right. This encouraged us to make a case to Camden Council for two-way cycling in Priory Road. And it is encouraging that we now have it – apart from the last part via Broadhurst Gardens. Part of Fairhazel Gardens was provided with a cycle contraflow lane many years ago and at last the whole road can be cycled in both directions. New east-west routes Four east-west roads cross from West End Lane and link to Finchley Road near to Waitrose. Broadhurst Gardens and Canfield Gardens are one way and carry bus routes. Compayne Gardens which is two-way is preferred by cyclists and is marked with cycle logos. But it fails as an eastbound route because it joins the one way Canfield Gardens before reaching the junction with Finchley Road. We very much regret that LB Camden has so far been unable to provide this link (indicated with maroon dashes on the map above). People cycling east e.g. on Iverson Road and using West End Lane to cross the railway usually end up having to use Broadhurst Gardens. The fourth east-west road, Greencroft Gardens has now been made two-way for cyclists and that, together with the two-way Woodchurch Road and Messina Avenue (also now two-way for cyclists) provide a link right through to Kilburn High Road. Lightweight contraflow schemes
These are “lightweight contraflow schemes” in that they don’t require marked contraflow lanes: instead they rely on signs and road markings. It has helped that the DfT last year allowed the use of “No Entry” signs with “Except Cycles” subplates. You’ll see plenty of them in our photos below. Other relaxations in regulations now allow contraflow cycling without lanes provided that traffic speeds and volumes are low.
Photos of the scheme
We have taken photos of the entry and exit treatment on each new section of contraflow cycling. We have added commentary on the implementation for use when we discuss it with Camden officers. Click on any of the photos below to see an enlargement
Priory Road runs north-south between Belsize Road and Broadhurst Gardens. For motors, there are three one-way sections. Cyclists can now ride the entire length of the road in both directions. Priory Road between Belsize Road and Abbey Road This is one-way northbound for motors. Cyclists can now ride both ways. Looking north up Priory Road from the junction with Belsize Road. Good signage at the junction, but Priory Road turns quite sharply to the right; local reports emphasize the speed at which motorists often take this bend, which could be very dangerous for contraflow cyclists coming south. More needs to be done to alert to motorists here, perhaps by having signage / signs immediately before the bend (e.g. on the lamppost on the left). From Priory Road at the junction with Abbey Road, looking towards the entry facility for the contraflow on the southern-most and one-way section of Priory Road. Abbey Road is busy, and motorists will not be expecting cyclists to be heading south here; however, there is a zebra crossing immediately to the left which should assist cyclists’ movements.
Priory Road between Greencroft Gardens and Canfield Gardens
This part of Priory Road is southbound for motors. Cyclists can now travel in both directions. A the junction of Greencroft Gardens, Woodchurch Road and Priory Road, looking north up Priory Road. Note “No Entry Except Cyclists” signs on both sides with lights fitted. Looking north. Two-way cycling signs. Priory Road is frequently segmented with roads crossing it, so the various one-way sections are always quite short, making for relatively easy contraflow cycling.
Looking south – new two-way cycling sign. But very unhelpful One Way marking on road with big arrow! The priority at this junction needs to be decided and the roads marked accordingly.
Priory Road between Canfield Gardens and Compayne Gardens
This part of Priory Road is northbound for motors. Cyclists can now travel in both directions.
Fairhazel Gardens runs roughly north-south between Belsize Roundabout and Broadhurst Gardens. It has one-way sections between Goldhurst Terrace and Compayne Gardens. However there has for many years been a southbound contraflow cycle lane between Canfield Gardens and Goldhurst Terrace. Since the recent addition of two-way cycling between Compayne Gardens and Canfield Gardens, cyclists are allowed to cycle both ways all along Fairhazel Gardens.
Looking north at new contraflow. Good entry facility. … but spoiled by parking too close to the junction on the right side.
Looking south, shows two-way cycling signs. Logo needs an arrow to clarify, as elsewhere. Looking north up Fairhazel Gardens: existing contraflow lane (painted) and new two-way cycling sign half way up on the left-hand side.
Just one two-way cycling sign and not sufficiently prominent.
Greencroft Gardens west of Fairhazel Gardens
This road is one-way uphill for motor vehicles. Cyclists are now allowed to use it in both directions. This is the start of the contraflow facility west-bound down Greencroft Gardens towards Fairhazel Gardens. Note that ‘No Entry’ on the road is misleading and that the ‘No Entry’ sign sign on the left is hidden in a tree; the sign on the right is unhelpfully placed. An entry lane should be marked and the little cycle logo could be bigger! This is one of the many that would benefit from an arrow placed above the cycle logo. Without that we rely on motorists interpretation ‘upside down logo -> expect contraflow cyclists’. Two drivers had objected to us riding contraflow; one honked and the other shook his head. This section of Greencroft Gardens is quite narrow, especially at the top end towards the Finchley Road, and is also used by quite alot of motorists coming up from the Belsize Road roundabout. The Council really should do more to cut-down on rat-running traffic on this road. As it is, the contraflow facility is useful, but does require some confidence to use. Note the contraflow cycle logo half-way up the road – this is barely visible/legible to road users.
Looking NE up Greencroft Gardens from the junction with Fairhazel Gardens. There is only one sign here advising with-flow motorists and others of the contraflow facility, and, from experience, it appears not be noticed by many motorists! The logo should be inside an exit lane and an indication of continuing across the side road.
Greencroft Gardens between Fairhazel Gardens and Priory Road
This road is one-way eastbound for motor vehicles. Cyclists are now allowed to use it in both directions.
From Greencroft Gardens at junction wtih Fairhazel Gardens, looking west along the next section of Greencroft Gardens. Unhelpful little lane directing cyclists contraflow into that stretch of Greencroft Gardens – and directly into a parked vehicle! The cycle entry lane could be given a wider share of the road as in Montague Place (east).
Surely an additional big cycle logo by the driver door of the parked vehicle would help here.
At the junction of Greencroft Gardens, Woodchurch Road and Priory Road, looking back east along the long one-way stretch of Greencroft Gardens towards Fairhazel Gardens. Note that there is only one sign advising motorists of the contraflow facility; shouldn’t there be another one on the lamp post on the other side of the road? Not to mention clearer painted signs on the road?
Messina Avenue is one-way eastbound for motor vehicles between West End Lane and Kilburn High Road. Cyclists are now allowed to use it in both directions.
The view as one cycles south on Kilburn High Road towards the junction with Messina Avenue, showing the “No left Except Cyclists” sign.
Looking up Messina Avenue from by the junction with Kilburn High Road. Clear signage, but dodgy arrows on the right hand side of the raised crossing point. However, the Messina Avenue contraflow can be more easily accessed by going via Grangeway (the immediately preceding left-turn off the Kilburn High Road). Traffic coming up Messina Avenue will often form two queuing lanes waiting to turn (either way) into Kilburn High Road. This is the raised crossing point by the junction of Messina Avenue with Kilburn High Road. Tee photograph shows erroneous painted signs on road hump: the double arrows pointing towards the cycle logo need to be removed. An arrow should be placed in front of the cycle logo. Coming this way round from Grangeway makes for an easier approach for cyclists wanting use the Messina Avenue contraflow than turning into Messina Avenue from Kilburn High Road; the signage here is thorough and accurate.
Shows that motor vehicles coming from Grangeway must turn right, but that cyclists need not do so. Wrong Road hump painting. Contraflow cyclists are going down the nearside, from right to left, but the double arrows on the hump pointing the other way encourage motorists into their path. This is by a primary school.
At the junction of Kingsgate Road with Messina Avenue, looking east towards West End Lane. The road here used to be marked with two lanes approaching the junction, as if there was a great need to be able to accommodate queuing traffic! The centre line and arrows facing the direction of on-coming contraflow cyclists should be removed. The view of the large motor vehicle coming down hill indicates one of the problems with these facilities, in that one has to be fairly confident as a cyclist to ride contraflow in such conditions. Not only is the vehicle quite wide, it is over on (its) right hand side of the carriageway, leaving effectively no room for a cyclist. Will the driver move over?! At the junction of Messina Avenue with Kingsgate Road, looking west towards Kilburn High Road. Clear signage, but will motorists see and correctly understand the painted cycle logo on the right hand side of the carriageway?
Shows an extraneous ‘One Way’ sign that should be removed. The two-way cycling sign on the left is crooked, also the lamp is facing the wrong way, so it will fail to illuminate it. The post needs to be re-oriented Photo taken early in December 2012: the signage is now correct
Gascony Avenue and Smyrna Road
Gascony Avenue is one way eastbound from Kilburn High Road to West End Lane. Smyrna Road runs one-way southbound from Gascony Avenue to Kingsgate Road. Camden Cyclists asked for two-way cycling in Gascony Avenue east of Smyrna Road and in Smyrna Road only. However, LB Camden consulted on two-way cycling for the entire length of Gascony Avenue and decided against it because of difficulties with the signals at Kilburn High Road.
Looking up Gascony Avenue toward the junction with West End Lane from the junction with Smyrna Avenue; we would very much like contraflow cycling on this stretch to allow access from West End Lane to Smyrna Avenue.
General comments on the implementation
This scheme is probably more challenging to implement than those carried out in the Argyle Street area and in Fitzrovia, because it is in a residential area with too much car parking, somewhat less cycling and in some of the roads more private motor vehicle usage. We are very pleased that the scheme has been implemented and works as well as it does. For the most part, the signage at the end of the roads is of a high standard. However, we have some suggestions for improving the legibility of the scheme (see the comments on the photos above). Improved legibility is very important; as we did experience opposition to our legitimate use from motorists and pedestrians which didn’t happen when inspecting the other schemes. We will discuss each of the following: entry treatments; exit treatments; marking along the road to indicate contraflow cycling.
Entry treatments at ‘No Entry’ end of the road
In general, there should be two ‘No Entry’ signs with ‘Except Cycles’ subplates (one on each side of the road). In addition, there should be an entry treatment consisting of a short section of cycle lane, a logo and an arrow pointing into the street. There are plenty of examples in the Argyle Square area and in Fitzrovia. See for example Seaford Street @ Harrison Street and Whitfield Street @Howland Street. There is no entry treatment at the eastern end of Greencroft Gardens; all of the others require an arrow to be added.
In general, there should be two ‘Two-way cycling’ signs (960.2) – one on each side of the road facing the general traffic entering the road. They may not be expecting cyclists in the opposing direction. In addition, there should be an exit treatment consisting of a short section of cycle lane and where appropriate a give way marking and triangle. See Crestfield Street @Euston Road. When the exit has priority over a side road then markings are helpful: see Whitfield Street @Tottenham Street. Such treatment is missing at most of the junctions.
We were impressed that small triangles had been painted on most of the road humps on the side where contraflow cyclists are approaching. However, we were disappointed that the big triangles on the other side had not been removed. We didn’t do a systematic survey, so all of the road humps should be checked.
Unfortunately, some of the old ‘No Entry’ signs and ‘left turn arrows’ have been left in place (see our examples above). These should be systematically taken out. They are misleading.
Indications of contraflow cycling between junctions
When we conducted the survey there was evidence that motorists were not aware that contraflow cycling is permitted and to be expected in at least some of the roads in this scheme. This suggests that further indications of the scheme are needed. This can be done in two ways: the first is to repeat the ‘Two-way cycling’ signs between the junctions: more of these appear to be needed, particularly in Greencroft Gardens. The second is by marking more logos on the road surface. See examples in Argyle Square where logos are repeated regularly. But motorists should not be expected to infer the permitted direction of cycling from the orientation of logo markings – it adds too much to their mental load – we would therefore like Camden to consider the use of accompanying arrows to clarify them here and elsewhere in contraflow schemes†. See for example Argyle Street outside the Town Hall Annexe.
The rejected measures
We would still very much like the Council to reconsider the three short stretches of road where contraflow cycling was originally proposed, but then withdrawn, i.e. the western end of Broadhurst Gardens, the eastern end of Canfield Gardens and the eastern end of Gascony Avenue (all three shown on the map by dotted lines). Meade McCloughan, Jean Dollimore, George Coulouris, 11th November 2012.
See West Hampstead Life’s assessment of the scheme.
† See LCDS drawing CCE./B15 contraflow cycling with or without advisory lanes and paragraph 4.2.30 “cycle symbols and sometimes arrows may be used to add clarity to the layout.