Last week, Camden published a six month experimental traffic order about the bus contraflow lane in Theobald’s Road,
Vernon Place, Bloomsbury Square, Bloomsbury Way. This “allows pedal cyclists to enter and proceed along the contraflow
bus lane (east to west direction) from the point of entry at the junction of Theobald’s Road with Drake Street to the
junction of Bloomsbury Way with New Oxford Street / Museum Street”.
This is excellent news because we all know that cycling in the contraflow bus lane feels much safer than riding round the
Holborn gyratory. It is also more direct for many journeys. Last August, Camden officers commissioned an audit to assess the
relative risks to cyclists on the two alternative routes and this led to a decision to open the contraflow bus lane for use
by cyclists. But officers were adamant that cyclists should not overtake buses at the stops and have put rows of
‘wands’ along the edge of the bus lane to prevent this.
Over the weekend of 26th-27th January, the bus lane was closed and the necessary road marking and signs as well as the
wands were installed in time for this morning’s rush hour.
|Entry from Theobalds Road||Signals at top of gyratory||Note blue sign has a cycle logo|
The bus stops
Although we would trust cyclists not to pull out and overtake buses if there was oncoming motor traffic, the officers who
put in this scheme are not willing to take this risk. They have installed a red sign “Cyclists do not overtake
buses” at the entry to Bloomsbury Way. And they have put rows of ‘wands’ – semi-flexible batons along the edge
of the bus lane at the stops. These ‘wand’s are so close together that there is no risk anyone would try to cycle out
between them. But they extend the full length of the bus stops (about as long as two buses) so overtaking would not be as
easy as it was with one bus at the stop.
|view of the ‘wands’||Bus fills the gap||red sign-poor photo, sorry|
Making a permanent change
All being well, Camden Council after six months should extend the order indefinitely. But it would be worth making it
easier for them by staying behind the buses at the stops. And we did note on our recce that a pair of video cameras are
suspended on a high post close to Bury Place.
First step towards Clerkenwell Boulevard?
In case you are behind with the news, you can read about Clerkenwell Boulevard.
The ability to cycle in both directions in Bloomsbury Way is a necessary bas line for even considering a route on the
alignment from Bury Place to old Street. The next steps will involve persuading Camden and Islington councils to reduce the
amount of private motor traffic in these roads. For example, Theobalds Road has too much traffic at the moment to allow much
‘space for cycling’ even though cyclists form about 50% of the traffic at peak times and more in the AM peak
westbound. With current flows, taking away a lane of motor traffic would cause such congestion and affect buses that no
progress would be made. Therefore the white vans and other private motors should be restricted to access only.
Photos by George and Jean, 27 Jan 2014