Cyclists pedaling through London's City area this summer may find themselves riding against the flow of motorised traffic on certain one-way roads – quite legally.
In an attempt to raise the uptake of cycling, the City of London Corporation wants to allow cyclists to ride against the traffic in seven one-way streets in a trial scheme believed to cost around £45,000 and said to be the largest of its kind in the capital.
It appears the City of London Corporation has held out the promise of the scheme being rolled out to other areas if the trial is successful.
A spokesperson for the Corporation said: “The scheme will make cycling in the City safer by enabling cyclists to avoid busy streets.” London Cycling Campaign has also voiced support for the greater route choice it will afford cyclists.
The response from motorists’ organisations has been cautious rather than overtly hostile. The Automobile Association noted it might lead to an increase in cyclist-pedestrian collisions, with pedestrians stepping into the road, unaware that cyclists may be coming the 'wrong way'. The RAC Foundation said the trial should be 'carefully signed and carefully enforced.'
The streets earmarked for the trial are: West Smithfield (connecting to Giltspur Street), Salisbury Court, Throgmorton Street, Cloth Fair, Finsbury Circus (Moorgate), Creechurch Lane and the east half of Fann Street.
Last summer, BikeRadar reported on Kensington and Chelsea's seemingly imminent move to introduce trial streets for contraflow cycling. However, a recent call to the council revealed that they are still awaiting official approval of the appropriate signage from the Department of Transport - a move that the Corporation of London will also have to take before it embarks on the trial.
The Chelsea trial scheme, like the one proposed for the City, will not include any kind of segregation for cyclists, such as white lines on the road. This may be responsible for the trouble with signage.
The Department for Transport has said in the past that a simple combination of 'no entry' signs and a plate excepting cyclists could lead to widespread abuse by all road users.
Cyclists Touring Club, the UK's largest members cycling organisation, says this is contrary to the evidence from continental Europe where just such a combination is used without significant problems.