Taking a shortcut the wrong way down a one-way street has long been a temptation for London cyclists. Though illegal in the capital, where there are currently no cycling contraflow systems, the practice is widespread.
But Kensington and Chelsea Council, which recently appointed its first Bicycling Champion, is about to run a trial allowing the practice on six residential roads in the borough.
Council leaders formulated the plan after meetings with lobby groups, including Cycling England, the Cycle Touring Club and the London Cycling Campaign.
“The Government constantly lectures us about the health and environmental benefits of bicycling but does very little to encourage more onto the roads,” said the Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Daniel Moylan.
“Bicyclists feel they are offered very little in terms of safety and convenience – I hope that our trial will encourage other boroughs and that as a result bicyclists will be much freer to travel around.”
The Council has agreed a package of measures to facilitate bicycling, including turning under-used pay and display car bays over to bicycle stands. The cornerstone, however, will be allowing cyclists to use one-way streets in the opposite direction just by sign posting.
“The conventional approach to providing ‘against the flow’ bicycling facilities involves a huge amount of engineering interventions on the highway,” added Cllr Moylan.
“The measures are usually designed to segregate bicyclists from cars, but apart from their terrible ugliness, they frequently cause confusion to road users and are often abused by motor-cyclists.
“The ideal solution would be for us simply to put up a sign saying ‘No Entry except for cyclists’, but the Department for Transport, despite the pleas of many highways authorities and bicycling organisations, flatly refuses to allow this. We have no understanding of their position but we have to accept it.
“Instead therefore we shall be using a combination of other, permitted signs, in our experiment to offer new freedoms to those using bicycles.
“We hope our approach will provide a simple but effective solution and make bicycling through the Royal Borough a much more convenient and enjoyable experience.”
But what do you think? Will this move encourage more people to ride in the borough or is it simply likely to antagonise motorists. And is it dangerous to expect car users to be alert for cyclists on what they may perceive to be a standard one-way street? Log in and have your say.