Controversial and wonderful: Victoria embankment 

Last night I wandered along the Thames embankment to see what all the fuss is about. At night, or at least on a dry night, the waterside stretch is a fine place to amble. It’s quiet. In the distance the neon lights of waterfront businesses spot the river in colour. Occasional runners pad softly to the thrum of their personal music (and from what I could see, solely on the pavement). But the controversial cycle lane itself?

Before I’m savaged by day to day users, I’ll add the caveat that this is my sole experience of witnessing the lane in action and I hope my view is consistent with the experience of using it (fingers crossed).

It seems to me, that this bold, brave cyclelane is rather wonderful. The cycle traffic was sporadic – no more so than the cars – but quite safe and content, separated as it is from other vehicles by a strip of pavement around 6ft wide. I saw commuters calmly return from late evening engagements and a large group of kids grinning from ear to ear on their BMX bikes. The lane was safe and enabling.

Contrast this with road conditions elsewhere. That evening I was staying on Holland Road. To cycle around there is to enter a gladiatorial arena without the body armour. Cyclists get very short shrift.

For all it’s Copenhageness (for it does indeed seem a genuine emulation of Copenhagen cycling infrastructure) the true value is in its ambition: “If we can do it here, we can do it anywhere”. Cardiff council, I’ll start making my list now.

4 replies »

  1. I used to live on Holland Rd and commute to work in that area. You take an approach of ‘it is not a matter of if you will be hit by a car, but rather when and what will the damage be?’. I don’t commute in by bike any more, as it is simply too dangerous.

  2. I agree – I would like to think that most drivers don’t go out of their way to hit you (or nearly hit you), but it’s simply that there is so much going on when driving in these areas that you can’t catch everything unless you are completely on it. Like all good things; in the case of cycling in London – there are silly cyclists and silly drivers that muddy up the arguments both ways. That’s why I choose to just steer clear.

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