Wednesday, 27 November 2013

TfL frustration 1: What happened to our cycle lane?

Anyone who has cycled around the Oval tube station in the North of Lambeth in recent weeks will have noticed the road resurfacing works being undertaken. The results of the resurfacing have made the situation worse for cyclists as cycle lanes appeared to have been be arbitrarily removed.

Here Lambeth Cyclists member Mark Knox explains his frustration at the situation.

Cycle lane removed near Oval tube station on lambethcyclists.org.uk
At the end of October there was resurfacing work around the Oval junction. Some of us then noticed that although the red route markings, the lane markings, and the Advanced Stop Line boxes had been immediately reinstated, a vital cycle lane, on the short section of Brixton Road linking Camberwell New and Kennington Park Roads, had not. This was a very useful facility, allowing cyclists to safely reach the ASL at a difficult junction and to position themselves carefully to deal with the chaotic traffic conditions on that road - especially important if heading towards Elephant and Castle. Without it, and with the traffic on this section usually either solid or speeding, things were suddenly a whole lot more dangerous. 

Several of us began to try and find out what TFL thought it was doing: not an easy task. However much burrowing you do on their website, it's not obvious where such questions should be directed. Waiting, if you have the patience, to talk to their customer service helpline, doesn't make things any clearer and responses to our emails were confusing and unhelpful. After three weeks we still didn't know if they planned to reinstate the cycle lane, and if they did, when, or if they didn't, why not. 

Then, after nearly four weeks, we had this response: "we have listened to the concerns raised by cyclists using this route and the decision has been made to reinstate the markings as per their previous layout". 

So - a campaigning success, and thanks to all who took the time to follow this up. Questions remain: How can TfL so casually remove vital cycle facilities without any consultation? And why is it so difficult to get a straight answer from TfL? If they make a road more dangerous, surely they should have some way to deal more rapidly with the concerns of those they have put in danger.