London just opened the first two in a series of 12 bicycle superhighways planned for key commuter routes. London Mayor Boris Johnson said the new series of bike highways will launch a “cycling revolution” in the city, writes Inhabitat. The textured lanes are 1.5 meters wide and painted bright blue, providing perhaps a safer space for riding than conventional lanes, which are usually narrower and separated from cars only by a dotted line. The two new routes connect the suburbs to downtown: Route “CS7″ starts in Colliers Wood, a London suburb, and makes its way 8.5 miles to the city center, following a busy commuter path. The other one starts in east London and runs to Tower Gateway.
According to BBC News, these new paths are designed to meet expanding demand for bike infrastructure. “The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) estimates there are 550,000 cycle journeys in London daily. Transport for London (TfL) says that is an increase from around 250,000 in 2000.” They are also designed to make bicyling in the big city safer — there were 13 fatalities in 2009, 15 in 2008, and 15 in 2007. “Its aim is to attract those put off by accident statistics and direct them towards continuous, well-marked and maintained, straight-forward commuting routes.”
BBC News tried out the lanes during morning rushhour and found them invaded by cars in spots. “With congestion at its height, there are lorries, buses, cars, vans and motorbikes everywhere, across both lanes of this main road, blocking the flash new textured surface on the left hand side. But once the traffic blockade is negotiated, and the road begins to widen out a mile further north, it’s actually quite a fast route, if you wriggle round the manhole covers.” The superhighway tester concludes that the lanes could become widely used but riders will still need to be very careful: “Could these routes encourage beginners? Perhaps. The lanes look wide, but they are advisory, not enforced, and shared with the lorries, buses, more experienced cyclists – many can be unforgiving of mistakes.”
The new bike infrastructure is just one piece of a broader bike plan, which includes a city-wide bike hire scheme, new bicycle police, 66,000 extra bike parking spaces (before 2020), and better strategic planning.
Also, check out a video tour from The Guardian (UK)
Image credit: Barclays Cycle Superhighway / Inhabitat