As part of Transport for London’s Streetspace plan and Brent Council’s Draft Covid19 Recovery Transport Plan, a pop up cycle lane was implemented on Harrow Road. The scheme was funded by the money awarded to the council by the Department for Transport from the Emergency Active Travel Fund.
Similar to other Streetspace schemes, across London and Brent, the consultation is ongoing and this one is running until March 2021.
You can view the full length of the lane in two videos posted on our YouTube channel.
We appreciate this has been put in relatively quickly, in an effort to offer an alternative travel mode to public transport, as we recover from the pandemic and still need to observe distancing. However, we have identified major critical points and made the following recommendations. The aim is to build on the current emergency scheme and make it better. The council’s Draft Covid19 Recovery Transport Plan also includes, depending on funding, an extension over the North Circular Road to enable safe crossing.
Squeezed by buses
Eastbound, on the approach to the Neeld Crescent junction traffic lights, as the protective wands end, cycles and main motor traffic merge into a pinch point. This has become potentially very dangerous. This is demonstrated only too well in this video from 0:41 to 0:56.
It shows the cyclist getting squeezed by the bus driver, where the consequence could potentially be fatal.
Possible urgent workaround options:
1: Cycles can be directed on to use the pavement as shared use, cross Neeld Crescent with pedestrians as a toucan crossing and finally rejoining carriageway after passing the pinch point. Include appropriate comfortable dropped kerbs.
2: Give way line forcing motorists to give way to cycles merging on the approach to the pinch point.
Parking in lane
Motorists are parking in the cycle lane. The same video at 1:18 shows a van parked. Not only a frustrating inconvenience, but an added potential danger for those cycling needing to check for a gap in following motor traffic, with some cycling likely to not give themselves sufficient space to overtake safely, potentially getting dangerously squeezed by overtaking motorists or colliding with a wand when re-entering the cycle lane.
Anyone cycling regularly in bus lanes, especially those unable to cycle fast, will frequently experience to-and-fro of buses:
- Cycle is overtaken by a bus, which sometimes squeezes past dangerously close.
- Bus stops at bus stop, creating a blockade for the cycle.
- Cycle overtakes stationary bus, merging with unpleasant fast-moving potentially dangerous close-passing motor traffic.
- Repeat 1-3.
1:51 to 4:50 (end of video)
Stretches of the lane have been measured to be as narrow as 1.42 metres, despite the plan saying 1.8 metres throughout. The latest Department for Transport’s Cycle Infrastructure Design guidelines as per the Local Transport Notes 1/20 says for a light segregated cycle space, the desirable minimum width is 2.0 metres and the absolute minimum at constraints is 1.5 metres (Table 5-2: Cycle lane and track widths, P42). Cycle Lanes less than 1.5 metres wide excludes the use by larger cycles and are therefore not inclusive.
It’s worth noting that the wands provide only light segregation. So on such a fast and high motor traffic route, there’s a risk of being hit by a widely overhanging wing mirror on an HGV, significantly more so when insufficiently wide.
Since Harrow Road has been identified by Transport for London as a strategic cycle route (Route 23), we expect this pop-up scheme to be built on eventually to permanently support and protect residents choosing active travel.
Do let us know what is your experience of cycling on this pop-up cycle lane and don’t forget to feedback to the consultation before March 2021.