Camden cyclists and its Council have defended the borough’s pioneering armadillo-and-planter segregated cycle lanes a success, despite damage to the infrastructure caused by motor traffic.

The comments come in response to a letter to the Camden New Journal from a cyclist branding the route a ‘failure’ after several planters and armadillos were knocked by parking and passing motor vehicles.

The ‘light segregation’ on Royal College Street, which could be seen replicated across the country, was 80% cheaper than traditional kerbs to install, and has seen a 49% increase in cyclists and traffic speed reductions of up to 21%.

In his letter to the Camden New Journal, Rob Cole said: “As someone who has been using this cycle lane for many years, every day, I have been saddened to see how quickly motor vehicles have ruined this new lay-out.

“As a cyclist I have had a number of near-collisions on the southbound lane in the past few months as this new design hosts car parking, with motorists and couriers with packages rapidly decanting into the cycle lane without checking for oncoming cyclists.”

However, this interpretation was disputed by members of Camden Cyclists. Cyclist Josh Hillman said: “It is a joy to use and I believe it to be one of the best stretches of cycle lane in London. I have noticed the damage to the planters and armadillos but this is clearly down to idiotic drivers rather than poor design.”

Jean Dollimore, Joint Co-ordinator of Camden Cyclists, said: “The reality is that the damage was caused by careless drivers and Rob Cole jumped to a conclusion and pronounced the new cycling scheme in Royal College Street a failure.

“He also mentions contention between cyclists and people getting out of cars – when the parking is moved out a bit (by end of January), this problem should go away,” she added.

Where cars have reversed into planters along parking bays Camden Council will install flexible bollards, while moving parking bays to create a 500mm buffer zone between cars and the bike lane.

Cllr Phil Jones, Cabinet Member for Sustainability, Transport, and Planning, said: “Clearly new approaches require a certain amount of refinement and adaptation and our designers and engineers have learnt much about light segregation and driver behaviour which can be applied elsewhere.”

“Despite these issues the project has clearly shown that light segregation is an effective approach to protecting cyclists from traffic and one that can help to make cycling safer and more attractive. We firmly believe that this approach is a model that would allow a network of cycle routes to be relatively quickly installed in London and elsewhere in the UK at low cost.

“We are continuing to monitor the impact of the project on cycling and the initial results are very encouraging. Cycling has been undergoing a renaissance over recent years and in Camden we have seen a significant increase in the number of people who are choosing to cycle, with a 70% rise over the last six years. We need to address this increase with infrastructure which can respond to this growth quickly and encourages and supports people to cycle in a safe and enjoyable environment.”

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Segregated cycle lanes using planters and armadillos could spread across Britain

  • Habib Khan

    50% more cyclists and 0 accidents down from an average of 1 serious and 3 slights per year”. according to TfL & Camden, surely the safety of the cyclist is what this is all about, no?

  • rob cole

    Thanks for mentioning me in the article. I raised these issues with LB Camden and Camden Cyclists and was brushed aside, hence my letter to CNJ.

    I take issue with these comments:

    “I have noticed the damage to the planters and armadillos but this is clearly down to idiotic drivers rather than poor design.”

    “Jean Dollimore, Joint Co-ordinator of Camden Cyclists, said: “The reality is that the damage was caused by careless drivers and Rob Cole jumped to a conclusion and pronounced the new cycling scheme in Royal College Street a failure.”

    I am sorry to have to point this out, but a “soft design” that can easily be damaged and therefore compromised by idiotic / careless drivers is actually a failure. How is it not poor design?

    -Did the designers behind this scheme not understand that a 2 tonne motor vehicle will cause damage to a plant pot and a rubber armadillo when driven into, or over them?

    -How do these “soft” features” prevent a motor vehicle intruding into the cycle lane?

    -How does a strip of paint prevent a vehicle parking in the southbound cycle lane?

    Answer: they don’t, unlike the previous raised concrete strip that ran up the northbound lane in both directions.

    Yes, it was not perfect because there were some collisions/near misses between southbound cyclists and motor vehicles making a left turn into what is a one-way street, and the motorists just looking for oncoming (northbound) traffic.

    When the cycle lane was closed and rebuilt, we were hoping for a simple raised concrete strip on northbound and southbound lanes.

    Instead, after months of closure we got a cheap and easily compromised design that is now looking very sorry for itself with mangled plant pots, missing armadillos, dirt from the planters across the lanes, bin bags stacked up and motor vehicles parked in the southbound lane.

    Its really not rocket science, surely?

  • Ken Evans

    The lane separator could be made like a speed-bump, but along the road and not across it. Such as 1 foot wide and 6 inches high, with smooth tapering sides so cyclists could easily ride over it. One of the biggest problems with painted cycle lanes is cars parking in them. Using a raised lane marker should make this a bit less likely. Nowhere in London have I seen any decent cycle paths, I am not expecting this to change any time soon.

  • Phil Riley

    FILL THE PLANTERS FULL OF CONCRETE.

  • Seamus Leahy

    Brilliant as long as the don’t do as they do in Oxford and squeeze the lane until it is