HOW LONDON IS BECOMING MORE CYCLE FRIENDLY
From innovative safety gear to landmark schemes and homes purpose built for cyclists, Islington and surrounding areas are upping their game when it comes to welcoming those with two wheels
Although the introduction of the night tube was a big money saving hoorah for Londoners falling out of clubs in the early hours of the morning, as well as great for businesses, train cancellations, delays and general inefficiency are still as rife as ever.
Making your way around the city in an Uber or your own car also carries its own problems, with congestion being at an all time high, traffic standstills an everyday occurrence and the congestion charge a hefty expense. It’s no wonder, then, that cycling is one of the most common forms of transport used in the capital, second only to the ageing tube system.
With the cycling community rapidly expanding in London and growing concerns over their safety travelling alongside cars and lorries whilst frantically navigating the city, it was only a matter of time before architects and landscapers began to respond to their needs in a big way.
Residential property located near to cycling lanes is now big business, making commutes easier and reducing the morning and evening rush panic. Riding into London’s tech hub via Old Street roundabout can induce fear in even the most experienced riders, but thanks to the scheduled £25m regeneration of the area, the introduction of segregated cycle lanes will increase safety and make the area more accessible to cyclists.
Set for completion in 2018, the Atlas Building will feature 350 free bike storage spaces in its basement connected to lifts that lead up to the apartments for all its residents. In a bid to reduce the amount of cars on the roads, planning guidelines now require that bike storage spaces take priority over car parking spaces, with only 28 of the latter available at the Atlas Building, complete with a high price point and only available to a select few. With a nod to our European counterparts, London is finally taking big strides towards becoming a true cyclist friendly city.
I wanted to create something that was a bit fun and unique, but at the same time, hugely increased your visibility when riding a bike
Islington resident, keen cyclist and the brains behind VeloHalo, an innovative lighting solution for bikes, Jack Bruce feels that the overhaul of Old Street roundabout is long overdue, having had many near misses himself. He came up with the idea for VeloHalo after one too many run-ins with vehicles left him feeling exposed and unsafe.
Bruce explains: ‘I have been cycling since I was quite young and I’ve had so many close calls. I had quite a bad run in with a black cab along the junction between Goswell Road and Upper Street and at that point I just thought, there has to be a better way, a safer way. I wanted to create something that was a bit fun and unique, but at the same time, hugely increased your visibility when riding a bike.’
Bruce began experimenting with different lighting techniques that didn’t just use the front and back of the bike, like typical bike lighting products do. As VeloHalo focuses on the wheels, the lights are visible from all angles, creating a spectacular lighting pattern as you ride along. Red lighting dominates the VeloHalo design in an attempt to associate it with the red traffic light sign.
‘Red lighting creates a sort of cognitive link in a driver’s mind to the motion of stopping,’ Bruce explains.
Segregated cycle lanes have caused controversy recently, with drivers complaining that they are not designed or integrated well, causing worsening traffic. For an avid cyclist such as Bruce, however, these segregated lanes are the answer to bike riders’ safety woes.
‘Especially when it comes to Old Street roundabout, introducing segregated cycle lanes is the perfect approach. Without them, pedestrians, drivers and cyclists are all frantic and stressed. When everyone has their own separate lane, it alleviates this to an extent. This should have happened five years ago,’ he says.
The location savvy developers behind the upcoming 250 City Road residential development, Foster & Partners, placed their new block of cycle friendly homes close by to the popular Look Mum, No Hands! bike repair café and the Cycle Superhighway, giving cyclist commuters easy access to zones built specifically for them. There is space for almost 1,500 bikes in the building’s basement, as well as being near to a TfL bike hire spot, where hundreds of bikes are ready and waiting to be used.
The drive to solve London’s cycle infrastructure continues way beyond homes and segregated cycle lanes. Aside from their 250 City Road development, Foster & Partners teamed up with Exterior Architecture to bring us SkyCycle, a futuristic cycle highway concept that rises up above the city’s railway lines. Developed a couple of years ago, the project won the backing of Network Rail and Transport for London, but has yet to receive funding.
Although it’s currently shrouded in mystery, Bruce also has his creative hat on and is currently developing a cyclist GPS that aims to keep the rider focused on the road, built on the basis of ‘hands free, eyes free, ears free’. Wrap your head around that.