Central London’s best cycle ride is through the Royal Parks and beside the River Thames


If you would like to do an assessment of the Royal Parks and Thames Path Cycle Loop, please retain your impartiality by doing the assessment before reading the post or watching the video.  List of 18 London cycling posts and videos.

DIRECTNESS
1
SAFETY
1
COHERENCE
1
COMFORT
1
ATTRACTIVENESS
1
Average
 yasr-loader

5-star-route-assessment-methodThe 6 miles of this ‘Royal Ride’ take about 3 hours on foot or about one and half on a bike. Passing through great landscape architecture, it is London’s most scenic and most historic greenway. Between Kensington Palace and Tower Bridge, you can see:

  • Four Royal Parks
  • Seven Royal Palaces
  • One Big Ben
  • Three cathedrals
  • Shakespeare’s theatre
  • The Tate Modern
  • A fine section of the River Thames landscape in Central London

There are a few road to cross but the only road you have to travel along is  Horse Guards Avenue – and it could easily become part of the greenway.

Royal Parks and beside the River Thames

The best cycle ride in Central London goes through the Royal Parks, past the royal palaces and beside the River Thames between Westminster and the Tower of London

The Round Pond in Kensington ‘Gardens’ was the centerpiece of a baroque layout. There was, and is, a garden near the house but most of the area now open to the public was always more a ‘park’ than a ‘garden’. The statue of Queen Victoria is a reminder that she was born and raised in  Kensington Palace. But it was the death of Princess Diana which made it famous – and led to a landscape design for re-connecting the palace with its park.

Mount Walk – the shared pedestrian-cycle path- is one of the park’s historic avenues. But it lacks the ‘formality’ an avenue should have.  Engineers installed rubble strips in 2016 to slow up cyclists  and rattle their teeth. So most cyclists swing onto the grass – as you can see me doing. It’s time for a re-design.

The West Carriage Drive separates Kensington Gardens from Hyde Park and is also part of the route of CS3 –  London’s East-West Cycle Superhighway.

In Hyde Park the cycle route is beside Rotten Row – which is a horse track made by King William III in the 17th century – so that he could travel in safety between Kensington Palace and St James’s Palace. It was the first road in Britain to have artificial lighting – probably using whale oil. ‘Rotten Row’ is a witty Anglicisation of  Route du Roi, which means ‘King’s Road’ in French.

The Serpentine, on the other side of the cycle track was one of the first examples of a man-made serpentine line in a landscape park. Hence the name.

The Neoclassical monuments at Hyde Park Corner were built as a memorial to the Duke of Wellington, whose house is still here, and as a ceremonial entrance to London. Traffic engineers then moved the arch and made the place a hell for pedestrians, cyclists – and motor vehicles.

Constitution Hill takes its name from Charles II’s practice of walking here to improve his ‘constitution’ – in the 1660s. The old lane had also  been used by Henry VIII when, in the 1530s, he acquired Hyde Park and St James’s Park as a hunting estate. Henry should be remembered more for his open space planning than his six wives – though he did establish the park system for his own use. Constitution Hill was widened in the 1820s and became the scene for three attempts to kill Queen Victoria. It’s closed to motor traffic on Sundays – as much more of Central London should be.

Buckingham Palace only became London’s premiere royal palace after the accession of Queen Victoria, in 1837. The Mall only became a ceremonial avenue in the early 20th century. It was laid out in the seventeenth century for playing a type of croquet known as Pall Mall.

St James’s Palace, beside the Mall, was built by Henry VIII, on the site of a leper hospital. He liked to build a new palace when he took a new wife – this one was for Anne Boleyn. The architecture is Jacobean.

St James’s Park was given a baroque layout in the seventeenth century. Then, in the nineteenth century it was ‘modernised’ to the landscape style and planted in the gardenesque style. Landscape and architecture are very well integrated and the result, in my view, is one of the best urban parks in the world.

The Horse Guards Building stands on the former jousting yard – the tiltyard- of Whitehall Palace.  William Kent was the original architect. It was the headquarters of the British Army until 1904, with the open space used for military parades. The civil service then took it over as a staff car park – it was know as the Great Perk. Then, in 1997, a firm of landscape architects gave the space its present dignified character. It’s still used for parades – like the trouping of the colour.

Whitehall was always the main road from the City to Westminster. The name comes from England’s greatest royal palace. Henry VIII had a gatehouse built, to link his palace to his hunting park.  In 1691 Whitehall Palace was destroyed by fire. Only the Banqueting House and the river steps survive. Most of the site is now occupied by the Ministry of Defence.

Horse Guards Avenue runs through the site of Whitehall Palace and, as suggested in another video, should become a green street and part of the Greenway.

The name Whitehall Garden is now used for a public garden designed in 1875 by George Vulliamy. It was part of Bazalgette’s embankment of the River Thames – which included a trunk sewer, an underground railway and a new road. You are scarcely aware of this in the garden – which retains its calm Victorian character.

The two Golden Jubilee footbridges, opened in 2002. The architects were Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. At 8.5 million, their annual footfall is about the same as London’s population. You can push your bike across or, if you’ve hired a city bike, you can dock it on the north side of the river and pick up another one on the south side. There are great views from the bridge and it’s a pity the designers didn’t include viewing places, sitting places and planting places.

The pedestrian walk on the south bank, now known as the Queen’s Walk, was part of  Sir Patrick Abercrombie’s great 1943 landscape plan for London. Until then, the riverbank from here to Tower Bridge had been used for warehouses with no public access. Abercrombie proposed what we now call a greenway –  and it has been a great success. A bike can be ridden here at quiet times but at busy times you can hardly find space to walk. Abercrombie sat on the Council of the Institute of Landscape Architects (now the Landscape Institute).

Coin Street has one of London’s best beaches – which isn’t saying much. The city needs an imaginative plan for reclaiming its other beaches. The river was used for bathing until 1815. It was then banned because men bathed without wearing their clothes. Oooh.

The Thames beaches are now managed by the Port of London Authority. They discourage recreational use of the water, ostensibly for health reasons but possibly because making the beaches safe would cost money without generating any income for the authority. The Port Authority should engage landscape architects and should be changed into a multi-objective River Landscape Authority.

The old Blackfriars rail bridge has some spare columns which, if the current project doesn’t go ahead, could be  used to support a garden bridge.

The Bankside section of the Thames greenway was little used when it was built but has been very busy since the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge were opened in the year 2000. Vogt were the landscape architects.

The reconstructed Shakespeare Globe Theatre opened in 1997, after a long campaign by Southwark Council to use the site social housing instead. It cost them millions in compensation. The theatre contributes a lot to the visitor numbers on this stretch of the greenway. They could have made its surroundings more Tudor – some pigs, chickens and mud would be welcome.

Clink Street retains something of the warehouse character this section of the Thames had in nineteenth century. It also has a garden on the site of the Bishop of Winchester’s 12th century palace.

This full-size replica of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hinde has, like its sixteenth century predecessor, sailed from London across the Atlantic to the Pacific. It has crossed 140,000 miles of ocean.

The present Southwark Cathedral dates from the thirteenth century and is well worth a visit. The choir sing on most days. The churchyard has an inaccurate but pleasant evocation of a medieval garden.

Hays Galleria is a roofed outdoor space made in the 1980s by filling in the old dock basin and converting the warehouses to shops, offices and restaurants.

HMS Belfast is a light cruiser. She was launched in 1938 and remained in service until 1971. It’s pretty grim inside but a dramatic sight from the shore.

The More London district, master-planned by Foster and Partners, was shortlisted for the Carbuncle Cup in 2007. This is an award for bad architecture. But the landscape design, by Townshend Landscape Architects, has made it an attractive place to visit, with a performance area, good planting and several water features.

Potters Fields, designed by Gross Max landscape architects, is an attractive green space with great views of London’s oldest surviving Royal Palace. The Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror after 1066 to subjugate the local population. Luckily, all subsequent attempts to invade London have failed.

Practicalities for the cycle ride

  1. Between Kensington and Tower Bridge, the greenway goes near 6 Tube stations. So it’s easy to do the 6 mile walk in short sections.
  2. If you do it on your own bike, the return journey can be done on the East-West Cycle Superhighway.
  3. Or you can often take your bike on a train.
  4. Or Santander bikes can be hired and left at many points along the route
  5. Walkers can do an ‘Inner London Loop’ by crossing Tower Bridge and then returning via the north bank of the Thames, Parliament Square, the south of St James’s Park and the northern route through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
  6. The route passes a great many cafes – and toilets.
The best cycle ride in Central London goes through the Royal Parks

The cycle ride with the best views of Central London’s landscape and architecture follows a greenway from Kensington to the Tower of London. To make a loop, you can return on Cycle Superhighway CS3. It can be done on a hired Santander city bike but you would need to switch bikes when sections have to be walked

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network

Q1 Quietway 1 review and assessment

If you would like to do an assessment of Quietway 1, please retain your impartiality by doing the assessment before reading the post or watching the video. List of 18 London cycling posts and videos.

DIRECTNESS
7
SAFETY
6
COHERENCE
7
COMFORT
6
ATTRACTIVENESS
5
Average
 yasr-loader

5-star-route-assessment-method

Quietway 1 was the first route in TfL’s quietway programme to be completed, in 2016. It starts well, along a shared path running west from Greenwich DLR station. But Andrew Gilligan, who was London’s Cycling Commissioner when the quietways were planned, said that Quietway 1 would only be of ‘acceptable’ quality, and that the other quietways would be less good. This doesn’t sound hopeful – but let’s have a look at Q1 to see if it does what it was supposed to do. The video follows the route from east to west – and is accelerated during the dull sections. The TfL website explains the objectives for quietway planning as being:

  • to link key destinations
  • to follow routes through parks and along waterways or tree-lined streets.

It’s a compromise between commuting and recreational/environmental objectives.

Q1 Quietway 1 TfL objectives

An exceptionally well-planned and well-designed cycle way can satisfy both leisure and commuting objectives, as I believe a superhighway on the Isle of Dogs could do. But a compromise is more likely to result in it failing to satisfy either 

Two thirds of the Quietway 1 route could be described as ‘tree-lined’ but the scenic and environmental quality is much too low to attract recreational users and I doubt if the whole route it has ever been used for a family day out – as a waterside route would be.
So what about the other quietway objective? Does Q1 link ‘key destinations’? No. TfL say it links Waterloo and Greenwich. What it really links is Greenwich DLR station and the National Theatre. Some people may do this by bike but surely most couples, dressed for a night out, would as the adverts used to say ‘let the train take the strain’.
The only ‘key destination’ between Greenwich and Waterloo is Millwall’s Football ground. The club’s website doesn’t mention cycling as a way of getting to the football ground.
One could regard the greenspaces along Q1 as ‘key destinations’ but there aren’t many of them,  their quality is pretty low and they are not likely to attract cyclists.
I look forward to seeing TfL’s usage data for Q1. Meanwhile, my impressions are:

  •  that few people use it as a commuter route from Greenwich to Waterloo or from Waterloo to Greenwich
  • that some people use it for travel between Deptford and Greenwich
  • that more people use it for travel between Bermondsey and the City – they join the North-South Superhighway at Blackfriars Road

Few changes have been made to the route between Blackfriars Road and Waterloo. It’s little more than a paint job and the route is not much of a desire line anyway. To get better value from Q1 as a travel facility, it needs better links with key destinations and other cycle routes. A quietway could and should provide safe routes to schools, libraries, shopping centres and stations.

To become more of a recreational facility, Q1 should be made into an urban greenway. It needs a landscape assessment and a landscape design for aesthetic improvements, habitat-creation and social facilities along the route to attract family visits. At present, only about 26% of Q1 is segregated from cars and potentially safe enough for Primary school children.

Q1 should be extended to Greenwich Town Centre and Greenwich Park. They are major destinations for local, national and international tourists. Even visitors from outer space would surely want to see the Prime Meridian of Planet Earth in Greenwich Park.

Quietway 1 is definitely an improvement on its predecessor, which was a completely useless London Cycle Network route, but it can only be regarded as a work in progress. Unlike the Central London Superhighways, it’s a bargain basement project. Only about 14% of the route is purpose-built segregated cycle track.

Here is my assessment of Q1

  1. Is it the shortest cycle route Greenwich to Central London? No. You will have a shorter trip and fewer junctions without traffic lights if you use the A200 to get to Bank or the A2 to Parliament Square.
  2. Is the scenic and environmental quality good? No. The quality of the urban landscape his better than on the main roads but it is not good enough for recreational use.
  3. Is it safe for children and adults to use? No. Parts of Q1 are safe enough for children but this is not true of the whole route from Greenwich into London.
  4. Is the surfacing material consistent, well-maintained and good for cycling? Yes.
  5. Is the route sufficiently well marked to be used without a map? Yes.

So  is the Quietway Programme a waste of money? No. But Quietways should be thought of as tributaries, rather than as main routes for flows of bicycle traffic. They should link residential areas to schools, shops, stations and other local facilities.

Q1 Quietway 1 review

Quietway 1 is an unfortunate compromise between a leisure route and a commuter route. It fails to satisfy either of these objectives but is of some use to people making short local journeys

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network

Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 4 -NCN4 from Greenwich to Southwark

If you would like to do an assessment of NCN4, please retain your impartiality by doing the assessment before reading the post or watching the video.  List of 18 London cycling posts and videos.

DIRECTNESS
0
SAFETY
0
COHERENCE
0
COMFORT
0
ATTRACTIVENESS
0
Average
 yasr-loader

5-star-route-assessment-methodNational Cycle Route 4, NCN4, runs for 432 miles from Greenwich, in East London, to Fishguard, in Wales. It’s fully open. But the route of  London section has not been finalised. This video, travelling west, looks at the section between Greenwich and Tower Bridge.  Some parts of NCN4 are attractive, particularly where it goes beside the Thames and through Russian Dock Woodland. Other parts go through dull housing estates. If you are doing the whole trip from or to Wales the estates are of some interest. But if you are a Londoner who wants a recreational cycle ride they are unappealing.

National Cycle Route NCN4 should

National Cycle Route NCN4 should be re-routed to follow the Thames Path, with an alternative route through Russia Dock Woodland

Cycleways need to have a route but, on its own, routing is rarely sufficient to create an attractive place for leisure cycling. Cycle routes should be planned and designed as urban greenways – like the Albion Canal section of NCN4. It was designed by Brian Clouston landscape architects and is shown on the video.

The London section of Sustrans National Cycle Route NCN4

The London section of Sustrans National Cycle Route NCN4 is not finalised. Nor is it satisfactory. It should be re-routed to follow the Thames Path as closely as possible.

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network

The A2 from Blackheath to the Elephant & Castle as a cycle route with a Bus and Bike lane


If you would like to do an assessment of the A2 as a cycle route, please retain your impartiality by doing the assessment before reading the post or watching the video.  List of 18 London cycling posts and videos.

DIRECTNESS
2
SAFETY
2
COHERENCE
1
COMFORT
1
ATTRACTIVENESS
2
Average
 yasr-loader

5-star-route-assessment-method

A2 Watling Street New Cross Road Deptford

In the early 20th century, cycling conditions on the A2 in Deptford were much better than they are today. Motorists and their transport planners stole the road and now think they own it.

Etymologically, a road is a place to ride and this is how the ‘A2’ was travelled for most of its history. It was a Celtic road in ancient times, possibly reinforced with branches in wet places. The Romans upgraded the road for use by soldiers, horses and wagons. It became known as Watling Street and was used by horse riders for two millennia.

Today, the A2 is a ghastly place to ride a bike but is still popular with people who ‘ride’ busses. Too many people use it to drive private cars. London can’t do without commercial vehicles but commuter traffic and  traffic passing through London should be discouraged.
In 2002 a large crater appeared in the A2 and led to it being closed for six months while reconstruction took place. The crater was caused by chalk mining in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. When the road reopened, it was very disappointing to see that TfL had done nothing for cyclists – despite there being a spare lane on the north side and an extra-wide footpath on the south side. A short two-lane section does motorists no good on a predominantly single-lane road, which the A2 is. If anything, it causes turbulence.
The A2 used to be my preferred cycle route from Blackheath into London. It was and is the shortest and fastest route. But I gave up using it when I got late-onset asthma. Diesel fumes may have caused the asthma and they certainly trigger asthma attacks. In the autumn of 2016, my asthma having pretty well cleared up, I decided to have another go at riding on the A2. It didn’t seem as bad I remembered. But the weather was good and it was not a busy time of day. The biggest change to my old route is the bus lane. It starts at New Cross and goes most of the way into London. Generally cyclists prefer riding in bus lanes to sharing road space with other motor vehicles. But they shouldn’t be called bus lanes and they shouldn’t be designed for busses only. They should be BUS AND BIKE lanes, with better designs:

  • Where road space is available, a lane width of four and a half meters lets cyclists overtake buses and vice versa
  • Where spare footpath space is available, short cycle lanes can let buses overtake cyclists
  • When pull-in bus stops are built, they should include space for cyclists to keep going without having to swerve into main traffic lanes

On the A2, there are fewer cyclist-bus conflicts than one might think. As the video shows, I passed a group of busses near New Cross Bus Garage but passed few busses taking passengers into London.  Outside the morning and evening rush hours there are comparatively few passengers in the busses. If however, you get stuck behind a bus, the diesel-fumed air is a serious health hazard. And if a bus overtakes you in a 3.2m bus lane it’s no fun at all.

A2 as a route for cyclists

The top section of Blackheath Hill is the most dangerous section of the A2 in London. TfL rebuilt the road  in 2002-3 without doing anything at all to improve conditions for cyclists. This may have been because they wanted cyclists to use ‘quiet’ backstreets instead of cycling on the fastest and most direct route from Blackheath to Westminster Bridge

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network

A200 Cycle Superhighway CS4 London Cycle Network LCN183


If you would like to do an assessment of the A200 as a cycle route, please retain your impartiality by doing the assessment before reading the post or watching the video.  List of 18 London cycling posts and videos.

DIRECTNESS
3
SAFETY
3
COHERENCE
3
COMFORT
3
ATTRACTIVENESS
3
Average
 yasr-loader

5-star-route-assessment-methodThe A200 is the shortest route to the City of London from Blackheath (and much of SE London). It is quicker and cheaper than going by train – and on a bike you always have a seat. But after leaving Greenwich Park, the road conditions are grim.   Sadiq Khan became Mayor of London in 2016 and promised to support the TfL plan for making Cycle Superhighway CS4 on the A200. This is very good news for cyclists and special attention should be given to the superhighway’s landscape planning and landscape architecture. This video is a record of what it was like to ride the A200 in 2016.

CS4 Cycle Superhighway is set to be built on the A200

CS4 Cycle Superhighway is set to be built on the A200, with TfL going to consultation in 2017. It should be routed through Southwark Park. Cycle traffic is only likely to be busy at rush hours on week days, which are not times when the park is busy with pedestrians. The old LCN183 cycle route is dangerous and unpleasant. Avoiding polluted air is an important aspect of safety for cyclists.

Having very bad memories of this route in the 1980s, I chose a quiet time and a sunny day in September to find out what changes there had been. It didn’t seem quite as bad as I remembered. So I tried it again in the morning rush hour on a grey day in October. The video uses clips from both rides – accelerated for much of the trip.

A curious aspect of the route is the way it’s mapped and managed.

  • TfL are only responsible for the western section of the A200.
  • The cycle route is classified with London Cycle Network numbers. It’s mapped as LCN2 through Greenwich Park, then as LCN18 to Deptford Church Street and as LCN183 to Bernie Spain Gardens on the South Bank.
  • TfL Local Cycling Guide No. 7 does not show the route at all and nor is it used on the TfL Journey Planner for trips from Greenwich to Tower Bridge. You could be forgiven for thinking that TfL doesn’t want cyclists on the A200 but it was included in the 2015 Cycle Superhighways Scheme

Most of the maps which show the route, like the OpenCycleMap, are created with OpenStreetMap data. It’s open source and much more comprehensive than the data created by public bodies – including the TfL and Sustrans cycling maps.

CS4 may become the first cycle superhighway in South East London. No routes in this quadrant of London were included in the 2015-2016 cycle superhighway building programme launched by Mayor Boris Johnson. One of the problems with superhighways is that much of their benefit goes to commuters who ‘only’ pass through a borough. This makes spending money on them an unattractive proposition for London borough councils – especially if they are seen to take road space away from local car drivers.

Cycle Superhighway CS4 will be built on the A200

Cycle Superhighway CS4 will be built on the A200, thanks be to Sadiq Khan, TfL and the Lord of Hosts

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network

The Thames Path as a cycle route from the Tower to Greenwich

If you would like to do an assessment of the Thames Path as a cycle route, please retain your impartiality by doing the assessment before reading the post or watching the video.  List of 18 London cycling posts and videos.

DIRECTNESS
2
SAFETY
2
COHERENCE
2
COMFORT
2
ATTRACTIVENESS
2
Average
 yasr-loader

5-star-route-assessment-method

The Thames Path and NCN4

The Thames Path is a designated cycle route only where it it overlaps NCN4 but using it for cycling is probably legal and work should be done to make it into a proper riverside cycling greenway. Since it has few visitor attractions, at present, it is better suited to cycling than walking.

Having enjoyed cycling beside the river between Tower Bridge and Greenwich for many years I was surprised to discover that about half of it isn’t a cycle route. It’s the Thames Path – which was planned for pedestrians. A riverside route for cyclists and pedestrians would be a great amenity for East London – and a support for the area’s economic regeneration. Some rights of way would have to be negotiated but little capital expenditure would be required. The two groups share a path in many parts of London with more users than the Surrey Docks. This video follows the route East from the Tower. My main comment on the trip from Tower Bridge is that the route could, should and will be a riverside cycle path designed for leisure use.

The Thames Path and NCN4

The Thames Path is an attractive place for cycling, because of the fresh air and expansive river views. It needs a landscape plan to make it into a cycleway with more trees, more visitor attractions and better access to the foreshore and beaches.

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network

The TfL Olympic Cycle Route 1 on the Isle of Dogs

If you would like to do an assessment of the Isle of Dogs section of TfL’s Olympic Cycle Route, please retain your impartiality by doing the assessment before reading the post or watching the video.  List of 18 London cycling posts and videos.

DIRECTNESS
0
SAFETY
0
COHERENCE
0
COMFORT
0
ATTRACTIVENESS
0
Average
 yasr-loader

5-star-route-assessment-methodThe drab and almost-invisible cycle route on the east side of the Isle of Dogs was planned by TfL as a contribution to the 2012 Olympic Games. It was described as an ‘enhancement’ and formed part of TfL’s Better Routes and Places initiative.

Transport for London TfL made a cycle route on the Isle of Dogs

TfL’s Olympic Cycle Route 1 is shown in purple on the TfL Cycling Map of East London. Finding any other evidence of the route’s existence is a geographical and cartographic challenge

This video follow the TfL Olympic Cycle Route from Canary Wharf to Island Gardens. It’s not clear whether the spur from Preston’s Road to Canary Wharf is part of the route. If it isn’t, it should be. If it is, it’s an example of really bad cycling landscape architecture. I did not have the TfL map with me when cycling the route and fear I did not manage to follow all of it by navigating with the inadequate signage.

Transport for London TfL made a cycle route on the Isle of Dogs

Transport for London TfL made a cycle route on the Isle of Dogs as part of the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games. It’s dreadful.

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network

Southwark Borough cycling strategy


Southwark Council in South London had an amazing transport plan for cycle tracks and cycle lanes. Cycle tracks are too expensive. Cycle lanes should be removed. Natural England called for a specific target on kilometres of new routes for cyclists. Southwark said they would rid the Borough of existing cycle lanes on 20 MPH roads.  List of 18 London cycling posts and videos.

Donnachadh McCarthy says Southwark has one of the lowest cycling rates of any European city and one of the highest fatality and serious accident rates in London. Lorraine Lauder as Mayor of Southwark replied that accusing this council of institutional murder only makes it look stupid.

Valerie Shawcross (Member of the London Assembly for Lambeth & Southwark + Labour Transport Spokeswoman at City Hall) did not have time to reply to the email I sent her with a link to a video about an incident at the Elephant and Castle Roundabout. A G4s van obstructed the traffic and TfL refused to take any action.

The policy was deeply unpopular and led to the publication of a revised  Southwark Borough cycling strategy in 2015. It stated that ‘We learnt a lot from the draft Cycling Strategy consultation’. Quite right. The Borough was able to boast, in 2015, that ‘Southwark’s ambitious Cycling Strategy has been awarded at the first ever Cycling Planning Awards, winning the prize for best cycling network strategy’. The award was from Landor Links and the judging panel had an engineering bias.

Southwark Borough Council cycling strategy

Southwark Borough Council cycling strategy had the idea that if cyclists were not in lanes they would help slow down HGVs and busses. Technically, they were right. But………………

 

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network

Movement in Landscape Architecture

landscape architecture of movement and place

With the Golden Road to Samarkand, James Elroy Flecker struck a brilliant balance between the drama of a journey and the mystery of a destination – as landscape architects do in the poetic aspect of their work.

Lancelot Brown called himself a place-maker. But what is a ‘place’? The word derives, via French, from the Latin word platea. It meant ‘street’ in classical Latin. In post-classical Latin it was used for market places and other public spaces. Brown used it to mean ‘a country house and park’. It may be that before the age of settlement a platea could be either a destination or a route used by nomads for ceremonial, commercial and other purposes. Landscape architecture is seen as an art of ‘place-making’ in the sense of creating a locale with particular characteristics.

The historic origin of the art of landscape architecture is to be found in Mesopotamia, in the specific sense that this is where the earliest written records of composing landform, water, vegetation and buildings are to be found. They were composed to make palaces, temples,  cities and ‘ways’. Ceremonial ways were  also made in Egypt, Greece and Rome. As discussed in a post on the landscape of roads, the art of composing landscapes has often included ‘places to move through’ – as well as bounded places in public or private ownership.

I wish landscape architects were as much involved with movement in unbounded space as they are with bounded space. This includes greenwayscycle paths, green streets, highways, footpaths, bridleways, routes through open country marked only by GPX tracks on mobile devices – and, of course, the Golden Road to Samarkand.

We travel not for trafficking alone;
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned:
For lust of knowing what should not be known,
We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

James Elroy Flecker was born in Lewisham in 1884 and died in Davos at the age of 30. He was considered ‘unquestionably the greatest premature loss that English literature has suffered since the death of Keats’ – and he might have been a great landscape architect.

golden road samarkand landscape architecture

Unmade, the Golden Road to Samarkand exists only in the minds of poets and mobile peoples.  ‘Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints’. Journey on.

Posted in green streets

Cycle superhighway proposed for Isle of Dogs


The Isle of Dogs could have London’s first 5-star cycle superhighway. It would be a direct link between a busy origin and a busy destination. What’s more, it would be a beautiful, safe and quiet route with better air quality than the 2015 superhighways. From the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, the route follows the Thames Path to Canary Wharf, where it connects with the CS3 Cycle Superhighway to the City and Westminster.

Since 1981, 97% of the 4 km Isle of Dogs section has been built, though it was not designed for cyclists. Only 100m awaits completion. The work should be done when the Brunel Bike Bridge  is built, reportedly by 2020, at a cost of over £65m. As argued in another video, the Brunel Bike Bridge would contribute more to East London’s cycle network if it were built in Deptford (rather than Rotherhithe).

Isle of Dogs cycle superhighway

For the cost of a Canary Wharf executive’s annual bonus, the Isle of Dogs could have 4km of superhighway-standard cycle path 

 

Posted in cycleways