Contra-flow Bicycle Lanes – we hate them


I hate the junction of Marchmont Street and Tavistock Place, because here lurks the only contra flow bicycle lane on my way to work. What I do not understand about the contra flow idea is that the same amount of space must exist across the width of the road to allow cyclists to go in the direction of the traffic.

Contra flow bicycle lanes with concrete kerbs are counter intuitive. You cycle in London to enjoy the route and to get from A to B quickly and safely. These lanes are neither quick nor safe: you can only enter them by a dangerous manoeuvre across the traffic and only through gaps in the kerb; they always flood and ice up because the road drainage has been messed up  and they are closed as soon as the road has to be dug up.

The junction of Marchmont and Tavistock is a road with very little traffic but is now reduced to a crawl due to the need to introduce yet another set of traffic lights. The lights are only there to protect the contra flowing cyclist from being knocked off his bike by a turning car (who may miss the fact that there are bikes going the wrong way) – or possibly to stop events like the taxi that I watched turn into the contra flow bicycle lane in Gordon Square and having to drive all the way along it to get out!

If a taxi driver who drives the London roads for a living makes that sort of mistake, then it is more than likely that the average car driver is not going to be aware of bikes going in the opposite direction and therefore will more than likely get hit.

I guess there are only two ways to sort out this problem– either scrap the contra flow altogether – or stick up another set of traffic lights!