So can Boris’s revolution really make life safer for cyclists in the Capital?
After the so-called cycle superhighway was carved out through the East End I took to two wheels to find out if it has made cycling any easier.
The route from Bow to Aldgate was officially launched last month and is part of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s ‘cycle revolution’, aimed at making the capital safer for bike-riders.
The scheme has provided a distinct cycle lane linking the East End with the City but sadly a similar route will not be put in place between Bow and Stratford in time for the Olympics in 2012.
Last time I followed the same lane it was narrower and a faded green that drivers didn’t seem to pay much notice to and I had to watch out for potholes.
Before getting onto the minimum 1.5 metre brightly coloured patch, which starts at Bow Road, I had to conquer the daunting Bow interchange where cars seem to fly past in all directions. But I was not alone.
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Transport for London had not only equipped me with a ‘Boris’ bike for the experience but organised for a professional cycling instructor to guide me on my journey.
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As we made our way into the flyover from the nearby McDonald’s carpark it didn’t take long before my instructor Corinne Price told me to push into the middle of the road in front of the cars to make it clear we were following the roundabout to the other side rather than turning left.
But not all drivers were happy to share the road with us and I had hardly begun my journey before a van driver shouted “Keep to the left!”
As we reached the start of the superhighway I saw the same van driver cut into the cycle lane, so he was obviously happy to use the cycle lane but not to share the road with cyclists.
Corinne warned that one of the most dangerous mistakes many cyclists make is to keep to the left instead of pushing into the middle of the road in front of drivers when there is a left turn.
One of the most common causes of fatal accidents have been cyclists getting caught under the wheels of a left-turning vehicle that don’t see them.
In fact one of her biggest concerns is that the Superhighway will give some cyclists a false sense of security and make them hide inside the lane when they need to come into the road.
Corinne, a confident rider who used to be a courier delivering parcels all over London, say the lanes make no difference to her as she whizzes in and out of traffic.
But as a less confident rider the more distinct and wider lanes did leave me feeling less exposed and I did sense that drivers now tend to pay more notice to cyclists. The recent resurfacing also mean I don’t have to be as fearful of the potholes which plague many of the capital’s roads.
One flaw appeared around Stepney where the lanes doubled up as parking spaces, which seemed to defeat the object of a more continuous lane.
But once we reached Whitechapel, where a docking station for the Barclay’s rental bikes have been set up, we had a smooth journey into the city.