Cycling: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly with @HackneyCyclist

Like a lot of people, I learned to cycle when I was a child. I remember launching myself over my handlebars in a local park, doing my cycle proficiency at school, and taking rides around town with my Dad on weekends.

I’ve been a regular cyclist for about twelve years now. While a student at the University of York I picked up a free bike and haven’t stopped since.

Earlier this week I went on a guided tour of the Hackney Wick area with the Hackney Cyclist, a local resident, cycle campaigner and blogger.

Following the disastrous blunders by Hackney Council in London Fields, I wanted to see examples of good and bad cycle schemes.

We started out by Victoria Park, where the park (until the control of Tower Hamlets Council) closes early (around 4pm) in winter, which means cyclists have to use a narrow pavement on the Hackney side of the border to travel towards Hackney Wick. At the end of this, you come to a scary junction — I’d once almost ended up on the A12 here after getting confused with the lanes.

Then on to the junction with Eastway, where a cycle path had been removed during the Olympics. While it wasn’t perfect, the Hackney Cyclist explained how it had helped cyclists avoid conflict with left-turning trucks and buses on what is still a very fast junction. Just further along Eastway is the junction where a cyclist was killed during the London Olympics.

Next stop was the excellent routes along Waterden Road in East Wick. Set back from the road, serving schools and housing. These were a great example of how road space could be used. However, as soon as you crossed the border into Newham, the route stopped and as you went further towards Westgate, you found this…

On the way back, we took a quick tour through the Olympic Park and Village in Newham, then through Fish Island just inside Tower Hamlets where a new road bridge is being proposed to replace the walking and cycling bridge. Seeing how opportunities had been missed to create better cycle infrastructure really brought home how Councils must collaborate and work together, as well as seizing every chance to improve routes within boroughs.

In central London, new segregated bike lanes are really making a difference to improving cycling – one of the reasons the Green Party supported more proper Superhighways like at the Embankment. Places like the Netherlands have shown is how this can happen and create the cycling and walking culture that supports a healthier environment and healthier people too.

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