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The cycle superhighway 1 revamp: will it get any better?

Cycle superhighway 1 (CS1) is approaching its fifth birthday. The route, which is the only fully-signed cycle route in the borough, runs from Tottenham to the City and should be a key commuter line for the east of Haringey and Hackney. Sadly, it has earned a reputation for epitomising all the compromises and bodges that went into the early cycle superhighways, with a lack of meaningful protection for cyclists. Haringey council has recently won £604,152 under TfL’s emergency Covid infrastructure scheme to upgrade their section of the route. Here we take a look at the proposed improvements.

The Haringey section of the route enters the borough in South Tottenham, running along Holmdale Terrace and St Ann’s Road before winding around some back roads to join the A10 pavement. There are multiple problems on this section of the route, with too much traffic for comfortable cycling and a narrow shared pavement under the railway bridge on the A10. After some relief on a decent cycle track, we get to one of the worst parts of the route. At Seven Sisters, there are multiple sets of traffic lights and the limited space is shared by people walking and cycling. This is especially bad on the section of pavement crowded with people boarding buses or getting onto the tube at Seven Sisters station. Bolder cyclists often forgo the whole experience and take to the busy junction instead.

After more cycling on the pavement, CS1 then routes onto Philip Lane. Here there have been some retrospective improvements: light segregation with wands. However, the cycle lane disappears at bus stops and southbound riders have to cut across traffic to turn onto Town Hall Approach Road. The route then winds up residential streets in Bruce Grove, running parallel to the A10. There is no protection for cyclists where the route crosses the busier roads of The Avenue and Lordship Lane, both of which involve navigating two lanes of robust traffic to make a right turn. Cyclists are required to use roads that have significant amounts of through motor traffic using the area as a shortcut, including in the opposite direction.

Light segregation using wands on Philip Lane
Light segregation using wands on Philip Lane

 

Southbound cyclists must cut across traffic to access Town Hall Approach Road, where the route continues
Southbound cyclists must cut across traffic to access Town Hall Approach Road, where the route continues
Cyclists need to cross two lanes of brisk traffic at Lordship Lane
Cyclists need to cross two lanes of brisk traffic at Lordship Lane
The entire route was originally proposed to be a straight run along the A10. As a compromise, it ended up winding along ‘quiet’ backstreets. Whilst a few sections of the route offer improvements for people who were already prepared to cycle, it falls very short of the oft-cited safety standard: something you’d be willing to let your 12-year-old cycle on.

Haringey’s successful funding bid proposes some edits to CS1:

  • Adding modal filtering on Broadwater Lane, one of the residential streets in Bruce Grove. TfL consulted on a similar proposal in 2015, with 67% support, but decided not to pursue the scheme.
  • Adding temporary ‘bus stop boarders’ on Philip Lane. It is vital to separate buses and cycles for a cycle route to be truly inclusive – most people feel very vulnerable moving out of the cycle lane into traffic to overtake a stopped bus. Waltham Forest cyclists have an explainer for the various solutions for bus stop/cycle track conflict, and whilst bus stop boarders are their least preferred option, Philip Lane may be too narrow for alternatives.
  • At Seven Sisters, to “relocate cycle track and shared-use track away from queue hotspots”. This falls short: there needs to be dedicated cycle space here, protected from cars and distinct from pedestrian areas; the area is simply too busy for any shared space to work. It is positive that Haringey council acknowledge the problem, but the true solution is likely to involve a significant amount of work, for example moving the entire route to the east side of the road to better integrate with the proposed cycle route from Tottenham to Camden.
  • Unspecified “cycling improvements” between Ermine Road and Holmdale Terrace. To make this part of the route truly inclusive, it needs far less through traffic on it.

Lacking from the proposals are:

  • Any plans to reroute sections onto the A10; we’re stuck with the backstreets strategy for now.
  • Any additional protection at the points where the route crosses busier roads (St Ann’s Road, The Avenue, Lordship Lane). These junctions are the limiting factor that would prevent a less-bold cyclist from using the route. As long as these busy points remain, improvements to other parts of the route are likely to be of limited value.
  • Any protection for people turning right from Philip Lane onto Town Hall Approach.
  • Improvements to the narrow contraflows on the route; for example, by moving car parking spaces.

Separately, Haringey have won funding for an extension to CS1, carrying it further north to the borough boundary with Enfield. Done properly, this could link into Enfield mini-Holland, give people in Ponders End a route into the the City, and allow cycle access for people travelling to North Middlesex Hospital from Haringey.

Map of the proposed CS1 extension (from Haringey's bid documents)
Map of the proposed CS1 extension (from Haringey’s bid documents)

The alterations proposed to create a CS1 extension are:

  • Partial parking bay suspension – Queen Street & White Hart Lane
  • New two-way cycle track on Bull Lane or footway widening (shared-use path)
  • Road closure in Beaufoy Road changed to modal filter
  • Narrowing of carriageway
  • Decluttering and Wayfinding

It is encouraging that Haringey are considering adding cycle track on Bull Lane; although, as Bull Lane is in Enfield (the same street is called Queen Street in Haringey) it isn’t clear whether any of this track would actually be in Haringey.

At Beaufoy Road, Haringey’s proposal is to replace the existing road closure barrier with a modal filter. However, the existing barrier already prevents rat-running traffic and so many cyclists will notice no difference here.

Furthermore, the new extension again fails to offer any solutions at junctions with busy roads. Specifically, there is no protection when crossing White Hart Lane.  And again, Haringey has chosen to route along side streets. On entering Enfield the route will have park on one side and industrial units on the other; potentially a deserted and therefore intimidating environment, particularly for female cyclists using the route in the evenings.

Haringey Cyclists has sent the council our proposal for how Haringey can deliver on their bid and address the other problems on this route. Let’s see if they can keep the promise of ‘a much-improved north-south link in the east of the borough reducing the burden on public transport by providing a viable alternative to private car use’. We hope these extraordinary times might lead to Haringey having at least one decent cycle route.  But it looks like CS1 may hit its fifth birthday with little to celebrate.