Hackney Cycling Conference 2014

I made it to the afternoon half of the third of these annual conferences.

I watched a series of back-to-back Powerpoint-type presentations about changes proposed for various parts of London. One of the most unusual was a proposed board-way to be built out over the Thames at Kingston as a cycle-only bypass to avoid the dire one-way system there. Money for cycling projects so often has to work around dreadful mistakes made in previous town planning and has to find inventive solutions.

London’s cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, reeled off an impressive-sounding list of changes to various cycle superhighways, and junction treatments, adding that each had needed a fight to win support, and that the fight would go on until they’d actually been built.

In one of the most entertaining presentations a traffic engineer worked through the spectrum of 14 different types of cycleway segregation that will be included in Transport for London’s forthcoming cycling design guide. Ranging from no segregation to full segregation, each type was different from the previous one according to incredibly subtle factors such as whether space for the cycleway had been taken from either the footway or the carriageway. He’d tried his best to avoid the word ‘shared’ but had to concede that it was the best word to describe undivided park paths where cycling is permitted.

Hackney is Cambridge’s greatest rival on levels of cycling. Actual numbers of journeys to work are very close: Cambridge 17,755, Hackney 17,312 (2011 Census figures) – but Cambridge easily wins as a proportion of the population. On the rush hour ride out of Hackney the constant stream of cyclists going both with me and coming the other way certainly had the feeling of Cambridge levels of cycling.

Simon Nuttall