London’s Cycling Wastelands (I): Bath Street (Clerkenwell)

Major Boris Johnson has pledged to ignite a “cycling revolution” in London. The city is spending million of pounds on the cycling hire scheme and  “cycling superhighways”. However, there are a lot of small things which could be done to significantly improve safety and convenience for cyclists in London. In this section named “London’s Cycling Wasteland” I’m going to present some examples. They are coming from my own daily experiences on London roads.

Where?

I’m starting with an example that annoys me each time I’m cycling towards the City from Highbury. It is all about the northern end of Bath Street in Clerkenwell and the Old Street roundabout aka “Junction of Death” in Shoreditch.

What’s the problem?

The infamous Old Street roundabout in Shoreditch is a hot spot for cycling accidents and has been nicknamed the “Junction of Death” by cyclists. In February 2011, there have been two severe accidents involving cyclists within a few days. On Feb 16th a lorry knocked down a cyclist on the corner of Baldwin St and City Rd during the morning peak hours. On Feb 24th, for example, another cyclist was hit by a van and has been critically injured.

After the second accident Hackney Gazette run a story headlined “Safety concerns for cyclists on Old Street roundabout following crash”

The collision has reignited safety concerns over the busy roundabout – one of the worst for crashes in the capital. Thousands of cars, cyclists and lorries use it every day.  Cyclist Leo Chapman, who lives nearby in Finsbury, said: “I wouldn’t go around that roundabout, it is just too dangerous. “You could easily get squeezed by somebody and there are too many lanes.”

He suggested cyclists avoid the roundabout by using Shepherdess Walk, Bath Street and Bunhill Row.Charlie Lloyd, cycling development officer of London Cycling Campaign, told the Gazette: “The roundabout has a bad track record. It is among the top three for crashes in London.”

The northern end of Bath Street (across the street), seen from Shepherdess Walk. Southbound cyclists are not allows to go straight on because Bath Street is a one way steet.

Leo is talking about this area and he is absolutely right: In theory Shepherdess Walk, Bath Street and Bunhill Row are perfect for avoiding the Old Street roundabout. Legally, however, this works only for northbound cyclists. Southbound cyclists, unfortunately have to break the law if they want to avoid the  “Junction of Death” – the northern end of Bath Street currently is a one way street without any contraflow system.

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