Katja reports from London

London : Royal College Street

This story is part of our youReport series.

There is no mention of not even one UK place in the Copenhagenize Index of cycle-friendly cities. This probably reflects that we are much behind the rest of the world when it comes to bike infrastructure and activism. Instead there are pockets of goodness it appears. I recently visited London for work purposes, and came across this new sparkling gem on Royal College Street, Camden, a stone-throw away North of Kings Cross. It replaces a two-way cycleway (which wasn’t bad in itself, mind you) with something quite magical.

About 500 metres of wholsesome goodness. Have a look below. And what you will see… road changes needn’t be excessively expensive. Setting aside some space, protected from motor traffic is easy engineering. Royal College Street certainly makes it look easy! There is a will and steady substance that some London boroughs have shown to have. When will the lion roar in Newcastle? Back to armadillos though…

The first-time first-hand user perspective?

The cycleway going over the mouths of several side streets appears to have been dealt with in a bit of an inconsistent way, but nonetheless it was tons better than the typical UK approach of nothing. Even just a cycle symbol painted on the tarmac can help wonders. Bus stops (they are on the west side) didn’t get a bike bypass but I hear it’s not a major bus route and timetables are infrequent enough for conflict to remain low and at acceptable levels. Overall that stretch on Royal College Street was lovely to ride along. It felt inclusive, clear, safe, spacious even.

Above all it felt as if cycling had been taken seriously by the designer and the authorities.

For Newcastle to reach the UK top for cycle infrastructure improvements – which would still be entirely possible but the window is closing – our council really got to get their act together. Listen and learn. Here and abroad.

Royal College Street
Photo 1 – Zicla armadillos and planting pots giving route and space clarity

Royal College Street
Photo 2 – some is parking-protected

Royal College Street
Photo 3 – elephant footprints for continued clarity at the southern end traffic lights