Part of the Queenstown Road cycle route’s set for an upgrade – but the worst bit may not see much change.

Plans are being developed to improve the cycle lane along the northern end of Queenstown Road. As the last chance for cycle commuters from much of south west London to safely cross the river before the nightmare of Vauxhall gyratory, Queenstown has long been a busy cycle route, which is reflected in the ‘cycle superhighway’ built a few years back and the temporary extra cycle infrastructure that has been installed during the pandemic.

It’s unfortunately also the location for frequent accidents, which has led to several recent upgrades: with cycle-friendly traffic lights installed at the northern end of Chelsea bridge, a major update to the roundabout at Queens Circus (funded by various Nine Elms developers), and the work we have previously reported to put modern traffic lights with an ‘early start’ for bicycles at the eastern end of Lavender Hill.

The actual proposals for the forthcoming upgrade haven’t been defined in much detail at this stage! But a couple of images have been released as part of a high level initial level consultation (that has recently closed). The general approach looks like a rationalisation of the current setup to create a road that has three different levels: a pavement on each side, a cycle lane at a slightly lower level than the pavement, and the road for cars (and a dedicated bus lane) at a third even lower level. This is a fairly pragmatic approach, which allows deliveries and pavement access when it’s needed, while using the height differences to still clearly separate the pavement, the cycle lane, and the road.

This seems broadly sensible and there’s easily space for it on the stretch of the road nearest the Thames, given that there is already a cycle lane of sorts in each direction. The main problem with the current setup is that the ends of the cycle lanes are a mess at the junctions (especially on the northbound lane) and they get in to a mess when the cycle lane and the bus stop overlap.

It’s a bit more complicated on the short section between the Queens Circus roundabout and Battersea Park Road (pictured above), as there’s less space and a couple of fairly busy bus stops – shown in the picture below –

The high level plan is still the same, to create a separate cycle lane at a height half way between the level of the pavement and the road. The junction with Battersea Park Road will need some careful work as it’s also a busy cycle route, with lot of pedestrians (and probably more in the near future given the amount of recent development and the forthcoming opening of a Zone 1 tube station) and not currently especially bike-friendly.

At the moment that’s as far as the scheme goes – surprisingly there aren’t any plans for one of the more problematic parts of the road further south, where traffic gets squeezed through a series of railway bridges. The temporary segregation of the southbound cycle lane (shown below) has been helpful in making sure cars are aware of the number of cycles along this stretch and give them a safe amount of space, and there is an existing lane up at pavement level on the northbound side that reduces the rick of cycles being squashed against the wall by lorries and long vehicles making the turn. But generally speaking this is a somewhat dangerous part of the road with poor visibility that could do with a lot of work to make it better for cyclists.

It’s a pretty grim stretch for those on foot too – with a consistent smell of exhaust, mucky surroundings with everything coated in black dust, pigeon droppings all over the pavement, minimal lighting and more often than not suspicious puddles among the various electrical cabinets under the bridge on the west side of the road. Considering the heavy use it gets, and the fact that it is right next to a railway station’s main entrance, this bridge feels overdue for an upgrade of the sort that we have seen on some of the other bridges in the Borough like Thessaly Road and Earlsfield – with a cleanup, a repaint, bird-proofing and far better lighting.

Further south again no plans, but there are fewer problems here. This stretch of the road has had a significant pavement and parking upgrade a few years back which made clearer parking bays – and in doing so tidied up the bus lanes. By removing the obstacle of haphazardly parked cars on the road, this has had some benefits in terms of a lower accident rate.

Overall – it makes sense to review and upgrade the cycle lanes here and it’s good that this is being considered, even if there’s not much detail at this stage. It is a little disappointing that the works aren’t carrying on a bit further to the south to include the part of Queenstown Road that snakes under the various railway bridges. We’ll keep you posted if we hear about more detailed plans.

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