If you’ve ever visited London you know that the Brits like to paint clear directions on their streets – as in “Look Right” for those who are about to cross the road. No doubt that is done because they drive on the opposite/wrong side of the street (depending on your perspective), and it probably wouldn’t be good to have the black taxicabs run down American tourists. But this summer London has introduced another type of painted marker – and this one is a lot more than just merely “look” plastered on the ground. London now has cycle superhighways, with the first two being opened this year, and to keep riders safe the routes are marked out in bright blue paint.
The first two of 12 planned routes recently opened, and these two eight-mile routes use the blue paint to direct the flow of cycle traffic. These routes were laid out to minimize stops, but unlike many other European bike lanes these lack any notable physical barrier to separate bikers from traffic. In that case let’s hope the London drivers don’t do what we’ve seen too often in cities such as New York, where the bike lane is used as a loading/unloading lane for cabbies and a place to double park cars (including police cars). The other hope we have is that the paint won’t make the roads too slippery when wet, because it isn’t as if London is actually a very dry city!
Work began on the routes this past winter, and the plan is to have all the dozen routes up and rolling summer of 2012 when London hosts the Olympic Games. Finally, we always thought the British used the term “motorway” over “highway,” so calling this a cycle superhighway is a little odd, but we still love the concept. Anything that lets you bike safer in London is very welcome!