Vauxhall Street, a residential road in Lambeth, seemed like the ideal location to develop London’s first Cycle Street, or fierstraat. But to deliver, it required some innovative thinking to come up with a simple yet cost-effective solution for an urban street which couldn’t be segregated or closed.
A Fierstraat is a Dutch street design technique that offers people cycling priority over motor vehicles. Motor vehicles are treated as ‘guests’ on the road, with their speed reduced to cycling speed. It requires a high number of cyclists which Vauxhall Street had, but unlike Holland, it had a worrying history of collisions. A comprehensive rethink of the street was needed to transform it into London’s first ‘Cycle Street’.
“ Drivers used to get impatient that they couldn’t get past people cycling. Sustrans’ new design has created a sense of equality on the street. Cars can now travel at the same speed as bikes. It’s freed up the road to become a place where all road users can co-exist. ”
The project posed many design challenges due to the narrow width of the road, the need to retain vehicle access to properties and the existing oneway system. Working with the London Borough of Lambeth and TfL, our team knew that to make a real difference to the speed of traffic, a genuinely creative engineering solution would need to be found. These constraints led us to the concept of the ‘Cycle Street’.
After several public meetings, our team were armed with some useful insights from the community that guided our design. The cost-effective design now restricts vehicles to cycling speed and encourages people cycling to take a central position. In one direction, hollow humps - an innovative hump with a flat section in the middle to provide cyclists with a smooth ride, whilst forcing motorists to travel over the hump, ensures traffic speeds are kept low. In the other direction, a widened contra-flow cycle lane protects people cycling from oncoming traffic.
There are narrow streets across London that could benefit from a cost-effective Cycle Street treatment, and we’re excited to work with other boroughs to roll out this approach. Vauxhall Street, a London first, now offers walking and cycling safety and comfort through a simple yet innovative design.
We hope it’s the first of many.
Danny Williams, local resident and Cyclists in the City blogger:
“Drivers used to get impatient that they couldn’t get past people cycling. Sustrans’ new design has created a sense of equality on the street. Cars can now travel at the same speed as bikes. It’s freed up the road to become a place where all road users can co-exist.”