CS9: Hammersmith gyratory

TfL has published the results of their two consultations on whether to add a two-way cycle lane to the north side of the Hammersmith gyratory ( Full PDF ). The main conclusion is that the scheme will go ahead with construction commencing this Autumn and finishing “in 2018”. The main change to the scheme from that consulted on is that the pedestrian crossing from the middle of Shepherds Bush Road into the middle of the gyratory (where the shopping centre/tube station is) will be retained at the cost of reducing space for cyclists to wait at the lights there.

This scheme is a prep-step for CS9, we hope. I use this route on my commute. For me individually I expect it will significantly increase journey time Eastbound – given the highly aggressive nature of some drivers when you choose not to use cycle lanes (cf East West Superhighway) it is dangerous not to use them. But there are more traffic lights and these will be cyclist-only so designed for slow progress again as with EWCSH. Further we will expected to use the extended contra traffic cycle lane on Kings Street. This will require slow progress (the pedestrians and motorist simply don’t look in the “wrong” direction, so you have to proceed on the basis that something will move into your path at any time). So slower and perhaps more dangerous – not a great combination eastbound. Westbound I am more positive. Yes the average speed will again be slower, but on the other hand I won’t have to go round the gyratory itself so I’m hopeful the increase journey time will be at worst small. Better, this westbound journey should be safer than the current situation. The only possible way round the gyratory at the moment is to take the middle of the appropriate lane all the way round . This saves you from much of the extreme late and unsignalled lane changes from motorist but at the cost of the occasionally irate person behind you (not that cars ever make faster progress than a bike as a whole round the island) The segregation will remove these stresses.

All in all the schemes are not for cyclists who’ve already chosen to cycle in the existing conditions, but to encourage others who want more segregation. For this reason I am supportive of the scheme even though, overall, it impacts me personally slightly negatively.

London borough speed limits

Within each London borough some roads are maintained by the local borough council and others are maintained by TfL as part of Transport for London Route Network (TLRN) – typically these are the major/arterial roads. Limits are in flux at the moment with limits typically dropping from 30 to 20mph over the last 7 years or so. 20mph limit areas are more pleasant to cycle in my opinion (motor traffic doesn’t quite feel the same right to roar pass you if you are doing approximately the speed limit yourself). So I decided to track which boroughs are the cyclists friend.

(“all roads” means “all borough roads not necessarily TfL roads”)

Borough Policy Ref
Barking and Dagenham No policy 20sPlenty.org.uk (March 2015)
Barnet  No plan to bring in broad 20mph limit. Some roads 20mph for “historic” reasons. Some expansion near schools  BarnetPortal.icasework.com
Bexley  Some very limited 20mph in Bexleyheath centre. No plans for expansion May 2016.

 

Brent  Some 20mph areas “case-by-case basis”  KilburnTimes.co.uk
Bromley  Note in the Bromley Times article Chairman refers to minutes of council meeting June 2015 for details of policy, but I can’t actually find the discussion in the minutes at http://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=115&MId=5409&Ver=4

Found a pro-driving/anti-20mph group called Bromley Borough Roads Action Group who Were certainly strongly opposed in 2008 – seems to have folded into the ABD in 2009.

 BromleyTimes

 

Camden 20mph limit all roads since December 2013  WeAreCamden.org
Croydon  Plan to gradually implement 20mph all “residential” roads. 5 zones. Zone 1 live. Zone 2 expected to go live April 2017.  Croydon.gov.uk
Ealing  20mph limit in Acton area for year from September 2016 as a pilot  Ealing.gov.uk
Enfield  Some roads here and there are 20mph, but “less than 10% of borough roads” (2014)  PalmersGreenCommunity.org.uk (10% quote)

Several roads “hit with” 20mph limit (Enfield Independent)

Greenwich
 Hackney 20 mph all roads since July 2015 Hackney.gov.uk
Hammersmith and Fulham Proposed all non-TFL roads. Actually decided to do 20mph on all side roads and 3 town centres, remaining main roads 30mph  LBHF Cabinet meeting 9 March 2016
Haringey
Harrow
Havering
Hillingdon
Hounslow
Islington 20 mph limit all roads since January 2013. Enforcement since 2014.  Islington.gov.uk
Kensington and Chelsea Firmly pro motor vehicle:

All roads “30mph or lower” (i.e. 30mph) and do not support lowering to 20mph – “only consider schemes where high speeds are a constant problem and where the police agree to undertake regular enforcement”

Further “demand on road space […] makes it impossible to allocate road space to specific vehicles such as buses or cycles”.

Further “also not possible to provide shared use on most pavements […] or to provide cycle paths” – though note the current consultation on Sloane Street is to widen the total width of pavement from 8.5m to 10m whilst continuing to provide no provision at all for cyclists.

It also goes on to say there are no speed cameras on any borough road and that it seeks to remove existing traffic calming measures (speed humps). It has also “maximised the amount of parking spaces available”

 RBKC.gov.uk
Kingston
Lambeth 20mph limit all roads since April 2016  Lambeth.gov.uk
Lewisham 20mph limit all roads since September 2016 Lewisham.gov.uk
Merton
Newham
Redbridge
Richmond
Southwark 20mph limit all roads since March 2015  Southwark.gov.uk
Sutton
Tower Hamlets  20mph limit all but one road (Leamouth road near Canary Wharf); trial made permanent September 2016  TowerHamlets.gov.uk
Waltham Forest
Wandsworth
Westminster  20mph trial agreed at council meeting September 2016. Limited to “areas near schools and other areas with history of speed-related accidents”.

But note section 4.3 in link: “It is clear that a blanket approach of 20 mph has not worked

 committees.westminster.gov.uk
City of London  20mph limit all roads since July 2014  CityOfLondon.police.gov.uk

Does traffic slow down a cycle commute?

We all know that if you drive in rush hour, you will make slower progress than driving at a quieter time of day. But is the same true for a cycle commute? My data says yes – lots of cars slow you down even when you’re on a bike:

timeversusspeedgraphall

The graph plots the time of day I left home versus the average speed for the ride, plotted for my last 200 morning commutes on my standard route , a 24.2 mile ride from just outside the M25 right into the centre of London.

Though there is some noise, there is a clear trend – earlier is faster. Leaving before 6am, I tend to achieve a speed of ~18mph, whereas when I leave at 7am the speed is less than 16mph. In fact plotting the trendline shows a gradient of 2mph lost per hour. Phrased another way, if I leave the house at 6am, I expect to arrive at the office at 7.21am, but leaving at 7am I expect to arrive at 8.33am – a full twelve minutes slower.

What causes this delay? In my experience, it is traffic. Although as a cyclist you don’t have to follow the vehicle in front all that much – when cars are going slowly in a traffic jam, you can generally filter past them all – they still slow you up. Filtering is slower than open riding and busy routes means more time at traffic lights – especially when traffic lights are on the SCOOT system as in London. You also have to slow down out of caution – if you have five times the amount of traffic at 7am as 6am, you are likely to have five times the number of nutters.

But could there be other factors at play rather than just traffic? Here are some possibilities:

  • When it is cold, dark or wet, I am likely to have trouble getting myself out of bed, so am likely to leave late. But also the cold, the dark and the wet will slow me down when cycling – this would great a downward slope on the graph even if traffic was constant
  • If I’ve looked at the forecast and know that the wind is my favour, I’m likely to be keen to get up and go because the ride will be easier. Conversely knowing a headwind lies in wait might make me hit the snooze button for five minutes. Again this would introduce a correlation between departure time and speed that is independent of traffic. Similar if I am tired I’m likely to get up late and be slow.

It is hard to separate out all these factors. One thing we can do though is that there is a particular time of year when it tends to be cold, dark and wet: winter. Therefore it is useful to look at Summer (June-August) and Winter (December-February) rides separately and see if I leave later in Winter – which would lend weight to the theory 1)

Here are the regression results for winter:

timeversusspeedgraphwinter

and for summer:

timeversusspeedgraphsummer

So even controlling for conditions a little bit, we still see slower rides at later departure times. The dependence is less strong in summer (1.8mph/h) but even stronger in winter (3mph/h). I think this is possibly just statistical noise – each data set now only contains ~50 rides, but it is also possible that the difficult conditions of winter mean that heavy traffic makes riding even more difficult.

But do I leave later in winter? Here are the stats:

  • Average departure time (all commutes) : 6.25am
  • Average departure time (summer commutes) : 6.25am
  • Average departure (winter commutes) : 6.24am
  • Average speed (all commutes): 17.0mph
  • Average speed (summer commutes): 17.6mph
  • Average speed (winter commutes): 17.1mph

So, surprisingly to me, NO – I even manage to leave one minute earlier in winter. Not surprising the summer rides are a little quicker on average (17.6 versus 17.1), which is not surprisingly – more light and fewer clothes to lug around. NB the overall average is 17.0 so I must be really in slow in spring/autumn!

So the stats suggest that the “it’s cold so I’ll be late and slow” theory is not valid.

Even when you’re on a bike, the rush hour traffic slows you down.

 

How the data was obtained

All my commutes are on Strava and then shared with VeloViewer. Amongst VeloViewer’s many many little features is the ability to download a CSV file that contains summary data about all your rides. This file opens in Excel or similar spreadsheet program. From there it is a simple-ish job to filter down to the rides of interest.

 

Ride report: Tottenham

With the roads relatively quiet in between Christmas and New Year, I spotted another chance to extend my commute a bit further and nab some uncovered squares that were embarrassingly close to where I work.  My goal was to traverse from south-west to north London and then drop more-or-less straight south from Winchmore Hill through Edmonton, Tottenham, Seven Sisters before rejoining the A10 and head into the City on familiar roads. This would essentially complete north London – everything east of the Walthamstow Reservoirs is east London.

This traverse is never satisfying. The roads and railways radiate from central London to search an extent that mathematicians have even defined a special metric space called the “British Railway metric” where the distance between any two points is not the usual notion of distance, but the distance as long as you go via London (see https://www.dpmms.cam.ac.uk/~twk/Top.pdf ). As a cyclist you have to cross all these roads (A40, A404, Al, A5, A41) and the lights are always phased against you…

The motorist has an exceptional weapon is his armory against this problem – it is called the North Circular (A406) and circles rode from Chiswick to Edmonton. It is almost exactly the right route – but you have to have have balls of steel and nerves of granite to cycle far on this road. Funnily enough days after I did the ride, the short section of the North Circular I did ride was in the newspapers as having the most prolific cash cow of a speed camera anyway in London (£1.5m raised in 6 months). I can personally attest the reason why this speed camera is raising so much money is that so many drivers are speeding past it.

As it was Ipedaled through the extremely thick fog through Acton, Willesden, Kilburn and across Hampstead Heath. Then it was my first ride down The Bishops Avenue , London home to the Sultan of Brunei and the President of Kazakhstan amongst others. The fog was sufficiently thick and the houses are sufficiently far back from the road that I could barely see them so Kensington Palace Gardens remains my recommendation if you want a bit of “billionaire property porn” on your bike road.

Winchmore Hill doesn’t quite hit these dizzy heights but is still pretty nice. Back inside the North Circular for the final run in, surroundings are considerably more prosaic. Within half-a-mile of entering Tottenham I had not once but twice had minicab drivers drive towards on the wrong side of the road. Maybe its just a convention on that bit of the A10 that I’m not used to…

New squares: 12

Current square size: 39×39

Strava: http://www.strava.com/activities/815461953

 

Ride report: Wormsley, finally

This ride began in a manner I’ve long avoided: in the car driving to the start of a ride.

It would certainly be massively easier than what I currently do to drive to the edge of my current max square, ride around for a bit picking up new squares and then drive home again. The squares-per-ride-ridden would certainly be higher too! However this feels a little bit too close to cheating (not that there are any rules) for me for the time being. Maybe when I get to 50×50 I will switch to this mode as the uncovered squares will be just too far from home to reach in the time available but for now I intend to stick to circular rides from home or train-out-cycle-home rides.

But today I made an exception. With the family arriving for a Boxing Day booze up but me still gutted at having mysteriously lost three squares, needs must.

I parked up in Lewknor (near the Old Leathern Bottle, a reasonable pub just off the M40). After a couple of warm up miles along the B road into Watlington it was a left turn up the well-named Hill Road for the climb back up the Chilterns Ridge. This climb, to Christmas Common, is one of the best up. It is a good roof surface without much traffic and at 1.2 miles at 6% is never sickening steep but tough enough to reward an effort. My time today of 6.58 compares favourably with my first ever climb up the Chilterns 4 years ago (10.41 on the same segment) but rather badly with the KoM of 4.35 ( Strava segment ).

After Christmas Common I drop down the other side of the ridge a little into Northend and slow down looking for the next junction. My target is the unvisited square to the north that blocked my max square on its north side. The entire square is enclosed by the Wormsley Estate – home of the Getty family. Until recently I was convinced there was no public access to this square and I was expecting to have to buy a ticket to the cricket matches held there next Summer in order to get access. However idiotically I had only looked on the Oxfordshire definitive map. Wormsley is big enough to be in two counties. When it finally dawned on me to try the Buckinghamshire map, sure enough there was a bridleway right through the estate!img_0215

The bridleway is not signed at all off the road and only sign-posted by white arrows painted on trees when you enter it properly. But a solid green coloured metal  plaque near the entrance (pictured) makes clear the right of way does exist. To get into the square I had just shy of half a mile on this track. On the road bike it was mostly rideable initially and would be absolutely fine on an MTB. The last few hundred yards were down a steep muddy path. The bike was on my shoulder but it counts for the square. Going back up was a bit of a nightmare, but I was elated. The sun was just coming up, the surroundings were stunningly beautiful, there was nothing to be heard but birdsong and I HAD FINALLY DONE THE WORMSLEY SQUARE! It really didn’t matter that after the Christmas Common climb and this walk, my average speed for the ride so far read 7mph.

img_0217

Looking across the estate to the Stokenchurch BT Tower on the horizon. The white paint on face indicates the right of way.

Back out on the road and having scrapped enough mud away that my brakes and gears mostly worked again, it was time to get a move (family boozing starts at Christmas). South-west down the ridge was great – the south-east will never compete with the Lakes or the Dales but the Chilterns at this time on a clear day are super. I am always rubbish on flat-but-fast sections relative to the average and this 3 mile segment to Nettlebed was no exception. I’m ok on the hills so maybe everyone else just rides in a group.

A quick “nubbin” recovers one of the deleted squares and a swing round through Highmoor Cross picks up the other. Then it is down the ridge at Nuffield – a headwind so nowhere near my previous top speed of 45mph down here – and through RAF Benson.

In the Oxfordshire plain I thread through Brightwell Upperton, Brightwell Baldwin and Cuxham to pick some more squares out to the north west of my max before swinging back south east to Lewknor. In this section I was relentlessly earmwormed by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers’s duet of Islands in the Stream the way. No idea why.

Current max square size: 38×38

New squares: 9 (inc 2 “undeleted”)

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/812604866

 

Ride report: Borehamwood

Yesterday I suffered a terrible shock when I did my weekly VeloViewer update. My “Max Square” had reduced in size from 40 to 34!! Analysing my activities tab it seems as though I have lost three squares – two in the Chilterns and one a few miles south of Godalming. This latter square was deep inside my 40, so losing it necessarily reduced my square size a lot. I’m not sure why the square was no longer counted, but according to the tracks I’d probably hadn’t been there anyway – I skirted round the corner of it. Ben from Veloviewer tells me that the VeloViewer side had not changed; possibly the tracks coming out of Strava have been tweaked/smoothed/coarsened a little bit.

Rather than sitting at home bemoaning the fact that I am now further away from the all-mighty Belgians, I had to get up and do something about it.

I calculated to do my Borehamwood squares – the empty sector between north London and the M25 and get to work on time, I would need to leave home at 5am.

Not a minute after 5.30 I finally dragged myself out the front door. The first decision was whether to take the west or east route round Heathrow – through the middle and across the runways is not an option for even the most determined tiler. I chose west as this takes me through Harmondsworth – the town scheduled for destruction if Heathrow’s third runway really ever does go ahead. I personally don’t find the town particularly distinctive and would probably side with those residents who’ve known for decades of the Heathrow threat and are happy to accept the above-market valuation when the Compulsory Purchase Order finally comes. Others point to the town’s Grade I listed barn as a sign of distinctive-ness. This will be preserved no matter what – maybe in twenty years time you will see it alongside as you hurtle down the finally-built runway.

After Hayes and Yeading, I reach the Harrows, which I generally don’t like because it seems to take ages get through them all (South Harrow, West Harrow, Harrow on the Hill, Harrow, Harrow and Wealdstone, Harrow Weald and eventually North Harrow) especially as it all uphill in this direction until you eventually get to the top of the dying embers of the Chilterns ridge. Over the M1 at Brockley Hill and finally a new square at 26 miles. Sod’s law having had clear moonlit skies at home, the fog is quite thick here and as I’m forced into the little ring for a short sharp kick up Barnet Lane the traffic flashes past hard and tight. This time of year “professional” drivers (PHV, taxis, delivery vans) form a higher proportion of the traffic than usual and it really shows. “Professional” in the sense of football’s “professional” foul :/.

Going through Borehamwood, I catch sight of the famous Elstree Studios . Currently it is home to glamourous programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity Big Brother, but I have to say the buildings themselves have a bit 1960s-civil-services about them. My square rides have also seen me pass  the Pinewood Studios (Iver Heath), Warner Brothers Studios (Leavensden),  Longcross Studios (Virginia Water) and the Ealing Studios (Ealing)… when I am going to see a celebrity dammit…

a1

Crossing the A1 on the “busiest travel day of the year” – was alright at 6.30am!

The next five miles is basically swirling around in the dark around Hadley – new squares coming thick and fast but not too many sights of interest. In terms of names Barnet is almost as bad as Harrow (Barnet Gate, New Barnet, East Barnet, Barnet, Freirn Barnet) but I am struck by how widespread the nice areas of Barnet are – if you have a million pounds to spare, there are lots of nice houses around here. Kind of the opposite of Harrow which has a nice bit (the Hill) but a surprising amount of not so nice bits.

For most people Cockfosters, being on the end of the Tube line, is pretty much the end of the earth, but for me it marks the beginning of the end of the ride – I’ve been here before and there are no new squares between here and the office. In contrast to out in the sticks, as I get more central it is clear the traffic is very light and it is smooth sailing through Finchley, Archway and Holloway.  The Archway bridge (Hornsley Lane Bridge) looks great in the sun (we’re in London now, so the fog has gone).

I finally grind into the City at 8.55am, 25 minutes late, which is basically 5 minutes early having started 30 minutes late 😉

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/809241285

New squares: 26

Current square size: 36×36 ( :-(, but a slight recovery from the shock of 34 yesterday )

Eddington number

 

Sir Arthur Eddington (Wikipedia article) was a astronomer and physicist famous for popularizing and explaining Einstein’s theory of general relativity to the English-speaking world.

But more importantly than that he was a early forerunner of stat-obsessed Strava nerds like myself. He was a cycling enthusiast who liked to log where he’d been and how far – in fact his cycling logs are still stored in the Wren Library at Trinity College in Cambridge ( this PhD thesis has a picture ). I can’t find a definitive original source, but he has internet-accredited with inventing the (cycling) Eddington number. This number, E, is the largest number such that you have cycled E miles on E separate days. Eddington’s own Eddington number is variously credited as being 87 or 84. Veloviewer naturally will figure out your own Eddington number for you and display it in an attractive way. Here’s mine:

eddington

So right now my Eddington number is 66. The “cliff edge” at 48 miles is because I cycle 48 miles a day a lot (my commute is 24 miles in each direction), but don’t cycle 49 miles on those days.

There’s nothing inherent about “miles” in defining an Eddington number. You can easily switch to counting the number of times you’ve done E kilometres on E days (an easier job) and VeloViewer will show you this to. Mine is currently 96, which makes is sounds like I’m just a few rides away from becoming a metric Eddington centurion. Alas whilst I have done 96 96km rides, I’ve only done 85 100km rides, so I still have 15 rides to do!

This is the damnable charm of the Eddington number. The reward (“the score”) you get only grows with the square-root of the effort (total miles done). You really have try hard! The Explorer Square challenge has exactly the same property – your max square score only grows with the square-root of the number of tiles you have visited.

Anyone any idea who the world record Eddington number owner is? I think it might probably be one of the amazing challengers for the HAMR Annual Mileage Record – Kurt Searvogel road 76,076 miles in a year in 2015. That’s 206 miles per day. So his 2015 Eddington number alone must surely be in excess of 200. Or perhaps Steve Abraham holds the record. Amanda Coker might sweep them away though … 230 miles EVERY DAY for a year?!!