Cycling Becomes A Two-Way Street

By BethPH Last edited 106 months ago
Cycling Becomes A Two-Way Street

The Department of Transport has chosen an interesting way to prevent cyclists putting themselves at risk as well as breaking the law by riding against the flow of traffic on one-way streets - by changing the law so the problem no longer exists.

The pilot scheme is being launched in Kensington and Chelsea as part of the Department of Transport's Traffic Signs Review.

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said, 'We want to make it easier for councils to encourage people to choose greener transport options - whether that is cycling, getting a lift in a car club or using an electric car. The pilot contra-flow cycling system will help to reduce journey times for cyclists while allowing them to travel safely and legally on the most convenient routes.'

We think the safety angle on this is questionable - making two-way travel on a one-way street legal doesn't automatically reduce the risk of accidents. The green argument also appears flawed - surely the contra-flow system wouldn't be the deciding factor in a commuter's transport decision? This seems like a quick-fix solution which doesn't address the long-term issues around cycling in the capital, including theft, lack of bike parking and even bicycles themselves. Removing the requirement to comply with the Highway Code doesn't do cyclists any favours.

Boris Johnson, undeterred by his near miss earlier in the year is ever keen to press on with initiatives to encourage cycling in the capital, Cycle Fridays being one of the latest. He also mooted plans to allow cyclists to turn left on red lights, a suggestion which was criticised as unrealistic and doing little to address the safety problem, not to mention adding fuel to the ongoing heated debate about red light jumping.

For more information on getting on your bike in London, visit TfL's dedicated cycling page at:

Last Updated 18 September 2009


I suppose they will also very soon decide to make cycling on pavements legal (which, as most cyclists seem to ignore) is currently illegal... £30 instant penalty could (and should) be the reward.

Can anyone tell it's a pet hate of mine?


Great. Now as well as elbowing cyclists off pavements, I can legitimately clip them with my car in oncoming traffic.

Could they be provided with 'bullseye' targets appliqued on to their lycra, to make this more of a spectator sport?


"Allowing left turns on red lights".

That made me laugh. Since when did cyclists obey red lights in the first place?


This is a common sence idea and is being misrepresented widely. The issue is that there are countless one way streets in london that are classified as such for traffic calming reasons (to force traffic back on to trunk roads) and for the most part are devoid of traffic - pedestrian, bike or otherwise.

In practice many ignore these restrictions, quite reasonably, in order to avoid taking detours via major roads, or cycle round the block to get to their destination.

The best solution is a proper contraflow cycle lane with parking restricted to the other side, but this will do.

Cycling on pavements is another issue, with it's own set of goodies and badies.


This morning I saw a visually impaired person nearly get knocked over by a police car going the wrong way on Bath Street (behind Moorfields Eye Hospital) - what hope would he have had against a silent cyclist?

@jamesu it's not "quite reasonable" to cycle the the wrong way down a one way street any more than it's reasonable to buzz past pedestrians at zebra crossings, ride down the pavement or jump the lights without slowing down at a pedestrian crossing. It's dangerous, inconsiderate and creates ill-feeling towards every other cyclist (even the few law abiding ones).


i for one will be happier to cycle along one-way streets (either way), knowing that i don't have to worry about some police officer chasing me because of infringing some arcane traffic laws / highway code regulations;

i'd also welcome the rules / laws being changed for the traffic lights (especially turning left); i'm amazed whenever i see any cyclists waiting behind traffic at lights (especially inhaling the smog produced by double-decker buses and the like!)

@JohnnyFox: be a bit careful, cyclists usually have pretty good reactions; it would be a shame if one of them felt that your wing mirrors needed a correction on their way past – after suffering an adrenaline rush from avoiding a near-miss!

@Davehodg: as a cyclist, sitting at a red light whilst there is a clear road (especially when turning left) makes no sense whatsoever; as a driver, i'm perfectly content to wait (behind the cyclist line) for reasons that are obvious (especially the reduced visibility from being inside a steel shell!)


xland, I can only disagree (and evidently Kensington and Chelsea and the DoT feel the same).

It is different, in my opinion, as buzzing past pedestrians at zebra crossings, riding on the pavement and jumping the lights are both illegal and dangerous.

Cycling carefully down a residential street that is one way purely for reasons of traffic calming is illegal, but it is not dangerous.

If you want to add in whizzing, speeding or tearing then yes, there is an issue - the key concept is 'with due care and attention', it's how I try to walk, drive and cycle.

Deserted residential streets with traffic calming one way systems are great places to cycle and largely unused public space. Here's an example I know, Radnor Street - which recently had a contraflow cycle lane put in (just a white line). The one way was there to prevent rat running and forced bikes onto the old street roundabout that could have safely avoided it - council saw sence and corrected it.

A great amount of our road planning dates to times when cycling was not the issue it now it is. Particularly problamatic are 1990s traffic calming measures like speedbumps, one ways and road narrowing that make riding more dangerious than it needs to be. Councils should be applauded for getting to grips with this problem.

Personaly, there are plenty of daft lights around and stupid one ways and no turns (St Georges Circus, I'm looking at you), thats before we start on roadworks where plenty of room is avalible for a cycle diversion but they just don't bother - the best thing to do is to dismount, walk, and proceed. Costs a few seconds but I have a wonderful view from up here on the moral high ground!


I think this would be a viable scheme if the cycle lane was separated from the road by a kerb (as I am told it is in some countries elsewhere that do similar things).


Please stop taking our space on the pavement. No cyclists should not be allowed to go through red lights whether turning right left or going straight on and I don't see why pedestrians are being put further at risk with the idea that they should go the wrong way down one way streets. Wrong wrong wrong! What about the rights of a human to being!