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London's cycle superhighways have been bouncing around the transportation blogosphere lately. (If you'd rather watch a video than read, click here for a video on London's cycle superhighways).
While some London bike advocates have diplomatically described the cycle superhighways as a work in progress (the two-way track is less than 5' wide), the superhighways are an exciting development in one of the world's premier cities.
For Londoners not familiar with biking in the city's medieval web of streets, the cycle superhighways seek to provide a clear, unambigous route for riders to reach major destinations within London. The route pavement is colored blue to easily distinguish the route, while the length of the superhighways (up to 9 miles) simplifies route planning.
Although ideally these superhighways would occur on separated facilities, London has only found space for "cycletrack" facilities on a small portion of the routes. In many places, the superhighway is a bicycle lane adjacent to automobile traffic.
In conjunction with the unveiling of the first two of 12 planned cycle superhighways, Transport for London has kicked off a huge bicycling marketing campaign. The ads highlight the fun, stress-reducing elements of bike commuting. It also highlights how biking is a great way for even long-time Londoners to discover their enormous city.
You might be thinking that Portland's neighborhood greenways (aka bike boulevards) have elements of these cycle superhighways, and I would agree. One difference is that by design Portland's neighborhood greenways only occur on streets with low traffic and low auto volume.
In the absence of a lot of abandonded railroad right of way to create a large off-street network (Minneapolis, we are envious of your largesse), both the neighborhood greenways and cycle superhighways aim to creating easy, higher comfort routes for existing and prospective cyclists.
London's cycle superhighway has signage similar to a transit rail network.
Photos courtesy of www.thisbigcity.net