Wednesday 18 March 2020

A Bridge too Small

High Speed Two (HS2) has submitted planning applications for its station at Old Oak Common, but hasn’t included a safe access route for cyclists. Instead of segregated cycle lanes, which are specified in the planning guidelines, cyclists will have to share the only access road, Old Oak Common Lane (above), with motor vehicles. The reason - HS2's new bridge over the road won't be wide enough for cycle tracks.

HS2's illustration of Old Oak Common Station

Old Oak Common Station will be a major transport hub, linking HS2 to a brand new Great Western main line station and the new Elizabeth Line. It will be the centrepiece of the Old Oak and Park Royal development, the largest regeneration project in the UK. This huge, 650-hectare area is supposed to be cycle friendly. Its Local Plan specifically calls for the “widening [of] Old Oak Common Lane to include generous footpaths and segregated cycle lanes” but HS2’s plans will make that impossible. The planning application for a new bridge to carry the Great Western Main Line over Old Oak Common Lane reveals that it will be only about 13 metres wide. To provide room for segregated cycle tracks, it should be around 20 metres wide. 

The proposed bridge will be about 13 metres wide

To carry cycle tracks and footpaths it should be around 20 metres wide

HS2 has plans to modify the highway under another bridge, south of the Great Western Main Line, to create enough room for buses to pass, but it doesn't plan to create space for segregated cycle lanes here either.

These aren't the only issues we've found with the station plans. The proposed lifts are 20 cm shorter than set out in the London Cycling Design Standards, which will mean some people on all-ability cycles won't be able to use them. Cyclists will be expected to walk the last 100 metres to the cycle parking, and a segregated cycle track running past the station will be split in two by a zebra crossing where cyclists will have to dismount and walk across to the other half of the route. Needless to say, we've objected to these aspects of the plans and are hopeful they will be improved.

The proposed east-west cycle track past the station

Despite these faults, there are some good proposals for the station and surrounding area - especially in the long term. The station will open with parking for 550 cycles, with plans for a further 925. Although this is tiny compared to European standards (Utrecht station has 22,000 cycle parking spaces), it's not bad for the UK. We have recommended that they leave room for expansion. The east-west cycle route past the station will eventually be extended to link North Acton to the area east of the Grand Union Canal - though this might not happen until the 2040's! Hopefully coming sooner are segregated cycle lanes along Victoria Road, Park Road and where possible on Old Oak Lane. 
Indicative Future Cycle Network from Old Oak Park Royal Development Corporation's Local Plan