The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Research Finds That One-Sixth of London’s Streets Have Room for Pop-Up Cycle Lanes

24 June 2020

About a sixth of London’s streets are wide enough to accommodate protected cycle lanes, amounting to over 2,000km of track that could be created quickly to improve safety as lockdown is eased, new Bartlett analysis has found.

Map highlighting in green all streets wide enough to accommodate protected cycle lanes in central London.

Looking at data for every street in Greater London, Bartlett researchers found that 2,357km of streets were wide enough to implement a 2.2-metre cycle lane in each direction, while still allowing room for cars and other vehicles.

If installed, these lanes would increase protected cycle routes from under 2% of all London streets to 16%. TfL guidance recommends that cycle lanes should be at least 2.2 metres where possible.

Among those identified as having enough space were six key roads providing long, continuous routes for commuters heading into central London. These were from Edgware Hospital to Marble Arch (A5); Elephant and Castle to New Cross (A2); Elephant and Castle to East Dulwich (Camberwell Road/A2216); Hackney Central to the Royal London Hospital (A107); and Regent’s Park to Manor House (A503).

This new analysis shows there is plenty of space to create cycle lanes on key routes across the city. To accommodate an increase in cycling as lockdown is eased, it is not enough to install short sections of cycle lanes in a piecemeal fashion. Long, continuous lanes along key routes to key employment centres are essential to support the large numbers of people who are likely to want to cycle to work.

- Dr Ashley Dhanani, Research Associate, The Bartlett School of Architecture, based at the Urban Dynamics Lab.

London has a real opportunity to create a comprehensive cycling network. This would both make cycling convenient and attractive and achieve concrete progress in promoting sustainable urban mobility.

- Nicolas Palominos, PhD candidate, The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. 

Research methodology

The researchers examined the make-up of street space in Greater London to identify all streets wide enough for new cycle lanes.

Nicolas's original analysis of street space was based on data from the Ordnance Survey, the UK’s national mapping agency.

They determined that, to accommodate 2.2m cycle lanes on each side, a road would need to be at least 11 metres wide, giving 3 metres of space in each lane for cars and other vehicles and 0.6m for low kerbs or protective barriers separating the cycle lanes.

The project received funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and The Bartlett Innovation Fund and was a collaboration between UCL researchers and two organisations, Healthy Streets and Tranquil City. 

A map highlighting the areas of potential track can be viewed on the project website at underscorestreets.com.

Image: A cropped section of a map highlighting in green all those streets wide enough to accommodate protected cycle lanes. Streets with existing cycle lanes are marked in blue.