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Gallery: Contraflow cycling

One way streets are a problem for cyclists. They force you away from your desire line, putting you onto streets that are often faster and busier than those that you would choose, and making you do three sides of a square to get anywhere.

The reasons for making streets one way are rarely good. It is usually either to free up to two thirds of the road space for on-street parking (eg Romsey) or to speed up traffic flow (eg Downing Street and Chesterton Rd). In neither case do cyclists gain anything for the inconvenience and unpleasantness that results.

The best solution is to revert to two way traffic flow for all vehicles. That forces people to drive with greater care and attention. There is rarely the political will to reverse earlier decisions, just to make conditions better for cycling, so the next best option is to provide contraflow cycling. This can take the form of a fully segregated cycle track, although that is rarely appropriate or satisfactory in urban areas. Better are contraflow cycle lanes or simple, unsegregated, two way cycling. The former better on busy city centre streets, the latter in residential streets and vehicle restricted areas.

Designers have a whole toolkit of possible solutions, defined in TAL 06/98. This gallery shows a number of examples of facilities, some complying with regulations, some not, some working perfectly, some systematically abused by other road users.

For more pictures of vehicles abusing contraflow lanes, see the two Downing Street galleris and the Mackenzie Rd gallery.

This gallery was created on Tuesday, 3rd November 2009

Contra-flow cycling in Corn Exchange Street. This (without a white line down the middle) is the correct sign to use for an advisory contra-flow cycle lane.

Woodburn Way New cycle lane marking at the corner of Wheeler and Corn Exchange Streets. Well is it now legal to cycle both ways in these streets at long last? We want to know! We are confused by the solitary No Entry sign on the lamppo ... [more]

Corn Exchange Street contra-flow lane

Near the car park exit on the new Corn Exchange Street contra-flow cycle lane.

The No Entry sign at the north end of Corn Exchance Street has gained a Cycle Route sign. I suspect this is an attempt at producing "No Entry Except Cycles". Ed: the blue sign is known as diagram 967, see #73568.

Contraflow cycle lane (960.1) at the north end of Corn Exchange Street. According to the Traffic Signs Manual, this is the wrong sign for an advisory contra-flow cycle lane. The correct sign is the same but without the white stripe down t ... [more]

Corn Exchange Street contraflow under construction.

Corn Exchange Street contraflow under construction.

Red scree surface to indicate contra-flow cycling in Covent Garden.

Crossing from Covent Garden (contraflow cycle lane) to Mackenzie St - but how many cyclists understand the 'low-flying motorbike' sign?

Looking southbound along the contra-flow cycle lane on Malcolm Street.

The entrance to Malcolm Street from Jesus Lane. Malcom Street is a one-way street with a contra-flow cycle lane. It is unusual in having no island at the entrance to the street to segregate cyclists and oncoming traffic.

Old-fashioned contra-flow cycle lane sign on Pembroke street. It currently seems to be facing sideways.

Although this contraflow cycle lane suffers from a lot of encroachment from oncoming vehicles (in spite of the ample width available to them) and from parking abuse, its function is absolutely clear. No need for little blue signs on pole ... [more]

Get a death! This taxi driver told me to 'Get a Life' when I complained about his illegal behaviour. Upto 500 cyclists per half hour use the contra-flow cycle lane he is so effectively obstructing.

The No Entry sign needs turning - and shouldn't there be some sign indicating cycles can pass to the left?

Obstruction of the contraflow cycle lane by illegally parked vehicles is a persistent problem. Cyclists are forced to leave the lane and ride into oncoming traffic to get past vans like these. The second van in the picture is straddling the ... [more]

One contra-flow - 5 white vans parked in it. White van drivers know that the Police and the 'authorities' do absolutely zilch to enforce these cycle lanes, and so the system has totally broken down.

A perennial problem on Bateman Street contraflow.

A perennial problem on Bateman Street contraflow.

Removal van blocking contraflow cycle lane in Bateman St

Removal van blocking contraflow cycle lane in Bateman St

S482 JEG blocking contraflow cycle lane in Bateman St

Amazing! Someone has stopped to unload on Bateman Street without blocking the contraflow cycle lane.

Two white vans blocking the contraflow cycle lane on Bateman Street - right by the traffic island.

Under DfT rules, which can only be described as red tape, excessive levels of signage and infrastructure are needed to make a cycle contraflow. On the continent a single sign that 'cyclists are exempt' from the one-way street is all that is ... [more]

Cyclists traveling in the with traffic direction get a "red carpet". Cyclists from Hamilton Road following the planners invitation onto the contra flow pavement cross against traffic "at own risk".

Cambridge's town centre "bus station" is Emmanuel Street, with stands overflowing into neighbouring streets and a bus garage on the corner with Parkside. It is now one way for motor traffic, with a contraflow lane to maintain 2 way cycle ... [more]

Bus stands in St Andrews Street, just around the corner from the main "bus station" in Emmanuel Street. General traffic is restricted here by the flying motorbike sign. The street is one way to motor traffic, 2 way to cycling - note the ... [more]

New cycle contraflow lane. A little bit narrow but should work fine.

New cycle contraflow lane. A little bit narrow but should work fine.

Cycle contraflow entry.

A cycle way avoiding the no-entry makes John St a false one-way street ie cycle contraflow

Looking towards Hobson Street from King Street. This is one of the most explicit examples of a cycle route going directly between two No Entry signs. The absence of a "cyclists exception " panel underneath the No Entry signs here co ... [more]

Note the small blue sign that allows bikes to legally pass to the right of this bollard. Its very unusual, but it does work. Note: a cycling campaign leisurely ride was stopped by Police going through this gap in March 2006. The ride lea ... [more]

Entry for buses and cycles only to business park

Exit from Fair Street - No entry, with cycle bypass

At the entrance to Fair Street cyclists are directed over the pavement rather than a flush, street level entry

The Maids Causeway ( CB5 8DD ) crossing (at Fair Street, CB1 1HA ) has an automatic detector. It is a TOUCAN crossing turning red for pedestrians / cyclists within 6 seconds, but will actually maintain the red light for motor traffic as lon ... [more]

No entry sign (with cycle bypass) along St Philip's Road.

Selfish unloading by Group 4 Securicor van KH06 0UP, completely blocking the cycle entry.

Taxi parked on the cycle contraflow on Mawson Road - whilst driver was presumably in the kebab shop on the corner.

The cycle lane is marked clearly at its entry, but the driver who parked the lorry doesn't know about it - there is no marking at its exit.

Sign pollution - what a horrible mess this is! Notice the No Entry - with Cyclists Exception which would not be permitted if this was the Highway.

Useful red surfacing across this road joining the contraflow lane.

Taxis in contraflow MCL outside cafe in Mawson Road

Cycle contraflow, Tennis Court Road.

A sensible but not-very-DfT-approved sign to allow contraflow cycling. [see also #11293 - Feb 2008]

The contraflow into Wheeler Street heralding two-way cycling, but its not legal, yet.

Contraflow cycle lane sign in St Andrew's Street

New Cycleway to go in on this two-way street with restricted entry to motor vehicles, after lobbying the Senior Engineer.

one-way road and cycle contraflow from Maris Lane, Trumpington to A1309

Pembroke St contraflow cycle lane blocked by a BT van - a particularly bad location, right by the junction.

The blue cylce sign at the Milton Road entrance of the George Street contraflow cycle lane has disappeared. Previously: #4155

Low-flying motorcycle signs - ie. "No motor vehicle" signs have now replaced the No Entry signs.

Useful stretch of cycle lane making clear to oncoming drivers that cyclists can travel contraflow. Shame it does continue a few more metres round the corner, where it is really needed.

New contraflow installed into Mackenzie Road, thanks to the campaigning efforts of Cambridge Cycling Campaign, and no thanks to certain local Councillors. Location: Cambridge City (England, United Kingdom)

New contraflow installed into Mackenzie Road, thanks to the campaigning efforts of Cambridge Cycling Campaign, and no thanks to certain local Councillors. Location: Cambridge City (England, United Kingdom)

Excellent example of a cycle plug allowing two way cycling in an otherwise one way street

At 09:00 illegal unloading (which is also a breach of planning consent) causes serious problems for the hundreds of cyclists using this route.

Totally thoughtless (and illegal) blocking of the Downing Street contraflow by Area Scaffolding van, registration P214 LLX. See also #15045.

The contraflow cycle lane on Bateman Street - blocked by a white van, as usual.

An island segregating cyclists from oncoming traffic. This enables two way cycling in a psuedo one-way street.

HY54 WZU blocking contraflow cycle lane Bateman St/Panton St corner


A splash of colour. Sidney Street.

Turn left ahead (except cycles) from Sidney Street to Hobson Street.

The small opening here successfully slows cyclists down when entering the newly-cycleable 'pedestrian' zone.

Closeup of the variable restriction sign, midday.

This small blue sign is the only indication that motorists have that cyclists are permitted to ride in both directions. Note the white cycle line on the right comes to an abrupt halt here, just where it could begin to be most helpful.

This is one of the most intimidating pieces of cycle route in Cambridge. See next photo #10153 for more details.

Taxi over-ranking in St Andrews Street is still a problem

New signage showing that Hobson Street is definitely a contraflow.

Sunshine in St Andrews Street

Summer dresses and wicker baskets

Signage warning of two-way cycling on a One-Way Street

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