James May takes veiled swipe at Cycleway 9 in Chiswick

Image above: James May building a bike; YouTube

Cycleway 9 has become “almost unworkable” says former Top Gear star

TV presenter James May, who lives in Hammersmith and is a previous resident of Chiswick, has taken a veiled swipe at the segregated cycle lane Cycleway 9, which connects Kensington Olympia and Brentford, via Chiswick High Road.

The Top Gear and Grand Tour presenter was one of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme guest editors over Christmas and took the opportunity to criticise it. Without naming Chiswick directly, James described a segregated cycle lane in west London on which he was riding for a report on the programme on Wednesday 27 December.

“We are in west London. Where there is a very complicated and expensive cycle lane in place. I’m a car enthusiast… but I also love bicycles and I love cycling around London because it is good for you and it is quite good fun and to be honest it’s now the quickest way to get about.

“So, cycling is good and I like cycling infrastructure, I like cycle lanes, I think a lot of them are excellent. But I think some of them, such as the one here, are overwrought and to be honest, too complicated for their own good.”

He went on to describe seeing a van attempting to drive down the cycle lane, adding “he’s going to find that that doesn’t fit”.

Image above: Cycleway 9

Cyclists, pedestrians and cars ‘should be able to co-exist’

Speaking later on the show, he said Transport for London had designed a cycle lane with the mentality of car-driving:

“They’ve applied traffic lights and give way [signs] when it’s become so complicated. The problem is you have a two-way cycle lane alongside a two-way road and there is no precedent for that. It causes all sorts of problems, which they’ve tried to solve with more traffic lights and more give ways and more controls. It’s become almost unworkable”

He added:

“Despite what everybody says about segregating bicycles and pedestrians and cars, I don’t see why in an idealised world, all those things shouldn’t be able to co-exist in the same space in perfect harmony, because the roads are a shared space, like parks, they’re equally open to anybody.

“And it’s the mark of a stylish cyclist or driver to be able to accommodate everybody else who’s out there, I don’t see why it should be a problem and I don’t see why we have to go to all these enormous efforts to try and circumvent a problem that could be cured by a change of attitude.”