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“They would never block a whole road without permission”: London Marathon organisers slammed for blocking cycle lane, forcing cyclists “into oncoming traffic”

“Cycle infrastructure is still considered second class. It’s obvious they didn’t care,” the cyclist said

As the world’s finest long-distance runners, along with over 50,000 plucky amateurs in fancy dress and raising funds for charity, take over the streets of the capital this morning for the 2024 edition of the London Marathon, one cyclist has pointed out that the build-up to the event proved a little less accommodating for those on two wheels.

London-based cyclist Rich was riding on Cycleway 4 on Tooley Street, near the junction with Tanner Street, on Friday afternoon at 2pm when he discovered that the protected cycle lane was blocked by workers setting up the necessary infrastructure for Sunday’s marathon, an obstruction he claimed was forcing cyclists using the lane into oncoming motor traffic.

Posting an image on X (formerly Twitter) of a truck connected with the event’s set-up blocking the entire path, Rich wrote: “For the second year in a row, London Marathon workers setting up fully block Cycleway 4, dangerously forcing contraflow cyclists into oncoming traffic with no signal.

“They don’t block the road of course and no formal closure. Transport for London, this is appalling.”

As Rich noted, this is the second year running he has noticed vehicles associated with the London Marathon blocking Cycleway 4 in the run-up to the event, with the cyclist posting a similar image on social media last April:

Meanwhile, other cyclists criticised the lack of warning that the cycleway would be closed, with one social media user noting that the marathon’s impact on cycling infrastructure in London failed to warrant a mention on Transport for London’s ‘major works and events’ page (RideLondon, the annual cycle race and mass participation event, set to take place at the end of May, is included, however).

“It is disappointing that the cycle lane is viewed as fair game for a convenient parking spot with no regard for the safety of those who need it,” Rich tells road.cc.

“Cycle infrastructure is still considered second class. They would never just stop and block a whole road without permission.”

Rich also criticised the lack of safety measures put in place to allow cyclists to navigate the impromptu obstruction.

“I think the marathon is great, but if there is no choice but to block the cycle lane for set-up then they should get proper permission, use signs, or traffic management and provide a safe alternative just as they would if closing a road,” he says.

“It is obvious they didn’t care. By parking here, cyclists travelling west have to go onto the road into oncoming traffic or end up on the pavement which is unfair to pedestrians.”

> Manchester City fans slammed for “constantly blocking” cycle lane outside Etihad Stadium, as council says it “shares cyclists’ frustration” with illegal parking

However, rather unsurprisingly, not everyone on social media agreed with Rich’s stance on the decision to block the cycleway to allow for marathon preparation.

“That’s a two-way street to your right. Not pushed into oncoming traffic, unless you’re really bad at cycling. Perhaps they should cancel the marathon for you,” wrote Steve.

“No, it’s a one-way street with a contraflow bus lane which is on the other side of the road so any westbound cyclists forced out of the cycle lane there are going directly into a lane of oncoming traffic,” Rich replied. “They just need proper traffic management it really isn’t difficult.”

“So if they had put in a full closure of the road and cycle lane, would that be beneficial to you?” asked Russ. “You still wouldn’t be able to cycle down there. Surely better to get off your bike, push it around the parked vehicle, and get on with your day?”

“They don’t need a full closure, they just need a permit for traffic management, temporary lights and a temporary lane,” Rich, again, gamely responded.

“Or just park a few metres round the corner. It really isn’t hard, but they don’t give a shit because it’s easier to put cyclists at risk by dumping the truck there. Also, if you look at the picture you’ll see the pavement is blocked too. No thought for accessibility?”

road.cc has contacted Transport for London and the TCS London Marathon for comment.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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47 comments

Avatar
Adam Sutton | 1 month ago
0 likes

Imagine coming to London on the run up to the marathon and being surprised at disruption.

The reality is this will I guess be a bus route. Like it or not blocking the cycle lane for a short time doesn't stop cyclists getting through. If the rider wasn't comfortable using the road get off and walk your bike through, something a bus wouldn't be able to do.

Outside of the London bubble so many seem to live in it is regular to find road closures and diversions. It's a double whammy, a lack of decent public transport meaning more car reliance and making it easier to close roads. We just moved to Sussex and pretty much every night from 8pm for the last couple of months the A21 has been closed until 6am the following day, with a huge diversion in place. That being the main trunk road from London to Hastings.

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Bungle_52 | 1 month ago
8 likes

I know this is a bit late but one thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is the extra wear and possible damage to the cycle lane surface due to being driven on by cars and heavy lorrries. I don't know what the specs are for cycle lanes but if they are specced for lorries then that would add unnecessary cost and if they are not they shouldn't be driven on.

Cycle lanes (the newer ones anyway) are just about the only smooth surfaces left to cycle on at the moment, it seems a shame to let heavy motor vehicles ruin that for us.

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Robbiedondo | 1 month ago
1 like

I find issues all the time for a car driver that wouldn't be an issue on the bike, ie roads closed to vehicles that are still passable on a bike,  as a cyclist there are some things that just affect car drivers and not us and this will continue

Our land is getting busier, more traffic and more requirements for roads due to more developments, we can't changer this so may as well get used to it there will be more roadworks, more traffic lights in a location for weeks with no apparent work being done, these are all things that we can either put up with or shorten our life by getting agitated about

These guys are working, the quicker they do it the less time the disruption lasts, if they park round the corner, the job will take longer/require more people, if they park on the road, then they impact the flow of traffic, its not a win/win, someone gets affected, car drivers say, "make it the cyclists", cyclists say, "make it the car drivers" lets just get it done and get on with our day

Cyclists are becoming a parody of car drivers whom some see as the devil, but are quick to troll out all the same sort of guff about how other people shouldn't be on the road, its there for all and we all need to be more tolerant

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brooksby replied to Robbiedondo | 1 month ago
5 likes
Quote:

if they park on the road, then they impact the flow of traffic,

And if they park on the cycle lane, they're still impacting the flow of traffic.  Different traffic - two-wheeled, human-powered traffic rather than motor vehicles.

I think that the complaint is that given the choice between parking on the road and parking on the cycle lane (or the footpath, for that matter), more than 9 times out of 10 they'll go with not blocking the road.

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chrisonabike replied to Robbiedondo | 1 month ago
1 like

I think your specific complaint about "just get on with it" was already answered here.  However on some of the more general points:

Robbiedondo wrote:

I find issues all the time for a car driver that wouldn't be an issue on the bike, ie roads closed to vehicles that are still passable on a bike,  as a cyclist there are some things that just affect car drivers and not us and this will continue ...

And vice versa, surely.  But ... more so, if it's your life or health at stake?  I can't remember the last time I worried about being hit by a cyclist as I got into a car.

Robbiedondo wrote:

[...] these are all things that we can either put up with or shorten our life by getting agitated about

There are some things we can't change.  Actually, most things.  OTOH collectively there clearly are lots of things we can change by asking / campaigning - that's what we have councillors, MPs etc.

Robbiedondo wrote:

Our land is getting busier, more traffic and more requirements for roads due to more developments ...

These are all choices by someone people, no?  Or rather the result of "policy" - which is made by our elected representatives and their officers.

Question is - even if you think that population growth and housing development are out of anyone's control (they could be) we (collectively) can still choose how we aim to serve people's travel demands, can we not?

The problem with motor vehicles is they're an incredibly space-inefficient mode of transport.  Plus they create demand for more widespread development (because people now drive and so they can travel further - although many journeys we drive are actually quite short).  The motor vehicles we (choose to) drive ARE the "traffic" that we complain about when we moan about "traffic" and "congestion".  Perhaps we should just put up and not shorten our lives by getting agitated - or perhaps not drive some of those trips?

Even worse as fast as we make extra space it will be filled up.  We're in a self-defeating cycle currently.

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quadtodd | 1 month ago
2 likes

And 3 of the 'workers' are just leaning! 

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chrisonabike replied to quadtodd | 1 month ago
2 likes

Well obviously the gaffer, supervisor and quality control/monitoring/public liason officer have more important tasks than just shifting signs about...

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brooksby replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
2 likes

"'Right", said Fred, "we'll 'ave to get a move on…"

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eburtthebike | 1 month ago
7 likes

I can't quite believe that they have done this two years running and didn't learn the lessons from last year.  At the very least they should have applied for permission to close the cycle lane and provided a safe, convenient, signed alternative.  I wonder if their risk assessment covered it, and the likelihood of being sued for any injury to a cyclist as a result of their reckless behaviour.

I'm afraid I would have been on the phone to the police and mayor demanding that this obstruction to the highway be removed pronto.

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TROOPER74 replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
2 likes

Boring ... come outside the M25 and experience the real world ...

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Rendel Harris replied to TROOPER74 | 1 month ago
5 likes
TROOPER74 wrote:

Boring ... come outside the M25 and experience the real world ...

Is that in leafy Essex, by any chance?

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ktache replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
4 likes

London does seem to exist, making it REAL, and also seems to be part of the WORLD, it is not a figment of someone's imagination, so by being there, are you not experiencing "the real world"?

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eburtthebike replied to TROOPER74 | 1 month ago
3 likes
TROOPER74 wrote:

Boring ... come outside the M25 and experience the real world ...

Thanks for the tip.  I didn't realise the Forest of Dean was inside the M25.

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TROOPER74 | 1 month ago
1 like

For the second year in a row those cyclists that wake up every morning determined to be outraged and offended by anything they can find to rant about have been given a platform by the London Marathon free of charge ... well done London Marathon for your support of outraged cyclists in London ....

p.s. The rest of the cyclists in the country went for a ride ........... .......It was a nice day ...

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a1white replied to TROOPER74 | 1 month ago
5 likes

I know you're just trying to Troll here, but at least try to understand the argument:

1. No one at all is against the Marathon. So don't start the "It's only 1 day" argument.

2. This is not disruption caused on the day of the Marathon, everyone is aware of that and it is advertised weeks in advance with road closues and times etc. This is preparation works that happen in the days before at random times.

3. The argument is, the truck could just as easily been driving along the road and blocking perhaps 1/3rd of it as it unloaded instead it drove down the cycle path blocking 100% of the lane during a busy period of the day when 1000's of commuters are trying to to/from work. Surely you can understand the argument that says this could have perhaps been carried out in a safer way? As a 2 way cycle lane you have to cycle into oncoming (busy) traffic to avoid this. Multiply this by the numerous cyclists travelling this route and you are creating a needless danger to peoples lives (a 15 girl had serious head injuries after being hit by a motorist when crossing this road earlier in the week) that did not need to happen with just a little bit of forward planning. perhaps they could have done this late on in the evening or very early morning, when the road is quieter, or drive on the road?

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perce replied to a1white | 1 month ago
6 likes

Agreed on all counts. And it's the tacit assumption that as it's only a cycle lane it doesn't really matter anyway.

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chrisonabike replied to perce | 1 month ago
4 likes

I think it's:

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E6toSE3 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Haven't ridden Tooley St for a few years. Why even have a cycle lane. It was always easy to ride for 40 years. Bike lane narrows the rest of the road so big vehicle lanes become more hazardous for everyone, including cyclists who might have to enter it.

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E6toSE3 replied to E6toSE3 | 1 month ago
6 likes

But... if we must have cycle lanes, then treat them properly. The lorry and signage team should be penalised and future guidelines should enforce a 'Keep cycle lanes clear' policy. Sloppy parking and construction equipment in bike lanes make them more dangerous than not having them

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TROOPER74 replied to E6toSE3 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Cycle Lanes ...mmmm

For your safety or for your control .... ?  Discuss ....

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chrisonabike replied to TROOPER74 | 1 month ago
2 likes

Too right!  I don't sign up to the flock and get fleeced, me!  I use my freedom and cycle along roads, across roads, through fields, over the railway lines, through people's living rooms and I'm currently stuck in a watery ditch after making a hasty exit from the zoo.

Do you mean like this?

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chrisonabike replied to E6toSE3 | 1 month ago
5 likes

I've ridden, cycle infra or no, all my life.  (Although increasingly I find myself automatically avoiding the busy streets and waiting at lights / junctions because - living in NW Edinburgh - I'm fortunate to have alternatives.)

But ... the vast majority of people don't.  Not all of them would (even given their own space to do so), and not all journeys would be ridden even if it were possible.  However the results from several other countries plus surveys here plus the fact that even in the UK the majority of trips are cycleable very strongly suggest that a lot more people would cycle some trips.  But separate cycle paths (better than bike lanes) seem to be a "necessary" - if not sufficient.

I don't know this location so it could well be that the cycle path isn't that important here.  Sadly in the UK we tend to build cycle infra where it's easiest, not where it's most needed - indeed the "easy" places tend to be the places where it's least needed because more space / less motorists to upset!

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Owd Big 'Ead | 1 month ago
5 likes

Odd comments.
It's not about "you", is it? You aren't everyone.
Just because some people don't see a problem, doesn't make it right.
Me, I'd have just bunny hopped onto the pavement, scattering pedestrians in my wake, while giving the workmen the "wankers" sign and calling them a bunch of incompetent cock-wobbles.
That's the way to do it, surely?

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ktache replied to Owd Big 'Ead | 1 month ago
2 likes

But the workmen appear to be blocking the pavement too.

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don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
10 likes

They should have used the road, neither of the images show cars using the road, perhaps it should be removed altogether. Millions poured into infra and no one using it!

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john_smith replied to don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
6 likes

Exactly. It's political correctness gone mad. Brussels and Berlin forcing us to build roads no one uses.

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don simon fbpe replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
5 likes
john_smith wrote:

Exactly. It's political correctness gone mad. Brussels and Berlin forcing us to build roads no one uses.

If only there was some way I could escape from the clutches of unelected bureaucrats.

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I love my bike | 1 month ago
2 likes

Seems they should have used a lorry with crane to drop off the mile markers? Would have saved time, caused little disruption & needed fewer men in hi-viz!

Alternatively/additionally they could have chosen a better time, with lower traffic?

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ktache replied to I love my bike | 1 month ago
6 likes

Or maybe use a lane of the road which does seem to be very wide. It is a motor vehicle.

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john_smith | 1 month ago
4 likes

Isn't there a number you can ring to get stuff like this towed away? What would happen if the parked vehicles were blocking a road or someone's driveway entrance?

 

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