OK, I’ll admit it, I’ve only actually cycled around the Waterloo Imax roundabout once, and that was only because I had forgotten that was what was at the end of Waterloo bridge. When it comes to big scary multi-lane roundabouts I’m as much of a wuss as the next cyclist with all her arms and legs intact. I can just about handle two-lane roundabouts if they’re quite small and not too busy and I’m going left or straight on but a big fast three-lane, London, choose your lane NOW puny cyclist NOW not in a bit when that bus has gone but NOW come on accelerate and signal and look behind you all at once NOW you need to be doing at least 20mph to play in traffic you know type roundabout then well, I’m all for getting off and pushing. And on this occasion I was on a Boris Bike. Admittedly I had company – I was following the Vole O’Speed and a number of other fine Cycling Embassy folk on a tour of London’s finest infrastructure – and was just enjoying the view of the lights reflected on the inky waters of the Thames as we cycled over the bridge when I looked in front of me and saw the Imax and remembered the roundabout. The Vole, once he gets the bit between his teeth, is not one for stopping or even hearing people announcing that it’s been fun and all, but they’ll be dismounting and taking the underpass, thank you very much, so there was nothing to do but plunge after him pedalling for all I was worth while mentally going something like ‘aieeeeeeeeeee! I’m going to dieeeeeee!‘, only not quite so coherent.
Unfortunately, when I do return to London on occasion with my bike, Waterloo Bridge and its scary roundabout are quite awkward to avoid for most of the journeys I’d want to cycle. So I was pleased to see that this is one of the junctions that TfL will be tackling as part of its review of London’s most dangerous junctions. And I was impressed at the balls of steel displayed by London’s commuters as 5,500 of them apparently cycle around it every weekday, most of them (I imagine) not screaming like a girl, or at least not much. Given that that’s a quarter of the traffic on the roundabout, you’d hope that the end result would be something pretty spiffy for the cyclists but it looks like in fact what it’s going to be is a bit of paint on the road and a promised 20mph speed limit (but not yet).* Given that this is coming after the mayor signed up to the London Cycling Campaign’s ‘Go Dutch’ pledge (possibly under the mistaken impression that that meant cyclists could just share the road and pay half) it’s a little disappointing. You can read what the real grown up bike bloggers think here, and have your say here, although given that work starts a week after the consultation closes, I don’t imagine they’ll be paying much attention. Yeah, one of those consultation exercises.
There are times – like this morning, when I had to cycle a 15 mile round trip just to get a paper – when I miss London. So I’m grateful when TfL come along to remind me why it is I should be delighted not to have to live there any more.
* ‘Well, duh,’ said the other half when I read this out to him. ‘If you’ve already got that many cyclists going round there you don’t want to encourage any more of them.’