I’m not a red light evader, but I am certainly a red light avoider. Increasingly, I’ve been choosing roads that allow me to circumvent traffic lights, those sometime enemies of constant pedaling motion. It’s all perfectly legal, officer, and now I’m about to tell you about these roads, should you also wish to avoid getting momentarily held up on your bicycle while riding around London. There’s no need to thank me.
A road engineer or similar expert might be able to explain why there are two successive sets of traffic lights within a few feet of each other at the southern end of Putney Bridge. Law-abiding cyclists such as myself simply see them as a pointless delay. So if, like me, you’re trying get to London Dynamo’s ever-popular Parkride on time, simply get into the bus lane on the left, which isn’t governed by the first set of lights, then move to the right once you’re past them. If you’re lucky, the second set of lights will be green, and you can whoosh round the corner straight into Lower Richmond Road. But remember: this isn’t a race, so whoosh responsibly.
Upper Richmond Road and Sheen Lane
You’ve just completed another successful workout in Richmond Park, and you wish to reward yourself with a scenic pootle along the river as you make your way home. This could involve leaving the park by Sheen Gate and following Sheen Lane until you are deposited at the busy junction on Upper Richmond Road. So forget that. Instead, when you’re halfway down Sheen Lane, take a right onto Richmond Park Road, which will lead you to Pearson Performance.
Hop across Upper Richmond Road to get to the pedestrianised area just outside the shop, carry on down Milton Road, take a left at the end and you’re back on Sheen Lane. Much more pleasant, and quicker, than wading through traffic at the main junction. Also, for added smug value, remind yourself that motor vehicles can’t perform this shortcut.
Lonsdale Road and St Hilda’s Road
This is a simple way to avoid the traffic lights at the southern approach to Hammersmith Bridge. On Lonsdale Road, simply go left at St Hilda’s Road, which is the last turning before the lights…
…then take a right at Glentham Road and carry on until you reach the bridge.
My friend and neighbour Dr Nick Dove pointed this one out to me. Proof, if proof were needed, that you should always heed a doctor’s advice (although I must stress he’s not actually a medical doctor).
Victoria Embankment and Castle Baynard Street
My final tip doesn’t actually involve any lights, red or otherwise, but I’m throwing it in as a bonus entry on this list chiefly because of its uniqueness. Castle Baynard Street is a short tunnel in central London which is usually completely empty. In this photo you can see the traffic bunching as the Blackfriars Underpass begins to jam up…
…while Castle Baynard Street, which runs parallel to it and is right next door, is almost totally clear.
So when you’re heading east along the Victoria Embankment, take a left at Puddle Dock instead of entering the underpass and then immediately turn right. You are now on Castle Baynard Street, which will take you just past the exit of the underpass. Of course, you can creep between the two lanes of stationary motor vehicles in the underpass, but it’s not going to be as quick as Castle Baynard, and you’ll almost certainly have to cross the double white lines, which is wrong and evil. It’s your choice.
I hope all of this has been of some use. Happy shortcutting!