A short guide to shortcuts

June 6, 2013

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.

Putney Bridge
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.

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…

Lonsdale Road and St Hilda's Road

…then take a right at Glentham Road and carry on until you reach the bridge.

Exiting Glentham Road

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…

Blackfriars Underpass

…while Castle Baynard Street, which runs parallel to it and is right next door, is almost totally clear.

Great Baynard Street

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!

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3 Responses to “A short guide to shortcuts”

  1. Saddened Says:

    right, so you’re suggesting cyclists ride through pedestrianised areas as short cuts? Really?

    I am a cyclist, but I care about those equal and below me in the street-power ladder; I never, ever cycle through areas where pedestrians expect to be safe – because I also expect them to be safe.

    Cycling on pavements is for ten year olds.


    • Hello Saddened!

      Cheer up! It’s not that bad!

      The pedestrianised area directly outside Pearsons’ door is actually part of the road – it’s accessible by motor vehicles, although not from Sheen Lane. True, you’d need to get over the pavement if you’re cycling from Sheen Lane, but it’s less than a bike length. You could always dismount, and it would still be quicker and easier than using the busy junction.

      As for Glentham Road, my photo wasn’t clear enough: it exits straight onto a cycle lane which is on the pavement.

      Happy cycling!


  2. I think the double lights on Putney Bridge are there precisely to allow buses eg 265 turning right (and indeed cyclists and taxis) the opportunity to get into the right turn lane from the bus lane without getting caught up in the rest of the traffic – the phasing certainly suggests so


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