Vauxhall Gyratory cycling experiment

19 Jan

[Don’t be tempted to try this!]

I set out this morning with a simple idea – to test the relative merits of cycling different routes around the Vauxhall gyratory.  In the end, I had to call the experiment off because I thought it too dangerous even though it was a sunny Sunday and traffic was quieter than normal.

The intention was to cycle the following routes at a moderate pace and see what the average timings were. Here are the results:

  • Inner road route (5 laps) : average 3 minutes 18 seconds
  • Outer road route: (1 lap) 6 minutes 25 seconds
  • Cycle lane route  (2 laps) average 9 minutes  15 seconds

All traffic and pedestrian lights were complied with (6 on the two road routes and 10 on the cycle lane route) . As it turned out the experiment was flawed.  It would have been better to test typical routes through the Vauxhall gyratory rather than go completely around it.   The outer route I had in mind (tracking as close as practical to the cycle lane route) proved too dangerous due to having to cross the flow of traffic in place. Whilst I could have persevered, it didn’t seem a justifiable risk for a flawed experiment.  

In conclusion:

  • At over 9 minutes, I found the cycling route tortuous and can understand why some cyclists and pedestrians choose to ‘jump’  lights;
  • On the cycle lane route, there was more  conflict with pedestrians than expected so much so that I preferred to use the roads.  In any case, parts of the route had to be on the road anyway.
  •  On each lap I was obliged to stop on at least two occasions but often much more.  Although it may be possible to cross sections of the gyratory e.g. Vauxhall Bridge towards Kennington without stopping it it unlikely that you could go around the gyratory at a steady pace without being forced to stop at some point.



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  1. Sean

    January 19, 2014 at 22:37

    I cycle regularly here, on several different routes, and I’ve tried both the cycles lanes and mixing with traffic. How I approach the junction depends on a few factors, but one of the key ones is my position in traffic. If I’m going from Wandsworth Road to Albert Embankment for instance, if I’m able to get into advance stop lane easily then I’ll typically take the road as it’s much faster, but if I’m stuck within the flow of traffic at the traffic lights before the gyratory it’s too intimidating so I turn into the pedestrian crossing and use the cycle route.

    I’m not 100% certain the cycle path is safer though – the turns from the gyratory into and out of St George’s Wharf technically give priority to cars and not the bike lane, but most cyclists (and pedestrians) won’t realise this. Car drivers often approach the turn with speed – I’ve seen pedestrians have to jump out of the way.

    The best thing for the gyratory would be to impose a strict 20mph motor speed limit, enforce by large automatic fines. At that speed cyclists could more easily mix with traffic, and cars wouldn’t be going so far as they turn into St George’s Wharf.