Space for Cycling success: Mayor gives all-clear to major upgrades at Aldgate, Holborn and CS2

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has reaffirmed his commitment to our Love London, Go Dutch campaign, and promised substantial improvements to cycling safety at key locations where our Space for Cycling protests have taken place.

In a letter to our Chief Executive Ashok Sinha (full text below) he’s promises improvements at:

  1. Holborn one-way system
  2. A key Holborn bus route
  3. Aldgate East
  4. Aldgate West
  5. Cycle Superhighway 2

Ashok Sinha said: “We’re delighted the Mayor has responded to our calls for Space for Cycling, and given the go-ahead for substantial improvements at key locations, especially those where cycling fatalities have occurred, and look forward to working with the Mayor’s team to create safer space for cycling.

“We also welcome his unequivocal reaffirmation of his commitment to the principles of our Love London, Go Dutch campaign, promising to make London’s streets safe and inviting for everyone to cycle.”

1. Mayor says Holborn one-way system is ripe for removal

The Mayor has said Transport for London will not block the removal of the one-way system at Holborn, saying he’ll provide “strong support from my office to expedite the removal of the Procter Street gyratory”.

The dangerous Holborn one-way system comprises streets controlled by Camden Council but, in the past, plans to improve similar major junctions for cycling have been blocked by Transport for London on the grounds of maintaining motor traffic capacity.

We welcome this redirection of TfL policy by the Mayor to prioritise safety over motor traffic capacity, because returning streets to two-way, with proper space and signalling for cycling, is a major step towards making them cycle-friendly.

The Mayor’s decision comes only weeks after 2500 people joined an LCC-organised Space for Cycling protest ride through Holborn past the location where Alan Neve was run over by a lorry.

2. Mayor says key Holborn bus route should be open to cycling

Also at Holborn, the Mayor has agreed to changes allow cyclists to use a key bus-priority route, to which access is currently denied: 

“On Theobalds Road, Vernon Place and Bloomsbury Way, my Cycling Commissioner has suggested to the highway authority, the London Borough of Camden, a number of short-term measures which could open the westbound contraflow bus lane to cyclists and make it safe.”

3. Mayor says redirect north-south Aldgate routes for safer cycling

At present, cycle safety around Aldgate is extremely poor, with large volumes of motor traffic, including many HGVs, moving through complex junctions, often turning across the path of cyclists.

We believe the most important thing that can be done to improve safety for cycling in this area is to (i) provide dedicated space for cycling on Cycle Superhighway 2 and (ii) take inner ring-road motor traffic off CS2; for example, by making both Leman Street and Commercial Street two-way.

We’re delighted the Mayor appears to agree with us, saying that dangerous turns on the inner ring-road at Aldgate are also likely to be improved in the near future:

“Andrew [Gilligan] has also asked TfL to look at removing the turning and conflicting movements on Whitechapel High Street, taking northbound traffic on the inner ring-road straight across from Leman Street to Commercial Street exactly as southbound traffic already goes.”

This is very close to the location where 20-year-old student Philippine de Gerin-Ricard was killed while cycling in June 2013, and it’s where our first ‘Space for Cycling’ protest ride this summer took place.

4. Mayor promises to upgrade all Superhighways, including CS2

The Mayor has also repeated the commitment in his Vision for Cycling, echoed several times by his Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan, that all the existing Superhighways would be “substantially improved”.

He says Transport for London has been instructed to “tackle key junctions on superhighways as a much higher priority, with segregated or safer treatments for cyclists”.

We believe fixing CS2 quickly, and to international standards of segregation and safety, is a litmus test of the Mayor’s promises to our Love London, Go Dutch campaign.

5. Mayor calls on City of London to improve Aldgate plans

As well as agreeing to address the crucial locations around Aldgate under this control (see above), the Mayor has also criticised the City of London for not going far enough with its plans for the removal of the western section of the Aldgate one-way system, saying:

“Andrew Gilligan and my Deputy Mayor for Transport, Isabel Dedring, have told the City that its plans, though a significant improvement on now, are still not fully consistent with my cycling vision. Therefore, we are currently in discussion with officers and the political leadership of the City about this project.” 

We’ve praised the City’s plan to remove this unpleasant and dangerous one-way system, but have been dismayed at the lack of safe space for cycling provided in the new street designs, despite this being a major east-west route for cycle commuters. 

We strongly welcome the Mayor’s position that this entire area must conform to the principles of safety and comfort for cycling as put forward by our Love London, Go Dutch campaign and in his Vision for Cycling

Full text of the letter from Boris Johnson to Ashok Sinha:

Dear Ashok,

Thank you for your email of 22 July following the tragic deaths of Ms Philippine de Gerin-Ricard and Mr Alan Neve. In my Vision for Cycling in March, I promised that all the existing superhighways would be substantially improved. I also promised to tackle key junctions on superhighways as a much higher priority, with segregated or safer treatments for cyclists. I specifically named Aldgate, where Ms de Gerin-Ricard died, as “one of London’s worst junctions” which needed “early and major improvements” to become “safer and less threatening for cyclists.”

In the five months since then, my Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, and Transport for London have been working hard to fulfil these promises. They started with 62, the superhighway most in need of improvement. TfL has completed an outline study which concludes that it is capable of a “substantial upgrade” and at the end of April my Cycling Commissioner asked TfL to work on this in more detail. The results of this detailed work will be available soon.

Andrew has also asked TfL to look at removing the turning and conflicting movements on Whitechapel High Street, taking northbound traffic on the inner ring road straight across from Leman Street to Commercial Street exactly as southbound traffic already goes.

A few yards to the west of where the death happened, on City of London roads, the City, with funding from TfL, will remove the gyratory that encircles Aldgate Tube station. Aldgate High Street and St Botolph Street will both become two-way and cyclists will no longer have to filter into the middle of fast-moving traffic.

Andrew Gilligan and my Deputy Mayor for Transport, Isabel Dedring, have told the City that its plans, though a significant improvement on now, are still not fully consistent with my cycling vision. Therefore, we are currently in discussion with officers and the political leadership of the City about this project.

On Theobalds Road, Vernon Place and Bloomsbury Way, my Cycling Commissioner has suggested to the highway authority, the London Borough of Camden, a number of short-term measures which could open the westbound contraflow bus lane to cyclists and make it safe.

It is currently closed to them because it is narrow and far more unsafe than the alternative route (cyclists overtake slow-moving buses in the lane and are hit by traffic coming the other way.) In the medium-term, he has promised strong support from the my office to expedite the removal of the Procter Street gyratory.

All this is part of a much bigger programme which includes new segregated routes, Quietway backstreet routes, Dutch-style infrastructure on London’s roads, and changes to many other junctions.

I share your impatience for change. But I promised in my cycling vision that I would do things adequately, or not at all. I will not make instant changes in response to a tragedy which could inadvertently make things more dangerous for cyclists or other vulnerable groups, such as pedestrians. However, I hope that you will start seeing the fruits of change in the fairly near future.

I remain wholeheartedly committed to Love London, Go Dutch and look forward to our continued work together.

Thank you again for writing to me.

Yours ever,

Boris Johnson
Mayor of London

Replies

Well done for keeping the pressure on Boris. Boris has given his support to the promoting cycling for everyone and we should give him credit for that. However we need to make sure that he keeps the pressure on TfL to get their act together, implement his policies and stop marginalising cycling. It is only by improving conditions on the roads that we make progress towards being a cycling city.

Fredofred, you're exactly the type of voter that Boris Johnson likes, someone that actually believes he's trying to help.  It's clear to see that this evil man is a motoring obsessed maniac who likes to tell people what they want to hear in the hope that they will believe him.  You've only got to look at the vagueness of the closing paragraph to see how serious he is.  Why London cyclists put up with this fool I've no idea.

This is very good news. I wonder if the plans for Aldgate include a review of the cycle and bus lane at Dukes Place? The current arrangement means that, after using the segregated cycle path entering Dukes place, cyclists are almost immediately forced to move back into the middle of the road, into the path of fast moving traffic, because of the need to avoid a bus stop (there is usually a bus there) and at times parked lorries near the bus stop. It's dangerous and creates a lot of conflict between cyclists and others

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