GLA Transport Committee questions the Cycling Commissioner on cycle superhighways

The GLA's Transport Committee met this morning (14 October 2014) with Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan to discuss the cycle superhighways - including what action is being taken on the conflict of interest highlighted by LCC and others in the last few days.

You can watch a webcast of the meeting here, but we popped along and took a few notes - we've tried to summarise below.

Gilligan was first asked about the response to the cycle superhighways, and his thoughts.

Gilligan responded that the scheme pales by comparison with other projects that TfL have undertaken. Of the 1450 miles of road that make up the Transport for London Route Network (TLRN), the Strategic Road Network (SRN) and the Borough Principle Road Network, the NS/EW schemes and the upgrade of CS2 combined represent about 9 miles.

Gilligan added that the only way it doesn’t pale by comparison with other projects is in terms of capacity. He said that Bus Plus in 2003 created capacity for an extra 10,000 users in the busiest hour; these three routes will create the capacity for 9000 users every hour, and said it was a huge amount of transport capacity for not very much money. 3000 cyclists an hour - the capacity of each of the routes - is the equivalent of running 41 extra full buses every hour.

Chair of the GLA Transport Committee Caroline Pidgeon stated that there have been some concerns about public consultation from residents who haven’t been able to understand some of the technical details, and a mixed response from the business lobby. Gilligan responded that to date the support has far outweighed the opposition. He added that TfL are committed to working with people who’ve got concerns to see if they can find ways to improve the scheme and remove some of those concerns. 

Gilligan explained a bit more of the detail on the plans - and how they represent a step change in cycling provision for London. He said that the scheme provides continental style cycling facilities for London for almost the first time, which will link to the existing CS3 and create a continuous largely segregated route all the way from Barking and Canary Wharf in the East out to Acton, eventually, in the West. And, he added, it will link with the north-south route at Blackfriars from Elephant and Castle to King’s Cross, and that in turn will link with CS7 at Elephant. He said that a huge number of journeys across central London will be makeable largely or entirely on segregated tracks, and added that the scheme going in through the Vauxhall gyratory would mean that no cyclists will have to go round the gyratory anymore. He also gave a bit more information on the upgrade to CS2, where the proposal is to introduce segregation and floating bus stops.
 
Richard Tracey then asked Gilligan about the mini Holland scheme, which invited London boroughs to bid for funding. Gilligan explained that 10 boroughs were shortlisted and 3 were winners, but the 7 runners up will get elements of their bids funded. The boroughs have been written to in the last few days to explain what's being funded, and this is due to be announced at the GLA Budget Committee next week.
 
Navin Shah raised concerns that the mini Holland concept should not be left to competing for funds, but should be part of the whole strategy for sustainable transport. Gilligan responded that while the other outer London boroughs aren't going to get as much as the mini Holland winners, they are all getting substantial investment as a result of the Quietways program, which is a program of mainly backstreet routes due to extend to all 32 boroughs. Gilligan said that the pilot phase is underway and is on 7 routes, which are going to enter 15 boroughs. The second phase should be underway quite soon. That will cover all 32 boroughs.
 
Richard Tracey asked Gilligan what contribution cycling could make to the Infrastructure Plan for 2050. Gilligan responded that at the moment there are about 580k journeys by bike in London per day, and he envisages that rising to between 1.2 and 1.5 million. He said that would include significant modal shift, and a reduction in pressure on other modes. He said that 32% of people on one of the first superhighways, CS7, after the first year, were new to cycling and had previously travelled by other modes - an example of pressure that cycling can relieve on the transport network. He added that they have survey results which show 7 out of 10 people who don’t cycle now would be prepared to consider cycling if safe facilities were available to them.
 
He added that since the announcement of the Cycling Vision in March 2013 there have been 23 cyclist fatalities. Of those, 10 were at places where there are proposals to introduce segregated tracks. 
Gilligan talked further about encouraging different types of cyclists using the road. He said that at the moment cycling is disproportionately young and male and that’s because of the conditions – those are the people who feel able to cycle. He said he thinks they will see far more women, far more older people cycle after these changes and that will change the culture of cycling towards what we see in continental cities where they do have that separated infrastructure. 
 
Val Shawcross stated that cross party, the Committee has all supported space for cycling and segregation, and she said it is distressing to see an opening up of conflict about this issue. She said that it's important that we all stay calm and get on with the job, which must be about having some decent design consultation and listening to people as well as pressing ahead. 
 
Val then asked Gilligan: whether or not Peter Anderson, as a TfL board member, has potentially a conflict of interest on this issue and how this might be dealt with by the Mayor within in the context of TfL?
 
Gilligan responded that "We are seeking legal advice on Mr Anderson’s position from the general counsel Howard Carter. TfL does have processes in place in accordance with the statutory requirements under the GLA Act for dealing with conflicts of interest at board and panel meetings, and where there is conflict a board member can be recused from discussing the relevant subject matter."
 
Finally, Darren Johnson stated that he very much shares the vision of continental style infrastructure, but wanted to ask how many of the superhighways would be completed by 2016. Gilligan responded that the program is the same number of superhighways but not all in the same places. CS6 and CS12 have been cancelled; in their place are the North-South and East-West superhighways.

He added that there are a couple of others which are being delivered as part of Mini Holland or Quietway type programs although they’re on main roads. He said CS9 is going ahead on Hammersmith and Fulham and Hounslow parts of the route. He also said that there's going to be a new superhighway on Lea Bridge Rd in Waltham Forest as part of their mini Holland bid which will link with a new route into central London through Hackney. He said that the timing is in the gift of the boroughs on those, but North-South, East-West, the CS2 upgrade and CS1 (City to Tottenham) would be by 2016. He added that CS11 would probably be by the end of 2016, and that two upgrades on CS5; the big scheme at Vauxhall Cross and an upgrade on CS7 at Oval starting imminently are due by 2016.

The Transport Committee will be meeting to look at the Cycle Superhighways plans in more detail in December.