Last chance to have your say on the new Cycle Superhighways plans'
- By AmySummers_LCC on at 3:03pm 7 November 2014
- Posted in: News and blogs, Take action
- Tagged with: boris johnson, cycle superhighways, north, vision for cycling, Green Alliance, South, East West Superhighways
This article was originally posted on the Green Alliance Blog.
In 2013, the mayor of London Boris Johnson published his , a document which we described as “one of the most ambitious plans to promote cycling ever produced by a major UK political leader”. Johnson himself described it as a “profound shift in my ambitions and intentions for the bicycle in London”. It promised an increase in the total cycling budget to almost £400 million over the next three years; a commitment to delivering future cycle superhighways to international standards, and the development of a London cycling network.
Andrew Gilligan, the mayor’s cycling commissioner, said: “[This] document shows how seriously the mayor has taken his Go Dutch promise to the LCC and the cyclists of London.” The future of London cycling was beginning to look rosy.
Tragically, it took a spate of fatalities before further promises were made, and a long period of inactivity. This time last year was a terrible period, with six cyclists killed on London’s roads in just two weeks, a clear demonstration of the urgent need to redesign our streets. Particular urgency surrounded cycle superhighway 2, which runs from Aldgate to Stratford; a route on which six cyclists have died since 2011, the worst casualty record for any similar road in London. A consultation on an upgrade to the route, which would introduce protected space for cyclists, .
But it feels like we’re on the cusp of seeing real change. Over the past six weeks, Transport for London has been running a public consultation on two new cycle superhighways: an from Tower Hill to Acton; and from Elephant and Castle to King’s Cross. On both routes, road space would be reallocated from motor traffic to provide protected space for cycling. This is a change proposed in response to how Londoners are using our roads: cyclists make up 24 per cent of all rush hour traffic in central London, and make up almost half of rush hour traffic at points on these routes.
The two routes would meet at Blackfriars, where LCC organised flashride protests over the failure to provide safe space for cycling after the station’s renovation. Now, as the proposed cycle superhighway junction, it could become the iconic location for the transformation of London into a city with real space for cycling.
Two routes, of course, don’t make a cycle network. But what these new superhighways represent is a serious commitment to reallocate road space from motor traffic to cycles. They offer a glimpse of what London could be: a city where the tens of thousands who want to cycle, but don’t dare in the current conditions, feel able to do so. A city where children are able to cycle to school and enjoy the benefits, rather than a city where a third of children leave primary school obese or overweight. A city which enjoys clean air, rather than failing to meet EU limits on airborne pollution. A city with streets as safe and inviting for cyclists as they are in Holland.
The north-south and east-west cycle superhighways consultation closes this Sunday (9 November 2014). The response to them has been overwhelmingly positive. Politicians from all parties have spoken out in support. Academics and architects have penned public letters, welcoming the plans. Large employers including Microsoft, Orange, Deloitte, RBS, Allen & Overy and the City of London Police have also responded to the consultation . Almost 6,000 people have written to Transport for London through the , and countless more have responded to the consultation directly.
These proposals aren’t just good for cyclists, they’re good for everyone; and they’re essential to keep London moving as there will be a 40 per cent increase in people working in central London over the coming decades.
A small but powerful minority have opposed the plans. Canary Wharf Group has led a campaign against the proposals, issuing against the superhighways. But the public response to their opposition is telling. Peter Walker wrote in that the “”; Chris Boardman, Olympic medallist and respected cycle campaigner, wrote that “the limo-users’ view of how London is governed, like their view of how London travels around, .” At a local level, London’s boroughs are waking up to the need to provide safe space for cycling, with 45 per cent of councillors pledging support for LCC’s campaign.
There is a long way to go before London becomes a city with streets which are as safe and inviting for cycling as they are in the Netherlands. But the past few weeks have demonstrated that the political will is there. Let’s make sure that this glimpse of a great city for cycling becomes a reality.