London Cycling Campaign says new cycle superhighways essential to keep London moving

Transport for London’s publication today of impact reports for the East-West and North-South Cycle Superhighways show that fears of London grinding to a halt are unfounded. LCC Chief Executive Ashok Sinha said:

“There will be a 40% increase in people working in central London Boroughs over the coming decades. Promoting cycling will not be the cause of congestion, it will be essential to keeping London moving."

London Cycling Campaign accepts that, whilst the cycling brings overall benefits to London through reduced congestion, improved air quality, and a healthier workforce, there will be motor traffic delays to some in the short term. But making cycling through central London safe, including by installing the new superhighways, will bring immense long term benefits – as businesses and business leaders are queuing up to say.

This publication comes in the same week as Sir Peter Hendy warned of trouble on an increasingly crowded public transport system.

“Sir Peter Hendy has warned that overcrowding on London’s public transport system could lead to riots. If we want to avoid disorder or people taking to their cars to get to work – causing even more congestion - then investing in cycling superhighways like these is an absolute must.” said Sinha.

Tfl’s modelling tries to predict the impact of the proposed cycle superhighways on selected journeys across London.

On both the North-South and East-West routes, according to TfL, some journey times are predicted to go up, and some are predicted to go down. But, as TfL admits, the modelling techniques used don’t take into account the reduction in traffic levels as a result of people changing their behaviour, which is often the result of reallocation of road space of this kind.

There is also no attempt to balance any possible disadvantages against the huge benefits in casualty reduction, better health, quicker cycle journeys and cleaner environment that the Mayor’s plans will bring to London.

Public and corporate support of the new cycling superhighways is growing every day. CyclingWorks.London has gathered support from many companies including the City’s biggest employer and leaders in the finance, property and trading sectors.

We are aware that some are mounting opposition to the cycle routes, even threatening to start a judicial review that would prevent any improvements for cycling being delivered on these routes.  Overstating the scale of the changes in traffic capacity leads to predictions of congestion far wider and more severe than even those produced by TfL’s modelling computers. The opponents are proposing a comprehensive re-design providing four lanes of motor traffic, a cycle way and safe pedestrian access. Fitting this along the Thames Street alignment would require bulldozing much of the existing road and bridge infrastructure as well as a few of the City’s historic buildings.

Both the East-West and North-South cycle superhighways each have a capacity of around 3000 cyclists an hour in both directions – the equivalent of the capacity of 10 London Underground train loads. Cyclists already make up between 30 and 50% of traffic at points on these routes. We know that thousands of Londoners would like to cycle, but don’t feel able to because of fear of danger from motor traffic. By providing safe space for cycling, more and more people will choose cycling over other congested modes of travel. New York has recently published evidence that shows that since installing protected bicycle lanes throughout the city, there’s been a reduction of vehicle volumes as road users shifted to other modes – and journey times have improved.

The chart of modelling results released today by TfL leads with the biggest delay on the longest conceivable journey on the ‘Crossrail for the bike’ cycle route. Such a presentation leads commentators to focus on the worst case scenario.

LCC has criticised traffic modelling of this kind in the past for its ‘institutionalised pessimism’ – this type of modelling does not and cannot account for people changing their behaviour, so it can’t reflect what will really happen on our streets. It also fails to give insight into what our streets will look like in 5 or 10 years’ time.

London Cycling Campaign proposes that an alternate way of reducing the worst case congestion would be a peak hour ban on the 30-44 ton construction lorries that rush in and out of the city along the Highway route. They bring significant danger to the streets being involved in a disproportionate number of cyclist and pedestrian serious injuries.

Over 4000 London Cycling Campaign supporters have written to Transport with a positive consultation response