One year on from Boris’s promise: CS2 upgrade and new cycle superhighways must be implemented without delay

A year ago today, the Mayor of London made a promise during the opening of the extension to Cycle Superhighway 2 from Bow to Stratford: that Cycle Superhighway 2 would be overhauled, with cyclists physically separated from vehicles. The announcement came the day after 62-year-old Brian Holt was killed by a tipper lorry while cycling on Superhighway 2 near Mile End Hospital.

Tragically, Brian’s death was the first in a spate of fatalities in London. 5 more cyclists were killed in less than two weeks. Two of those took place on or near Cycle Superhighway 2. 24-year-old Venera Minakhmetova was killed in a lorry crash on CS2 at the revised Bow roundabout junction just days after Boris made his promise. Despite the ‘upgrade’ put in place by Transport for London (which we said wasn’t safe enough), the fatal crash happened in the same location that Svitlana Tereschova was killed two years ago. Five days after Ms Minakhmetova’s death, Khalid al-Hashimi died in a crash with a double decker bus at Aldgate East, a few metres from where Philippine de Gerin-Ricard died in July.

So we welcomed the plans to upgrade CS2, the consultation on which ran from 23 September to 2 November, as better for everyone. Others did too – over 2000 people wrote to Transport for London in support of the proposals to create protected space for cycling through our website, and many others wrote directly to TfL. In response to concerns from market traders that the proposals could be damaging to their trade Tower Hamlets Wheelers, the local LCC group, held a ‘buy in’ at Whitechapel Market during the consultation; an opportunity for cyclists to exercise their purchasing power directly with the traders, to understand their concerns, and to show that improving cycling infrastructure can help local business. (In New York, local businesses saw an increase in sales of up to 47% when a protected lane was installed.)

The proposals aren’t perfect, and our full response to the consultation makes a number of recommendations on how they can be improved. At one point in the plans the protected space disappears altogether, and we (and many of those who’ve responded to the consultation) have emphasised to Transport for London that this is unacceptable. Many of the junctions on the route could be redesigned to offer better protection for cyclists. But despite these issues, the plans are certainly an improvement on the current situation, and if the upgrade is implemented to the standard we’re asking for, they have the potential to get many more people cycling. Despite the poor infrastructure and hostile cycling conditions currently on CS2, the number of cyclists increased by 32% in the year after the route opened, and at points the road carries around 2000 cyclists a day in each direction. Providing safe space for cycling along this route could mean it’s a viable option for thousands more who don’t currently feel able to cycle.

Last November’s spate of fatalities was, as we said at the time, utterly intolerable. We can now only hope that these plans are implemented to the highest quality, without delay, before we see another death on this lethal route.

Another consultation on the provision of safe space for cyclists ends on Sunday. The North-South and East-West cycle superhighways plans have been supported by over 130 employers including Orange, Deloitte, RBS, Allen & Overy and Microsoft. Almost 6,000 people have written to TfL in support of the proposals through our website, and many more have responded through TfL’s consultation hub. Tell TfL you support the new superhighways plans now.