Superhighways consultation gets one of the 'highest responses ever' - and 80% supportive

Superhighways visual

Transport for London's consultations on the North-South and East-West cycle superhighway plans closed yesterday (Sunday 9th November) with one of the 'highest responses ever'. Over 14,000 people responded to the consultations, with 80% of responses in support of the plans. 6,300 of those responses were sent through the LCC website. Over 160 employers, including RBS, Deloitte, Orange and Microsoft, have supported the proposals through the CyclingWorks website. Thanks to everyone who took part, and to those who urged their employer to back the plans. 

The BBC covered the issue on yesterday's Sunday Politics show, interviewing Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan as well as Danny Williams of the Cyclists in the City blog, and showed footage of LCC's Love London, Go Dutch Big Ride. The BBC's Tom Edwards also spoke to those opposing the scheme: David Leam, Head of Infrastructure at London First, and Howard Dawber of Canary Wharf. You can watch the episode on iPlayer (the superhighways piece starts 48 minutes in).

BBC Sunday Politics London

The BBC have also published a piece on their website with the headline 'Cycle superhighways scheme not thought through', which LCC believes overstates the case against the proposals. Despite the overwhelming support for the superhighways, the piece focuses on concerns raised by a small minority, such as Canary Wharf Group, the group behind a damaging and inaccurate briefing against the plans.

It's disappointing to see arguments against the plans given so much airtime, when evidence shows that fears of London grinding to a halt are unfounded. Impacts on journey times shown by Transport for London’s traffic modelling are minimal, and, 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. New York has recently published evidence that shows that since installing protected bicycle lanes throughout the city, there has been a reduction of vehicle volumes as road users shifted to other modes – and journey times have improved in many areas. In New York’s Central Business District, travel speeds have remained steady as protected bicycle lanes are added to the roadway network.

NYC data

Concerns also appear to overstate the impact of the superhighway proposals on London’s network. There are approximately 1,450 miles of main road in London. Of those 1450 miles, the N/S, E/W cycle superhighways and the upgrade to CS2 combined represent about 9 miles. The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling includes £913m for cycling over the next 10 years. Twice this amount will be spent on road assets including resurfacing carriageway, modernising traffic signals and renewing and refurbishing and upgrading structures and tunnels.

Those raising concerns about the impact on journey times also fail to acknowledge the positive impact that a reduction in cyclist casualties could have on existing congestion. A report to the TfL board estimated that 28% of the congestion in London is the result of crashes. If a cyclist is seriously injured there can be huge delays. Where segregated cycle tracks have been implemented elsewhere, for example in New York, Cyclist injuries have decreased even as bicycle volumes have dramatically increased. At the moment there are about 580,000 cycle journeys a day in London. That is predicted to rise to between 1.2 and 1.5 million, which will include significant modal shift and reductions in the pressure on other modes, bus and rail. Seven out of ten people who do not cycle now say they would be prepared to consider cycling if the safe facilities were available for them. 

Logos of organisations supporting the superhighways through CyclingWorks 

Logos of CyclingWorks organisations
The BBC also interviewed Steve McNamara from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, who described the consultation as 'flawed and rushed'. London Cycling Campaign believes that the scheme is a clear result of the open and very public electoral commitment made by the mayor, on which people voted for him and on which he was elected, and the consultation process has been conducted in accordance with Transport for London’s requirements. Business confidence in the proposal has been clearly demonstrated through the public support of over 160 employers in London, including RBS, Deloitte, Orange, Allen & Overy and Microsoft and others, which can be seen at cyclingworks.london. Retailers in areas of cities where protected cycle tracks have been installed, such as New York, have seen an increase in sales of up to 47%.

There will be a 40% increase in people working in central London Boroughs over the coming decades, and a very clear need for London’s workforce to be able to move around. In 28 out of 32 London boroughs, motor vehicle traffic fell significantly over the past 13 years, with the biggest falls in central London. 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 returning to their cars to get to work – causing even more congestion - then investing in cycling superhighways like these is an absolute must. 

The next few weeks will be critical in determining whether London makes the step towards a city with streets that are safe and inviting for cycling. Whatever the outcome, promoting cycling will not be the cause of congestion: it will be essential to keeping London moving.