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New TfL cycling plan "too timid"

Transport for London has launched its second ‘Cycling Action Plan’ – but it’s not even close to meeting the Mayor’s own climate targets.

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Last week (15 June 2023) Transport for London (TfL) launched its second Cycling Action Plan – but it’s not even close to meeting the Mayor’s own climate targets.

The plan re-emphasizes London needs a 27% reduction in road kilometres driven in London by 2030 to achieve London net zero carbon emissions by 2030 – something impossible without a much higher rate of cycling.

But the targets in Cycling Action Plan 2 are weedy.

Unambitious journeys per day

A target of 1.6 million cycle journeys per day by 2030 would have been big news pre-pandemic.

But now it’s basically what you get if you draw a straight line from last few years’ cycle rates. We say that plodding along with business as usual won’t cut it.

Slow network growth

Similarly, the plan for 40% of Londoners to live within 400 metres of a high-quality cycle route by 2030 is good – apart from the fact that Mayor Sadiq Khan had already said that figure would be 70% by 2041, before he declared a climate emergency.

Hardly awe-inspiring ambition there.

On top of that, the recent delivery of the cycle network (the Cycleways programme) has leant more on rapid delivery of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and routes through them – a bit like the old Quietways.

But recently Transport for London and the London boroughs have slowed on delivery of main road cycle tracks and what’s come forward has been weaker. Main road cycle tracks are critical to the network, as that’s where amenities, stations, shops etc. are – the things people want to visit. During the pandemic, loads were delivered. Since then, not so much.

Safe-ish junctions?

The plan also promises ten ‘Safer Junction’ designs by 2024, expanding to junctions on borough roads as well as roads owned by Transport for London. This is thanks in part to our Dangerous Junctions campaign – and the plan even highlights changes at Holborn, where we’ve campaigned extensively…

However we’ll be keeping an eye on how safe these junctions actually are. The last set of ‘Safer Junctions’ from Transport for London would have been better named “slightly less dangerous junctions”.

Previously TfL delivered changes at 44 London junctions, but many of these redesigns retained critical safety flaws. These are things the Department for Transport’s Junction Assessment Tool and TfL’s own ‘Healthy Streets check for designers’ highlight as objectively dangerous (they’re called “critical issues” in the jargon and some Safer Junctions retained multiple such issues). For example, “redesigned” junctions continued to allow heavy flows of left-turning vehicles across the path of people cycling.

More, TfL has routinely weakened or delayed progress on rollout of safety measures, primarily it seems to avoid impacts to bus journey times. At Holborn and other notoriously lethal London junctions, TfL intransigence on buses is arguably more responsible for loss of life than local borough councils failing to get enough junction improvement funding from TfL.

Positives for outer London

One good thing is that Transport for London are redrawing the Strategic Cycling Analysis – the map of routes with the biggest future cycling potential. This is used to determine investment. The new analysis massively shifts focus to outer London. Although this does mean outer London boroughs will need to massively up their game…!

More LTNs

Another good thing is we’re happy to see a big focus on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) planned for later this year. This will be across inner and outer London. These will help people reach nearby town centres – read more about why LTNs matter here.

Some good news

And lastly, some positive news on behaviour change and cycle parking:

  • Inclusivity is very much up the agenda – with lots in the plan on enabling a wider range of people to cycle and on ensuring new routes are designed inclusively for those who want to cycle, but also for those waiting for buses, crossing roads etc.
  • Confirmed funding for cycle training for 40,000 children and 20,000 adults – find out how to access cycle training here.
  • Confirmed funding for 42,000 new secure residential cycle parking spaces across London by April 2024.

Overall

More than two-thirds of car trips in London could be cycled in under 20 minutes. Currently 3.5% of all London’s journeys are made by bike, while in Amsterdam it’s 36%. London has huge scope for cycling growth but this plan won’t cut it.

Simon Munk, our Head of Campaigns, comments:

“While several of the plan’s commitments are very welcome, in a climate crisis the targets for increasing cycling simply don’t appear to match the Mayor’s own commitment to a Net Zero London by 2030.

“London’s recent delivery on cycling schemes has been too timid. Many boroughs are dragging their heels. Decarbonising London’s transport in time needs the Mayor and boroughs to pull together and be much bolder than this Plan manages.”

Download the full version of the Cycling Action Plan 2 here.

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