The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling, published in March 2013, announced a new network of 'Quietways'; a network of radial and orbital cycle routes throughout London. These routes are designed to link key destinations, and will follow direct back-street routes, go through parks, along waterways or tree-lined streets.

The routes aim to overcome barriers to cycling, targeting less confident cyclists who want to use low-traffic routes, while also providing for existing cyclists who want to travel at a more gentle pace. Each Quietway should provide a continuous route for cyclists and every London borough will benefit from the programme. This network will complement other cycling initiatives such as the Central London Cycling Grid, Cycle Superhighways and mini-Hollands. The programme has funding of  £123m till 2022).

In his Vision the Mayor declared that Quietways would be:

  • Direct
  • Clearly signed
  • Better surfaced
  • Designed as whole routes not piecemeal
  • Segregated from motor traffic where they briefly join busy roads
  • Include new bridges where required
  • Make use of ‘filtered permeability’ that restricts through motor traffic
  • Make use of greenways : parks and waterways

The Mayor made it clear that these would not be high intervention routes unless there were significant barriers at key points, such as major junctions or waterways and railand rail tracks that had to be crossed. London Cycling Campaign takes the view that to attract new cyclists Quietways must suitable for everyone and take people where they want to go, not stopping short of key destinations or running out at borough boundaries.  

To actually be ‘quiet’ the routes need to restrict through motor traffic (rat-running) and provide separation where required (where speed limits are above 20 mph or traffic volumes are high). Junctions need to be both safe and convenient without detours or delays for cycle users. 

The Network

Sustrans provided the initial QW network design based on some 260 routes suggested by London boroughs. In many cases these were existing, or planned, LCN+ (London Cycle Network+) most of which had been previously looked at through the CRISP (cycle route implementation stakeholder plan) process.  The preference for LCN+ routes ties into the declared Mayoral intention of moving forward quickly with limited additional intervention. 

The 260 were whittled down to a shortlist of couple of dozen priority routes and from these TfL and the Mayor’s cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, agreed on 2 pilots (Waterloo to Greenwich and Bloomsbury to Hackney(to be later extended to Walthamstow )  plus 5 other routes for the first phase .  A further batch of up to 15 routes will likely be announced by the time this issue of LC is published.  In the longer term the network designers where hoping for the full shortlist of several dozen routes to be realised. 

Given that TfL says that eventually Quietways will reach into every London borough it is likely that the additional routes will extend to those boroughs not included in the first phase.  More longitudinal routes are promised along with some between local town centres. It is expected that work in the fully-funded (approx. £30m each) ‘mini-Holland’  boroughs (Enfield , Waltham Forest and Kingston)  as well as the runner-up boroughs, like Ealing, will create additional connections to the Quietways. 

Maps have officially been posted of the first two planned routes from Waterloo to Greenwich and Bloomsbury to Walthamstow. 

All of the following routes are due to be delivered by the end of 2016:

  • Regents Park to Dollis Hill – Nov 2015
  • Elephant and Castel to Crystal Palace – Dec 2015
  • Aldgate to Hainault – Feb 2016
  • Waterloo – Clapham – March 2016
  • Clapham Common to Wimbledon – June 2016.

Read our full assessment of the Quietway Scheme in our blog post.