Creating space for cycling


Our Space for Cycling 2014 persuaded local councils across London to adopt ward-specific cycling improvements suggested by our borough groups (after working with local people). Our 629 demands for local cycling improvements fall almost exclusively within the six following policy themes:

  1. Protected space on main roads and through junctions
  2. Removing through motor traffic
  3. 20mph speed limits
  4. Cycle-friendly town centres
  5. Safe cycle routes to schools
  6. Safe routes through parks and green spaces

Our policies on other areas of design and infrastructure are outlined below.

Cycle superhighways

Cycle Superhighway

The first wave of London's Cycle Superhighways left a lot to be desired, with blue paint offering cyclists no legal or physical protection on often busy main roads. But in September 2014, consultations opened on some gamechanging plans which led to protected space for cyclists in central London. The new North-South route from Elephant and Castle to King's Cross, and East-West route running from Tower Hill to Paddington, feature segregated cycle tracks and junctions redesigned to separate cyclists from motor vehicles. These new superhighways were the first step towards creating safe, inviting London streets where everybody feels able to cycle.

Other superhighways are due for improvement, including the notorious Cycle Superhighway 2 from Aldgate to Stratford. We'll continue to work with the Superhighways team at Transport for London in the hope that they will deliver meaningful improvements to the existing programme.

Find out more about the Cycle Superhighways


Cycle tracks and lanes

Cycle lane

Cycle tracks and cycle paths are routes on designated space physically separated from motor traffic, either beside a road or though parkland. They can provide the least stressful cycling experience, and provide a high degree of subjective safety, where the cyclist feels safe.

Too often in London these are implemented poorly, with broken sections of track, losing priority at junctions and entrances to premises, and using narrow lanes unsuitable for cyclists overtaking or large volumes of cycle traffic. We support the implementation of cycle tracks when speeds and volumes of motor traffic are high, on streets such as Old Kent Road or the Embankment.

Segregated tracks can persuade Londoners to cycle on busy streets. We'll continue to call for other measures such as removing through traffic and speed reductions on local streets.

Cycle lanes are the painted lines, usually to the edge of the road, designed to give cyclists dedicated space on streets. They can help cyclists bypass queuing motor traffic and are routinely provided as lead-in lanes to Advanced Stop Line (ASL) boxes at traffic lights. However, their effectiveness is disputed, as they imply cyclist should be positioned to the kerbside of streets, not in the primary position advocated by Bikeability and other contemporary cycle training course. And these don't offer safe enough feeling space for most people to enable them to cycle. It is widely recognised that there are much more important measures to be undertaken to reduce road danger cycling, such as junction improvements.

Whenever cycle lanes or tracks are implemented, they should be at least 2 metres wide.


Filtered permeability

As well as creating multiple lanes of fast-moving traffic, one-way systems block direct routes for cyclists. An essential catalyst for promoting cycling is the complete opposite, making journeys by bike advantageous over those by car.

We support ‘filtered permeability’ in local areas by means of installing ‘modal filters’, points that cyclists and pedestrians can pass, but not people in cars. The result is less congestion and 25% less cycling on the pavement, making streets more pleasant for pedestrians as well as cyclists.

People’s fear of road danger starts on their doorsteps, and we want people to be able to feel safe in their own areas.

For more on this see our "low traffic neighbourhoods" page and briefing documents.

We support also support returning roundabouts to proper crossroads, and local one-way systems to two-way, or at the least to have cycle contraflows. 

Local urban growth

We support the long-term goal of developing local centres, rather than concentrating on expanding central London, with the intention that economic activity becomes spread over a wider area. This reduces congestion as it allows more people to make shorter trips for work, leisure and shopping.

This approach increases the quality of local neighbourhoods, making them more attractive, as well as pedestrian and bike-friendly. That, in turn, provides surprising economic benefits, with cyclists bringing in more money per square metre of space allocated to them than cars or public transport.

The aim is more vibrant local economies, including more local jobs, improved community cohesion and more sustainable transport.

Removing one way systems

New Cross gyratory

One-way systems, or gyratories, are generally dinosaurs of urban planning. Huge, lumbering beasts that have wrecked communities by encouraging fast-moving traffic, pumping noise and air pollution into streets where people are supposed to feel comfortable walking and cycling.

Motorway-style junctions and multi-lane one-way systems have no place in areas where we live, shop and work.

Some transport planners have come around to this way of thinking, but progress is slow, and many schemes that replace one-way systems are still thoroughly car-centric. Planning methods which prioritise motor vehicle capacity are not fit for purpose in urban areas. There is a need to reduce capacity in order to encourage cycling and walking as the quickest, most efficient and sustainable ways of moving people around the city.

For more on LCC's policies relating to one-way systems see here.