Fears that new mayor Sadiq Khan would tone down his predecessor’s support for cycling in the capital have been set aside.
Khan has underlined his commitment, as he ponders consultation responses on two additions to the growing cycle superhighway network. He has vowed to “triple the current superhighway provision”, according to a spokesman, who added: “Sadiq wants to make London a byword for cycling around the world and is committed to making it a safer and easier choice for Londoners.”
And an incentive scheme has been launched to get businesses to sign up to new accounts with the city’s cycle hire scheme. A successful pilot scheme showed how companies can encourage staff to cycle in central London, and now a 10% discount is being offered to corporate account signings before the summer.
“I want to make London a byword for cycling by making it an easier and safer choice for more Londoners,” said Khan. “Although a great deal of progress has been made, we need to increase the pace of change and make cycling to work the obvious, affordable and safe choice for thousands more Londoners. As part of this, I encourage all businesses in London to sign up to the Santander Cycles Business Accounts scheme and to take advantage of the new incentive.”
Khan has said he will improve consultation on upcoming additions to the cycle network, balancing the needs of cyclists, pedestrians and public space. He is currently considering responses to a 1.5 mile extension to North South Superhigway 2, which would extend from Stonecutter Street to Kings Cross, creating a continuous route from Elephant and Castle in the south through to Kings Cross.
Also up for consideration is East West Superhighway 2, which would form a 4.5 mile extension from Paddington to Acton, via the elevated Westway. This would link up with existing routes, heading east all the way to Barking. The route was a compromise, due to Kensington & Chelsea refusing to accommodate a segregated cycle way along Kensington High Street. And it has faced criticism, for the potentially windy conditions on the high level roadway, as well as for the impact on traffic. According to a report in the London Standard, shopping centre owner Westfield has expressed concerns that shoppers will be delayed when accessing its Shepherds Bush facility.
However, Boris Johnson’s cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan said opponents must not be allowed to throw the plan off course. “This scheme got 71 per cent support in the consultation. K&C opposes segregated cycle lanes on its roads, so if this scheme was scrapped it would mean there will be no safe cycling route to west London.”
Also currently being progressed are improvements to the Hammersmith gyratory, giving cyclists a better route; and changes to Highbury Corner, where the one way system is to be removed.
Despite opposition, cycle highways appear to be enjoying massive support from cyclists. The cycle way along Victoria Embankment is being used by 1,200 cyclists an hour during the morning peak, just two weeks after it was opened.
Khan underlined his commitment: “I’ve got an inbox full of cycling schemes to consider and I am determined to learn the lessons from previous projects as I increase TfL’s spend on cycling safety, triple the current superhighway provision, roll out new town-centre cycling improvement plans, and promote safer, cleaner lorries.”
LPA Perspective: Cycle superhighways are the previous mayor’s most obvious legacy on the streets of the capital. He put noses out of joint, in pushing hard to implement the first of the schemes and getting them live – but they are being used, and will hopefully reduce casualties, as well as encouraging more commuters onto their bicycles.
The losers, as precious street space is taken from vehicles, are the car drivers and delivery vehicles. With constantly improving public transport infrastructure, the former have less and less incentive to drive. Meanwhile, the latter need to become smarter about sharing deliveries. Other cities have demonstrated that shared logistics plans can work, and schemes already under way in London need to be given greater weight and encouragement.