Wednesday, 5 November 2014

I am completely humbled by this: We can't keep up with the number of employers and other organisations pouring in to support the Cycle Super Highway plans

Just some of the organisations supporting
Cycle Super Highways
This is truly something different.

For several weeks I have been slowly drip feeding updates about the fact that organisations across London are waking up to cycling. 

What's happening now is that the support is turning into a flood. 

It started a couple of months ago. I first got a whiff that some organisations were trying very hard to undermine the Mayor's plans to build two cycle super highways in central London. 

Days later I was contacted by the people behind a pop-up group: Cycling Works London. The purpose of the group was that a bunch of like-minded individuals would spend their time asking their employers and some clients whether they would be prepared to write to Transport for London in support of the Cycle Super Highway plans. Those people were Chris and Jono Kenyon, Nick Kocharhook and Dr Tabitha Tanqueray. And now including me and also Mark of ibikelondon blog. There's one other key individual too but I don't know if he wants me to mention him in public, so can I think him in private for now. 

We started rather timidly and managed to get a few companies to put their name forward. These were all people that we knew but not necessarily people who regard themselves as 'cyclists'. Just people who felt that their employees deserved a better deal on bikes on London roads. 

The first signs that we were getting somewhere came when other people started to get in touch. Before we knew it, the big accounting firm Deloitte was writing to support the plans, encouraging its partners and staff to write in as well. Then came various other professional services firms - law firms Allen & Overy, Nabarros, Charles Russell & HerbertSmith Freehills. 

So far so corporate. 

Little by little, all sorts of other industries came out in support. So, we have almost everyone who's anyone in the London property scene (the exception being Canary Wharf Group). It started with JonesLang LaSalle, then came KnightFrank, then Barratt Homes, Argent (big developers of the Kings Cross area), DTZ, Land Securities, GVA Grimley. And plenty more. 

And fairly speedily, the consumer brands came along too. Unilever, Orange, Hovis (yes the bread), Coca Cola and some retailers including Borough Market''s Cannon & Cannon and (plus one very large one coming that I can't mention yet). 

Then came a clutch of tech firms, boosted by a stonking letter from the CEO of Microsoft UK and from ARM Holdings. A whole host of firms based in Canary Wharf also came forward. 

The banks - Royal Bank of Scotland and just overnight Rothschild Bank. They are joined by an array of theatres - Royal Opera House, Shakespeare's Globe, the Young Vic all of whom said this would boost audiences and improve things for their staff and performers. The actors' trade union Equity wrote in last night as well. And a particular shout-out for Cemex, the construction company - who have been extremely vocal about their support. 

Ludgate Circus - scene of two cyclist deaths
in the last six months. As it might soon look.
In fact, no fewer than 43 organisations have written in over the past 48 hours. It is truly mind-blowing. 

The Dean of Southwark Cathedral has written in support, Canon Giles Godard of  the Church of England parish of Waterloo, St John with St Andrew has written in on behalf of his parish, which covers the south bank between Blackfriars and St George's Circus. Even the Institute of Physics has come out in support. 

And from the Universities - the students union of the University of the Arts (25,000 students), the acting principal of Queen Mary University, the University of Westminster (and we believe UCL as well). Organisations as diverse as the British Veterinary Association and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine have also played their part. They've been backed by none other than the CEO of the Financial Times and strong editorial leads in The Evening Standard. Publishers Simon & Schuster were early supporters and joined more recently by Penguin Random House. 

And on a more sombre but equally impressive scale, all of the major London trauma centres have written in support. The CEOs representing London's big hospitals (Barts, Imperial and Kings NHS Trusts) have all swung behind this. Alongside them, City Police - the police force for the Square Mile - has issued a statement in support. They join the London Air Ambulance and the Association of Anaesthetists.

The Evening Standard editorial from two weeks ago
We know of over 160 organisations and I haven't managed to mention even half of them on this list. We also know of many more organisations that have written in support but didn't want to go particularly public about it.

The most fascinating thing has been people's reactions. The companies that have got behind this have all said that their staff absolutely love them for doing this. I think that's very significant. 

I said it at the top of this blog post. And I'll say it again. I - and I think we - are truly humbled. What started as a small group of people nervously asking our employers if they'd back this Cycle Super Highway stuff has snowballed. And to each and every one of those employers, thank you. I spoke with some people at Transport for London last week. They have never, as far as I understand it, had as much public support in a consultation as they've had from all of you. 

The consultations run until Sunday this week. If you haven't already, please add your voice. Either as an individual or on behalf of an organisation. Heres's what you can do to help. 

I can't really add to that. Thank you. And in particular thank you to the Cycling Works team. It was their idea to pick this up and run with it. They've been out flyering. We've all been out planning and getting on with it. Just amazing.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Evening Standard: Give us this cycle lane! On the same day another cyclist is crushed by a lorry driver in a collision on proposed cycle highway route in City of London

Last night's editorial in the Evening Standard
Last night's Evening Standard. The editorial kind of says it all.

A Yougov poll, also published in the Standard, provided the setting for that editorial piece. The vast majority of Londoners support the planned cycle highways, even if it means taking road space from private cars.

Main feature in last night's Standard
In the same week, dozens more employers have come out and said they also support the Cycle Super Highway plans. Massive employers, in fact. The UK's largest commercial property company Land Securities joined the Royal Opera House; Queen Mary University has written to the Mayor on behalf of its 17,500+ students and 4,000 staff; the students union of the University of the Arts London has also written in support on behalf of 17,500 students; even the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the CEO of Hovis Bakery (yes, they of the bread fame) have written in support. Special thanks also to the CEO of Brompton Bicycles for his personal support and to Evans Cycles for asking their customers to write in support. No special thanks whatsoever to Wiggle Bike Shop who have remained stunningly silent on all this.

Thank you Evans Cycles, for
encouraging others to show their support
Yet amid all the good news, there are several strands of bad, and one strand of awful, news. First the awful news.

Yesterday, once again, a cyclist was crushed at Ludgate Circus under the wheels of a tipper truck. We know her injuries are severe. The collision took place at exactly the same spot where Victor Rodriguez was killed on his bike by a tipper truck in April and at exactly the same junction where the north-south Cycle Super Highway is due to be built. AsEasyAsRidingABike pointed out on twitter that if the cycle highway had been built, there is no way the bike and the lorry could have even come into conflict. These injuries and fatalities are avoidable. An article in the Times makes the link that while TfL wants to build a cycle highway here, "organisations like the Canary Wharf Group and the City of London have raised concerns over possible delays to motor traffic." I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

It seems quite mundane to jump from this awful situation to the House of Commons but I want to point out that the battle over the Cycle Super Highways is by no means won. Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar & Limehouse - himself someone who cycles and is usually fairly wise on these matters - stood up and made a truly bizarre speech in Westminster. He claimed that the planned east-west Cycle Super Highway would 'prevent' 80% of all commercial traffic and public transport from using the Embankment. He also claimed that only 9% of motor traffic on the Embankment is made up of private cars. I have no idea where he's getting those figures from but they are entirely fictional. The DfT's own figures for the exact stretch of road he's talking about show that 69% of all traffic here is private cars. The 80% figure is just pure fabrication, I'm afraid.

I would like to point out that this week Jim Fitzpatrick has also mentioned that he has met senior figures from the City of London to talk about City / Tower Hamlets issues (the same City of London politician who tweeted a few weeks ago about his dislike of the Cycle Super Highways) and has been talking with Canary Wharf Group PLC about a charity fundraiser. Both organisations have been smearing the Cycle Super Highways to a greater or lesser degree. It would be a shame if an otherwise sensible MP has got himself caught up in those falsehoods.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Canary Wharf Finance Director must declare conflicts of interest before he chairs November's Transport for London committee that decides whether to fund Cycle Super Highways or not

Peter Anderson, FD, Canary Wharf Group PLC
Chair of TfL finance committee that will decide
on the Cycle Super Highway investment
This post is going to be a bit explosive. Please have a serious think about what I'm going to say.

This chap pictured above is Peter Anderson. He is the Finance Director of Canary Wharf Group PLC.

He is also on the Board of Transport for London. He is also Chair of TfL's Finance & Policy Committee. Bear with me on this. It's quite astonishing.

On Friday, the Guardian carried a story in which Canary Wharf Group admitted "it was behind the anonymous briefing" which was published first on this blog and in which, in my view, Canary Wharf Group sought to present a whole range of falsehoods and misrepresentations as fact in order to discredit Transport for London's Cycle Super Highway plans.

Another article in the Guardian states: "Another business lobbyist funded by Canary Wharf has toured the party conferences claiming, wrongly, that the superhighways will delay traffic in London by 6%."

Now, I would suggest there is a conflict of interests going on. It is at the very least inappropriate and I would like someone who reads this blog to have a serious think about whether it could potentially be more serious than that.

There is a piece of legislation called the Greater London Authority Act 1999 which sets out the governance of Transport for London. And the Act is pretty clear about conflicts of interest:

Peter Anderson has sat in TfL board meetings in which Cycle Super Highways have been discussed. Have a look at the video below - a TfL board meeting in February. Minute 4.30 onwards, the board is talking about the first stage investment in Cycle Super Highways. From minute 5.30, here is Peter Anderson talking about those Cycle Super Highways and finding ways to obfuscate: "is the impact [of cycle super highways] greater than the benefits?" he asks and suggests they might "need a redesign".  Here, at board level, is Canary Wharf's finance director going into minute details about segregated bike lanes. It is, in my opinion, rather unusual for a board meeting to discuss such intricate details as the position of kerb lines in the way that Peter Anderson is doing in this video. That raises eyebrows already.

What raises eyebrows even more is that we now know Peter Anderson's employer, on whose board he also sits, has been briefing against TfL's own cycle super highway policy (although we don't know when precisely Canary Wharf started to do that). We also know that, to date, Peter Anderson has never declared any interest in cycling and its relationship to Canary Wharf. You can see Peter Anderson's declarations of interest online.

So, that's issue number one.

But issue number two is more astonishing.

Peter Anderson is also the Chair of the TfL Finance and Policy Committee. This is the committee at which funding for TfL projects gets decided on. And if you look at the agenda for that Committee, you can see that on November 25th, Peter Anderson will be chairing the meeting that decides whether or not to fund the Cycle Super Highways. Look at Page 4 on the Forward Schedule from the last meeting, and it's staring right at you: Cycle Super Highways Programme will be discussed in the November meeting of the TfL Finance and Policy Committee, chaired by Peter Anderson.

In other words, the Finance Director of Canary Wharf Group PLC, an organisation which has been actively briefing against the Cycle Super Highways, is going to chair the Committee next month that decides whether or not to finance those very same Cycle Super Highways. AND, that Finance Director has not yet declared his company's activities or any interest in the Cycle Super Highways.

If Peter Anderson is to chair this meeting my belief is that he needs to immediately:

a) Declare the extent to which lobbying by Canary Wharf Group PLC, and their appointed lobbyists, at political party conferences over the last 45 days have targeted TfL plans for 'Crossrail for bikes'

b) Declare the extent of lobbying by Canary Wharf Group PLC, and their appointed lobbyists, to its tenants over the last 60 days that have targeted TfL plans for 'Crossrail for bikes'. (It is interesting that Deloitte, a big 4 accounting firm has declared support for 'Crossrail for bikes'. KPMG, which is a tenant of Canary Wharf Group, however, has not).

c) Declare what contact and communication Canary Wharf Group PLC, and their appointed lobbyists, have put on London First to make statements about TfL's plans for 'Crossrail for bikes'.

d) Declare what contact and communication Canary Wharf Group PLC, and their appointed lobbyists, have put on the Federation of Small Businesses to make statements about TfL's plans for 'Crossrail for bikes'.

e) Declare what contact and communication there has been between Canary Wharf Group PLC, and their appointed lobbyists, with HM Treasury in the last 60 days that have made reference to or pertain to TfL's plans for 'Crossrail for bikes'.

f) To what extent George Iacobescu, the CEO of Canary Wharf Group PLC is using personal funding and contacts within the Conservative Party and specifically with George Osborne to impact the TfL's 'Crossrail for bikes'.

If this is not a clear, inappropriate and incorrect failure to declare conflicts conflict of interest, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

City of London reports suggests it wants radical plans to reduce motor capacity on main roads in inner London. Another report suggests Canary Wharf Group strongly disagrees with that. Meanwhile, major corporates Orange, Unilever and now Royal Bank of Scotland show they are socially responsible employers and announce support for cycle super highway plans

Earlier this week, the City of London published its report on the Cycle Super Highways. I'm going to analyse the report below.

But before I do, I want to point out something that is probably more important than the City's inner workings. And that is something quite impressive. Thanks to the stirling work of the Cycling Works team, we now know that  Royal Bank of Scotland has written to the Mayor in support of the Cycle Super Highways on behalf of its 12,000 employees in London. The phone giant Orange has done the same. And Unilever, the Anglo Dutch corporate giant has written a very personal account of why it wants the Mayor to build the Cycle Super Highways: "We have tragically lost employees in the past who have been killed while trying to cycle to or from work. We do not want to lose any more." I have even had a note from the Dutch ambassador saying she intends to write to the Mayor as well.

Meanwhile, I now know that Canary Wharf Group is meeting all sorts of people about the Cycle Super Highways. This follows an anti-cycling briefing note which was being distributed by people linked to Canary Wharf Group and a very clear reference to the backroom antics of (what is probably also) Canary Wharf Group in last week's Evening Standard by a TfL board member.

On the one hand, we have major companies like RBS, Unilever and Orange showing social responsibility to their staff. On the other hand, it seems pretty likely, we have Canary Wharf Group.

And then we have the City of London.

Now, I find it rather odd that the City is putting out twitter statements like the one above. And I say that because the actual content of the City's internal report is much more balanced than this sort of "shock jock" twitter commentary, which is rather unusual to see from the Square Mile's twitter account.

If you read the City's very detailed report, it is actually quite balanced. And quite radical. Here's why (bear with me, I need to do a bit of context first)

First the context: The briefing note that has been handed out by people linked to Canary Wharf Group, is all about maximising central London for private motor cars. And, frankly, sod everyone else.

Unilever is supporting the
Cycle Super Highways.
Its HQ is at Blackfriars
But the City of London's report is very different. The core focus of the Square Mile shows that City of London politicians are completely opopsed to the sort of thinking being displayed in that briefing note that has been handed out by people linked to Canary Wharf Group. What the Square Mile is saying is that it wants to make its part of central London work better for pedestrians. Not for private cars. A key element of the City's report is that pedestrian crossing times need to be improved and it worries they will be made longer by the cycle highways. "A reduction in wait times are needed rather than increased or at worst they should remain the same". Actually, I can't disagree with that (although the grammar is rather odd).

The City's report goes even further. It points out that pedestrian crossing times have actually got worse in London over the last 10 years and it specifically blames TfL's motor vehicle policies for that:

"Over the last decade or so, pedestrian wait times at signal crossings have gradually increased. These increases have been made by TfL in order to maintain capacity for motor vehicles. It involves increasing signal cycle times which means it will take longer for the “green” man to appear. This also means that many pedestrians now ignore the “green” man and cross when they can, again increasing road danger."

In other words, under this Mayor and the previous Mayor, TfL has tried to squeeze in cycle facilities and pedestrian facilities. But it has done this by insisting on maintaing car capacity.

Now this gets a tiny bit technical but please please read this because it's important. You simply cannot maintain capacity for motor traffic and also fit in space and time for safe cycling and safe walking. It just isn't possible unless you build a gazillion new roads.

This is why Chicago's Mayor stood up and pledged a goal of ZERO road deaths within 10 years. How's he planning to do that? He's going to focus on making the roads safe enough for "even the most vulnerable – children, elderly, and persons with disabilities – [to] travel safely within the public right of way.” You cannot do that without restricting motor traffic. And the implication of the City of London report, although it does not say this directly, is that TfL needs to start reducing motor traffic in central London more than it has in the last decade. It is absolutely right about this. And Canary Wharf is, in my opinion, absolutely wrong.

Just a fraction of the companies that have written to the Mayor telling him to build
his Cycle Super Highways

There's a lot in the City's report I just don't agree with. There are parts in the report where I think the City is being plain cheeky. It appears to be asking for TfL's cycling money to be spent on a new pedestrian link to a new boat pier at Blackfriars. It makes some rather cynical comments about Blackfriars junction. I can't help but feel quite angry, for example, that the City meekly approved the current Blackfriars junction design a few years ago (despite significant public opposition) that it now describes as "confusing" and as having a "high collision" rate. But people, and local authorities, are allowed to change.

That said, the general direction of the City's report is not bad. The City is clear that it wants to support the Mayor's cycle super highway plans. But it quite rightly wants to stand up for the majority of its road users who are on foot. Now, when it comes to Upper Thames Street and Embankment, the majority of road users are not on foot. Because much of this route is a traffic-snarled, nasty environment. And the City's report does rather cynically mix up sections from one super highway plan with another in order to present a 'worst case' scenario at points.

But if you go with the overall impression of the City's report, it is about supporting the Cycle Super Highway plans but seeking to ensure benefits for pedestrians as well. I'm quite ok with the principle of that and I think most people would agree. I'm afraid I can't say the same for what Canary Wharf Group seems to be up to.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Something quite amazing is happening: Over 50 Chief Execs of big London employers have already written to Boris telling him to get on with building the cycle super highways. The wind direction is blowing in favour of this change. You need to get involved.

Mediacom is a big global media player. It sent a clear message out last week saying that it intends to back the Mayor's plans for cycle super highways in central London. Their tweet below states very clearly why it thinks this is important. And it is not alone.

We don't know precisely how many employers have written to the Mayor. But, through a pop-up campaign called Cycling Works!, we know that over 50 of them have already written to the Mayor and also chosen to make their announcement public on the Cycling Works website

What is clear is that employers big and small are lining up to get behind the cycle super highway plans. What is also clear is that what I'm going to write below only scratches the surface. Many, many more are coming.

Let's have a quick look at what's happened so far.

This week, the senior partner of the £1.1billion revenue global law firm Allen & Overy added his voice: "The roads of London have to be made safer for cyclists. This is a business issue as well as one for the wider community. As a civilised society we must take all necessary measures to keep people travelling about their daily business safely. Segregating cyclists and other traffic seems to be one of the most efficient and effective ways to achieve this. This is a message that is resonating around London businesses and other employers who are lining up to tell the Mayor they back his plans to build two safe, continuous, comfortable cycle super highways through central London."

He is joined by a company statement on behalf of Deloitte UK, one of the big four global services firms.

The NLA, London's Centre for the Built Environment issued a statement this week "[urging] its members to respond to the consultation; to comment on detail and support the overall proposals"In fact, a whole host of major property agencies, developers and investors have got behind the schemes. So far, we've seen property giants The Crown Estate, Knight Frank, Barratt Homes and Jones Lang LaSalle state their support. The mega agent GVA Grimley (which manages properties worth over €40billion) has also just put out a press release stating "Property consultancy GVA has thrown its weight behind plans to expand the existing network of Cycle Superhighways in London, as a TfL consultation over the scheme's expansion gets underway...cycling should form a key part of any major city’s integrated transport infrastructure."

New look New Bridge Street in the City of London? 

Yesterday alone, 13 more CEOs did just that. Employers ranging from charities, to small tech companies with 50 employees to multinationals with 10s of 1000s of employees are getting behind the schemes.

In the health sector we've so far seen support from the CEO of NHS Barts Health Trust together with the CEO of the British Veterinary Association, the Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Managing Director of British Military Fitness

More tellingly, the Chief Exec of the London Air Ambulance has this to say: "We treat some of the most critically injured people in London and unfortunately one of the sickest patient groups are these cyclists who have been injured by large vehicles..We hope the proposed new measures will help to reduce the number of casualties and will be following these plans with interest."

The updated list of employers who have put their names behind the cycle super highway plans and chosen to do so in public is on the Cycling Works website and it is growing by the hour. China Daily and Euromonitor added their names yesterday, alongside other UK media and information businesses. The National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts has joined a whole host of big and medium-sized technology companies, including Equisys, Marmalade and Digital Craftsmen.

I think this is genuinely incredible. It would have been very hard to believe, a couple of years ago when 10,000+ of us were shivering in the rain on the London Cycling Campaign Go Dutch ride, or when a few thusand of us took to the streets to protest at Blackfriars, that we would eventually see major multinationals, charities, hospitals, software and tech companies, real estate investors, media companies and retailers all coming together to ask for responsible, safe routes for cycling through central London.

The wind is blowing in the direction of safe, convenient cycling in central London. Responsible employers are backing this because it helps their business but also because it protects their employees. If you read some of these messages of support, there are genuine and harrowing tales of staff maimed and, in some cases, killed, on their journeys to work. Deaths and injuries that are preventable.

If your employer isn't behind this, they should be ashamed of themselves. So many others are leading the way. Take action now please, if you can. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Major corporates, investors, London's hospitals and air ambulance are starting to support new Cycle Super Highways. There are clear business benefits and big benefits for all Londoners. But sources tell me Canary Wharf Group is briefing against London's new cycle network. You need to ask your employer to join the many who support this.

According to a press briefing that has been sent to a large number of businesses and journalists in London, Boris Johnson's planned Cycle Super Highways will:

"be extremely damaging to London"

lead to "significant increase in traffic in outer London"

"put the safety of cyclists, pedestrians and drivers at risk"

This press briefing has been sent to all sorts of influential people and it is as misleading as it is poorly-researched. It presents subjective opinion as fact and it is full of falsehoods. My understanding  (from two different sources) is that this briefing document has been circulated by Canary Wharf Group PLC. You can review the briefing yourself via this link.

Now, it is important to mention that several of London's large employers are actively supporting the Cycle Super Highways. Just some of the companies that I'm aware of are shown in the image below and you can see their statements on the CyclingWorks website. As you can see, some of London's major real estate players - Jones Lang LaSalle, Knight Frank and Barratt Homes - have already come out in support of the Cycle Super Highways. Deloitte, a massive employer, has also come out in support. Only yesterday, Knight Frank, published a report on the effectiveness of global cities, praising cycle tracks and the need to invest in Cycle Super Highways.Plenty of other big employers (and, interestingly, plenty of big real estate players) are preparing their own letters of support to the consultation.

NHS Barts (which runs the Royal London) and the London Air Ambulance have both come out in support of the Cycle Super Highways by the way. A number of London's other big hospitals will be adding their support next week.

Just some of the employers and investors who have so far issued statements of support for the Cycle Super Highways

Let's look at some of the noise that is being bandied about against the cycle super highways. If there is any "anti" noise in the media, it all seems to be stemming from this briefing note and it all seems to be saying the same thing. So I'll address most of the points which are raised in this briefing note for you to consider:

a) The Cycle Super Highways "would take 50% of the road space on one of London's main arterial roads". Not true. The East-West highway will reduce the current four lanes to three lanes in some places, it will remain four in most locations. There is a very short stretch of a few hundred yards through Blackfriars underpass that will be two lane and that is the only section where this is the case. Along the Embankment, what's happening is that space currently used for coach parking during the rush hour is going to be used for a bike track. I'd suggest this is a good use of space. It will create a much more enjoyable environment along what should be an iconic stretch of the river but is currently choked with coach fumes and traffic that jockeys for position. It is worth noting how Paris has actually removed an entire road along its river banks and replaced it with beaches, bike tracks and walking space. London has got nothing on Paris on this front.

b) The Cycle Super Highways will "halve  the capacity of a primary transportation artery". Not true. The scheme will cause "gridlock" in central London. Not true. TfL is "unwilling to publish" its traffic analysis. Not true. Why are none of these true? Well, the east-west capacity data was released today along with the north-south capacity data. TfL said from the outset that they would release the traffic data. They have done that today and they have also extended the consultation period to adjust for this. That is admirable and seems to be proper process.

You can read the full TfL statement on capacity changes via this link. I have also copied a section of that explanation below. I think the most important part of the TfL statement is this: "This scheme aims to allocate road space more in line with the actual usage of the road network." This is a fact that the press briefing chooses to ignore.

TfL statement on traffic capacity 

What is apparent from TfL's data is that some journeys in central London will be quicker (as much as three minutes quicker) by motor vehicle than they are now. Others will, it is true, be slightly slower. But as far as central London is concerned, we are talking about extra journey times of generally a minute or a minute and a half extra at peak hour in a sample 35 minute journey time as the absolute maximum. This is hardly the stuff of meltdown and gridlock.

What's more, as TfL points out, this scheme very deliberately goes along routes where there will be minimal impact on buses (there are no bus routes on most of the length of the scheme) and very little impact on car parking (there is hardly any car parking along the Embankment). You can't accuse TfL of doing this in a rush. It is clearly chosing the East-West route to minimise obstructions to other users.

On most of the routes in central London, the traffic impacts are minimal. On the core stretch between Tower Bridge and Parliament Square, the extra journey time in the morning rush hour will be a whopping 19 seconds.

Elephant & Castle to Farringdon Station by car would take 41 seconds longer than now in the morning peak. In the evening, to be fair, it would be quite a bit slower (4 minutes longer) but the majority of traffic is flowing south at this time and this journey would increase by only two minutes. I don't think this is the stuff of gridlock. It is what you have to accept if you want people to be able to cross the road safely and to get them on their bikes.

That said, there is one big issue and that is in east London on the A13 approach. TfL points out that "road space would remain the same as now but westbound traffic will be held longer at various points to control the flow on to Tower Hill and Upper Thames Street". This could mean delays of up to 16 minutes. That clearly doesn't make sense. And so it's not surprising that the Mayor has asked TfL to review this part of the scheme again and get those numbers down. That's the point of a consultation. It brings this stuff out and gives TfL and the Mayor a chance to improve the designs. Let's trust them to do that. It's in everyone's interests.

It is also important to raise one other issue which TfL has been pretty bad at explaining. That is that the traffic projections that have been published today show the results of a total of 19 different major schemes on London's roads, not just the impact of the cycle highways themselves. What the projections are showing is what the roads will look like when the cycle schemes have been built, ie once all sorts of other schemes have also come into effect, not just the cycle highways. One of those schemes is the new Haymarket in Westminster. Westminster council has removed traffic lanes on the roads around here and replaced them with pavements. This doesn't help traffic or cycling in any way. I don't hear Canary Wharf Group or anyone else complaining to Westminster Council about the knock-on effect of daft road narrowing programme in the West End.

c) It will cause delays for pedestrians. Yup, that's true. At a handful of sites on the east-west highway, it will take nine seconds longer to wait for a green man east-west and possibly 24 seconds north-south. Now, bear in mind, that big chunks of the north south route currently lack formal pedestrian crossings in the first place, in particular for the 10s of thousands of people who walk over Blackfriars to Waterloo and have to play hopscotch with the cars to cross Stamford Street. That junction will get a pedestrian crossing for the first time ever, which is sorely overdue. In fact, the pedestrian crossing which the City of London was happy to have ripped out across New Bridge Street (north side of Blackfriars Bridge) will also be replaced. This is a hugely busy desire lane. Should motor vehicles have fractionally slower journeys so that people can cross the road? Yes, they should.

The critics are completely blind to the many benefits for pedestrians in these schemes. In total, there will be 25 improved (shorter) corssings on the east-west route, four crossings will be changed from two-stage (requiring pedestrians to wait in the middle of the road) to one-stage to allow pedestrians to cross entirely in one movement. On the East - West route, there will be a further 14 new traffic light controlled crossings for pedestrians and there will be over 4,000sq metres of new pavement. On the North - South route, 10 new pedestrian crossings.

There are some other very significant benefits for pedestrians:

A new traffic-free pedestrian boulevard on Horse Guards Road, removing a barrier between Whitehall / Horse Guards Parade and St James’s Park.

At long last, proper pedestrian access to Parliament Square (currently only one access point)

Getting rid of horrible shared cycle/pedestrian crossings that cause conflict at Constitution Hill

Sorting out the ridiculous traffic island at Westminster station where tourists spill into the carriageway pretty much all day, every day.

And as I've already mentioned, the installation of safe crossings just south and north of Blackfriars Bridge where thousands of people are forced to run across the road at the moment.

c) "Reducing road capacity could potentially hold back growth in the east of London". Err, this scheme is about boosting growth in east London. As Knight Frank stated in its report yesterday, the growth of cycling to date "can only benefit the growing markets around Shoreditch and Hackney as they expand to the east".

d) There are lots of claims bandying about that "TfL did not consult on the details of the scheme with any relevant major organisation or transport organisation". Sorry. Complete rubbish. Writing in the Standard, Andrew Gilligan points out the scheme was discussed over 25 times with the City of London. I was at a public meeting with TfL and the City of London plus several employers weeks before the consultation went public where the super highways were discussed (with supporting nods from the City, in fact). This has been known about, talked about, vision documents shared, images shared, press comment made for well over a year. My understanding from other big organisations is that TfL did consult with the Freight Trade Association and with some very large property owners and businesses. In other words, anyone who makes this claim is lying.

e) The document demands a "business case" and"economic impact assessment". Right ho. So TfL is now supposed to be an economic forecasting agency as well, is it? Nope.

f) Bus journeys. Now, tellingly, this press briefing doesn't seem to care much about bus users. It hardly mentions the buses, which suggests to me that the sponsors of this report don't actually care about workers who use buses.

Very broadly, the impact on bus users along the east to west route is almost non-existent. North to south is slightly different. One route will see increases of up to seven minutes (along its entire journey, ie from the very start of the route to the end) in the evening peak. Other routes, however, will be 1-2 minutes faster. That longer delayed route is the 45 which travels from St Pancras to Streatham. Seven minutes sounds a lot and doesn't look great but it is seven minutes over a pretty long distance.

What is worth pointing out as well is that the forecasts don't include a whole a host of initiatives that are going to be added to minimise these delays. So, bus traffic lights will be introduced. They aren't factored into the forecasts but will help speed things up. Proper, forceful traffic policing will take place on the route, so no more vans blocking a whole carriageway for 20 minutes. The forecasts assume traffic patterns will stay flat on current flows. In fact, they've been falling every year for a decade, so it's safe to assume there will actually be less, and therefore faster traffic flows in the future.

On a personal note, I'd like not to see delays to bus travel times. I note that when the Cycle Super Highway 2 was brought to Stratford, TfL predicted longer journeys of around two minutes. My understanding is that in reality that hasn't happened. The extra journey times have been in seconds, not minutes.

In summary 

There are plenty of other statements in this briefing that are simply false. The document smacks of an organisation that wants to bully London to do things its way. But what is very clear is that the document has gone to people with influence and with access to the media who are already starting to quote bits of it to the press and in my opinion this briefing note is all about scaring Londoners to think the Cycle Super Highway will kill off London's businesses, close down central London's streets and be a disaster for pedestrians. None of this is true. In fact, in most scenarios, the opposite is pretty much the case.

What is also interesting is that a lot of other businesses just don't seem to see things the same way. Several other large real estate players have already come out on record in support of the scheme. My understanding is that several more CEOs are poised to do the same.

What is good is that the Mayor is asking TfL to review elements of the scheme. I do see why people would have genuine concerns with the traffic projections in some parts of east London. And those need reviewing and sorting out. What they don't need though is the battle force of corporate heavyweights ramming this scheme into oblivion based on misinformation and subjective opinion.


Cycle Super Highways need your help. If your employer backs cycling, please ask them to get involved. It's easy to do. Click here for the templates and emails you need