|Tower Hill with new planned cycle track on the right|
This morning, Transport for London issued the detailed consultation plans for two planned Cycle Super Highways running East to West and North to South across inner London. And, unlike when the Mayor announced plans for his original Cycle Super Highways, this time they really have the feel of being proper Cycle Highways. They are almost entirely segregated. They have priority over side roads, just the same way that other traffic does. And, at points, they are pretty impressive.
|Cycle track replaces a motor traffic lane |
on an underpass in Montreal. This
is something radically new in London.
Other cities have been doing this for years
There are, however, some clear flaws. The routes are almost entirely made of bi-directional tracks, rather than tracks in the same direction as the traffic flow. I think this is a shame as it creates additional complexity for road users, cyclists included. It also means that getting on and off the tracks can be quite cumbersome at points. There are, at some points, far too many traffic lights for my liking as well, so you have a slightly stop-start experience in places rather than a gentle flow.
I am planning to do a fairly detailed review of the plans over the coming weeks, section by section. They are simply too large and spread over too great a distance to do justice to them in a single blog post.
|New look New Bridge Street (just north of|
Blackfriars Bridge) with cycle track
In short, this isn't about "cyclists" any more. It is about making inner London a place where anyone feels they can use a bike to travel from place to place. And it's about making streets that work for people, not just for people in motor vehicles.
I can find plenty of faults and niggles in the detail of these plans. And I'm going to come back and address these over the coming weeks. But my key concern right now is to make sure people are aware the plans are out there and that people realise just how much noise these plans are likely to create.
All sorts of groups are likely to be try and derail these plans. From what I understand, the Canary Wharf group fears that various "masters of the universe" in its big gleaming towers will have slower journeys to Heathrow as they won't be able to whisk along the river on as many lanes as they do at the moment. This, despite the fact that the Embankment is almost always a quagmire of crawling motor vehicles; that the lanes being removed are generally used to park coaches for teenage students from France and Germany at rush-hour; and despite the fact that Crossrail will soon whizz such ultra important beings from Canary Wharf to Heathrow in a fraction of the time.
The Motorcycle Action Group has already announced its opposition to cycle tracks and - bizarrely - justifies that by saying they will give cyclists higher rates of prostate cancer (there are too many levels on which that is simply plain weird).
Even London Travel Watch - the body which is supposed to represent all public transport users as well as cyclists - has been making hysterical and unsubstantiated headlines opposing cycle tracks.
|In Boris's first term, this is what counted for a Cycle Highway.|
The bike lane is underneath the bus. Just terrfiying
Oh, and the business lobby group London First has announced that bike lanes have the "potential to damage business & create traffic jams" How on earth would they know that, given the traffic management data hasn't been released to them or the public yet? Scare-mongering in the extreme.
On a more positive note, the plans have been welcomed so far by the London Cycling Campaign and also by the London Health Commission.
Take it from me. The forces for 'no change' are many and plentiful. And many of these people have the ear of politicians and will seek to bend things their way. Many of them, such as the RAC and London First, have deep pockets too. Deeper than you or I.
|The current Cycle Super Highway|
at Aldgate (blue paint).
And I'm asking one more time, now is the time for you to support this and to make sure the voices for change outweigh the hard and tough lobbying that the anti-cycling forces will be throwing at this.
It will take you half an hour. But you need to to to the TfL consultation page. This is the link for the North-South Cycle Super Highway and this is the link for the East-West Cycle Super Highway. Click on the Online Survey and then look at each section, one by one. You can view the specific plans for that section. Take time to look at them and then send your comments. But, above all, tick that you support the plans, even with your criticisms. Because there are plenty of people who think their voices are bigger than yours and they will be opposing these plans.
By the way, you can also download a PDF of all the plans East-West and North-South.
On a related note, I have been a vocal critic of the Mayor's cycling schemes to date. But on this, Boris Johnson deserves credit where it is due. If the volume of opposition from entrenched organisations like the RAC and London First gets too much, then I think we may be in a position where we need to stage another Flashride.
This time, we should Flashride in support of Boris Johnson's plans for cycling. Because we need to show that many people simply do not agree with the scare mongering put out by the RAC and London First. What do people think?