Transport for London have announced detailed consultation plans for two new Cycle Superhighways. They are the first two routes that really deserve the superhighway label.
The East-West route will take you from Barking to Acton. An 18 mile route that will see some of the most dangerous junctions in London completely re-imagined. It will continue from Cycle Superhighway 3 past Tower Hill (shown in the picture above), along the Embankment, through Parliament Square, Hyde Park and then past paddington.
The North-South route will take you from Farringdon to Elephant and Castle using a radically redesigned Blackfriars Bridge – previously a major point of contention back in 2011, amongst cyclists.
The routes feature cyclists only traffic lights along with physical separation along almost the entire routes. Basically, it’s a little like the kind of infrastructure you’d expect in places like Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
There are also major improvements for pedestrians with new and improved crossings. This is particularly striking at Parliament Square where pedestrians will finally have access to the square.
There are of course some flaws, some of which are easier to address than others. For a start, much of the route uses bi-directional tracks, which creates some issues for cyclists wanting to come on and off the route and might slow things down. It also gives drivers in London a bit of a new complexity. It’s a shame that it wasn’t possible to achieve routes that follow along with the direction of traffic.
Despite the flaws, it’s worth really supporting these plans as they are a bold step forward for the way people get around in London. For cyclists it’ll mean no more cars parked in cycle lanes. It will mean a safe, pleasant route that you’d be happy to ride with your family along. For pedestrians it means safer crossing and for London it means less congestion and pollution as more people take to bikes.
However, cyclists have an uphill battle to ensure that these go from being more than just plans. As reported on by Cyclists in the City, three groups have already voiced their opposition:
- The RAC have told the BBC that the money would be better spent on other transport schemes. Billions is already spent on roads, and as soon as a comparative small amount is to be spent on something else, they object to it. One of their outrageous arguments is that only 4% of people in London cycle to work, so why invest in it? Which would have been the equivalent of saying in the past: nobody has a car, so why build a road. As we well know, the infrastructure needs to come first, before you can mobilise more people to get on bikes.
- The business lobby group London First welcomes the plans but have raised concerns for other road users “This must not make life worse for those on London’s buses, cars, taxis, coaches and vans. As well as moving commuters, London’s roads ensure we get the goods and services we need where and when we need them.”
- The London Travel Watch, which supposedly represents all transport users, has said that “TfL’s proposals to change the road layout at Vauxhall and Oval pose a risk to millions of bus journeys every year”
To ensure that forward thinking change does happen, it’s up to cyclists to get involved in the consultations:
Set aside 30 minutes in your calendar to write in your views to TfL. The more people they hear from, the better. You can add views on every part of the improvements if you have the time, but just adding your comments in the overall proposals box would be very helpful.