Boris's 'Cycling Revolution' promise dropped from London Plan - it's a 'step change' now

Latest draft of London Plan sees phrase coined by London's mayor quietly dropped - as well as references to 12 Superhighways

by Simon_MacMichael   February 9, 2014  

Barclays Cycle Superhighway (source - Transport for London)

Boris Johnson's promised "Cycling Revolution" for London appears to have been consigned to the ancient history the city's mayor is so fond of quoting, replaced instead by what is termed a "step change" for cycling in the city - but with some projects running years behind schedule and concerns over cost, will the mayor's vision be fully realised?

It may seem no more than a question of semantics, but the use of a different phrase, highlighted in a document published last month, may in part reflect that the changes to facilities for cyclists in the capital demanded by campaigners cannot happen overnight.

Now, the fear will be that some of the changes the mayor has promised to encourage cycling and make conditions safer for people on bikes won't happen at all, or that financial pressures will cause some to be dropped.

Previously, the London Plan, published in July 2011, stated succinctly:

The Mayor is committed to seeing a revolution in cycling in London.

But in the Draft Further Amendments to the London Plan, open for consultation until 10 April 2014, that is replaced by the rather more expansive:

The Mayor is committed to delivering a  step change in cycling provision that will support the growing numbers of cyclists in central London as well as encourage growth in cycling across all of London. The Mayor's aim to increase the mode share for cycling to 5% across Greater London will require significant increases in particular areas and for particular trip purposes - e.g., Central, Inner and mini-Hollands, leisure trips across the capital and commuting trips to London.

The proposed amendments suggest that some promised initiatives may not happen in the way envisaged when they were first launched - for a start, former references to 12 Cycle Superhighways have been dropped, and the project is running well behind its original timetable.

The first two routes - CS3 from Barking to Tower Gateway, and CS7 from Merton to the City, were launched amid much fanfare in June 2010, with Mr Johnson promising that they would encourage "legions of Londoners" to take to their bikes - although from the outset, some derided them as being little more than a lick of blue paint.

The rollout of the Cycle Superhighways, originally due to have been completed by the end of 2015, was put on hold following several cyclist fatalities in late 2011, including that of Brian Dorling at Bow Roundabout, the first rider to die on one of Mr Johnson's flagship routes.

Now, the timeframe is that the routes won't be completed until some time between 2017 and 2021/22, and the commitment to build a dozen of them has disappeared. Moreover, according to new text inserted in the draft of the London Plan, they are "under review and subject to change."

In part, the deferral of the anticipated completion dates reflects the fact that other initiatives announced more recently have been given greater priority, including the two planned segregated routes running across the city centre and the trial of Mini Hollands in up to four boroughs, both due for completion by the end of 2016.

The reference to four boroughs is a change from the original proposal, which envisaged between one and three being chosen from those that applied, but again the timetable is slipping - the identity of the successful boroughs was due to have been revealed by the end of 2013, but there's still no news.

The delay to the Cycle Superhighways also results from the fact that in December 2011, Mr Johnson ordered a review of all junctions on the existing and proposed routes. That was subsequently expanded to some 500 junctions throughout the capital.

Last year, in his Vision for Cycling in London, Mr Johnson announced that 100 had been identified for improvement under the Better Junctions programme.

But that has subsequently been scaled back, too - in December we reported that the number of junctions that will be improved has been cut to 33, and 15 of those are part of separate projects such as Cycle Superhighways.

The website Transport Xtra reports that Leon Daniels, TfL's director of surface transport, told the its board: “The current scope of the programme is still being finalised, including the number of cycle superhighways and the extent of interventions."

However, he added that the experience from the additional safety features introduced on the CS2 Stratford extension pointed towards more money being needed than was originally budgeted.

“This indicates that the overall costs for the programme are likely to increase by up to £50m to ensure adequate service standards are provided on all routes,” he explained.

Mr Daniels added that a choice would need to be made between reducing the number or length of the Cycle Superhighways, or to take money from other parts of TfL's cycling budget.

That already faces a shortfall after Barclays announced in December that it was ending its sponsorship of the Cycle Hire Scheme and Cycle Superhighways in 2015.

The news came as a surprise, with Mr Johnson having announced in 2011 that Barclays had agreed to extend its sponsorship until 2018.

As a result, it appears Barclays will end up paying less than half of the £50 million it had been expected to contribute.

When the decision to end the deal was revealed, Graeme Craig, TfL's director of commercial development, said it planned in future for the Cycle Hire Scheme sponsorship to "become part of a much wider and larger cycle sponsorship offer."

He said that would include elements of the Mayor's Cycling Vision such as Quietways and the proposed east-west and north-south routes cutting across the city centre.

The latest draft London Plan also deletes an earlier undertaking to "identify potential sites for expansion and/or standalone schemes in outer London."

Mr Johnson has pledged to spend £913 million on cycling in London between 2012/13 and 2021/22.

We will looking in detail in the coming days at some of the aspects of cycling in the capital contained in the Draft Further Alterations to the London Plan.

In the meantime ere is a summary, taken from the same document, of the schemes currently planned and their anticipated completion dates.

The amounts shown next to each reflect how that £913 million is currently allocated, according to Mr Daniels' report to TfL's board.

Cycling projects

Central London Grid (£54 million)

Delivery of a central London ‘Bike Grid’ of high quality, high-volume cycle routes, using a combination of segregation and quiet shared streets, along with some innovative use of existing infrastructure.

Anticipated completion: 2017 - 2021/22

Quietways (£115 million)

A well-signed network of radial and orbital routes, mainly on low-traffic back streets, for those wanting a more relaxed cycle journey.

Includes a central London ‘Bike Grid’ of high quality, high volume cycle routes, using a combination of segregation and quiet shared streets along with some innovative use of existing infrastructure

Anticipated completion: 2017 - 2021/22

Greenways

A network of attractive and functional routes for walking and cycling to, and through, green spaces across the Capital.

Anticipated completion: 2013 - 2016

Cycle Superhighways (£150 million)

New radial routes to central London and improvements to existing Cycle Superhighways. Including fast and substantially segregated cycle superhighways providing north-south and east-west routes through central London.

Anticipated completion: 2017 - 2021/22

Biking Boroughs

Final year (2013-14) of delivery of a package of infrastructure and supporting measures by thirteen outer London Boroughs.

Anticipated completion: 2013 - 2016

Mini-Hollands (£100 million)

Transformational change in up to four Outer London town centres to provide exemplar facilities for cyclists. Programmes will be based around providing cycle- friendly town centres, cycle routes and cycle superhubs at local railway stations.

Anticipated completion: 2017 - 2021/22

Cycle Superhubs at rail stations (£35.6 million)

Mass cycle storage facilities with good security and cycle routes at rail stations.

Anticipated completion: 2013 - 2016

Cycle to School partnerships (£33 million)

Partnerships between boroughs, schools and local communities all working to make cycling to school easier and safer. Local infrastructure improvements will be delivered alongside supporting activities at a cluster of schools within a geographical area.

Anticipated completion: 2017 - 2021/22

Cycle parking (cost included in Cycle Superhubs above)

Continued delivery towards target of 80,000 spaces by 2016.

Anticipated completion: 2013 - 2016

Better Junctions (£100 million)

Better junctions that are addressing cyclist and pedestrian safety at over 30 key junctions in London, including:

Bow roundabout; Holland Park roundabout; Aldgate gyratory; Swiss Cottage; Nags Head

Anticipated completion: 2013 - 2016

17 user comments

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Boris is just a flimflam man.

MikeOnABike's picture

posted by MikeOnABike [26 posts]
9th February 2014 - 17:57

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While I'd like to see infrastructure changes, first of all I'd like the Met to police the roads and properly investigate RTAs.

posted by jacknorell [337 posts]
9th February 2014 - 19:03

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blue paint on a road does NOT a superhighway make...

now this is a proper cycle superhighway... and it's everywhere there and to far better standard than the drek they've expensively foisted on Londoners:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3viyOfHoHoQ

and I'll bet that load of infrastructure didn't cost anywhere near what Boris's blue painted rubbish did...

posted by Paul_C [164 posts]
9th February 2014 - 19:16

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Surprise surfuckingprise.

posted by VeloPeo [218 posts]
9th February 2014 - 22:57

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Vauxhall has been "going Dutch" for as long as I can remember and I have het to see any change other than the odd drawings.
I wouldn't be surprised if some of the money earmarked quietly finds its way into the pothole budget.
No surprise from me as he'll be gone with 20 months. They're all depressingly the same really

posted by arfa [474 posts]
9th February 2014 - 23:14

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"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals... except the weasel."
- Homer Simpson

posted by Some Fella [740 posts]
10th February 2014 - 0:16

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Paul_C wrote:

blue paint on a road does NOT a superhighway make...

now this is a proper cycle superhighway... and it's everywhere there and to far better standard than the drek they've expensively foisted on Londoners:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3viyOfHoHoQ

and I'll bet that load of infrastructure didn't cost anywhere near what Boris's blue painted rubbish did...

That seems like it's on a completely different planet. Not going to happen in Britain any time soon, in any shape or form.

In the meantime I'd be completely content if they just fixed the roads (properly) and enforced the law (properly). That would have the support of the vast majority of motorists as well, whether they care about cycling or not.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [274 posts]
10th February 2014 - 1:23

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When will this country learn?

There is nothing wrong with the infrastructure, there is no such thing as a dangerous road or junction. It's the great and gormless in metal boxes that are dangerous. This money would be better spent on teaching people about the needs of other road users and about patience.

Really want to make this country safer to ride in, change the law to state;
1. Cyclist have right of way.
2. If you are invovled in an accident with a cyclist you are at fault unless you can prove otherwise.

Anything else is political posturing.

Back I go to lal la land.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [289 posts]
10th February 2014 - 10:24

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A TARGET, becomes an AIM, becomes an ASPIRATION!

Isn't it always the same when politicians are involved! The sound track in my head is now playing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody "Any way the wind blows, doesn't really matter... to me!"

posted by levermonkey [356 posts]
10th February 2014 - 10:51

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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
When will this country learn?

There is nothing wrong with the infrastructure, there is no such thing as a dangerous road or junction. It's the great and gormless in metal boxes that are dangerous. This money would be better spent on teaching people about the needs of other road users and about patience.

Really want to make this country safer to ride in, change the law to state;
1. Cyclist have right of way.
2. If you are invovled in an accident with a cyclist you are at fault unless you can prove otherwise.

Anything else is political posturing.

Back I go to lal la land.

That simply isn't true. People that don't cycle in London don't want to ride in the heavy traffic. Large vehicles are scary (dangerous or not), and can and do kill cyclists. Current infrastructure is built for motor vehicles not cyclists, and this is continuing to happen (see the Bedford turbo roundabout) despite there being better alternatives.

Better driver training and strict liability might help (and should be introduced), but they do nothing to increase the subjective safety of cycling that is required for the 'ages 8-80' revolution.

posted by teaboy [149 posts]
10th February 2014 - 10:53

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Politician doubles back on his word......I'm shocked.

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [283 posts]
10th February 2014 - 13:29

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Teaboy,

So what you are saying is that there should be one rule for London and another for everywhere else. Anyway you back up my point, it's not the road that's dangerous it's the vehicle or more precisely the driver.

A lot of the UK's infrastructure has been adapted from the horse and cart, post WW11 the sametime a lot of cities had trams, which had right of way. The current crop of bus lanes remove the right of way from other vehicles. The city infrastructure was certainaly not designed for motor vehicles especially at the levels it is today.

Maybe I've been lucky in that I've never been hit from behind, but have had too many close calls with vehicles coming back in from the over take. Why it was only Friday when a twonk of a HGV driver nearly squashed between the kerb and rear axle. He was totally oblivious to both tyres being in the cycle lane. Late last year I ranted about another similar occurance. Unless segregation is enforced on all roads ridable, it will only serve to fan the "them and us" fire. We are all road users and I for one don't want to be limited to a few streets "because they are desgned for bikes".

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [289 posts]
10th February 2014 - 13:48

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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
Teaboy,

So what you are saying is that there should be one rule for London and another for everywhere else. Anyway you back up my point, it's not the road that's dangerous it's the vehicle or more precisely the driver.

A lot of the UK's infrastructure has been adapted from the horse and cart, post WW11 the sametime a lot of cities had trams, which had right of way. The current crop of bus lanes remove the right of way from other vehicles. The city infrastructure was certainaly not designed for motor vehicles especially at the levels it is today.

Maybe I've been lucky in that I've never been hit from behind, but have had too many close calls with vehicles coming back in from the over take. Why it was only Friday when a twonk of a HGV driver nearly squashed between the kerb and rear axle. He was totally oblivious to both tyres being in the cycle lane. Late last year I ranted about another similar occurance. Unless segregation is enforced on all roads ridable, it will only serve to fan the "them and us" fire. We are all road users and I for one don't want to be limited to a few streets "because they are desgned for bikes".

Not at all - I was commenting on the mayor of London's plan for cycling in London. The point is transferrable to any urban environment. One of the reasons you were nearly hit in the example you give was bad driving. The other is bad infrastructure - how should it be possible for a vehicle to hit (or almost hit) a cyclist in a cycle lane? However, I'm pretty confident you'll be back out on the bike anyway - plenty of people wouldn't be after such an incident, and it's these people that need the infrastructure before cycling levels increase beyond the current 2%.

Where has anyone suggested cycling being limited to any particular streets (although cyclists already are - motorways being the obvious example)?

posted by teaboy [149 posts]
10th February 2014 - 14:26

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Step Change = "a significant change in policy or attitude, especially one that results in an improvement or increase."
OED

Revolution = "a dramatic and wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes, or operation."

Is there just a small chance that the difference between the two descriptions is not significant. I know the whole article is predicated on the fact that a step change is a downgrade to a revolution but they seem like synonyms to me. Maybe people just got bored using the same description. Maybe this is the same policy but someone used a slightly different term with a very similar meaning to describe it.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [559 posts]
10th February 2014 - 15:51

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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
When will this country learn?

There is nothing wrong with the infrastructure, there is no such thing as a dangerous road or junction. It's the great and gormless in metal boxes that are dangerous. This money would be better spent on teaching people about the needs of other road users and about patience.

Really want to make this country safer to ride in, change the law to state;
1. Cyclist have right of way.
2. If you are invovled in an accident with a cyclist you are at fault unless you can prove otherwise.

Anything else is political posturing.

Back I go to lal la land.

apart from anything else that's just not true. You can engineer roads and infrastructure to both reduce the incidents of collision and mitigate the consequence of collision. It's done all the time.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [559 posts]
10th February 2014 - 16:18

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I think Teaboy is right - infrastructure is very important. When I'm riding regular routes, I know exactly the places where I'm likely to get cut up.

When you look at the successful cycling countries like the Netherlands, there are oodles of cycle paths - they take you everywhere the roads do.

British Cycling also agree with this - in their manifesto launched today, they call for spending on cycling, to bring in the 64% of people who are frightened of riding on roads busy with vehicle traffic.

posted by HarrogateSpa [87 posts]
10th February 2014 - 19:42

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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
When will this country learn?

There is nothing wrong with the infrastructure, there is no such thing as a dangerous road or junction. It's the great and gormless in metal boxes that are dangerous. This money would be better spent on teaching people about the needs of other road users and about patience.

Really want to make this country safer to ride in, change the law to state;
1. Cyclist have right of way.
2. If you are invovled in an accident with a cyclist you are at fault unless you can prove otherwise.

Anything else is political posturing.

Back I go to lal la land.

Sorry, but that's complete horseshit. Humans beings are inherently error-prone, and pretending you can educate people into not doing dangerous things is utterly misguided. Go to the Netherlands where they accept that people make mistakes, and design junctions and streets in order to minimise the consequences of those errors, particularly for the most vulnerable people.

Attitudes like yours are not only ridiculously misguided, they're actually very dangerous, and have played a large part in British cycle campaigns being so useless for the best part of 40 years. Fortunately, most of them now appear to have abandoned this childishly thin thinking, and accepted the need for high-quality street design.

posted by fluffy_mike [79 posts]
11th February 2014 - 19:08

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