IT giant Microsoft has become the latest of what are now more than 120 employers in London to have publicly backed Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to create two Cycle Superhighways running across the heart of the capital. Its CEO says they "are a vital step toward a safer and healthier city," and has called on them to be "delivered without delay."
Microsoft UK has 2,200 employees across its five locations in London, and joins other major organisations including Barts NHS Trust, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, RBS and Unilever in endorsing the proposed routes via the website of campaign group, CyclingWorks London.
Its CEO, Michel Van Der Bell, has written to Mr Johnson to outline the company’s support for the plans.
He said: “Other cities that have invested in segregated cycling infrastructure have seen dramatic increases in cycling and reductions in injuries as a consequence. We want to see the same benefits here in London.”
Microsoft UK’s support for the two planned Cycle Superhighways, one running from the Westway to Tower Gateway, the other from Elephant & Castle to King’s Cross, both of them linking to other routes, comes a week and a half before consultation on them closes on 9 November.
While support is not universal – Canary Wharf Group distributed a briefing note against them, anonymously at first, against them and City of London Corporation has also expressed reservations, particularly about their impact on pedestrians – a YouGov poll recently found overwhelming support among Londoners.
But Chris Kenyon of CyclingWorks.London said the number of organisations backing the plans showed that the tow planned routes had a vital role to play for the city.
He said: “One business after another has come out to say how important these Cycle Superhighway plans are to them.
“It’s not just about keeping their existing staff and customers safe, many of whom already cycle. They also want to attract the best new talent to work and live here in London.
“It’s almost a year since six London cyclists lost their lives over two appalling weeks [last November].”
He added: “The Mayor should take the support of these companies as a signal to build his Cycle Superhighways without delay.”
Here is Mr Van Der Bel's letter to the Mayor:
As the CEO of Microsoft UK, I am pleased to offer our support for the proposed East–West and North–South Cycle Superhighways.
Microsoft is the world’s largest software company with operations in over 100 countries. We employ 110,000 people worldwide, with 2200 of them based in London. We have five sites in the city including offices near Paddington Station, in Cardinal Place at Victoria Station, and in the historic Prudential Assurance building at Holborn Circus. All three of these lie close to the proposed routes.
More and more of our employees are choosing to get to work on their bikes. We encourage this with lockers, showers, secure cycle parking and a Cycle to Work scheme. Over 100 of our people regularly cycle into work. We know that others would choose to do so and gain the health benefits of active commuting if they felt comfortable on the roads. As it stands, too many of those who commute by bike today have had close calls where cycles and motor traffic mix. We want the commutes of all our staff to be comfortable and safe and the Cycle Superhighways will be a big step toward that goal.
Our network of offices in the capital will be knitted together by the Cycle Superhighways, and our employees will benefit considerably once they are completed. We look forward to using the protected routes to help us attract and retain the people we need to continue to thrive. Other cities that have invested in segregated cycling infrastructure have seen dramatic increases in cycling and reductions in injuries as a consequence. We want to see the same benefits here in London.
We anticipate that construction of the Cycle Superhighways will cause short-term disruption for those using the route. As with all road projects, TfL should communicate what changes will be made in advance so that businesses can prepare and adapt.
The Cycle Superhighways are a vital step toward a safer and healthier city. Please make sure they are delivered without delay.
Michel Van Der Bel
CEO, Microsoft Ltd
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.