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Boris Johnson says record-breaking figures justify investment in infrastructure

Transport for London (TfL) says bicycles now make up one sixth of traffic in the centre of the capital, with cycling levels in London are now the greatest they have been since it began keeping records at the turn of the Millennium 15 years ago.

Mayor Boris Johnson says that the figures show the need for infrastructure such as the two proposed cross-city Cycle Superhighways, due to be approved by TfL’s board this week.

According to TfL, levels of cycling on the city’s major roads, which make up the TfL road network, rose by 10 per cent in the quarter from 14 September to 6 December compared to a year earlier, and by the end of the current financial year it expects annual growth to have hit 12 per cent.

Last year, for the first time TfL began monitoring the number of trips made by bike within the Congestion Charging zone, and says that 170,000 are being made each day, with bicycles now making up 16 per cent of traffic in Central London.

It adds that between a quarter and a half of all journeys on some routes during peak hours are undertaking by bike.

“Last week I announced my final intentions for the new East-West and North-South superhighways,” said Mr Johnson.

“These amazing numbers show how cyclists are becoming ubiquitous in London and prove, if further proof were needed, why we need to crack on with catering for them.”

TfL said that use of the city’s Cycle Hire scheme had also hit new highs, with just over 10 million journeys made during 2014 – up 25 per cent on the previous year, and 5 per cent greater than in 2012, which had been the year in which the scheme saw highest take-up.

It added that the number of hires made at Waterloo station had increased by 12 per cent, which it said suggested “more people are now using the scheme as a viable commuting option,” and it also revealed that customer satisfaction with the scheme was at record levels.

One of the reasons for the continued growth in use of the scheme is its wider availability – now covering 100 square kilometres and with further expansion planned, there are also more bikes and docking stations.

Mr Johnson said, “Barclays Cycle Hire continues to grow in popularity and there can be no doubt that our trusty bicycles have changed the way people get around our great city.”

Tfl’s director of strategy and planning for surface transport, Ben Plowden, added: “Our aim is to make cycling an integral part of London’s transport network and to be normalised so that anyone can jump on a bike to get to work, to the shops or to discover London.

“Seeing these continuously record breaking numbers of cyclists in London is a great demonstration that our work to make cycling easier and safer, including unprecedented levels of investment, is achieving this aim.”

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.

28 comments

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bikebot [2118 posts] 2 years ago
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It's worth remembering that there were many people predicting a reversal following the series of tragic deaths and negative headlines in November 2013.

This is what's been achieved with those who are brave enough to use London's roads as they are. I know people that cycle out in the suburbs, but won't regularly commute in by bike to the centre as they still consider it too dangerous. The new central London routes, both segregated sections and quietways will persuade many of those in 2016 with another large boost in numbers. I can almost see a tipping point.

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bdsl [201 posts] 2 years ago
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Does anyone have a link or reference for TFL's statement? I wonder how the measure traffic - clearly bikes will score a lot higher compared to buses if they are counting no of vehicles rather than no of road users.

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 2 years ago
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For contrast how does cycle-specific spending compare?

Bet it's nowhere near 16.667%

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georgee [183 posts] 2 years ago
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Google tfl cycleflows. I assume this is the data it is based on, a good regular checker of the stats.

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jasecd [503 posts] 2 years ago
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All well and good but you can massively accelerate this trend by taking dangerous drivers off the roads and aggressively enforcing traffic laws. The behaviour of a sizeable minority of drivers is what keeps many people from cycling.

Even if it were possible, it would take decades to properly install cycling infrastructure across the city. Forcing a change in driver behaviour would not be easy but is likely to be far quicker and less costly yet I have not once heard a politician or "leader" speak out about this. Until they do then they will continue to fail vulnerable road users everywhere.

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ron611087 [358 posts] 2 years ago
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The 16% figure is I assume a percentage of journeys measured rather than percentage road space used. Given that bicycles occupy the least road space and are never less than optimal capacity, it would interesting to see both stats side by side just to emphasise the justification for additional investment.

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teaboy [307 posts] 2 years ago
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jasecd wrote:

All well and good but you can massively accelerate this trend by taking dangerous drivers off the roads and aggressively enforcing traffic laws. The behaviour of a sizeable minority of drivers is what keeps many people from cycling.

Even if it were possible, it would take decades to properly install cycling infrastructure across the city. Forcing a change in driver behaviour would not be easy but is likely to be far quicker and less costly yet I have not once heard a politician or "leader" speak out about this. Until they do then they will continue to fail vulnerable road users everywhere.

How to you ensure that EVERY driver EVERYWHERE in London ALWAYS drives in a way that is safe an legal? Where else has done so, and how much did it cost? What is the ongoing cost of this?

What feels dangerous is the proximity of large, fast-moving motor vehicles. The vast majority of these are not driven dangerously, but that doesn't make it feel safe enough for most people. To make it FEEL safe enough infrastructure is far more important than behaviour, and when you build it properly you engineer it to allow mistakes without costing lives. There is simply no way you can police the roads to remove misjudgement.

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ibike [166 posts] 2 years ago
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These are impressive figures, however they have been measured. London is something of an anomaly though, and these high rates of cycle usage are only really seen in central London during the rush hour. But I won’t quibble over using them to justify building the cross-town “superhighways”, which I hope are only the start of a London-wide network of safe routes. Then we should see high rates of cycle usage at all times of the day and night and among all ages and abilities.

My only concern is that this sets a precedent that other towns can only justify spending on infrastructure once they have achieved similarly high rates of cycling. Since we now know that high quality infrastructure is a prerequisite for high rates of cycle usage, the rest of the country could be waiting a very long time to see conditions improve for people on bikes.

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fluffy_mike [103 posts] 2 years ago
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All well and good but you can massively accelerate this trend by taking dangerous drivers off the roads and aggressively enforcing traffic laws. The behaviour of a sizeable minority of drivers is what keeps many people from cycling.

Even if it were possible, it would take decades to properly install cycling infrastructure across the city. Forcing a change in driver behaviour would not be easy but is likely to be far quicker and less costly yet I have not once heard a politician or "leader" speak out about this. Until they do then they will continue to fail vulnerable road users everywhere.

Fortunately, policy-makers in London have finally realised that building safe cycling infrastructure is the only way to achieve mass cycling (as demonstrated amply by countries like the Netherlands).

In about one year's time, the centre of London will look very different and will be much more welcoming to every-day cycling. That's not decades, is it? It's 12 months (or we could call it two years for design and build).

Consider, there are quite simply no cities in the Western world that have achieved mass cycling by concentrating on driver behaviour and insisting cyclists ride in fast or heavy motor traffic. None... and I doubt there ever will be.

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bikebot [2118 posts] 2 years ago
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mad_scot_rider wrote:

For contrast how does cycle-specific spending compare?

Bet it's nowhere near 16.667%

I should ruddy well hope not. One of the strongest arguments in favour of cycling support is how much cheaper it is, and how much potential it has to reduce maintenance costs.

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jacknorell [995 posts] 2 years ago
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Now, if we had proportional expenditure for a decade, think about how amazing the infra could be!

After that, it'd cost very little to maintain in comparison to motor vehicle infra.

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Initialised [330 posts] 2 years ago
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teaboy wrote:
jasecd wrote:

All well and good but you can massively accelerate this trend by taking dangerous drivers off the roads and aggressively enforcing traffic laws. The behaviour of a sizeable minority of drivers is what keeps many people from cycling.

Even if it were possible, it would take decades to properly install cycling infrastructure across the city. Forcing a change in driver behaviour would not be easy but is likely to be far quicker and less costly yet I have not once heard a politician or "leader" speak out about this. Until they do then they will continue to fail vulnerable road users everywhere.

How to you ensure that EVERY driver EVERYWHERE in London ALWAYS drives in a way that is safe an legal? Where else has done so, and how much did it cost? What is the ongoing cost of this?

By having all their vehicles fitted with GPS tracking and front and rear cameras and black box data recorders to make them responsible for their actions and resolve insurance and legal matters quickly and collision avoidance systems to prevent accidents in the first place.

If a drug was introduced to the market that killed 4000 annually and maimed far more it'd be banned and taken off the streets immediately why not take the same approach with road safety?

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bikebot [2118 posts] 2 years ago
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Initialised wrote:

By having all their vehicles fitted with GPS tracking and front and rear cameras and black box data recorders to make them responsible for their actions and resolve insurance and legal matters quickly and collision avoidance systems to prevent accidents in the first place.

If a drug was introduced to the market that killed 4000 annually and maimed far more it'd be banned and taken off the streets immediately why not take the same approach with road safety?

If you just remove that pesky democracy thing, you might have a chance of introducing such a measure. I know some might be surprised by this, but people often object to being watched by their governments.

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bikebot [2118 posts] 2 years ago
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Initialised wrote:

By having all their vehicles fitted with GPS tracking and front and rear cameras and black box data recorders to make them responsible for their actions and resolve insurance and legal matters quickly and collision avoidance systems to prevent accidents in the first place.

If a drug was introduced to the market that killed 4000 annually and maimed far more it'd be banned and taken off the streets immediately why not take the same approach with road safety?

If you just remove that pesky democracy thing, you might have a chance of introducing such a measure. I know some might be surprised by this, but people often object to being watched by their governments.

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sean evans [39 posts] 2 years ago
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it doesn't sound too bad when you say theres a 1 in a million chance of being killed cycling in London. 10 million journeys a year, 10 fatalities (approx).

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Scrufftie [106 posts] 2 years ago
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That's 1 in a million on any given journey. If you commute and make 500 journeys a year (assuming you cycle each way, the odds shorten to 1 in 2000, which doesn't sound so good.

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bdsl [201 posts] 2 years ago
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And if you continue making 500 journeys a year for 50 years then the odds become 1 in 41, or 2.5%. It's a real risk but still seems small compared to all the other ways you can die.

1/(1-((1-(1/1000000))^(500*50))) =~ 41

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Dramatic Hammer [9 posts] 2 years ago
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Scrufftie wrote:

That's 1 in a million on any given journey. If you commute and make 500 journeys a year (assuming you cycle each way, the odds shorten to 1 in 2000, which doesn't sound so good.

The odds are 1 in 2000(sets of 500 journeys) though, which also sounds fine. And is also exactly the same thing.

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teaboy [307 posts] 2 years ago
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Initialised wrote:
teaboy wrote:
jasecd wrote:

All well and good but you can massively accelerate this trend by taking dangerous drivers off the roads and aggressively enforcing traffic laws. The behaviour of a sizeable minority of drivers is what keeps many people from cycling.

Even if it were possible, it would take decades to properly install cycling infrastructure across the city. Forcing a change in driver behaviour would not be easy but is likely to be far quicker and less costly yet I have not once heard a politician or "leader" speak out about this. Until they do then they will continue to fail vulnerable road users everywhere.

How to you ensure that EVERY driver EVERYWHERE in London ALWAYS drives in a way that is safe an legal? Where else has done so, and how much did it cost? What is the ongoing cost of this?

By having all their vehicles fitted with GPS tracking and front and rear cameras and black box data recorders to make them responsible for their actions and resolve insurance and legal matters quickly and collision avoidance systems to prevent accidents in the first place.

That isn't a preventative measure though, is it? There is nothing to stop people still driving dangerously, or in a way that prevents people from wanting to cycle on the road with them. You might catch more people, but it still won't make it feel safe enough. Also, where else has done this, and what were the results? What are the costs, and who analyses the billions of hours of data?

Initialised wrote:

If a drug was introduced to the market that killed 4000 annually and maimed far more it'd be banned and taken off the streets immediately why not take the same approach with road safety?

That isn't what you call for - you suggest watching everyone and monitoring movement so they won't take the drug. The only thing that physically removes the killing machines is infrastructure changes.

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OldRidgeback [2847 posts] 2 years ago
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bdsl wrote:

And if you continue making 500 journeys a year for 50 years then the odds become 1 in 41, or 2.5%. It's a real risk but still seems small compared to all the other ways you can die.

1/(1-((1-(1/1000000))^(500*50))) =~ 41

Exactly - there's a lot written about the dangers of cycling on London's streets and to a degree, this misses the point. I've been cycling commuting in London for a couple of decades and it's a lot better than it used to be. It could be better still for sure but people need to have some perspective.

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Tigerlily [3 posts] 2 years ago
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It would be simpler and cheaper to start removing parking spaces along B roads and create 'Blue Routes' ....also to have rush hour windows 8-10am and 4-7pm which are free of motorised traffic apart from buses on the main routes.

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teaboy [307 posts] 2 years ago
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Tigerlily wrote:

It would be simpler and cheaper to start removing parking spaces along B roads and create 'Blue Routes' ....also to have rush hour windows 8-10am and 4-7pm which are free of motorised traffic apart from buses on the main routes.

Simple and cheap is not the same as good though. Also, they rely on enforcement to work (like the current situation). Doing things properly is far better, more permanent and self-sustaining for the long term.

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:
bdsl wrote:

And if you continue making 500 journeys a year for 50 years then the odds become 1 in 41, or 2.5%. It's a real risk but still seems small compared to all the other ways you can die.

1/(1-((1-(1/1000000))^(500*50))) =~ 41

Exactly - there's a lot written about the dangers of cycling on London's streets and to a degree, this misses the point. I've been cycling commuting in London for a couple of decades and it's a lot better than it used to be. It could be better still for sure but people need to have some perspective.

The real danger of a particular journey (your real risk) is not going to be assessed by looking at all cycling trips in London and dividing by the casualties. The real figure for you is going to include the specifics; the route you take, the time of day, the conditions, your experience, your riding style (lots of experienced chancers exist), your age and athletic ability (to react).

Some cyclists are more at risk than others.

Currently anytime you're near a tipper truck in the rush hour the risk is upward.

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Quince [381 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
teaboy wrote:
Initialised wrote:
teaboy wrote:
jasecd wrote:

All well and good but you can massively accelerate this trend by taking dangerous drivers off the roads and aggressively enforcing traffic laws. The behaviour of a sizeable minority of drivers is what keeps many people from cycling.

Even if it were possible, it would take decades to properly install cycling infrastructure across the city. Forcing a change in driver behaviour would not be easy but is likely to be far quicker and less costly yet I have not once heard a politician or "leader" speak out about this. Until they do then they will continue to fail vulnerable road users everywhere.

How to you ensure that EVERY driver EVERYWHERE in London ALWAYS drives in a way that is safe an legal? Where else has done so, and how much did it cost? What is the ongoing cost of this?

By having all their vehicles fitted with GPS tracking and front and rear cameras and black box data recorders to make them responsible for their actions and resolve insurance and legal matters quickly and collision avoidance systems to prevent accidents in the first place.

That isn't a preventative measure though, is it? There is nothing to stop people still driving dangerously, or in a way that prevents people from wanting to cycle on the road with them. You might catch more people, but it still won't make it feel safe enough. Also, where else has done this, and what were the results? What are the costs, and who analyses the billions of hours of data?

Initialised wrote:

If a drug was introduced to the market that killed 4000 annually and maimed far more it'd be banned and taken off the streets immediately why not take the same approach with road safety?

That isn't what you call for - you suggest watching everyone and monitoring movement so they won't take the drug. The only thing that physically removes the killing machines is infrastructure changes.

In addition; "Not dying is a low bar. Aim for happy cycling": http://lcc.org.uk/articles/not-dying-is-a-low-bar-aim-for-happy-cycling

There are plenty of things I can do and be pretty sure I won't die as a result of. That generally isn't a sufficiently good reason for me to go out of my way to do them; I want to actually ENJOY them.

I don't want to paraphrase the article too much, but in short; to encourage mass-cycling, you need to provide an activity that is not only non-fatal, but actually pleasant. Playing musical chairs with smoke-belching rhinoceroses is not everyone's idea of fun, fatal or otherwise.

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bikebot [2118 posts] 2 years ago
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The TfL board just approved the NS & EW cycle superhighways.

This seemed like the best place to share the news.

LCC were tweeting the proceedings - https://twitter.com/london_cycling

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severs1966 [415 posts] 2 years ago
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Tigerlily wrote:

It would be simpler and cheaper to start removing parking spaces [ ... ] and create 'Blue Routes'

Removing parking spaces and instituting a lane consisting of nothing but paint would be, in the city of Leeds, a method of creating unregulated blue parking areas. The entire route would be full of the same parked cars that currently occupy parking spaces.
Some of the parked vehicles would be police cars and vans.

Is it different in London?

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blinddrew [45 posts] 2 years ago
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Leeds is definitely the most unpleasant city I've cycled in.

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A [1 post] 2 years ago
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I found this debate really inspiring and wrote a post about safe cycling in which I quoted small bits of it, especially the great line - "Not dying is a low bar - aim for happy cycling." Here's the post - http://averagejoecyclist.com/benefits-separated-bike-lanes/

I really admire what you Londoners are doing with your bike superhighways - here in Vancouver we have massive public outcries every time another few blocks get a separate bike lane!

My wife and I took a vacation in London in 2006. We LOVED the city and we love cycling too, but we never even thought of cycling in London - it looked really dangerous to us. Once these highways are in, I cannot wait to go back and explore London by bike!  1
Average Joe Cyclist
P.S. I cannot figure out why my names shows up as "A" - I wanted it to be Average Joe Cyclist, but I must have done something wrong!