Nearly four in ten road.cc readers believe that regardless of Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s much-heralded Cycle Superhighways, the first of which will be unveiled this summer, we already have a perfectly good cycle network – and it’s called the road.
That’s the key finding from our latest road.cc readers’ poll, which also found that almost three in ten of you who think the Cycle Superhighways are a great idea if they take you away from traffic, edged out by a single vote for second place by those who’ll use a decent path if there is one, but won’t go out of their way to do so.
Only ten of the 300 votes cast came from people who said they’d prefer to wait for the cycling monorail, suggesting that although the test track in New Zealand may be drawing in the crowds, it may be some time before we see it operating in an urban setting here in the UK.
Chris Peck, policy co-ordinator at national cyclists’ organisation CTC, said that the results of the poll reflected the not only the sheer scale of the road network, but also the fact that for cyclists looking to get to a specific destination such as work, it provided the fastest route.
“There will always be a significant proportion of the cycling population who will use the existing roads because by and large that network is faster, better maintained and better connected to destinations than any existing or proposed cycle networks,” he said.
“So long as we continue to plan our roads to facilitate the movement of general traffic cyclists who are travelling for transport rather than leisure will take the quickest route, even if that is a busy urban road.”
He added that this was reflected in the London scheme itself. “In many respects the Cycle Superhighways project represents an attempt to cater to existing cyclists’ behaviour – the growth in cycling on London’s busiest roads has been far greater than elsewhere and these routes are being planned along some of the busiest roads in London,” he said, adding that “over 13,000 cyclists use Clapham Road, where the first Superhighway is currently being built, every day, 126% more than five years ago.”
According to Mr Peck, however, the project does not address some of the key issues facing the capital’s cyclists. “Unfortunately in our view the Cycle Superhighway project won’t do enough to reduce traffic volume and speed,” he said, “or deal with the disproportionate threat posed by lorries.”
For sustainable transport charity Sustrans, the findings reflected the fact that many of road.cc’s readers will be experienced cyclists who are confident in cycling on the road, which meant that the poll would not reflect the fact that many people are put off cycling because of the perceived danger posed by traffic.
"While many cyclists feel confident and comfortable cycling on roads our experience tells us that new and inexperienced cyclists prefer traffic-free routes, such as those on a third of the National Cycle Network. This poll is interesting but is representative of road cc's readers who are most probably in the 'confident and comfortable' category of cyclists,” said a spokesperson for Sustrans.
“At the moment the majority of people don't cycle – 84% of Londoners (and 90% of women in London) never cycle, with fear of traffic the main deterrent. So it makes sense to create environments that encourage and enable more people to travel by bike for the good of their health and the environment. And this would include traffic-free and traffic-calmed routes rather than Cycle Superhighways."
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.