Mayor of London Boris Johnson has published his Transport Strategy, which includes comprehensive details of how he intends to bring about a “cycling revolution” on the capital’s streets.
Two of the Mayor’s main initiatives are, of course, the much-vaunted Cycle Hire Scheme, which starts this summer, with hire stations now being installed across the city, and Cycle Superhighways, the first two of which are currently being put in place. The latter, however, have attracted criticism from cycling campaigners partly for being little more than a cosmetic exercise that does little to change the attitudes of some other road users towards cyclists.
The document also outlines a number of other measures which the Mayor hopes will lead to cycling achieving a 5% modal share of journeys in London by 2026.
The 'Encouraging More Walking and Cycling' section of the Mayor's Transport Strategy makes a distinction between cycling in Central, Inner and Outer London, pointing out that levels of cycling are currently higher in the centre of the city, partly because of the concentration of employers and services there but also because the bicycle represents the quickest way to get around.
As well as well as the Cycle Hire Scheme which it is hoped will encourage still more people to take to two wheels for their journeys within Central London, resulting in an estimated 40,000 additional trips a day, Transport for London also believes that there is an opportunity to encourage greater use of bicycles to travel between main line railway stations.
Patterns of bicycle use vary by borough, with levels higher in those such as Hackney that have traditionally been underserved by public transport such as Hackney, although the situation there is set to change with the opening of the extended East London Line. One priority in Inner London Boroughs is to improve the provision of bicycle parking, which is seen as essential given the high proportion of people there who live in flats.
Mr Johnson believes that the greatest opportunity to increase levels of cycling, however, lies in the Outer London Boroughs where, the Transport Strategy document points out, half of car journeys no more than two kilometres and there are fewer public transport options than in Inner or Central London.
It highlights places such as Stratford and Croydon in particular presenting good potential, and the Biking Boroughs initiative is also expected to play a key role in promoting cycling, including initiatives such as the development of cycle hubs.
The Mayor is keen to remove barriers to cycling in the hope of getting more people on their bikes, as outlined in his Cycle Safety Action Plan published in March, outlining measures such as addressing safety issues between HGVs and cyclists, although critics will point out that his decision to withdraw funding for the Metropolitan Police’s Commercial Vehicle Education Unit represented a backwards step in this regard, and making training available for all cyclists and particularly novices.
Creating a “considerate cycling culture” is also one of the central tenets of the Mr Johnson’s strategy, and one that works both ways, whether it be addressing the issue of cyclists jumping red lights or riding on the pavement, or drivers blocking cycle lanes or encroaching on advanced stop lines.
Indeed, one of the Transport Strategy’s proposals is that “the Mayor, through TfL, and working with the police, London boroughs and DfT, will encourage changes to be made to the Highway Code and road traffic regulations, where necessary, to make cycling more convenient and to encourage a culture of mutual respect between all road users,” although it doesn’t outline what those potential changes might be.
To bring about his Cycling Revolution, however, Mr Johnson acknowledges that “a
change in mindset” is needed, and that TfL and the London Boroughs will need to be supported by businesses, property developers, schools, local community groups and organisatons such as the police and the NHS to help provide infrastructure and support.
Other key elements of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy include plans to abolish the Western Extension to the Congestion Charging Zone, as reported on road.cc yesterday, as well as a commitment to end the current public-private partnership (PPP) for maintenance and upgrade work on London Underground, which will now be the responsibility of TfL.
Do you cycle in London? If so, how far do you think the Mayor’s Transport Strategy goes towards addressing the needs of the capital’s cyclists and encouraging more people to get on their bikes? What more could he be doing?
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.