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Document gives strong hint of focus of Boris Johnson's forthcoming 'Vision for Cycling' but GLA's call to bring cycling targets forward apparently ignored...

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has today formally unveiled a Draft Business Plan for Transport for London (TfL) covering the next decade, and which touches on proposals to spend nearly £1 billion on improving cycling infrastructure in the capital. Full details of that are expected to be contained in his Vision for Cycling report, due to be published in the coming weeks, but the document released today gives strong hints of where the money will be spent. There don't appear to be any plan to revise targets for cycling in the capital, however, something the Greater London Assembly's Transport Committee urged last month.

Cycling-specific projects mentioned in the report, together with the planned timetable for their implementation, include completion of all 12 Barclays Cycle Superhighways and “expansion and intensification” of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme, both due by the end of the 2014/15 financial year. Works to 100 key junctions as a result of TfL’s junction review are due to be completed in 2016.

Last month, publishing its Gearing up – An investigation into safer cycling in London report, the Greater London Assembly’s cross-party Transport Committee, had urged that “the mayor’s target of 5 per cent modal share by 2026 to be doubled to 10 per cent, with the 5 per cent figure brought forward to 2020.”

Despite that plea, there has not been a revision of targets for cycling in London, with the mayor’s aim still being to double levels of cycling by 2020, and achieve a 400 per cent increase compared to 2001 baseline levels by 2026.

According to the Draft Business Plan, more than half a million journeys – 540,000, to be precise – are now being made each day by bicycle in London, and the number is continuing to rise.

On weekdays, 6 per cent of all trips are now made using the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, with 5.6 million journeys in the six months to September 2012 – a 38 per cent rise on the comparable period the previous year, says the report.

What it doesn’t clarify is how much of that is due to the scheme’s expansion into East London in March this year, which by pure coincidence resulted in 38 per cent more bikes being made available.

More expansion of both the scheme’s geographical footprint and the number of bike is on its way – planned expansion into South West London has already been announced, and there will be an additional 2,400 bikes on the streets by 2014, taking the total to more than 10,000.

Some initiatives mentioned in today’s publication as forming part of that forthcoming 2020 Vision report do however point towards Mr Johnson having taken on board some of the criticism directed at him by groups including the London Cycling Campaign.

The ‘Super Corridor’ running along the Embankment, it is revealed, will form part of a “central London cycling grid of well-marked routes” – something LCC first lobbied for almost three years ago. Whether it will be as extensive as the campaign group urged remains to be seen.

Also in the pipeline are improvements to the safety of cyclists in the Outer London ‘Biking Boroughs’ – the mayor and TfL have been accused of neglecting the needs of cyclists in the parts of the capital furthest removed from the centre as they have instead focused on the Barclays Cycle Superhighways and Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme.

A feasibility study will be carried out into whether the latter can be taken to Outer London boroughs, and TfL will also explore “upgrades of a range of cycle routes to cater for cyclists’ preferences and ability, from off-road green routes, quiet backstreet routes to principal cycling routes.”

More local authorities will join the existing 13 Biking Boroughs, and 80,000 new cycle parking spaces will be added throughout London within the next four years.

Cycle safety of course has been the overriding issue in cycling in the capital particularly during the past year, and was a major focus of campaigning ahead of May’s mayoral elections.

According to today’s report, one area of focus going forward will be trying to improve the relationship between cyclists and other road users, including investing in cycle awareness programmes.

It’s a theme that Mr Johnson touches upon in his introduction to the Draft Business Plan, in which he says: “I reject the old-fashioned notion that roads will always be a place of conflict between different road users. A civilised road is not one that is completely free of traffic.

"An economically efficient road is not one full of speeding vehicles. It is right that we now review the design of major road junctions, many of which were designed decades ago.”

Also highlighted is the publication, later this month, of research focusing on the construction logistics sector will be published in late December 2012 which will set forth ways in which the safety of cyclists can be improved around lorries, as well as the mayor’s Road Safety Action Plan for London, due to be published in Spring 2013.

In a response to the publication of the Draft Business Plan today, German Dector-Vega, London director of the sustainable transport charity Sutrans, said: “The substantial investment in cycling is a really positive step forward for London.

“It is vital that the money is used to make cycling in the capital safer and more accessible by creating more quiet routes that provide all people – not just confident cyclists – with the opportunity to get on their bikes.

“New statistics show that only 2% of people coming into central London are using their car, and as vehicle ownership becomes increasingly unaffordable the Mayor must provide people with real choices about how they travel.

“TfL must make cycling a priority and avoid the temptation to build new roads when the Mayor’s Task Force returns its findings next year,” he added.

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.