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Report suggests Boris needs to “think less” about cycling

A report by the RAC Foundation yesterday criticised the Mayor of London’s focus on cycle schemes. It says that Mayor Boris Johnson is in danger of becoming pre-occupied with minority-focused transport schemes and high-cost initiatives rather than concentrating on the fundamental travel problems faced by millions of people every day.

The report, which also attacked his new bus strategy, also said that the emphasis on cycle ‘super-highways’ and bikes for hire has blinkered him to the wider strategic issues.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The mayor must show leadership. He needs to think less about attention-grabbing policies linked to niche modes of travel like cycling and grasp the bigger problems of transport in the capital, not least congestion in outer London.

"With the best will in the world, encouraging a few more people onto their bikes is not going to solve the relentless jams in the suburbs. What might solve it is a London-wide road charging scheme. Not one just focused on the centre."

With increasing demand for road space, many areas of central London could become no-go areas for cars because of the proliferation of road works, bus lanes and cycle-ways. In outer London, population and traffic growth is set to bring increasing misery for motorists.

Professor Glaister added: “The future is stark. There are already an estimated 7.6 million people in Greater London and this figure is set to grow by 800,000 by 2025. In the same period an extra 900,000 jobs will be created. This means an extra four million journeys in the city each and every day.”

These are amongst the key findings of ‘A Roads Policy for London’ by Peter Brown which was commissioned by the RAC Foundation.

The report, which also warns that concentration on the 2012 Olympics is threatening to divert engineers away from the day-to-day management and development of the road network, also concludes that a better way of identifying and managing the strategic roads is needed to allow proper implementation of 20mph zones and the encouragement of cycling and walking.

It says that an efficient road network is essential to London’s continued competitiveness. The car will remain the mode of choice for travel outside central London, and freight will be almost exclusively carried by road.

Kulveer Ranger, the mayor's transport adviser, told the BBC the report was "misjudged" and "misdirected" and that Mr Johnson wanted to protect and improve the road network for all users.

He said: "Unlike the RAC Foundation, the mayor's focus is not only on drivers. He makes no apology at all for pursuing radical measures to increase cycling and walking and greatly enhance our public transport network."