Londoners happy to re-allocate road space, accept slowdown in motor traffic

In a slap in the face for the "old men in limos" running a whispering campaign against London's planned North-South and East-West Cycle Superhighways, a YouGov poll has shown overwhelming support for the project among Londoners even if it means removing general traffic lanes or slowing motor traffic.

The poll, conducted by YouGov on behalf of CyclingWorks.London, a group coordinating business responses to the cycling proposals, asked a representative sample of 1002 Londoners for their opinion on the cycleways, dubbed 'CrossRail for Bikes'.

The most controversial aspects of the plan have been the reallocation of road space to cycleways, and the potential for the new facilities to slow down motor traffic. Those two possibilities have been leapt on by opponents of improved cycling facilities in London who have anonymously briefed against them.

But it turns out ordinary Londoners are far less bothered about this than those who want to be able to whizz from Canary Wharf to their flats and clubs in West London.

Asked if they back the new routes even if they took away traffic lanes from motor vehicles, 64 per cent of Londoners supported the plans and 24 per cent were against. Exclude “don’t knows” and it's figures are 73 per cent in favour and 27 per cent against.

Asked if they back the new routes even if this meant journeys by motor vehicles took longer, 51 per cent of Londoners agreed and 26 per cent disagreed. That's roughly 2;1 in favour even if it slows down motor traffic.

The key advantage of the proposed cycleways is that they will be separated from motor traffic. As well as making it physically harder for people cycling to be hit by cars, buses and trucks, separated lanes make people feel safer, so it's far more likely they will be used.

The poll found that only 10 per cent of Londoners say a painted cycle lane would make them feel much safer and 23 per cent say it would make them feel a little safer, versus a total of 51 per cent who say it would not make them safer.

By contrast, 74 per cent say a physically segregated lane would make them feel safer.

Only 7 percent of Londoners drive into central London once a week or more, the poll found, and 71 per cent never drive in central London. The vast majority of journeys to, from and within central London are made by public transport or bike.

Chris Kenyon, from CyclingWorks.London, said: “Most of the people who took part in this poll are not regular cyclists. Londoners have demonstrated that they understand more people cycling is better for everyone because it means less pressure on the bus, less pressure on the Tube and more pleasant streets at the heart of what is a globally competitive city.”

Business support for the cycleways has continued to build in recent weeks. More than 100 London businesses have indicated their support including RBS, Unilever, Deloitte, Orange, Land Securities, Allen & Overy and CEMEX.

Chris Kenyon, from CyclingWorks.London, said: “The overwhelming support for the new Cycle Superhighways is clear, both from businesses and the people of London.”

“A powerful company and some lobbyists have recently used back-door attempts to stop these cycling plans. It is now clear that those lobbying against these transformative plans are out of step with both the business community and the public.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.