Designs for a controversial section of London's East-West Cycle Superhighway, which runs directly in front of Buckingham Palace, have finally been agreed after months of discussion, and after fears were raised it might not happen at all.
The Mayor, Transport for London (TfL) and the Royal Parks have now agreed on the last section of the 18-mile segregated cycle route, the section between Parliament Square and Hyde Park Corner, in plans published for public consultation today.
Although work on parts of the cross-London route, which will eventually run from Tower Hill to the Westway, has already started, the Buckingham Palace section threatened to become a 300m "black hole" for cycling as the then head of the Royal Parks, Linda Lennon, objected to a cycle lane passing in front of the Queen Victoria Memorial, on what is currently an intimidating multi-lane gyratory with no protection for cyclists.
While Lennon was highly critical of the Cycle Superhighway, reports the Evening Standard, plans were finally given the green light after the Royal Parks appointed a new Chief Executive, Andrew Scattergood. The Royal Household is understood to never have objected to the plans.
Designs show a 4.5-6m two-way segregated cycle track protected from traffic by specially designed bollards, which are removable for ceremonial occasions, with separate traffic light phases to protect cyclists at junctions.
The Mayor, Boris Johnson, said: "This is the final jigsaw piece in what will be one of the world's great cycling routes. The new East West superhighway will be a treasured part of our new network, running through the heart of the capital and past the front door of some of our most loved landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. I am absolutely delighted that we and the Royal Parks have been able to reach agreement and I applaud the agency's new chief executive, Andrew Scattergood, his staff and TfL for the immense work they have put in to make it happen."
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said: "Work on transforming London into a cycling city is now well and truly underway with engineers working day and night across the Capital to deliver these improvements. Once completed, the new East West Cycle Superhighway will become one of the world's most iconic cycling routes with this proposed section in front of Buckingham Palace no doubt becoming a postcard icon of the future. We look forward to hearing people's thoughts on these proposals and, if approved, will work to deliver them as quickly as possible."
As with the motor traffic route the cycle route, which will replace between one and two lanes of traffic outside Buckingham Palace, will be closed for the Changing the Guard ceremony once a month, and for other major events. An existing off-road cycle route along the Mall - to become part of one of the Quietways - will act as a diversion on those days.
There will also be a contraflow cycle lane on the busy gyratory to help cyclists get safely onto the route from the Victoria direction.
New designs also show 900m2 of new footway to ease pressure on congested pavements outside the palace. Transport for London says the effect on motor traffic flow will be no greater beyond the overall East-West Cycle Superhighway route.
The Tower Hill - Parliament section of the East-West Cycle Superhighway is now under construction and the first section of the East-West route, between Horse Guards Avenue and Derby Gate on Victoria Embankment, opened to westbound cyclists earlier this week, with more sections due to open throughout the autumn.
Construction on this section of the route, between Parliament Square and Hyde Park Corner, will begin early next year.
Consultation closes Sunday 4 October 2015.