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London travel watchdog calls for impact of cycle superhighways to be assessed

Is London TravelWatch representing cyclists as it should?

London TravelWatch has called for a comprehensive assessment of the positive and negative effects of cycle superhighways to be carried out. The request features within a document entitled   “10 key policies to keep Londoners moving” which has been produced by the capital’s travel watchdog ahead of mayoral elections.

The organisation, which is supposed to represent all modes of transport in the capital, says it hopes that the priorities identified within the document will be reflected in mayoral manifestos.

Point two, which centres on “a road network that makes the best use of scarce capacity,” reads:

Without action, congestion will worsen as traffic grows and capacity is reduced to facilitate town centre, cycle and road safety schemes. To make best possible use of the available space:

  • A planned and co-ordinated approach to reducing road traffic demand is needed, which considers all measures including road pricing
  • Pedestrian needs should not be forgotten. They need clear, level, continuous pavements
  • To reduce casualties, speed limits should be lowered, dangerous junctions remodelled and HGVs made more suitable for London’s roads
  • A comprehensive assessment of the positive and negative impacts of the new cycle superhighways should be carried out.

Strikingly, that is the only time cycling is mentioned in the document.

London TravelWatch has previously come in for criticism for the way in which it has represented cyclists. In November, Valerie Shawcross, chair of the transport committee at the London Assembly wrote to the watchdog’s chair, Stephen Locke, to say:

“Cycling organisations in London have long campaigned to improve the safety of London’s roads, and in particular to help reduce the number of collisions between buses and cyclists. Some concerns have been expressed to us that London TravelWatch has not sufficiently taken the interests of cyclists into consideration, when determining the organisation’s priorities and policy positions.”

The Green Party’s Darren Johnson also expressed concerns following a meeting in January.

“Cycling is the fastest growing mode of transport in London. London TravelWatch has a statutory duty to represent all users of London’s transport system but unfortunately up until now it appears to have been either silent on issues that matter to cyclists or it has opposed schemes to encourage cycling, such as the superhighways.”

However, earlier this month representatives met with Stop Killing Cyclists. The campaign group has previously been critical, but said the meeting had been broadly positive and that London TravelWatch had seemed genuinely open and interested in hearing about transport issues from a cyclist’s perspective.

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