Mayor of London Sadiq Khan insists that he is committed to making cycling in the capital safer and easier as the row over rumours he plans to axe the proposed Westway section of the East-West Superhighway intensifies.
As we reported yesterday, Peter Murray, the chair of the influential forum New London Architecture, tweeted on Wednesday that Khan had decided to shelve the scheme, which went through a consultation process earlier this year which found 71 per cent of respondents in favour of it.
Subsequently, Carlton Reid, author and executive editor of BikeBiz, has reported that a Transport for London (TfL) official confirmed to him at a conference yesterday that Murray’s information was correct.
But as mentioned in our report yesterday, the mayor’s press office has denied the rumour, saying in a statement that TfL “is still analysing the consultation responses on extending the East-West Superhighway via the Westway and absolutely no decisions have been made.”
The Green Party’s Caroline Russell, elected to the London Assembly last week, accused Khan of reneging on the pledges he made before succeeding Boris Johnson as mayor last Thursday.
“The mayor promised he would make London a byword for cycling around the world,” she said. “Scrapping plans for the only safe cycle route between west London and the city suggests he is going to struggle to fulfil his promise.
“The Westway Cycle Superhighway has huge support, as seen in the public consultation,” she continued. “If the mayor has scrapped the route for good reasons, he needs to make them clear and bring forward something much better, not just cancel it.
“The newly-built sections of superhighway in central London have been a massive success and huge numbers of people are using them daily. I urge the Mayor to look at the evidence and think again,” she added.
According to the London Evening Standard, one of the reasons thought to be behind the rumoured scrapping of the Westway project is concern from Westfield White City that it will cause congestion for traffic heading to and from the shopping centre – although you don’t have to spend too long in the area to discover that motor vehicles are causing big jams there already.
In a press release today, Khan insisted that he stands by his pledges, but also said he would be reviewing the outcome of recently concluded consultations on cycling infrastructure.
Those include the Westway segment of the East-West Cycle Superhighway, as well as phase 2 of the North-South Cycle Superhighway from Stonecutter Street to King’s Cross, and Cycle Superhighway 11 from Swiss Cottage to the West End via Regent’s Park.
He will also be revisiting the consultations on the Hammersmith Gyratory and Highbury Corner roundabouts.
Today, Khan also launched a new Santander Cycles Business Accounts scheme to encourage companies and organisations in the capital to get their staff to use the hire bikes to get to and from offices and meetings, and those signing up before 1 July 2016 will receive a 10 per cent discount.
“I want to make London a byword for cycling by making it an easier and safer choice for more Londoners. Although a great deal of progress has been made, we need to increase the pace of change and make cycling to work the obvious, affordable and safe choice for thousands more Londoners.
“As part of this, I encourage all businesses in London to sign up to the Santander Cycles Business Accounts scheme and to take advantage of the new incentive.
“Getting more people cycling in London is going to be central to achieving a greener, more modern and more affordable transport network.”
The mayor added: “I’ve got an inbox full of cycling schemes to consider and I am determined to learn the lessons from previous projects as I increase TfL’s spend on cycling safety, triple the current superhighway provision, roll out new town-centre cycling improvement plans, and promote safer, cleaner lorries.”
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.