“Cycle lane lunacy!” runs the headline. “The new blight paralysing Britain.” You’ve got to hand it to the Daily Mail – they know what vocabulary to employ when they take against something.
Although the article is framed as being about Britain, it’s fairly apparent that this is primarily about London and the construction of cycle superhighways.
The first example given is the East-West Cycle Superhighway along Victoria Embankment.
“Where once it could hold four lanes of traffic, a quarter of the road has now been given over to a dedicated two-way cycle lane. Traffic has been brought to a virtual standstill.”
So one lane has been replaced by two. Traffic has been brought to a standstill by the addition of an extra lane.
The piece continues by pointing out that “vehicle speeds in Central London have fallen to 7.4mph — slower than a horse-drawn carriage in the 18th century.”
Slower than a bicycle, they might add.
While there is an acknowledgement that the construction work causing traffic disruption is not solely due to cycle superhighways (the City currently has the largest volume of building work taking place since 2008), it adds that, “while construction projects will eventually end, cycle superhighways will permanently impact upon ‘road supply’. Simply, there is less road space available for normal traffic.”
It would be easy to conclude that the newspaper doesn’t see any connection between ‘abnormal’ traffic volume and the number of cars on the road. However, it has long been keen to support its position by also portraying cycle lanes as being rarely used.
An article from back in August showing cyclists passing a short stretch of bike lane at a set of lights was branded inaccurate and "one-sided" by Transport for London (TfL). The organisation pointed out the route is not actually a cycle superhighway, and is also not yet finished.
The images had been presented as evidence that the cycle superhighway programme was a waste of money and cyclists responded by posting pictures of other infrastructure that is sometimes not used on Twitter, including roads, and tube trains after hours.
In their latest story, the Mail spoke to motorists stuck in a jam beside a cycle lane to the south of London’s Blackfriars Bridge. Most said that while the lanes were busy with bikes during rush-hour, they could be ‘almost empty’ at other times.
The article quotes TfL as saying that segregated cycle lanes affect just three per cent of roads in central London with surveys showing that there has been an average 60 per cent increase in cyclists using the new routes compared to before the improvements were made.
After then citing figures released earlier this year by the Department for Transport which indicate that traffic on Britain’s roads reached its highest ever level in 2015, it concludes that, “motorists are struggling to understand how spending money to further reduce the capacity of the roads can possibly be the way to solve an immediate problem.”
If they’re struggling to understand, maybe it’s because of the way it’s been explained to them.