Those waiting for a protected cycle route in West London could be in for the long haul, as Transport for London documents reveal plans to extend the East-West cycle superhighway beyond Paddington Station have been shelved for four more years, until 2021.
A kerb-protected route was intended to extend from Tower Hill to Acton, and although much of the route has now been built, the section planned for the Westway flyover, a TfL-controlled road, was halted by London Mayor, Sadiq Khan last year, with the aim of rerouting it through borough roads.
Khan, and his deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross, have said they are committed to a West London cycle route, but the new schedule pushes its construction beyond the current mayoral term, which ends in May 2020. Campaigners say although they welcome a more convenient route than the Westway flyover, this delay represents an unacceptably long wait for those who want a safe cycling route in this area.
In a report from the Programmes and Investment Committee, on 8 March, it was revealed £750,000 was spent on feasibility studies, surveys and data collection on the East-West Cycle Superhighway extension project. The same document states the project “will be complete by December 2021”. The document doesn’t set out the overall budget for the scheme as, it says, further assessment is required following changes to the original proposal.
Some may speculate the inclusion of the E-W extension studies in this report, which details schemes fast-tracked for funding via the use of delegated authority, means a new plan for the route could feature in the Mayor’s Draft Transport Strategy, due to be released for public consultation mid-May.
Although those calling for an East-West cycling link say a surface route would be more convenient, concerns have been raised over whether the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, who own the surrounding roads, but have previously opposed protected cycle routes on their streets, would agree to such a scheme.
The London Cycling Campaign’s Simon Munk says a west London route is ‘massively overdue’, but says the campaign is in favour of a better option than the Westway. However, he believes four more years is too long for those who want safe cycling routes in West London to wait.
He said: “If they are serious that what’s going to come is a high quality route which is protected space and it’s not necessarily on the Westway, we are in favour of them taking a bit more time to get it right, but four years is too long.”
However, Munk said he would like to see Kensington & Chelsea involved in the cycling programme, and for the cycle superhighway routes being built to a high quality, linking up in Central London without gaps.
“The issue is which roads are they going to bring it in on, if not the Westway? Because Kensington and Chelsea absolutely rejected cycle tracks on their roads. Whoever comes in has to solve that issue.”
Former London cycling czar, Andrew Gilligan, appears to have correctly predicted the rerouting of the East-West cycle superhighway would cause delays, but his prediction was it would take at least two years, while new plans and consultations were drawn up and approved. In November the Mayor’s office said new plans would be available “shortly”.
Transport for London and City Hall wouldn’t give details of any plans, but echoed the same comments. “We are committed to extending this route further west, but some re-routing is required following the previous consultation,” they said.