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Cycleways are getting more Londoners in the saddle, says new TfL report

Latest Travel in London report finds big increases in cycling where safe infrastructure has been built

The share of trips undertaken by bike in the capital is going up, with particularly strong growth seen in areas where high-quality cycling infrastructure has been put in place, according to new figures from Transport for London (TfL).

In its latest Travel in London report, TfL says that on an average day, 2.5 per cent of trips in the city were made by bike during 2018, compared to 2 per cent for the previous year.

TfL also highlighted “the major success” of new Cycleways – the branding adopted earlier this year that encompasses the former Cycle Superhighway and Quietway initiatives – opened during 2019.

Figures from traffic counts show a 61 per cent increase on Cycleway 17 on Southwark’s Portland Street since 2014, and 120 per cent growth on Cycleway 23 on Lea Bridge Road in Waltham Forest since July 2016.

Meanwhile, the recently opened northern extension of Cycleway 6 in Camden saw cycling numbers rise 120 per cent compared to September 2018.

Cumulatively, London cyclists undertook 745,000 trips and rode an average of 4 million kilometres each day in 2018, the highest level since records began in 2015 and up 5 per cent on the previous year.

The average daily distance ridden in central London was 8 per cent, while in outer London it was 6 per cent.

London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, said: “Enabling more people to cycle is vital to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing London, such as our toxic air, congestion and the inactivity crisis.

“It’s fantastic to see continued growth in the numbers of people cycling,” he added. “These figures show why it is so important that we continue to invest in our network of cycleways and enable even more Londoners to choose a greener, cleaner and healthier way of getting around our city.”

Sadiq Khan, who will be seeking re-election as Mayor of London in the New Year, aims for 80 per cent of trips in the capital to be made by bike, on foot, or on public transport by 2041.

Providing safe, fully segregated infrastructure is a key element of getting more Londoners cycling, but local opposition, particularly in affluent areas of the city, has caused some key schemes to be delayed or scrapped altogether.

A planned cycleway from Swiss Cottage to the West End was shelved after the Court of Appeal upheld a legal challenge to it from the City of Westminster, which had argued that TfL had failed to obtain the required consents.

The decision led to London Cycling Campaign describing the council’s efforts to block the route as “shameful.”

> Court of Appeal upholds Westminster's legal block to Cycle Superhighway 11

In West London, work finally started on Cycleway 9, which will run from Brentford to Olympia, last week. Initial plans for parts of the route, on Chiswick High Road and at Kew Bridge, were put to a second consultation after opposition led by local Tory councillors.

Even once built, there will be a missing link between Olympia and Hyde Park, where it would join Cycleway 3, with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea firmly opposed to allowing a Cycleway to proceed along Kensington High Street.

Elsewhere in the same borough, TfL was thwarted in its efforts to route a cycleway through Holland Park Avenue and Notting Hill Gate when the council said it would not be backing it even before a consultation had closed.

Work has started at the western end of the route, on the A40 in Acton, but as with Cycleway 9, it will end when it hits the Kensington & Chelsea boundary – in this case, at the Shepherd’s Bush roundabout after the route turns off the A40 and heads south along Wood Lane.

The geographical location of both that borough and Westminster magnifies the impact that their opposition to fully segregated infrastructure on roads they control – rather than the ‘red routes’ for which TfL has responsibility – has on efforts to create a city-wide network of safe routes for cyclists.

It’s a different story in many other boroughs, however, and work is currently underway on an extension of Cycleway 23 in Waltham Forest, one of London’s three Mini Holland boroughs.

The route currently runs along Lea Bridge Road between Millfields Park and Whipps Cross and the 2-kilometre extension, with a protected two-way cycle path, will take it eastwards to the Water Works Roundabout in Redbridge.

There are also plans to extend the route westwards to Dalston, where it would link up with Cycleway 1.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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