Transport for London (TfL) plans to invest billions of pounds improving London's road network, in response to The Visiona and Direction for London's Streets and Roads report put together for the Mayor by his Roads Task Force (RTF) of independent experts - infrastructure schemes to improve cycling and walking in the capital are a key focus of the report.
The Mayor set up the Task Force with the aim of finding a solution to how London could cope with a massive projected growth in population in the coming decades while also developing a more sustainable and liveable city.
Transport for London has welcomed the report - and and pledged to 'take forward' the report's recommendations - costed at a minium of £30billion over the next 20 years - funding would have to come from TfL, the London boroughs, private developers, and most crucially central government.
The reports key recommendations are:
To improve performance of road network and enhance public space, to support jobs, new homes and a more ‘liveable’ city
Some of the city's major arterial routes should be put in to tunnels to "create better surface space and conditions for walking, cycling and urban realm"
- Deliveries retimed outside peak hours alongside well managed access for freight to support businesses, cut congestion and improve safety - this builds on what happened in parts of London during last year's Olympic Games
On the subject of cycling the Road Task Force (RTF) report notes that cycles now make up about a quarter of vehicular traffic in the morning peak in central London - and that they are a priority group as vulnerable users make up 80 per cent of all those killed or seriously injured (KSI) on London’s streets and roads.
The RTF report states: "While considerable achievements have been delivered in recent years, with the Capital’s population set to grow to around 10 million by 2031 there is now a need for even greater ambition and action."
The population growth is equivalent to London absorbing the population of Birmingham and Leeds.
Road safety could be enormously improved by plans including limiting frieght to outside peak hours and tackling pollution and congestion.
In particular, the RTF recognised that “speed limits play an important role where ‘movement’ and ‘place’ need to be better balanced, where there are high levels of pedestrian activity and where safety issues have been identified”.
RTF favours a 20mph zone for central London (plus bridges), and rolling out 20mph limits on high streets, and the hubs of local communities.
Rod King MBE 20’s Plenty for Us Founder commented : “This is consistent with the developing view that 20mph is the right speed limit for most urban streets.
"Many of our most iconic cities have already adopted this initiative and it’s great to see the Task Force recommending this for London too. It also highlights the need for our “It’s Time For 20” call for a review of signage requirements to enable it to be far cheaper for local authorities to implement 20mph limits."
In its own report responsing to the Mayor's Vision for London's roads Transport for Lodon listed some of its objectives as:
• Improve London’s public spaces and streets, through major schemes at Vauxhall, Waterloo, Elephant and Castle and Old Street which reflect the RTF vision and the removal of gyratory schemes, such as at Wandsworth
• Better manage the road network, with smart cameras to monitor roadworks and trials of deliveries retimed outside peak hours,
learning from the successful engagement with freight operators during the London 2012 Games
• New feasibility studies to examine how London’s strategic roads can be enhanced to support growth whilst reducing community severance and air quality; including the Inner Ring Road, north and south circulars; and the major arterials
• Help London grow, with 19 road schemes supporting more than 300,000 jobs, new river crossings and support for new ’car-lite’ developments with good public transport, walking and cycling links
• Support London Boroughs’ revitalisation of high streets and town centres, plus new cycling-focused ’mini-Hollands’ in Outer London
• Get more from the existing road network, through trials of flexible lane management and additional bus and cycle ’priority points’
• Encourage more travel out of peak hours, again learning from the successful London 2012 Games experience, to reduce demand at the busiest times and encourage more people to shift shorter car journeys to walking and cycling
• Make it easy and attractive to walk, cycle and take the bus, through delivering the Mayor’s Cycling Vision, tackling pinch points on 250 bus routes carrying three million passengers and working with partners to deliver up to 3,000 more Legible London on-street walking guides
• Make streets safer, through the roll-out of more 20mph zones, improvements at 30 key junctions, upgrading safety cameras to digital technology at 600 locations and trialling Community Roadwatch schemes to cut excessive speed and anti-social driving
• Better targeted enforcement, working with the Metropolitan Police to establish a single transport and traffic policing command by 2014 and to target key locations where congestion, collisions and anti-social behaviour have a significant impact
• Make streets greener, by planting 1,000 more trees, dynamic on-street lighting, more LED and low energy lighting and delivery of the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund
• Boost the use of roads and streets as public spaces, through more traffic-free events in iconic locations such as Regent Street and the Embankment
According to Transport for London its Business Plan already includes plans to invest circa £4bn in London’s road and street network over the next decade. However that funding would need to substantially increase to match the RTF's plan. The Mayor and Transport for London will need to make the case for extra funding to central government which has made noises - in public at least - at reversing the flow of people and money from the regions in to the capital.
London’s Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy CBE said: "We welcome the Roads Task Force’s vision, as it is one we share.
"It rightly recognises that delivering the vision requires major and sustained investment in London’s road and public transport networks and we will continue to work with partners to make the case and develop innovative funding solutions.
"We’ll now work with partners, including London’s boroughs, to turn this vision into reality and deliver more reliable road journeys, safer, more attractive streets and town centres, and to transform the environment for walking and cycling."
Both the Road Task Force Report and Transport for London's response can be downloaded at www.tfl.gov.uk/roadstaskforce
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.