Mayor of London Boris Johnson has given the green light to the planned ‘Crossrail for the Bike’ segregated cycle routes running across Central London. The go-ahead for the east-west and north-south routes follows what he says is one of the largest consultations ever carried out in London.
The project, as well as a planned upgrade to Cycle Superhighway CS, is due to be formally approved by the board of Transport for London (TfL) next week, reports the London Evening Standard.
Work will start on the £17 million north-south route from King’s Cross to Elephant & Castle in early March, and on the longer £41 million east-west route from Tower Hill to the Westway in April, with the latter opening 12 months later.
The plans for the two routes had been opposed by Canary Wharf Group and the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry, both of which maintained that installing the east-west route would cause delays to traffic.
The City of London Corporation also raised concerns about pedestrians not being able to cross the road safely at certain locations.
However, there was huge support for the routes by major public and private sector employers across the capital, and 84 per cent of the 21,500 responses to the consultation were in favour of the two new Cycle Superhighways.
Projections by TfL suggested the worst case traffic delay on the east-west route would be 16 minutes for drivers travelling from Limehouse Link to Hyde Park Corner.
That has now been now cut to six minutes after some alterations to the route at three pinch points, with the width of the “both ways” cycle lane reduced from 4 metres to 3 metres at Tower Hill, Temple and the Blackfriars Underpass.
“We have done one of the biggest consultation exercises in TfL’s history,” Mr Johnson said. “We have listened, and now we will act. Overwhelmingly, Londoners wanted these routes, and wanted them delivered to the high standard we promised. I intend to keep that promise.
“But I have also listened to those concerned about the east-west route’s impact on traffic," he continued. "Thanks to the skill of TfL’s engineers and traffic managers, we have made changes to our original plans which keep the whole of the segregated cycle track and junctions, while taking out much less of the route’s motor traffic capacity – and so causing much shorter delays.”
The mayor added: “I now look forward to the transformation that these routes will bring – not just for people who cycle now, but for the thousands of new cyclists they will attract.
“Getting more people on their bikes will reduce pressure on the road, bus and rail networks, cut pollution, and improve life for everyone, whether or not they cycle themselves.”
British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman applauded Mr Johnson for his "courage" in rejecting the arguments put forward by oppponents of the scheme.
The former world and Olympic champion said: "Despite the short-sighted, even selfish, views of a tiny but powerful minority, Boris Johnson has continued in his quest to change London into a better place for people to live and work.
“His courage to push for culture change in our capital has kept the cause visible for the whole country and has won the support of Londoners who clearly want to transform the way they travel. His efforts should be both recognised and applauded. I would like to see this innovative thinking on cycling happening in other major cities across Britain.”
Matt Winfield, deputy director for Sustrans in London, said: “We look forward to seeing the roads starting to reflect the way Londoners travel, and want to travel in the future.
“Considering the amount of people these cycleways can move at once it’s a bit of a transport bargain, and will offer wider benefits in reduced pressure on public transport and create fitter and healthier Londoners."
“The new ‘crossrail for bikes’ will complement the ambitious Quietways programme as London seeks to becomes an increasingly cycle friendly city," he added.
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.