London's cycle lanes ease congestion, rather than cause it - that’s according to Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner.
Writing in the Guardian, Mr Norman said: “Following discussions with the government, we commissioned an independent study earlier this year to look at the causes of congestion and recommend practical actions for reducing it.
“The report, published on Friday, shows that the mayor, Sadiq Khan, is taking the right approach by prioritising walking, cycling and public transport, as opposed to prioritising cars.
“To solve the problem, the report recommends that the mayor should prioritise the efficient use of our roads, saying that the “most space-efficient means of moving people – walking, cycling and public transport – should be prioritised over low-occupancy private transport.”
“Alongside walking, cycling is the most healthy and sustainable of all transport modes and the most efficient way of getting lots of people around on our limited road space.
He added that despite being controversial, the addition of new protected cycle lanes at the expense of space for motor vehicles was actually easing congestion.
He added: “The new protected cycle lanes that opened last year in London can move five times as many people per hour as a main carriageway lane in the most congested parts of our city. At peak times, the new cycling infrastructure moves an average of 46% of people along the route despite occupying only 30% of the equivalent road space.
“Just two weeks after opening, the east-west and north-south cycle superhighway roads were moving 5% more people per hour than they could without cycle lanes – and that number is increasing as more cyclists are attracted to the routes.
“Consultations on plans for two new major cycle routes, CS4 and CS9 so far suggest that the most effective way to get more people cycling is by building protected lanes on main roads. These break down a crucial barrier for those people who don’t cycle because they don’t feel safe. The results of this success benefit everyone – whether or not they cycle themselves.
“Overall, the numbers of people using these new protected routes has grown by a phenomenal 50% in some cases, proving that it’s not the English weather that’s stopping people cycling but the traffic-dominated nature of most of London’s roads. In total, more than half a million kilometres are ridden by cyclists on the average day within central London, a rise of 7% in three years.
“Across London, our latest figures show that the total number of bike journeys every day in 2016 was 730,000, up from 670,000 in 2015 – an increase of 8.8%.”
As we reported earlier this week, Sadiq Khan’s draft London Plan will aim to encourage people out of their cars and to make cycling and walking easier. New requirements will see an increase in cycle parking around new shops and homes, while developments will need to be car-free in areas that are well-connected by public transport.
The Mayor wants to increase the proportion of trips made on foot, by bike and by public transport to 80 per cent by 2041, compared to 64 per cent now – equating to around three million fewer car journeys in London each day.
Khan said: “To secure the future health and prosperity of our city, we need to be bolder in encouraging people to reduce their reliance on cars. It’s essential for dealing with congestion as London’s population grows, and crucial for reducing our toxic air pollution emissions.
“My draft London Plan will set out how I want to transform how London’s infrastructure works, making cycling and walking a safe and convenient alternative for millions more journeys every day. If you buy or rent a home in London and make regular journeys to the work or shops, I want to see safe and secure cycle parking available for every journey, across all parts of the city. For too long our housing and infrastructure has been built solely around the car.
“Currently only around a third of Londoners do enough walking and cycling each day to stay healthy. Reshaping our city around walking, cycling and public transport is essential for getting more Londoners active, but will also improve our quality of life and the environment for everyone.”