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Academics and businesses back planned new London Cycle Superhighways

Support growing for segregated cycle routes across city


A group of academics from a wide range of universities and other centres of higher education have thrown their weight behind Transport for London's proposal for two new cycle superhighways. And a growing number of London business leaders have come out in favour of the plans, despite last week's negative comments from some London business organisations.

In a letter to the Evening Standard, reproduced in full below, the academics point out "the economic, social, environmental and health gains [cycling] can generate". They say that "evidence shows the benefits of well designed, segregated space for cycle traffic" and that it "is crucial that the vision embodied in these schemes is implemented without dilution or delay".

The group includes staff members from University College London, London Metropolitan University, London School of Economics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Westminster University, plus academics from further institutions afield including Northumbria University, Oxford University and the University of Surrey.

Opposition to the planned superhighways has already manifest in alarmist statements from representatives of London business groups. Last week the Evening Standard reported the unnamed head of “one of the city’s biggest employers” as saying the plan was “an absolute mess. We all support the policy but we can’t get behind it when the whole thing is designed to block out any external views."

The plan, he said, would cause "gridlock".

Cycling campaigners have called on the unnamed business leader to identify himself, but he has not yet done so.

However, business leaders in favour of the scheme have been much less reticent.

Paul GoodSir, founder and managing director of City property specialist GoodSir Commercial said yesterday: "I cycle to work on daily basis as do many of my staff. An even larger proportion would like to cycle, but feel our streets are not safe for cycling."

His firm endorses TfL plans, he said. They will "make London a more attractive place to build a business and conduct business. We … hope they can be delivered as soon as possible."

A company with global reach that also suports the superhighways plan is Canonical, which is responsible for the open-source operating system Ubuntu, which is used by Google, Netflix, Amazon, Instagram and Britain’s Cabinet Office among many others.

Last week, Canonical CEO Jane Silber wrote on the company blog: "Like many businesses in London, one of the most popular modes of transport to the office is cycling and an equally large proportion of the team would cycle to the office if they felt it was safer than it is now.

"We specifically support the cross London plans from City Hall to create new segregated routes through the heart of the city.

"These plans are good for London and Londoners making it a more attractive and productive city in which we can build a business and serve customers."

There is a growing groundswell of support for the new superhighways among London's business community, with many more large employers expected to endorse the plans in coming weeks.

Letter to the Evening Standard

Full speed now on superhighways

We are academics supportive of cycling and the economic, social, environmental and health gains it can generate. We believe current cycling provision is often highly inadequate. Some of us have personal experience of the resultant and unnecessary toll of death and injury on our roads.

Much evidence shows the benefits of well designed, segregated space for cycle traffic. The Mayor and TfL’s plans for east-west and north-south cycling superhighways mark a step change in ambition. Two key cycling routes will be suitable for all, not just the fit and the brave. That this will be done largely by taking space from the carriageway is a welcome commitment to sustainability.

While the plans are not perfect in all details, we believe the benefits are likely to exceed those stated, as current transport modelling approaches deal badly with cycling.

It is crucial that the vision embodied in these schemes is implemented without dilution or delay. We urge academic colleagues and others to write in support and organisations to do the same on behalf of their staff.

John Adams, University College London;
Mima Cattan, Northumbria University;
Danny Dorling, Oxford University;
Norman Ginsburg, London Metropolitan University;
Ian Gough, CASE (Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion), LSE;
Judith Green, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine;
Sir Andy Haines, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine;
Tim Jackson, University of Surrey;
Glenn Lyons, University of the West of England Bristol;
Martin McKee, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine;
David Metz, Visiting Professor, Centre for Transport Studies, UCL;
Hugh Montgomery, UCL;
Peter Newman, Westminster University;
Graham Parkhurst, University of the West of England Bristol;
John Parkin, University of the West of England Bristol;
Colin Pooley, Lancaster University;
Ian Roberts, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine;
Jon Shaw, Plymouth University;
Elizabeth Shove, Lancaster University;
Alan Tapp, University of the West of England;
Jeremy Till, Head, University of the Arts London;
Fran Tonkiss, LSE; John Urry, Lancaster University;
Mark Wardman, University of Leeds

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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