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London's iconic "Bike Crossrail" opens next month

The new three mile section from Westminster to Tower Bridge links to the existing Cycle Superhighway 3, making a 12 mile bike route

London’s “Crossrail for the bike”, Europe’s longest substantially segregated city bike route, will open next month, it was announced today, three years since Boris Johnson launched his cycling vision for the capital.

The almost three mile section of the East-West Cycle Superhighway, from Parliament Square to Tower Bridge, of the now 12 mile route, to Barking in the East, features the iconic two-way protected bike lane along Victoria Embankment.

The Crossrail for bikes, the Mayor’s flagship scheme of a raft of protected Cycle Superhighways across the capital, was at the heart of a battle between businesses in Canary Wharf, some for, some against the routes, and the subject of a failed judicial review from the taxi trade. The announcement has been welcomed by campaigners.

At the same time, the North-South cycle superhighway from Southwark to Elephant & Castle, soon to be linked to the E-W route at Blackfriars Bridge by a cycle-only slip road, and Cycle Superhighway 2 in East London from Aldgate to Stratford, will be complete.

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The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “In 2013 I stood on this very spot on the [Victoria] Embankment and promised that we would soon behold a magnificent cycle superhighway. Many doubted it would ever get beyond the artist’s impression. A noisy minority fought hard to stop it happening.

“But, in opinion polls and public consultations, large majorities of ordinary Londoners, most of them not cyclists, said they wanted this project and what it represents for a cleaner, safer, greener city.”

Johnson apologised to motorists temporarily inconvenienced by construction, and said he is encouraged by data from the capital’s first protected bike route, CS5 at Vauxhall, where traffic is returning to normal following the route’s completion six months ago. Transport for London (TfL) data says there has been a 73 per cent increase in cycle traffic on the route in that time.

Martin Key, Campaigns Manager at British Cycling, said: "The opening of the east-to-west cycle superhighway is set to be another significant milestone in London's evolution into one of the world's great cycling cities. The commitment towards cycling infrastructure during Mr Johnson's tenure as London mayor has been unprecedented, and the figures showing the increase in the number of cyclists show that this commitment is already reaping rewards as the capital becomes a cleaner, healthier city.

"Last week, British Cycling released figures which revealed that 71% of the population would support the construction of more segregated cycle tracks. These impressive figures should give politicians across the country the confidence to follow Mr Johnson and London's lead."

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On the East-West route the Western section from Parliament Square to Hyde Park Corner, Lancaster Gate and Paddington, is still under construction, and will open “later”, though TfL doesn’t specify when. Agreement was only made on this section of the route, including a section past Buckingham Palace, in August.

The London Cycling Campaign's infrastructure campaigner, Simon Munk, told “We’re hugely please to hear that the new Cycle Superhighways, once completed, don’t worsen congestion and are being well-used. If you build international-standard cycling infrastructure, you get lots more people on bikes. And yes, construction in London causes issues for traffic whether you’re talking about a mega-housing development or a Cycle Superhighway. But it’s building Cycle Superhighway that will help make sure London keeps moving.

“Put those together and you’ve got one of the key reasons why we need Londoners to “Sign For Cycling” in our new Mayoral campaign. We want everyone to join us in calling for the next Mayor to: vastly increase the amount of protected space on main roads for cycling and fix the worst junctions – so we finally get a network of safe cycling routes, not just the odd, isolated exemplar; make safer “direct vision” lorries standard on our streets; enable a “mini Holland” town centre scheme in every borough. The current Mayor has shown building cycling infrastructure works – the next one must go far further to keep our growing city moving.”

The existing section of the route, from Tower Bridge to Barking, was one of London’s first generation cycle superhighways, CS3, and features some protected bike tracks and some routes shared with motor traffic. Part of this existing route, along Cable Street, is slated for improvements, following a consultation that ended last month.

Meanwhile, the section of the North-South Cycle Superhighway through Ludgate Circus, where two cyclists have lost their lives, will open in the summer.

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