In three years there could be more people cycling into central London in the mornings than driving, according to a document released by Transport for London today.
The legacy document, titled Human Streets, and produced by London’s Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, describes the progress of Boris Johnson’s cycling vision, launched three years ago, and says the next mayor should keep investing in cycling to keep London moving.
Boris Johnson says that though the cycling programme was one of the most difficult things he has done, his single biggest regret as mayor was he didn’t do it sooner.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, MP, says in the document: “Exactly three years ago, I unveiled my vision to make cycling in London safer, more popular and more normal. My single biggest regret as Mayor is that I did not do it sooner.
“Road space is hotly contested. According to a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, installing a cycle lane on the Victoria Embankment was ‘doing more damage to London than almost anything since the Blitz’. Many of my colleagues in Parliament share this view. The Superhighways have probably been one of the most difficult things we have had to do.”
In 2013 Johnson launched his cycling vision, in which he pledged to build new Cycle Superhighways and upgrade existing routes to continental standards, as well as investing £90m on three “Mini Holland” schemes in outer London which, he says, “are starting to reshape car-dominated town centres into places that work for the majority who do not drive”.
He says cities compete on quality of life and London can’t afford to stand still.
Perhaps starkest in the report, published by the Greater London Authority, is the change in the way people get to work across London. In 2000 there were 11 cars for every bike, in 2014 it was two cars to every bike. In three years, if trends continue, it says, there will be more people cycling than driving into central London.
As well as spelling out the cycling programme’s successes, the report highlights where things went wrong – notably with the Quietways, supposed back street routes on borough roads, where work has been slow and failed to significantly improve road conditions.
It suggests the next mayor brings the Quietways programme into Transport for London, because too many stakeholders has complicated the issue and contributed to the programme’s failure. It adds if a route fails to come up to standards money should be withdrawn from the scheme and spent on fewer, higher quality schemes, instead.
It says more Superhighways are the way to ensure capacity meets cycling demand on London’s roads and sets out where routes are needed, including an extension of one Cycle Superhighway to Heathrow airport, one linking London Bridge with Liverpool St and another along Old Street, where almost 70 per cent of Westbound vehicles in the morning are cycles.
Overall, political leadership is needed from the next mayor, it says, including to tackle and reduce private car use in the city. Though there are signs Mayoral candidates are spooked by “bikelash”, evidence from other cities shows it won’t last. It says: “For years in this country, we did half-hearted cycling schemes that upset nobody but also, bluntly, helped nobody and changed nothing.”
The sheer numbers cycling in London has radically changed that, it says.