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Cycles could outnumber cars in London's AM peak by 2019

Report on Boris Johnson's cycling vision highlights rapid growth in the capital and says the next mayor should continue to invest in cycling...
  • In 2000 the proportion of cars to bicycles entering central London in the morning peak was 11:1; in 2014 it was 2:1. If the trend continues cycles entering London in the morning will outnumber cars by 2019
  • In Zone 1 in the morning rush hour 32 per cent of all vehicles on the roads are bicycles; on some roads it’s 70 per cent
  • In 2015/16 London has spent roughly £18 per head on cycling – on a par with Germany and the Netherlands
  • The proportion of black and ethnic minority Londoners who cycle frequently (three days a week or more) is now the same as the proportion of white Londoners who do
  • While numbers of women cycling has increased the proportion of women cycling remains flat
  • Cycling rose 63 per cent on Transport for London controlled roads over six years of Boris Johnson’s term, while in 2014 cycling growth was at a “near record” 10.3 per cent
  • Cycle casualty rates (KSIs) are the lowest ever recorded, while cycling deaths in 2015 (9) were the second lowest on record, and the lowest per journey on record
  • Report recommends the cycling budget should be increased by the next mayor and that Transport for London should oversee the next phase of the Quietways programme following a failure to deliver significant improvements on borough routes
  • Report recommends increasing London’s Congestion Charge or targeting particular routes at busy times to discourage driving and reduce motor traffic

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.

Next mayor must triple bike infrastructure, say campaigners

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.

"Failure of ambition" on London Quietways

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. 

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