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Boris Johnson opens Cycle Crossrail in final act as mayor

The London Mayor hails new era of cycling in London and urges his successor to keep investing in cycle routes to tackle air pollution

London Mayor, Boris Johnson, today opened London’s “Crossrail for Bikes”, a major new protected cycle route, in his last day in office before the new Mayor is declared this evening.

Cycle campaigners greeted the Mayor to celebrate the opening of the centrepiece of Johnson’s 2013 Vision for Cycling, and Johnson hailed a ten month period without a cyclist fatality in the capital and urged London’s next mayor to continue the cycling programme.

Andrew Gilligan, Boris Johnson’s Cycling Commissioner, said the cycle routes have “changed the face of London” and proving opponents wrong as cyclists were seen using the East-West in large numbers less than 24 hours after opening. He believes the cycle routes will be recognised as one of the outgoing mayor’s most important legacies.

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, said: “As one or two people might know, I am a passionate supporter of cycling and I have worked hard to make London a cycle-friendly city. So I think it’s fitting that the last thing I do as Mayor is to inaugurate these spectacular new routes, and a new era of cycling in London.”

Johnson also hailed what is believed to be the longest period without a cycling fatality in London. He said: “It’s too early to be complacent or crow about this but one of the things that really drove us was the fatalities the serious injuries we’ve seen, particularly female cyclists. I think since June last year we’ve not had a fatality involving a motor vehicle and a cyclist, which is a very long period for us.”

The “Cycle Crossrail” is a fully protected bike route running for just under three miles from Tower Hill to Parliament Square, that will eventually run past Buckingham Palace and through Hyde Park to Acton, in West London. At Tower Hill it links to an existing cycle superhighway that runs East to Barking.

At the opening of the route Boris Johnson’s Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, said he and the Mayor were among those who doubted plans would come to fruition, due to the political challenge of replacing space for motor traffic with cycle lanes on London’s busy roads.  

Gilligan told road.cc in an interview at the junction of the new East-West and North-South Cycle Superhighways (a podcast of the entire interview is here): “It’s going to be a permanent part of London, we’ve changed the face of the city, and I think it’s going to be recognised as one of Boris’ most important legacies ... it genuinely would not have happened without his commitment.

He said while the schemes themselves are fairly straightforward, the politics was “by far the hardest part”.

“It came very close to not happening on several occasions," he said. "It was a pretty big fight. The reason it was worth having is, it’s only been open less than 24 hours and in the time it’s taken me to say this sentence about six cyclists have cycled past me and it’s already showing why  it will work and why we should do more. It’s already proving the naysayers wrong 18 hours after it’s opened.”

“The most important thing any cycling scheme needs is political leadership,” he said.  

Gilligan had his "pope" moment at the opening, and kissed the ground where the E-W and N-S routes meet.

 

Johnson said his next successor needs to keep investing in cycling and lobbying central government for transport funding and said the “big wins” in terms of getting more people on bikes in the capital are the outer London boroughs.

“There’s so much to be done in outer London, too many journeys are being made by car that could be made by bicycle,” he said.

He also urged faster cyclists not to "bully" less experienced riders on the new routes.

He said: “It’s very important to recognise this is a facility for everybody. I have come across people who have been intimidated by the speeds at which some people are using it. There’s no need to break the land speed record on this, it’s a way of getting easily to work or getting around town, it’s not a race track.”

He said: “We’re not the number one city for cycling yet, but we’re on our way.”

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8 comments

Avatar
Username | 7 years ago
1 like

Only 3 miles, but a bloody great start because it is geniunely good.

I went down there this lunchtime for a quick ride on the Brompton and it was such a pleasure, there were 'normal' cyclists wearing normal clothes, and joggers, and tourists on Boris Bikes. It really works.

We might only have three miles now but we can show the naysayers that it works, we can show them the thousands using it, thousands who would be on the Tube or in their cars.

I have real hope that this is start of a London-wide network of quality provision.

Avatar
Username | 7 years ago
0 likes

Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan could do with buying a pannier.

Avatar
nowasps | 7 years ago
1 like

I was impressed by this acheivement until I got to the bit where it says "under thee miles".

Three miles? And the motoring public are up in arms?

Avatar
bikebot replied to nowasps | 7 years ago
1 like
nowasps wrote:

I was impressed by this acheivement until I got to the bit where it says "under thee miles".

Three miles? And the motoring public taxi drivers are up in arms?

Fixed that for you.

Avatar
zanf | 7 years ago
1 like

You can see in the background of the first photo exactly the type who the cycleways are intended for:

//i.imgur.com/wgGQpQL.jpg)

 

In the other photo, Gilligan looks like he sweated it right up before showing those people his chocolate starfish.

Avatar
Alessandro replied to zanf | 7 years ago
0 likes
zanf wrote:

You can see in the background of the first photo exactly the type who the cycleways are intended for:

//i.imgur.com/wgGQpQL.jpg)

 

In the other photo, Gilligan looks like he sweated it right up before showing those people his chocolate starfish.

And who exactly is that? People on bikes? If it is, then brilliant. 

 

I'm not entirely sure why we should care what kind of cyclist/people on bikes the lanes are intended for. We should just be happy that they have been built and the support for cycling as a means of transport is growing. Snide comments about so of the users of the lanes aren't going to help. 

Avatar
Simon E replied to Alessandro | 7 years ago
0 likes
AST1986 wrote:

I'm not entirely sure why we should care what kind of cyclist/people on bikes the lanes are intended for. We should just be happy that they have been built and the support for cycling as a means of transport is growing. Snide comments about so of the users of the lanes aren't going to help.

Did you read the article?

“It’s very important to recognise this is a facility for everybody. I have come across people who have been intimidated by the speeds at which some people are using it.

 

Avatar
zanf replied to Alessandro | 7 years ago
0 likes
AST1986 wrote:

And who exactly is that? People on bikes? If it is, then brilliant. 

I'm not entirely sure why we should care what kind of cyclist/people on bikes the lanes are intended for.

If you look, youll see that its a young adult quite possibly cycling to school or college. A demographic that has been bullied out of using the capitals roads. My comment was simple: if you already cycle on the capitals roads, these cycleways werent built for you.

AST1986 wrote:

We should just be happy that they have been built and the support for cycling as a means of transport is growing.

We should "just be happy", should we? Because cycling as a means of transport is "growing"? Look at any video of the E-W & N-S routes today and you will see that they are almost at capacity. Thats not "growing support", thats massive suppressed demand. And that is why we shouldnt just be happy, or 'thankful'. This shit has been demanded for decades.

AST1986 wrote:

Snide comments about so of the users of the lanes aren't going to help.

Do you have a clue?

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