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London’s cycling commissioner hits back at critics of cycling strategy

Will Norman says more routes are being funded, while new quality standards will deliver improved infrastructure

A couple of weeks ago, London’s cycling commissioner, Will Norman, launched the city’s new cycling action plan. Critics said there was no new infrastructure or funding and therefore little of consequence. Norman this week took to the Guardian’s bike blog to refute this.

Nothing new? “This is a claim that I completely reject,” he writes. “We are progressing with the biggest ever expansion of London’s cycle network, with a 280-mile network of high-quality cycle routes to be delivered by 2024.

“The plan speeds up construction of our planned cycle ways. It confirms the alignment of two major new routes, from Tottenham to Camden and Hackney to the Isle of Dogs. And it announces the funding of another two major routes from our pipeline of 25: Greenwich to Woolwich and Oval to Streatham, via Brixton.”

He goes on to say that he agrees with critics who question the quality of some of what has been built before and argues that new standards will prevent substandard infrastructure from being built in the future.

“The mayor and I inherited Quietways of limited ambition and no defined standards. That, combined with the lack of political will in some councils, is what led to some not being good enough. Too many plans have been watered down and intentions to reduce traffic dropped.

“It’s been my priority to change that and in the plan we share brand new quality criteria for any type of cycle infrastructure. In future, TfL simply won’t fund routes that aren’t good enough – for example Quietway 6 in Tower Hamlets, where the plans were substandard. We will not fund this section unless it is improved.”

The new quality criteria include limits on the volume and speed of motor traffic, on the numbers of HGVs and on collision risk at junctions. Norman says the full criteria will feature in an update to the London cycle design standards in spring of this year.

“The aim is that, where traffic levels are high, cycle routes will either need to reduce traffic below the new acceptable threshold, or provide segregation,” he said.

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