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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.

New roads should prioritise cyclists and pedestrians says NICE

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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matthewn5 | 4 years ago
1 like

Remember, Johnson told the Government at the end of his term that London could do without the £700m annual payment to TfL, so Khan is starting behind the 8-ball as far as funding is concerned.

Also remember, Johnson spunked millions on a failed dangleway, a failed Garden bridge, and on dangerous blue paint 'cycle superhighways' before building some decent infra in the last 18 months of an 8 year term.

There was no systematic planning of where cycleways would be most effective and best value for money, no strategic plan, and much of what was delivered was below standard and a complete waste of money.

Give the new guy a chance - he's barely been in place 2 years.

Simon E | 4 years ago

Guardian's bike blog is a good place to get an even-handed perspective on Khan's record. Laura Laker wrote about it in September and in December bike blog regular Peter Walker, who had seen the new plans, was sceptical

Mark Treasure (@AsEasyAsRiding) has a tweet from November with some quotes from London AM Caroline Russell's rather damning briefing.

Will Norman can protest all he likes but at the moment it seems blowing hot air is all he can do.

ex_terra | 4 years ago

The simple truth is that Sadiq Khan has completely blown the TfL budget with his successful attempt to buy votes with unaffordable election pledges.

Prior to the last election for London Mayor, Khan promised to freeze fares for 3 years. Everyone - including TfL told him this was not affordable so he either knew it wouldn’t be and went ahead anyway or didn’t know enough to understand - either of which makes him unsuitable to be Mayor.

Khan’s response was to tell his critics that austerity was a lie and that fare freezes could be afforded without impacting TfLs schedule of capital works.

What we’ve seen since then is Khan going ahead with his fare freeze albeit using weasel words to justify doing excluding a large cohort of the travelling public from its scope.

The knock on financial impact on TfL revenue has been dramatic - currently heading towards a £1b deficit. In response TfL have undertaken a significant reduction in the scope of scheduled works along with an indefinite stay on some projects that had funding already allocated. Khan has also reportedly lied about when he learned of the delay to Crossrail - and seems more interested banning adverts for sports drinks etc on the underground - which also impact advertising revenue.

It’s a given that as critics predicted the Walking and Cycling Czar has turned out to be pretty useless but the main issue is the lack of budget to fund projects and that needs to be laid firmly at Khan’s feet.

HarrogateSpa | 4 years ago

Will Norman fails to address the legitimate criticisms people have made (especially Gilligan).

They include:

  • wasting time doing nothing useful since the beginning of this Mayor's term
  • cancelling or watering down the previous Mayor's schemes which already had approval in consultations
  • being desperate to appease everyone, and as a result getting nothing done
  • announcing big cycling budgets but failing to spend that money

It seems to be all marketing documents with pretty pictures and no spades.

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