London’s former cycling commissioner has accused Sadiq Khan of presiding over the construction of a “fake cycle network”. Andrew Gilligan says that in many areas the mayor is doing little more than adding Quietway signs to roads and claiming them as new routes.
Earlier this year, London’s current cycling commissioner, Will Norman, launched the city’s new cycling action plan.
He later refuted accusations that there was no new infrastructure or funding, pointing to two major new routes – from Tottenham to Camden and Hackney to the Isle of Dogs – and emphasising the introduction of new standards to prevent construction of substandard infrastructure.
However, writing in the Guardian, Gilligan says that these standards are “only aims and aspirations.”
Gilligan says he has now ridden most of the sections of Quietway that Khan claimed to have built in a list given to the London Assembly in November.
“In a few places, I found, new Quietway signs have indeed been painted on the road, though they are often hard to see under the queues of vans and rat-running cars. The last thing many of these routes are is quiet.
“Elsewhere, I discovered that City Hall has taken decades-old traffic-free cycle routes, such as the Thames towpath and the Greenway in east London, put Quietway signs on them and claimed them as new routes. This alone accounts for 26km of the 100km that has supposedly been delivered. In other places, there were traces of work begun but not finished.
“At least a further 30km consists of little more than rebranding existing, unsegregated, noughties-era London Cycle Network (LCN) routes on sometimes busy and congested streets.”
Gilligan said that, “on very long stretches of the network claimed to be complete, and even by Khan’s minimalist definition, I found nothing: neither new signage nor any trace of work starting.”
Nor is he impressed with the 40km or so of protected cycle lanes Khan claims to have delivered, suggesting that most of what has been completed was begun before Khan took office.
“Since May 2016 the mayor has started work on only 4km of protected superhighway route (8km if you count lanes in each direction), all of them schemes consulted on and left to him by the previous administration.”
Gilligan goes on to call for the Quietway programme to be cancelled, asking that the money be redirected to superhighway routes on main roads instead.
His comments echo those of the London Cycling Campaign who in October branded Quietways a “substandard distraction”.
Simon Munk said that their quality varied considerably and often deteriorated noticeably where a route crossed from one borough into another with lesser ambitions for cycling.
Responding to Gilligan’s article, Will Norman said: “Under Sadiq, new high-quality cycle infrastructure is being delivered all across London. We've already built more than 140km of new routes, including completing the second phases of Cycle Superhighways 3 and 6 and opening the first tranche of Quietways. We’ve overhauled dangerous junctions such as Westminster Bridge south and Archway and are currently constructing schemes at Highbury Corner, Old Street Roundabout and Judd Street.
“It took Boris Johnson six years and four months to launch the public consultation on the eight miles of segregation that were finished at the end of his second term. Sadiq has almost matched this figure already, doubling the amount of protected space he inherited, and is on course to triple it by the end of his first term.
“The co-operation of local boroughs is essential to deliver high-quality cycling infrastructure. We are working well with the three mini-Holland boroughs, delivering on the plans we inherited from the previous administration. Work will start later this year on two major new cycle routes – CS4 and CS9 – in co-operation with Southwark, Greenwich, Lewisham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow and Kensington and Chelsea. We have re-prioritised an extension of CS4 from Greenwich to Woolwich, downgraded by the previous administration, which is now funded in TfL’s new Business Plan. The actions of Westminster Council to block CS11 have been hugely frustrating but we will continue to work with those boroughs that share our ambition.
“Meanwhile through our world-leading Direct Vision Standard, the most dangerous lorries will also be removed from our streets from next year.”