Cycling in London: Is It Ready Yet?
In late April of last year, the Labour Party candidate for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, pledged to triple cycling infrastructure investment in the capital should he be elected. It was a promise that sat favourably with London’s burgeoning numbers of both recreational and commuter cyclists.
His exact words at the time were,
“In my manifesto for all Londoners, I set out my intention to continue the Cycle Superhighway programme, with a focus on segregated provision. I will keep us on course to triple the extent of current provision and I’ll look at what’s working best from the existing schemes and make sure we deliver the best, safest road cycling network possible.”
Just under a year on, it would appear that London’s Mayor is failing to fulfil his pre-election promises. Indeed, Mr Khan actually began his tenure with the opening of the East-West Cycling Superhighway while also inheriting a further eight superhighway and junction remodelling schemes which, on the face of it, were pretty much ready to go. Yet, as former cycling commissioner for London, Andrew Gilligan damningly points out:
“All had been designed and traffic-modelled. All had been put to public consultation, and approved by large majorities. All were to have started building in 2016. Of the eight, four have been cancelled or are in limbo, three have been delayed and only one has actually started building. Not a single meaningful new scheme has yet been proposed.”
It’s a startling indication of how London’s new Mayor is failing to deliver what’s needed.
While it would be unfair to lay the recent deaths of three cyclists and two pedestrians squarely on Sadiq’s doorstep, it’s yet another unnecessary reminder of the current state of play on London’s streets. Speaking of the deaths caused yet again by collisions with oversized vehicles, Mr Khan expressed that he was "saddened to learn of the tragic deaths on London's roads." Aren’t we all. But, is enough being done to push forward and implement the changes necessary for London’s streets?
According to Leon Daniels, TfL's managing director of surface transport, yes. His response was:
"Any death or serious injury on our roads is one too many, and our priority is to eradicate them. We're investing in safer cycle lanes and junctions, working with London boroughs to introduce more 20mph limits, looking to remove the most dangerous heavy goods vehicles from the capital's roads by 2020 and continuing our road safety education and enforcement programmes."
Many will argue that this investment in safer cycle lanes isn’t materialising as quick as it should be. You only need to take a look at this recent video of an altercation between a bus driver and a cyclist for yet another example of cycling infrastructure that isn’t fit for purpose. While some might side with the bus driver and argue the cyclist put themselves in unnecessary danger in this situation, it’s clear that something needs to change to ensure scenarios like this simply don’t happen.
Considering the stagnation of the aforementioned cycling superhighways, we must then question what these safer cycle lanes could possibly look like. Well, if the proposed idea from Ribble Cycles below is anything to go by, safer cycle lanes could well be elevated, illuminated cycleways that snake through cities, safe and high above traffic on the ground.
It certainly looks like a cool and safe idea, however, even this seemingly good solution has been met with some derision questioning its practicality.
Despite all this moaning, don’t get us wrong, we love cycling and we love cycling in London. There are many routes which have been modernised and given the necessary infrastructure to better accommodate cyclists. But much like a hungry child sat in anticipation of a dinner that’s been sat in the slow cooker for hours, some of us folk are left questioning, is cycling in London ready yet?