The streets of London have seen an increase in bike riders and a decrease in car commuters. According to an article published by the BBC, the number of cyclists during rush hour will outnumber cars within the new few years.
According to Transport for London, over the last decade and a half car drivers have decreased by almost 50% – from 137,000 in 2000 to 64,000 in 2014 – while the number of cyclists has tripled from 12,000 to 36,000. The authority touts the statistics as “a feat unprecedented in any major city.”
However, the blog archpaper.com points out that London lags behind other major European cities when it comes to encouraging bike travel. For example, Madrid, Spain, has gone as far as to place restrictions on what types of vehicles are allowed to enter the city center. Oslo (Norway), Paris (France), and Dublin (Ireland) will all have similar designated areas within the next few years.
The city is now concentrating effort on making the streets safer for cyclists. In 2012, 14 cyclists died on the streets of London with over 600 severely injured. Then, in 2013 six cyclists were hit and killed within a short span of three days. This began a paradigm shift for the city in regards to cyclist safety.
While proponents had been campaigning for segregated bike lanes for years, in late 2013, things slowly began to change. Mayor Boris Johnson has helped to introduce cycle “superhighways,” though critics have been quick to note that they fail to provide a physical barrier between motorist and cyclist. Recently, the city added a segregated bike lane across Vauxhall Bridge with other similar lanes to open over the summer.
Other changes include lower traffic lights for cyclists, early release for cyclists at traffic stops, and a two-stage right-turn system.
Detractors are claiming the lane construction is ‘politically motivated’ and adding to the city’s congestion.
A great interactive video on the subject can be viewed here.