London seeks to make cycling the “safe and obvious transport” for the area, with extension of protected bikeways and two new cycle superhighways

Sadiq Khan to spend £770m on London cycling initiatives – Mayor’s proposed investment gets near levels seen in cycle-friendly nations such as Netherlands and Denmark.  By Peter Walker in The Guardian, Dec 2016 and Feb 2017 – update

Cycle superhighway 5, Vauxhall Bridge, in London.
Among the plans are two new cycle superhighways, where riders would be largely separated from motor traffic. Photograph: Dave Hill for the Guardian
17 Feb 2017

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has promised to spend £770m on cycling initiatives over the course of his term, saying he wants to make riding a bike the “safe and obvious” transport choice for all Londoners.

Following criticism that Khan has not been as bold as his predecessor, Boris Johnson, in committing to new bike routes, and amid increasing worries about air quality in London, Khan’s office has set out what is described as a hugely ambitious programme to boost cyclist numbers.

The proposed spending of about £17 per person per year gets near the levels seen in cycle-friendly nations such as the Netherlands and Denmark.

Among the plans are proposals for two new cycle superhighways, routes on which riders are largely separated from motor traffic by kerbs and dedicated traffic lights, the first of which were built under Johnson and have proved hugely popular.

Cycle superhighway 4 would go from Tower Bridge to Greenwich in south-east London, and cycle superhighway 9 is planned to run from Olympia to Hounslow in west London, the City Hall announcement said.

The spending, which represents 5.5% of the budget for Transport for London (TfL), also covers the delivery of a series of extensions or new cycle superhighways already planned under Johnson.

It will also involve more so-called mini-Holland schemes in suburbs, which involve reducing through-traffic on quiet residential streets, and more than a dozen quietway routes along back streets.

Khan said he was delivering on his manifesto promise to be “the most pro-cycling mayor London has ever had”. He said: “With record amounts of money now committed for cycling in London, we will continue to work over the coming months developing further detailed plans for making cycling a safe and obvious choice for Londoners of all ages and backgrounds.”

London is seen as something of a national testbed for schemes to tempt more people out of cars and on to bikes. While overall levels of cycling for transport across the UK have stayed largely static over recent years, in London they have accelerated rapidly, especially on the new protected bike lanes.

TfL statistics released last week showed that cycle traffic on the first two major cycle superhighways, one running north to south past Blackfriars bridge, the other east-to-west along the Embankment, had risen by 55% in six months. At peak times, bikes now form the majority of all vehicles on both routes, the figures showed.

Khan has faced criticism that he has been slow to push through new bike routes, amid vehement if largely unfounded criticism from some driving groups, notably London’s taxi trade, that cycle lanes increase traffic congestion.

His new funding announcement has won support from cycling groups, including the London Cycling Campaign, Ashok Sinha, the chief executive of the organisation, said the investment “shows the mayor is serious about meeting his promises to triple the extent of London’s protected cycle lanes, fix the most dangerous junctions and enable boroughs to implement major walking and cycling schemes”.

He said: “It will help make London a better, greener, healthier and less congested city.”

However, Andrew Gilligan, the commissioner for cycling under Johnson, who has previously criticised Khan for delays over cycle schemes, said the money committed would not be spent “unless the mayor actually starts building something”.

He said: “So far, most movement has been in the other direction, with shovel-ready schemes delayed or cancelled. Today’s press release contains no commitment to actually build any segregated cycle route beyond the one scheme (the north-south extension) already announced. This includes only half a mile of segregated track. With the cancellation of the 4.5-mile segregated scheme on the Westway and A40, the net total of new segregated routes so far promised by this mayoralty is minus four miles.

Gilligan said that while the plans for the two new cycle superhighways were welcome, neither would reach central London. He added: “We need a promise that they will be segregated, and also that a consultation result which favours their building will not be ignored, as it was with the Westway.”