by Marcus Leach
Boris Johnson has announced that London will benefit from a £120 million network of cycle-friendly routes avoiding busy roads.
The Mayor of London said that the London's first 'Quietways', which will replace the city's fragmented National Cycle Network, will open next May. The new routes will see riders cycle along backstreets, towpaths and through the Royal Parks and Olympic Park.
It is hoped that the new routes will encourage more people to start cycling for the first time as part of a push to increase the number of cycling journeys in the nation's capital.
Work will start shortly on the first two routes, which will benefit the easily-intimidated rider, from central London to Greenwich and Hackney, with a later extension to Walthamstow.
A further five more routes are at the design stage and around two dozen more will be delivered or in progress by 2016.
Sustrans, the leading cycling and walking charity, has been awarded a three year contract by Transport for London to help deliver the network, in partnership with the boroughs.
"If you would love to hop on a bike but feel intimidated by busier roads, these Quietway routes will be perfect, connecting parks, backstreets and waterways to create secret passages through London," Johnson said.
"They will get you where you need to go on a route you might not have known existed until we showed you. They will make cycling much more accessible for ordinary people, in their ordinary clothes, revealing some of London’s hidden gems along the way."
Work on the first route, which will run from Waterloo to Greenwich, is about to start, creating a predominantly backstreet cycling route through Borough, Bermondsey and Deptford. Junctions at major roads will be redesigned to help cyclists and a brand new cycle path created. This will follow the railway line from South Bermondsey station to Surrey Canal Road to the north of Millwall football club (subject to final planning permissions).
Work to deliver the second route, from Bloomsbury to Hackney, will begin early next year and see a direct route created through local parks.
"Sustrans is delighted to be named as the winner of the Quietways contract and will start work immediately to deliver the best possible cycle routes for Londoners," Sustrans London Director, German Dector-Vega, said.
"We’re pleased to be working with our partners to help London find solutions for population growth, remain economically vibrant and become an increasingly pleasant and healthy place to live."