by Marcus Leach
Cycling in a city is never much fun, especially when that city is London and the streets are clogged up with endless trails of traffic and more than a few drivers who have no regard for those on two wheels. But that is all set to change with the announcement of plans for two cycling superhighways in London.
The cycle-only highways form part of a £913 million scheme to get more Londoners on their bikes, and the continuous routes will cross central London from east to west and north to south and will be almost completely separated from traffic.
"Bikes already make up 24 per cent of all rush-hour traffic in central London – hundreds of thousands of journeys every day that would otherwise be made by car or public transport," Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said.
"Because this isn’t just about cyclists. Getting more people on to their bikes will reduce pressure on the road, bus and rail networks, cut pollution, and improve life for everyone, whether or not they cycle themselves.”
Consultation on the two routes has already begun, with the north-south route set to run for more than 3 miles from Elephant & Castle to King's Cross. The east-west route will run from Barking to Acton, a distance of over 18 miles, including a section on the Westway flyover, where one lane will be removed to create a segregated cycle track.
Protected cycle routes will also be created through dangerous junctions, including Tower Hill, Blackfriars, Parliament Square and Lancaster Gate. Connections will be created to cycle routes servicing other parts of the City, West End and suburbs.
It is expected that work will start early next year and the routes will open in March 2016.
The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) calls the plans “a major step forward in creating streets that are safe and inviting for cycling”.
"In 2012, 10,000 LCC supporters took to the streets to call for streets that are as safe and inviting as they are in Holland. In response, the Mayor promised them that he would deliver all new cycle superhighways to best continental standards," Ashok Sinha, Chief Executive of London Cycling Campaign, said.
"We congratulate the Mayor on finally taking such a big step towards delivering on this promise, and will be working with TfL to address the concerns we have about parts of the new routes.
"LCC’s main concerns are that some of the planned new junctions are not safe enough and that the width of the new cycle tacks is too narrow in places. Our local groups and activists will ensure these and other questions are presented to TfL. Overall, though, LCC is really pleased to see commitments to substantially reallocate carriageway space to ensure protected space for cycling – particularly on the east-west superhighway, where cyclists regularly make up almost half of traffic during the morning peak."