On 28 April 2012, London witnessed the largest ever protest ride. Under heavy rain, 10,000 people demanded Dutch-standard cycling infrastructure in London. It was a pivotal event which led to the Mayor’s Vision for London, an ambitious document and the Cycling Commissioner, who acknowledged that the work done in the first term of Johnson’s mayoralty was not good enough.
Almost three years have passed. Gilligan has managed to steer the TfL tanker to much higher levels of quality, supported by a Mayor keen to leave a legacy which is not just blue paint.
However the core part of the strategy, the Central London Cycling Grid is in danger of being swept aside by corrupt Local Authorities which have no ambition and are marionettes of minority self-interest groups, such as taxi drivers and car owners.
I have alerted the leadership of the London Cycling Campaign that if they don’t urgently mobilise the membership and robustly engage Gilligan, the Local Authorities and the LCC local groups, we are not going to witness a Dutch-quality network but a total travesty, not dissimilar to the pitiful LCN of decades ago.
So far I have not received an answer to my letter below. I urge you all to write to the LCC and express your dismay at the plans (or lack of) proposed by Westminster, Camden, Islington, City, Southwark and Kensington, and request an energetic response.
We are facing a fundamental threat to the Central London Grid, and if we are don’t respond appropriately and promptly it will undermine the whole Cycling Vision.
That is fundamentally wrong.
The Grid is a dense network of safe and direct cycle routes that respect desire lines and that aspirationally are on streets with low traffic volumes. Where the conditions are such that a road can be considered quiet (i.e. 30kph AND fewer than 2k cpu/day), then minimal intervention is required. By definition, not a single street in Westminster meets these requirements.
If a street is not quiet there are two options:
a. make it quiet, or
b. install protected cycle facilities.
Now, the Vision does seem to rule out a.
A new network of cycle routes in central London
In partnership with the central boroughs, we will create a central London ‘Bike Grid’ of high-quality, high-volume cycle routes, using a combination of segregation and quiet shared streets, along with some innovative use of existing infrastructure. The ‘Crossrail’ East-West Superhighway will form part of this.
With the boroughs’ agreement, we will seek to open up a number of central one-way streets for two-way cycling, creating direct, easy, lower-traffic routes through the City and West End. Experience from the City and Kensington and Chelsea, who have brilliantly led this process, shows that it can be accomplished without traffic or safety impacts.
We will not be asking boroughs to remove traffic or, in the vast majority of cases, change parking on the two-way cycle streets, unless they want to.
The east-west segregated Superhighway will be delivered by 2016. Subject to the agreement of the boroughs, so will the majority of the Grid. Route planning has already started; a planning conference with the central London boroughs will take place next week. Routes for the Grid will be announced as they are agreed with the boroughs.
If a. is ruled out, then b. is a MUST, otherwise we are not going to have “high-quality, high-volume cycle routes”.
I think that the LCC and the local groups should sit down with Andrew Gilligan and the Boroughs, and convince them that a. is often cheaper than b. and should be part of the arsenal.
- co-ordination from LCC HQ; this must be a key campaign for 2015
- the various local groups to be on message; the quality of the network MUST BE HOMOGENEOUS
We are winning, but now we need to fight twice as hard to achieve our goals