The Mayor of London today announced a £500m plan to transform walking and cycling in London. The package of measures will create a new network of quick, simple, and safe routes for cyclists and pedestrians that will attempt to change the profile and priority of walking and cycling on London's streets.
With the introduction of a central London bike hire scheme with 6,000 bikes available every 300 metres, cycling will be accessible to many more Londoners and will become a fully-funded part of the public transport network for the first time. This is not quite a Velib scheme, but it's a start.
There will also be new commuter cycle routes from inner and outer London and cycle zones around urban town centres.
These radical measures, which will ensure the needs of cyclists and pedestrians are given a higher priority on the Capital’s streets will make a significant contribution to tackling climate change, aiming to have one in ten round trips in London each day made by bike, and saving some 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year as Londoners increasingly choose to walk or cycle for short trips instead of taking their car.
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said:
"The aim of this programme is nothing short of a cycling and walking transformation in London. We will spend something like £500m over the next decade on cycling - the biggest investment in cycling in London's history, which will mean that thousands more Londoners can cycle in confidence, on routes that take them quickly and safely to where they want to go.
“The cycle hire scheme in Paris has proved a huge success, and I have now instructed Transport for London to work with the London boroughs and interested parties to develop and implement a bike hire scheme in central London, accessible to all Londoners. By ensuring that Londoners have easy access to bikes in the centre of the capital, as well as making our city a safer and more enjoyable place to cycle, we will build upon London’s leading position as the only major world city to have achieved a switch from private car use to public transport, cycling and walking.
"Over 50 per cent of tube journeys in central london are quicker on foot. The new Legible London signage system will help people use their feet to get around and see more of London at the same time.
"The expansion of cycling and walking will help reduce our impact on climate change and reduce traffic congestion. Around 20 percent of the carbon emissions savings we've calculated we can make from transport by 2025 will come from changing the way we travel. We know Londoners want the opportunity to walk and cycle more. One in two people say that they want to walk for short journeys where they currently use their car. Forty per cent of Londoners have access to a bike, but currently only one in eight use it regularly."
Part of the plans include radial 'Cycling Corridors' - bicycle superhighways - for commuters to provide high-profile, easy to follow cycling streams into central London.
There will also be the creation of a series of Bike Zones for shoppers and the school run in Inner and Outer London, with cycle priority streets, 20mph speed limits and quick, clear and simple routes that link key local destinations and open parks and waterways for cyclists.
The new programmes are in addition to existing commitments, which will continue the investment in projects including cycle training, cycle parking, the greenway programme, and the London Cycle network Plus, as well as funding for a bigger and better London Freewheel, the summer mass bike ride for cyclists of all abilities, for at least 60,000 participants this year.
Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the London Assembly, said:
"These plans for promoting cycling and walking are more ambitious than anything which has been tried before in this country, but they are exactly what we need to persuade large numbers of Londoners out of their cars."
David Brown, Managing Director, Surface Transport, TfL, said:
“With London’s population set to grow and the need to promote sustainable transport we must do all we can to make cycling and walking a viable transport choice for Londoners and visitors.
"We need to accelerate progress to ensure we make it much easier and much safer to choose to walk and cycle and to further reduce dependency on the car.”
The programme's aim is that by 2025 five per cent of all daily trips are made by bike - 1.7 million in total, and that 22 per cent are made on foot.
But cyclists wonder whether the new 'bicycle motorways' could be the start of enforced segregation.
In The Guardian, Edmund King, president of the AA, said: "I think separating out cyclists can only be good for everyone and the only provision I would raise is that we still need to have roads for the movement of trucks, cars and buses - so we need to make sure we get the balance right."
King is pro-car, naturally, but he's also an urban realist: he rides a Brompton.
Responding to London's £500m plans, CTC's Campaigns and Policy manager Roger Geffen said: “Aiming to get people to cycle for ten percent of round trips is a fantastically ambitious proposal from the Mayor and will revolutionise life in the Capital. With so many free bikes to hire, and major cycle-ways to get you in to town and back quickly and safely, it’s a wonder that anyone wouldn’t want to cycle."