Majority of Londoners back Cycle Superhighways, finds YouGov poll

While some interests are working against the project, poll finds the majority are in favour of more space for cycling in the capital
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A new YouGov poll has found the majority of Londoners back plans to create two segregated Cycle Superhighways in central London.

Over 100 leading London employers support the plans, while 73 per cent of Londoners back the notion of removing traffic lanes for the cycle superhighways.

Asked if they back the new routes even if they took away traffic lanes from motor vehicles, 64 per cent of Londoners supported the plans. 24 per cent opposed them. Excluding “don’t knows”, the figures are 73 per cent supportive and 27 per cent opposed.

The Mayor of London’s ambitious Cycle Superhighway plans have been questioned by Canary Wharf Group among others over fears they will slow some motor traffic – but even then, Londoners say, the superhighways should still be built.

Asked if they back the new routes even if this meant journeys by motor vehicles took longer, 51 per cent of Londoners agreed and 26 per cent disagreed. Excluding “don’t knows” and those who did not express a preference, the figures are 66 per cent supportive to 34 per cent opposed or roughly two to one.

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The poll, of a representative sample of 1002 Londoners, was conducted between 8 and 13 October by YouGov on behalf of CyclingWorks.London, a group coordinating business responses to the cycling proposals.

More than 100 London businesses have signed up to support the implementation of the superhighways – including RBS, Unilever, Deloitte, Orange, Land Securities, Allen & Overy and CEMEX.

Chris Kenyon, from CyclingWorks.London, said: “The overwhelming support for the new Cycle Superhighways is clear, both from businesses and the people of London.”

“A powerful company and some lobbyists have recently used back-door attempts to stop these cycling plans. It is now clear that those lobbying against these transformative plans are out of step with both the business community and the public.”

The two superhighways will join up existing and planned routes to create the longest substantially-segregated urban cycleway in Europe, running 18 miles from Barking to Acton.

The cycle routes will have the capacity to move 6,000 people each hour, the equivalent of 20 extra Tube trains or 82 additional London buses.

The YouGov poll found support for the Cycle Superhighways extends across all age groups, social classes and political affiliations.

Additionally, there was a strong preference for physically segregated cycle lanes of the type proposed. Only 10 per cent of Londoners say a painted cycle lane would make them feel much safer and 23 per cent say it would make them feel a little safer, versus a total of 51 per cent who say it would not make them safer.

By contrast, 74 per cent say a physically segregated lane would make them feel safer.

The poll also found that 71 per cent of Londoners never drive in central London, and only 7 per cent drive in the city centre once a week or more. The vast majority of journeys to, from and within central London are made by public transport or bike.

Chris Kenyon said: “Most of the people who took part in this poll are not regular cyclists. Londoners have demonstrated that they understand more people cycling is better for everyone because it means less pressure on the bus, less pressure on the Tube and more pleasant streets at the heart of what is a globally competitive city.”

Writing for The Guardian, Chris Boardman said: "Behind the scenes there is an intense lobbying operation to destroy the plans, led by just one company, Canary Wharf Group, and by the City of London Corporation. These opponents will not speak against the scheme in public. They know that the majority even of business opinion is not with them and they stand little chance of winning any debate held in the open. They know that they will be seen as old men in limos. They know that most Londoners, who do not drive in the centre, sympathise with making central London less car-dominated. So instead, they are trying to poison the project in secret without leaving any fingerprints.

"In the end, the limo-users’ view of how London is governed, like their view of how London travels around, feels out of date. Deals behind the scenes were how it was done when the city was run by Whitehall. But under an elected mayor, the public should decide and the debates should be held in public."

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