Custom Search 1

Mayor puts power to the pedal revolution

BLONDE AMBITION: Johnson wants to invest £913m in cycling over the next 10 years (Photo: Bart Chan)

OFTEN HE can be travelling across the capital from A to B on two wheels, and now the Conservative party’s most famous blonde is to match his enthusiasm for cycling with a £913m budget over 10 years to pay for a new vision of how London’s transport and roads will be organised around the bicycle.

Last Thursday (March 7), London’s mayor Boris Johnson cycled to Westminster Embankment along with former cyclist-turned-bike maker Chris Boardman to talk about the new vision for cycling in London, which will see major changes carried out on roads to create new infrastructure for those pedalling.

Johnson wants to shift perceptions on cycling, breaking barriers of access and making people more likely to cycle and not be afraid of using their leg power along the capital’s busy streets.

The mayor said he wanted to “de-Lycrafy” cycling – meaning those regularly using bikes were not only keen cycling enthusiasts who wear specialist gear.

The main outcome of the vision and significant investment is to simply get more people on their bikes. The mayor set a target of getting five per cent of all journeys in London made by bicycle by 2025, and this vision has been laid out to ensure this becomes a reality.

Stated among its key outcomes is the ambition to create a “Tube network for the bike”, which would see “direct, high-capacity, joined-up cycle routes” weaving throughout the city.

The plan places much emphasis on safety and another key outcome is to implement roads and spaces “where cyclists feel they belong and are safe.” Such measures to ensure this are redesigning and rebuilding roads, junctions and crossings.

Thirdly, the proposals want Londoners of every type taking up cycling, and to allow them to “discover that the bike has changed their lives.”

TEAM LONDON: Johnson and Boardman share a cycling passion (Photo: Bart Chan)

Finally, keeping in step with the theme of inclusivity, the vision seeks not to alienate other road users, and aims to make the capital “better” for everyone concerned, even if they are not using a bike. For the proposals target the creation of a “village in the city” with more green spaces and opening up previously under-used spaces and streets – all for the greater economic good.

On the issue of current perceptions, Johnson told The Voice: “I think people do get scared, particularly of HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles) and cars coming up behind them, at difficult gyratories where they’re spun round in fast-moving traffic.

“We’re trying to address all those problems – it will take time and money.

“We’re tackling some of the biggest, most intimidating gyratories at Vauxhall, Aldgate, Tower Hill, Elephant and Castle.

“We’re also doing some wonderful things in some of the outer boroughs; we’re inviting boroughs to come forward and be mini-Hollands, so they can have hopefully 20-30 per cent modal share of the bicycle,” the Tory politician said.

“I think the investment will [help change motorists’ attitudes to cyclists], I think it’s started to happen – the bus and taxi drivers are much better than they were. We’ve still got a problem with HGV drivers, who find it very difficult because of the visibility problems that cyclists pose, but there’s a big job of education going on there.

“If I’m totally blunt, I think we’ve still got some way before we’re as good as the French in the understanding of motorists that there are going to be cyclists on the road.

“I want to stress that the improvements we are putting in are for the benefit of pedestrians and motorists as well.

“People say we should be more ambitious and get it to five per cent [of all journeys made by bike] by 2020, but you’ve got to be realistic. You’re seeing a big expansion of cycling already, we can’t go much faster than this; this is a very aggressive timetable,” he added.

PEDAL POWER: Boardman is an authority on cycling (Photo: Bart Chan)

Boardman, an Olympic gold medallist, told The Voice: “There is a whole raft of measures to make cycling a normal part of everyday life in London.

“He [Johnson] is a genuine cyclist, he’s not just here for the media. It’s his bike he’s riding on. And I can see by riding with him, he does it a lot.

“There’s proper political leadership behind it as well. I think it’s got a good chance of making a big difference, and quickly too.”

Nonetheless, the ex-professional racer said there are still additional measures he would like to see included in the vision. “. One, is to see cycling considered at the planning stage for every piece of new infrastructure,” he said.

“The other is HGVs. Over half the [cycling] deaths in London were with HGVs. Over 50 per cent of European cities have measures against them, either banning them or restricting them in working hours. That would make a huge difference for safety.”

British Cycling, the national governing body of cycling, welcomed the mayor’s plans. Martin Gibbs, policy and legal affairs director of the organisation, said: “For the first time we have a major announcement that is committed to transformative policy change in the approach to cycling of the kind we have called for in our manifesto.

“The most important aspect of this announcement is the commitment of significantly higher levels of spending on a range of policy measures that will make a tangible difference to the cycling environment in London.”

However, Christopher Snelling, Freight Transport Association head of urban logistics and regional policy, offered caution to the plans: “If it gets motorists who currently drive in London to switch to bikes that would be good news for everyone, but it must be remembered that some users, including freight, have no choice but to use the roads.

“So enough space must be left so that traffic can still flow, and HGVs can still use the roads safely.”

Subscribe to The Voice database!

We'd like to keep in touch with you regarding our daily newsletter, Voice competitions, promotions and marketing material and to further increase our reach with The Voice readers.

If interested, please click the below button to complete the subscription form.

We will never sell your data and will keep it safe and secure.

For further details visit our privacy policy.

You have the right to withdraw at any time, by clicking 'Unsubscribe'.

Facebook Comments