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Mayors bike scheme will make Londons air cleaner

A near-£1 billion investment to create a “Crossrail for the bike” announced yesterday (March 7) by the London Mayor Boris Johnson will make “London’s air cleaner”

A near-£1 billion cycling budget for the capital announced yesterday will “fulfil my aim of making London’s air cleaner”, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said.

The overall budget for cycling will rise to £913m for the next 10 years, which is two and a half times more than previously planned. Almost £400m is to be spent in the next three years, with spending reaching £145 million a year in 2015.

The Mayor of London has announced £913 million funding for cycling over the next 10 years

The Mayor of London has announced £913 million funding for cycling over the next 10 years

Mr Johnson said that nitrogen oxide emissions would be reduced by nearly a third if 14% of journeys in central London were taken on bicycles.  Emissions of particulate matter would also fall by 24%, or 33.8 tonnes a year, he said.

However, the Mayor’s plans were criticised by some London Assembly members for being “under-funded” and “inadequate”.

The plans include special cycling routes running parallel to, and named after, Tube lines and bus routes, which will be delivered by 2016. The Mayor described the route as a “Crossrail for the bike”.

The route will run for more than 15 miles, very substantially segregated, from the western suburbs, through the heart of London, to Canary Wharf and Barking. It will use new Dutch-style segregated cycle tracks along various places, such as the Victoria Embankment and the Westway flyover.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) said it believed the plans would create the longest substantially segregated cycle route of any city in Europe.

Other plans

New 20mph speed limits for all traffic will be introduced on several parts of the Transport for London (TfL)-controlled main road network where cycling improvements are also planned over the next decade.

Other work outlined in the Mayor’s cycling plan includes a new pilot scheme allowing communities to design safe routes to school, and a new approach to children’s cycle training, which will be delivered in all London schools.

In conjunction with Network Rail, work will be carried out to deliver a large Dutch-style bike superhub at a mainline station, with space for thousands of bikes and also a number of cycle routes connected to it. Work will also start on delivering smaller superhubs at some key suburban stations in 2014, to be announced at the end of this year.

The GLA’s aim is for thousands of commuters switch from Tube and bus to bikes for the last stage of their journeys to work to relieve pressure on the public transport networks in central London.

A trial of electric bikes will be conducted, including a small self-contained public electric bike hire scheme, similar to the ‘Boris Bike’ Barclays Cycle Hire scheme, which is also being extended.

Announcing the plans, the Mayor said: “I want to de-Lycrafy cycling. I want to make it normal, something for everyone, something you feel comfortable doing in your ordinary clothes. Our new routes will give people the confidence to get in the saddle. I do not promise perfection, or that London will become Amsterdam any time soon. But what I do say is that this plan marks a profound shift in my ambitions and intentions for the bicycle.

“The reason I am spending almost £1bn on this is my belief that helping cycling will not just help cyclists, it will create better places for everyone. It means less traffic, more trees, more places to sit and eat a sandwich. It means more seats on the Tube, less competition for a parking place and fewer cars in front of yours at the lights. Above all, it will fulfil my aim of making London’s air cleaner.”

He added: “If just 14% of journeys in central London were cycled, emissions there of the greatest vehicle pollutant, nitrogen oxides, would fall by almost a third and over the years literally thousands of lives could be saved.”

Commenting on the announcement, Camden council leader Sarah Hayward said: “We welcome further investment in the network, and a linking up of the cycle routes across London, improving air quality and reducing congestion.”

‘Inadequately funded’

However, criticisms have been made that the Mayor’s plans are inadequately funded, with the London Assembly’s transport committee calling for the budget to be doubled.

Caroline Pidgeon, chair of the London Assembly’s transport committee, said: “While £913 million may seem an impressive figure, its impact will be diluted over ten years and is not a significant advancement on current funding levels. To have real impact, we’re calling for the investment in cycling to be doubled.”

She added: “The committee has previously highlighted how segregated cycle paths, junction and cycle superhighway improvements and tackling HGV safety would improve safety for cyclists, and we’re delighted to see these included in the Mayor’s cycle vision. If Boris Johnson is serious about leaving a lasting cycling legacy for London – boosting journeys by bike and improving safety – more ambitious targets, backed by serious funding, are needed.”

Assembly member Darren Johnson welcomed proposals for more ‘quietways’ – cycle journeys away from traffic, the first of which will be finished in 2014 – but also said the budget was inadequate.

“As cycling grows in popularity, so should the budget for creating easier journeys and safer roads. Instead, we start with an inadequate budget and it gets smaller in future years,” he said.

More information on the Mayor’s cycling plan announcement is available on the TfL website.

Last month the Mayor also announced a series of proposals to tackle air quality in London, which included the possible implementation of an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (see airqualitynews.com story). But the plans were criticised by London Assembly member Murad Qureshi for being “nothing more than a wish list” (see airqualitynews.com story).

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