A new age for cycling or a false dawn
Later today Boris Johnson will be announcing “The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London”. Exactly what this will involve is not clear, but the key points seem to be:
• A Crossrail for bikes from Canary Wharf to White City
• A grid of “safe” cycle routes in central London
• A re-think of TFL’s policy on dangerous junctions
• A series of mini-Hollands in some outer London boroughs
• A network of Quietways, to upgrade existing cycle routes
So far so good but, as with so much in life, the devil is in the detail. One thing that immediately springs to mind is how they are going to deal safely with junctions on the new safe cycling routes. Critics of segregated cycle lanes rightly cite this as a major issue and if this is not tackled head on it could create significant problems between cars crossing the cycle paths. You only need to look at the horrible cycle ways in Bloomsbury to see how segregated cycle lanes can be dangerous and undesirable.
Another consideration is that infrastructure and safety must be improved on all roads – not just the designated cycle safe routes. Some drivers are sure to feel that cyclist have “their routes” and all other roads are meant for cars. If we are to normalise cycling, as the Mayor has indicated he would like, then cycling must be integrated rather than segregated.
So, amongst the hope, there is also a lot of questions that need to be addressed. Andrew Gilligan, appointed by Boris Johnson as the cycling commissioner for London, acknowledged that the changes will not turn London into Amsterdam any time soon, and there is still a long way to go. I remain cautiously optimistic, but cycling has seen many false dawns in this country and I hope this is not another.