Billion pound “Crossrail for the bike” unveiled

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced a “Crossrail for the bike” as part of his plans for a nearly £1 billion investment in London cycling.

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 “Dutch-style” segregated cycle tracks along, among other places, the Victoria Embankment and the Westway flyover. It is believed to be the longest substantially-segregated cycle route of any city in Europe.

The Mayor said: “The Westway, the ultimate symbol of how the urban motorway tore up our cities, will become the ultimate symbol of how we are claiming central London for the bike.”

The Mayor announced that the main cross-London physical legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games will be a proper network of cycle routes across the city. As in the public transport system, London’s “bike Crossrail” will lie at the heart of a new bike “Tube network.” Over the next four years London will open a range of high-quality new cycle routes parallel to, and named after, Tube lines and bus routes, so everyone knows where they go.

Other elements in the billion pound plan include:

  • more Dutch-style fully-segregated lanes;
  • more “semi-segregation” on other streets, with bikes better separated from other vehicles
  • a new network of “Quietways” – direct, continuous, fully-signposted routes on peaceful side streets, running far into the suburbs, and aimed at people put off by cycling in traffic
  • substantial improvements to both existing and proposed Superhighways, including some reroutings
  • a new “Central London Grid” of bike routes in the City and West End, using segregation, quiet streets, and two-way cycling on one-way traffic streets, to join all the other routes together

The Mayor added: “I want to de-Lycrafy cycling. I want to make it something for everyone.

“The reason I am spending almost £1 billion 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.”

There will also be “mini-Hollands” in the suburbs, with between one and three outer boroughs chosen for very high spending concentrated in those relatively small areas for the greatest possible impact. The aim, over time, is that these suburbs will become every bit as cycle-friendly as their Dutch equivalents. Funding specifically earmarked for outer London will rise from £3 million to more than £100 million.

As already announced in the TfL business plan the overall budget for cycling will rise to £913 million, two and a half times more than previously planned, with almost £400 million spent in the next three years alone. Cycle spending will rise to £145 million in 2015.

British Cycling’s Chris Boardman, the Olympic gold medallist and long-term advocate for better cycling, who joined the Mayor and Sir Peter, said: “This is the most ambitious cycling development and promotion plan in the UK in living memory, perhaps ever. I’m delighted to have been involved and look forward to the great changes it will bring to London.”

The first Quietways will open next year, with the improved Superhighways and the central section of “bike Crossrail” complete by 2016. All outer London boroughs are invited to apply for the “mini-Hollands” programme. The winners will be chosen later this year and work will begin in 2014.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said:  “The is a visionary proposal from the Mayor to improve cycling infrastructure in London.  It should be part of a wider debate about how we use scarce road space and accommodate all those who need to get around the city, whether for pleasure, on business or to make deliveries. London has long needed a joined up transport strategy that effectively integrates all modes of transport and this move to encourage more people to cycle is a welcome first step.”

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