When London’s current mayor, Sadiq Khan, took office in 2016 he pledged £770m would be spent over the four years of his term to make cycling in the UK capital a ‘safe and obvious’ transport choice for all.
His predecessor, Boris Johnson, had declared how ‘difficult’ it is in London to create more space on the roads. During Johnson’s tenure, a number of ‘Cycle Superhighways’ (CS) were installed, albeit many of them just bright blue tarmac designated to bike riders.
One of the more successful, segregated lanes on the Embankment saw an increase of activity of over 50% in its first six months. This lane of cyclists now carries more people in rush hour than the other three lanes of motor traffic on the same road.
Mayor Khan’s new initiatives for cyclists should see two new Superhighways that will be segregated (protecting cyclists from the motor traffic), plus extensions to the existing ‘highways. These are known as CS4, which runs from Tower Bridge to Greenwich, and CS9 from Kensington Olympia to Brentford town centre.
He is committed to improving cycling infrastructure in residential areas, by reducing traffic and creating more ‘Quietway’ cycle routes on smaller back streets. Plus, his plans include helping individual boroughs implement schemes to promote cycling and walking.
While many agree London can be a hazardous place to travel by bike, it seems more and more people in the Capital are taking to two wheels compared to the rest of the country, with reports showing that Superhighways are popular with commuters and help cyclists feel safer.
Despite these recent pledges of investment, there are arguments suggesting that not enough is being spent nor done to satisfy the demand of London’s daily cyclists, and that the mayor’s initial promise is yet to be acted upon as work on only two of the eight highway routes has begun since Khan took office.
The other aspect of improving life for cyclists is getting more people to stop using cars (and get on their bike instead). This has been achieved almost entirely through the Congestion Charge. It hasn’t increased yet under Mr Khan, but did so while both Ken Livingston and Boris Johnson were in office.
As a cyclist in London, you’ll always come up against traffic. And while routes and access for bike riders will improve, there are ways to get involved in campaigning for further funding and action. If you’d like to do your bit, check out Cycling UK (formerly the Cyclists Touring Club) and the London Cycling Campaign. In the meantime, keep riding, keep smiling and promote the joy of cycling to everyone you meet.