Yesterday City Hall published The Mayor's Vision For Cycling In London. This long-awaited 33-page document outlines a transformative programme aimed at making the capital more bike-friendly. It's had a verypositivereception, with a few reservations as to whether the plans are possible for the money. It's also very detailed, in aims if not in geography, and contains numerous phrases that could be used to hold Boris to account in the future if outcomes fall short. For full effect you should read it properly, rather than skimming brief summaries in the media, and you might then be impressed. Here are ten things I've spotted.
1) We will offer two clear kinds of branded route: high capacity Superhighways, mostly on main roads, for fast commuters, and slightly slower but still direct Quietways on pleasant, low-traffic side streets for those wanting a more relaxed journey. That sounds like what we've already got, but with side street routes rebranded as Quietways. I wonder whether Barclays will sponsor those too. 2) Many will run in parallel with key Underground, rail and bus routes, radial and orbital, signed and branded accordingly: the ‘Bakerloo Superhighway’; the ‘Circle Quietway’, and so on. The emphasis seems to be on cycle provision to provide an alternative to other services, not to create new links. There are also plans to rebrand CS2 as ‘Cycle Superhighway 25’, because it runs along the 25 bus route. I can't decide whether that's brilliant or bananas. 3) A ‘bike Crossrail’ will run, substantially segregated, from west London to Barking. The much vaunted Crossrail-for-bikes may run west/east, but it doesn't shadow Crossrail. It'll run along a segregated lane of the A40 from Hillingdon to Paddington (not easy to join, or leave), then down through Hyde, Green and St James's Parks (an easy win), then wholly segregated along the Victoria Embankment (yay), then along Cycle Superhighway 3 from Tower Hill to Barking (because CS3 is the only truly successful substantially segregated superhighway). 4) We will substantially improve the existing Barclays Cycle Superhighways. Thank heavens for that. Here's a photo of what CS2 on Bow Road looks like less than two years after opening - it could do with a new lick of paint. And a segregated lane that's not half a lane of traffic, to be frank. 5) Quietways will be direct. They will be better-surfaced. They will be clearly signed, mostly on the road itself, making it impossible to lose your way. Each route will be delivered as a whole, not piecemeal. And they will not give up at the difficult places. That means a lot more funny-coloured roads across the capital. But yes, well-connected funny-coloured roads would really make a difference. 6) We will trial allowing bikes off-peak on the DLR. Hurrah, and about time too. Although this would, at a stroke, remove one of the key reasons for the cablecar existing. 7) Timid, half-hearted improvements are out – we will do things at least adequately, or not at all. That's a great philosophy. Or it's a brave promise. Or it's a phrase that'll come back to haunt someone. 8) We will start a City Hall cycling blog, which the mayoral and TfL cycling teams will write. Get your commenting fingers ready - there's going to be some vigorous debate on those posts. 9) London’s streets and spaces will become places where cyclists feel they belong and are safe. I look forward to it, because I won't be getting on a bike in London until this happens, and we're nowhere near yet. Even under current plans a lot of the new developments are only "substantially segregated", but that's a medieval capital city for you. 10) I do not control the vast majority of London’s roads, so many of the improvements I seek will take time. They will depend on the coooperation of others, such as the boroughs, Royal Parks, Network Rail and central government. Oh. So most of this is aspirational rather than definite, and hopeful rather than fully funded. But still hugely better than the slow knuckle-dragging of the last five years, yes?