The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, is not satisfied with Boris Johnson’s plans for the new Cycle Superhighway 2.
In a letter to the Mayor of London, Rahman says he is worried about the affect of the Superhighway on Whitechapel Market.
Rahman believes the design is dangerous and will not work. He said: “This proposed design will place delivery vehicles outside the cycle lane, in the bus lane. It will disrupt bus services and bring cumbersome delivery movements involving heavy goods, waste, and pedestrians across the cycle lane, causing frequent obstruction to cyclists.”
Rahman added that he is also concerned that the new cycle lane could bring cyclists and market traders into conflict. He said: “The design is flawed in ensuring cycle safety, as well as in the impact it will have on pedestrians.”
The new Cycle Superhighway, CS2, is planned to go from Stratford through Whitechapel Road and end up in Aldgate. The proposal offers a two-metre wide cycle lane separated from the motor traffic, however the cyclists will not have any physical protection from motorists.
The plan will lead to longer journey times for buses and motorists along most of the route as the bus lanes will not operate between 7-10am in the section running past the Whitechapel market. This is in order to allow loading for the market stalls. Buses and motorists will also be confined to a single lane.
Around half of all bus journeys in England are made in London. In 2012/13 over 2.31 billions bus journeys were made in the capital. In 2011, 49 per cent of all workers in the capital travelled with public transport.
Robbie Joy, 61, travels to work in London everyday, and she is upset that the new cycle lane will cause more problems for people taking public transport.
Joy said: “I don’t think it should happen, I think they are both important, but it will affect people taking the buses”
The number of people who cycled to work in inner London more than doubled between 2001 and 2011, from 77,000 to 155,000, and in spite of Rahman’s concerns, there is a lot of support for the scheme on Twitter and from cycling organisations who see it as an improvement to cycle safety.
The twitter account ‘citycyclists’ with over 14,000 followers wrote against the Mayor of Tower Hamlets’ concerns. They wrote: “What a joke. Mayor of Tower Hamlets reckons upgrade to killer cycle highway 2 won’t improve safety for cyclists”
Christian Wolmar, prospective Labour mayoral candidate and a transport expert in London, said that there’s always going to be some local difficulties, but he thinks it’s important to support the Super Highway. Wolmar also added that one of the most important facts in its favour is that big business is backing the project. He said: “This represents the future and a more cycling friendly city.”
Beatriz Martinez, 28, who is based in Whitechapel, uses her bike for travelling around London. She said it’s important to have better safety for the cyclists, but is worried about what the new Superhighway can do to Whitechapel. She added: “It’s a busy area and cyclists are going to go fast, everything that can improve the cycling situation is good, but it depends on what they destroy and change in the city because of that”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, admits it’s difficult to satisfy everyone’s wishes. He said: “We must make cycling safer for all types of cyclists – and segregated lanes must be part of the solution. In a congested city like London it is simply not possible to do this without taking some road space.”
He added: “We would be failing as a city if we were in any way daunted by the difficulties.”
Tower Hamlets council has been working with the Greater London Authority and Tfl to implement the Whitechapel plan, however, they are concerned that the designs have “ failed to meet the aspiration to the masterplan”.
The consultation closes November 9, 2014, and Tfl wants your say, tell them what you think of the proposals here.