Boris’s blue rinse revolution for cyclists

Cycling Superhighways. Photo: Kieron Yates

Mayor of London Boris Johnson seems to be in transport policy overdrive at the moment. In between the launch of a revitalised East London Line and presenting us with the finalised design for his new Routemaster buses, Boris found time to promote Transport for London’s (TFL) latest manifesto, ‘Cycling Revolution London’.

The “revolution” part of the title may be a clue that this is not one of Boris’s own concepts but a plan put in place by his more radical (and less cycle friendly) predecessor Ken Livingstone. Back in February 2008, Mr Livingstone announced proposals for a bicycle hire programme akin to the Parisian Velib schemeintroduced by socialist Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe –  together with plans for a network of cycle paths running from the suburbs into the heart of the city.

We already know the first of the ‘Velib style’ bikes will be on our streets in the summer, but last week Mr Johnson announced that two of the ‘cycling superhighways’ will also be ready at the same time. Pilot routes CS3 and CS7 – as TFL have quaintly named them –  will be fully opened by mid-July. Cycling superhighway three runs from Barking to Tower Gateway, on quieter roads, parallel to the A13. If the new bike paths prove popular, other east London routes are planned over the next five years.

The ‘Cycling Revolution London’ prospectus outlines a ten point plan of supporting measures aimed at making cycling a central part of the metropolitan transport system. Among the proposals are pledges to make the built environment safer for cyclists, reducing cycling casualties and a commitment to a proper response to cycle theft.

The ‘cycling superhighways’ themselves have already come in for some criticism mainly in the form of YouTube videos that demonstrate  some of the perils cyclists are facing on completed sections in south London.  The videos show cyclists forced on to the pavement because a bus is taking up the lane, as well as other vehicles regularly entering the designated space. In response to the video postings TFL said:

“There is great demand for space on the London’s road network and in many areas the roads are very narrow, so it’s not possible top provide separated lanes for cyclists.”

East London Lines reporter Kieron Yates cycled the length of CS3 from Tower Gateway to its final border in Tower Hamlets, at Bow Creek. He also spoke to two entrepreneurs who are making the most of the massive growth in cycling in the capital: Sam Humpherson of recently opened, and instantly fashionable,  Old Street cycle café ‘Look Mum No Hands‘ and James Addison of Dalston towpath bike repair shop ‘Route Canal’.

For a more in depth discussion of the merits of the ‘cycling superhighways’, listen to the Bike Show podcast from Resonance FM.

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