'Bike motorways' for London

£500m to be spent on putting cycling at the heart of transport policy

One of the most radical shifts ever in London’s transport policy will have the humble bicycle at its very heart.

Mayor Ken Livingstone today officially unveiled the Greater London Authority’s vision for a less congested, more ecologically friendly, healthier and quicker transport system. It is a vision in which, for the first time, cycling will be fully funded and officially integrated into the existing transport network. The GLA says this will happen thanks to:

·        A London bike hire scheme, similar to the Velib operation successfully launched in Paris last year, which will make 6,000 bikes available to the public.

·        About a dozen cycling corridors providing safe, easy access to central London for commuters

·        Bike Zones in both inner and outer London aimed at encouraging the use of bikes for short trips to schools, shops and workplaces

·        On-line cycling information encouraging Londoners to make the switch to pedal power

·        Improved bike/rail integration with more cycle parking facilities at stations

The cost of implementing the changes will match the scale of the ambition according to Livingstone. “We will spend something like £500 million over the next decade on cycling - the biggest investment in cycling in London's history,” he said.

The London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has welcomed the proposals while sounding a note of caution. “While the target for a 400% increase [in London cycling] by 2025 is not new, the shift in political leadership and vision is,” said LCC Chief Executive Koy Thomson.

The LCC’s campaigns manager Tom Bogdanowicz added: “The key is in the delivery. We will be looking for changes in Transport for London’s management and spending structures to reflect cycling as the fourth transport mode alongside buses, trains and tubes.”

The CTC has also greeted Ken Livingstone's vision of a more cycle-friendly London positively: “Aiming to get people to cycle for ten percent of round trips is a fantastically ambitious proposal from the Mayor and will revolutionise life in the capital," said their campaigns and policy manager, Roger Geffen

The GLA and Transport for London will now begin to work with the various London boroughs to implement the plans. The GLA controls just 5% of London's road space with the remainder being the responsibility of the capital's local authorities whose support and co-operation will be crucial if the Mayor's blueprint is to become a reality within his proposed timescales.

But what do you think? Would the proposed cycling corridors lead to pressure on riders to use designated routes only and make them less welcome elsewhere? Is there room on the city’s crowded pavements for the 6,000 bikes to be made available for hire? Will the £500 million - which is not yet fully costed - actually materialise? Are the various London boroughs all likely to be as enthusiastic about the proposals as the Mayor?  Log in and leave your comments below.

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