Mixed messages in London Mayor’s transport vision

Slap on wrist expected for some cyclists, motorcycles in bus lanes

The London Mayor’s just-released outline of his plans for the capital’s transport system appears to contain mixed messages about his support and encouragement of cycling in Greater London.

In the policy outline ‘Way to Go’ there is both significant emphasis on pro-car measures that could be seen as anti-cyclist – notably a promise to end the "punishment" of car drivers by "unblocking the roads" – and a slap on the wrist for “some cyclists (who) do not go out of their way to earn the admiration of other Londoners.”

One part of the report that may not go down well with cyclists is confirmation of a trial of motorcycles in bus lanes on Red Routes (from January 2009).

Indeed, the cycling section of the paper begins extremely negatively, with a promise to “encourage…whatever steps are possible and necessary to crack down on aggressive cycling.”

In a rather contradictory approach, Mayor Johnson, a celebrated cyclist himself, then heaps words of praise upon the bike, saying it’s “the smartest and most efficient choice,” and says he is “aiming to introduce” a Paris-style bike hire scheme by 2010.

There is little detail on how cycle lanes and the London Cycle Network in particular will be improved to encourage more cyclists.

Instead there is puzzlement that certain routes don’t already exist:

“It is an utter disgrace that there is no decent cycle lane on the Victoria Embankment or on the north side of the Park – and I cannot understand the ban on cycling virtually everywhere in the Royal Parks,” said Johnson.

He did however promise some “creative thinking” to enable “barrier-busting” for cyclists, citing the city’s gyratories and one way systems as true impediments to two-wheeled progress.

Many cyclists will also no doubt be glad to see the back of ‘bendy buses’ whose phasing out is confirmed in the document and which also backs several huge new public transport infrastructure projects, including Crossrail and Tube updating plans  – though these were firmly in place before Johnson was voted in.

London Cycling Campaign stressed that new initiatives, such as the public-hire bike scheme, should not be funded at the expense of existing schemes such as the London Cycle Network and cycle training in schools.

“We share the Mayor’s view that a cycle-ised city is a civilised city but for his flagship programmes to succeed he has to continue supporting the many smaller initiatives that will make the big ones work,” said Koy Thomson, LCC’s Chief Executive. 

The document is a precursor to official consultation on the Mayor’s official transport strategy but comments are welcomed. Send them to waytogo@london.gov.uk

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