Five London cycling tests for Sadiq Khan
Will the new mayor uphold his election pledges and prove he is serious about improving cycling in the capital, asks London’s former cycling commissioner
Thursday 17 November 2016 07.00 GMT
Over the next few years, the future of cycling in Britain may depend on what happens in London, the place that has done more than any other to build segregated bike lanes.
Only six months after they opened, the new tracks have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams – the Embankment one carries an astonishing 3,000 people an hour in the peaks, according to Transport for London’s Alan Bristow.
But they’ve also been controversial, with regular (if completely false) claims made that the lanes aren’t being used, or are causing pollution. There’s now what looks like a campaign to turn back the clock and reclaim road space for the motor vehicle.
Will the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan buckle? Well, during May’s election, he made some great promises. He signed he wanted to see “more segregated cycle lanes” and “new routes”.
He promised to “accelerate” the cycling programme, “increase the pace of change” and “increase the proportion of Transport for London (TfL)’s budget spent on cycling.”
In the next couple of months, we’ll know, fairly definitively, whether he means it. Under the previous mayor, for whom I was cycling commissioner, it took us three years and two months to build London’s first 12 miles of protected, main-road cycle tracks. We are three years and six months from the end of Khan’s term. If he does want another 24 miles, he needs to get started.
So far, despite the pledge to “accelerate” work, the opposite has happened. No new projects have been announced. On existing projects, most work has stopped and one of them, on the Westway flyover, has this week been scrapped.
Officially it’s a “rerouting,” but there’s no word on what the new route will be and it seems improbable that the Tory councils who control the only alternative roads will allow a meaningful scheme.
So here are a few tests, in no particular order, of whether Khan is serious about cycling.