London Evening Standard)
- WILL NORMAN
- 1 day ago
Will Norman is London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner ( )
“London has finite road space, so it’s vital we use it well,” Baroness Brady argued here the other day. On that she and I surely agree. But scrapping the successful Embankment cycle lane would be wrongheaded and retrograde, and the Mayor, Transport for London and I could never support it.
We can also agree Embankment is congested. It was before the cycle lane opened, it is now, and it still would be if it were again just a motorway. Drivers would fill the available space, when what we need are fewer vehicles and better alternatives — exactly what the cycle lane delivers. Far from causing congestion, cycle lanes are a solution, moving many more people in the same amount of space.
In 2014, before the lane was built, almost 7,500 cycle trips were made on Embankment each day. Those people are now safe from traffic and that’s a success in itself. But the lane has also enabled many more cycle journeys — up 38 per cent to more than 10,300 a day.
Further east the increase is even more astonishing, up 110 and 200 per cent in Upper and Lower Thames Street. Cycling is now mainstream transport with more than 700,000 daily trips — about a fifth of the number on the Tube.
Our city is growing, so we need to be smarter about how people and goods move. We also need cleaner air and we must tackle our inactivity crisis by making it easy and safe for us all to be active. Whatever happens with Brexit it’s critical London remains a successful, competitive and attractive place to live.
Londoners know this is true. That’s why they elected a Mayor committed to making the capital a byword for cycling. Businesses know it. That’s why the City of London’s transport plan has such a focus on walking and cycling and why so many firms and large employers supported the Embankment cycle lane.
We’ve studied the economic benefits and found that in areas where we’ve made it easier to walk and cycle, more people are visiting, spending more time and money, and there are fewer empty shops. Across London communities are demanding these improvements of us and their local councils.
Sadly, however, too many people are still put off cycling because they don’t feel safe. Many roads are still dominated by high volumes of traffic, people driving fast, too many parked cars, and big lorries with dangerous blind spots.
This has to change, which is why the Mayor has set a goal of making London the best big city for cycling and doubling the number of bicycle journeys in five years. We’ve already built more than 140km of new routes and almost doubled the amount of cycle lanes protected from traffic. We’re on course to triple the protected space next year, and planning 450km of extra routes by 2024.
It’s more high-quality cycle lanes, not fewer, that London needs to sustain its success. And that is exactly what we are delivering.
- Will Norman is London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner