Two major new cycle routes in London including the so-called ‘Crossrail for the bike’ stretching North to South and East to West, are set to go-ahead following months of wrangling between the mayor’s office and local authorities.
Boris Johnson today set out final plans for the construction of Europe’s longest substantially segregated urban cycleways - the cornerstone of a £913m commitment to get more Londoners on their bikes.
The revised plans have taken account of concerns from the City of London over traffic flows close to the Embankment area on the 18-mile east to west route dubbed 'Crossrail for the bike'.
The proposals now retain two westbound traffic lanes on Upper and Lower Thames Street and Victoria Embankment, while entirely preserving the continuous, kerb-segregated cycle lanes and junctions.
In a statement the mayor’s office said the changes ‘reduce the whole-route traffic delay in the morning peak hour, the worst affected time, by 60% compared to previous proposals’.
The final plans go before the Transport for London board on 4 February and are expected to be rubber-stamped. Subject to approval, the construction will start in March with the routes opened by March 2016.
Mr Johnson, said: “We have done one of the biggest consultation exercises in TfL’s history. We have listened, and now we will act. Overwhelmingly, Londoners wanted these routes, and wanted them delivered to the high standard we promised. I intend to keep that promise.
'But I have also listened to those concerned about the east-west route’s impact on traffic. Thanks to the skill of TfL’s engineers and traffic managers, we have made changes to our original plans which keep the segregated cycle track and junctions, while taking out much less of the route’s motor traffic capacity – and so causing much shorter delays.'
The planned east-west route will start at Tower Hill, where it will connect to the existing Cycle Superhighway 3 which runs east to Canary Wharf and Barking. From Tower Hill, the new route runs along Lower and Upper Thames Street, Victoria Embankment, across Parliament Square, to Hyde Park Corner and through Hyde Park, across Lancaster Gate and up Westbourne Terrace.
The section through Hyde Park will be consulted on next month and the second phase of the scheme, on the Westway flyover to Acton, will be consulted on later this year.
Some have expressed concern at possible a delay for motorists of about 16 minutes in the Hyde Park Corner area in the busiest morning peak hour. The changes announced today will reduce this delay from 16 to just over 6 minutes, according to the mayor.
The planned north-south route will run from Elephant & Castle to King’s Cross, with full segregation on St George’s Road, across St George’s Circus, Blackfriars Road, Blackfriars Bridge, new bridge street and Farringdon Street to Stonecutter Street. The east-west and north-south routes interchange with each other at Blackfriars.
Matt Winfield, deputy director for sustainable transport charity Sustrans London, said: 'Considering the amount of people these cycleways can move at once it’s a bit of a transport bargain, and will offer wider benefits in reduced pressure on public transport and create fitter and healthier Londoners.
'The new ‘Crossrail for bikes’ will complement the ambitious Quietways programme as London seeks to becomes an increasingly cycle friendly city.'
The routes have a capacity of 3,000 journeys an hour, equivalent to 41 full double-decker buses or five full and standing Underground trains an hour, TfL said and are expected to result in a significant modal shift to active travel.