Cycling in the 2018 New London Plan
Consultation on the New London Plan Friday ends 5pm on 2 March 2018. All comments will then go to a government inspector. He will tell the GLA what it must do. So it is a great opportunity for cyclists to give their views. My guess is that the inspector will be most interested in clarifications and in logical inconsistencies. Here are my views on cycling in the London Plan:
- The word ‘cycling’ is used 94 times, with 43 of them in the phrase ‘walking and cycling’. The phrase ‘walking and cycling networks‘ 6 times and of which 3 are in the phrase ‘public transport, walking and cycling network’. There is a need for clarification re whether the Mayor plans a new network for walking and cycling, which seems unlikely. But whatever network is planned, it should also be illustrated. Otherwise the apparent meaning is that the Mayor wishes to ‘encourage’ cycling by talking about it but has no plan for network.
- In January 2018 it was announced that the Mayor will spend only £111m on new cycle routes but that the annual average during his term would be £154 million/year. This is a pathetically small sum for a policy that receives 94 mentions in the plan. The number of journeys carried by the tube network between September and January 2017. But the number of journeys made by bicycle rose by 5.8% in 2017. Yet the Plan proposes massive investment in new railways and minimal investment in new cycling infrastructure. Such is the power of the mechanised transport lobby.
- The terms “Cycle Superhighways” and “Quietway” are not used in the Plan, leaving readers as unclear about the character of the cycling network as about its geography. Both omissions should be rectified. As Andrew Gilligan noted: “None [of the routes] are in central London, there is no commitment to build them and I fear it will merely add to the growing backlog of routes that Sadiq isn’t delivering.”
- Section 2.1.10 of the Plan states that cycling provision is ‘at the heart of planning for Opportunity Areas’ and Section 2.1.6 deals with the Lewisham Opportunity Area. So let’s see what has happened so far in this area. A roundabout between Lewisham Station and the Town Centre, which has often led me to say ‘Lewisham hates cyclists’ has been replaced by a new section of 5-lane highway. Crossing its junctions on a bike leads me to believe that Lewisham’s new policy is to kill as many cyclists as possible. The Plan should clarify whether this is what is meant by stating that cycle provision is ‘at the heart’ of planning for opportunity areas. Or, assuming this is not the case, it should explain what is meant by the statement.
The eastern approach to Lewisham station has two lanes for buses, one lane for taxis and no provision for cyclists.
I attended a January presentation of the New London Plan in Bexley. The room was packed. There was good provision for cycle parking outside the Civic Centre but there was only one bike there: mine. The staff car park had 30 bikes and 100 cars. Why isn’t cycling in Bexley more popular? Because the cycle network in the borough is so bad.
Bexley needs integration in a London-wide Cycle Network