Boris Johnson has approved plans to build an 18 mile segregated cycle lane through central London after a public consultation found overwhelming public support for the scheme.
The “substantially” segregated cycle track will run through Parliament Square and along the Victoria Embankment and Upper Thames Street and will be the longest such lane in Europe.
More than 84% of those who responded to a consultation backed the scheme which has also been endorsed by all parties on the London Assembly.
The original plans predicted delays of up to 16 minutes for motorists on some sections of the route, prompting complaints from a number of stakeholders, including the Canary Wharf group.
To address these concerns the scheme has been modified to reduce the lane from 4 metres to 3 metres at Temple Tube station, Blackfriars Underpass and Tower Hill.
As a result the maximum delay to motor traffic is expected to be six minutes.
Mr Johnson told MayorWatch the original delay “was too much” and that it was possible to achieve the original aim of a fully segregated cycle route while causing less inconvenience to motorists.
The Mayor’s cycling ambassador Andrew Gilligan said the scheme would “transform cycling in central London” by providing “a completely seamless cycling route all the way from east to west and north to south.”
He said changes to the scheme proved the consultation process had been “genuine” and that the changes needed to reduce delays were “quite small but bring a huge amount of benefit for motorists.”
Mr Gilligan predicted that the route would open up cycling to rider “of all abilities, not just fit young men in lycra.”
Commenting on the Mayor’s announcement, Canary Wharf Group said the scheme “is better than it was” but that it still had concerns about congestion levels.
Spokesperson Howard Dawber commented: “Canary Wharf is calling for a trial period – like during the Olympics – so we can see how the scheme works in practice and make any necessary changes.
“With such a big scheme it will be important to get it right. We would urge that the TfL board looks at this very carefully next week.”
However the Mayor’s decision to proceed with the scheme was welcomed by members of all three opposition parties on the London Assembly.
Green Party AM Darren Johnson who said the scheme “will be a major contribution to make our streets safer for people who wish to cycle.”
He added: “A large section of this superhighway will not be finished until after 2016, along with around half of the Mayor’s superhighways and the majority of the work to create safer junctions.
“There are hundreds of dangerous junctions across all areas of London, but this Mayor will manage to finish ten by the time he leaves office.”
The TfL board is set to give final approval for the scheme when it meets next week.
Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly, said: “I welcome the green light for the Cycle Superhighway and that the fundamental principle of segregated cycle lanes for cyclists has not been compromised at any point.”
“An extensive consultation has taken place and thankfully the voice of progress has prevailed. Making sure it is now built quickly will be the next challenge”.
Labour’s transport spokesperson, Val Shawcross AM, said: “Decent cycling infrastructure is important not only to increase safety on our streets but to encourage more people to take to their bikes.
“Boris’ record on cycle infrastructure has been shaky to date, but we’re finally witnessing a step in the right direction. If executed properly, these plans have the potential to make a massive difference to cyclists.
“I welcome the fact that TfL have consulted widely on this project and, despite some concerns, have been able to design a broadly workable solution. It is clear the extra time listening to people’s views has highlighted the depth of public support for improved cycling infrastructure in the capital.
“Like many Londoners I am looking forward to such an iconic location becoming safe and welcoming for all cyclists”
There’s also been praise from London Cycling Campaign. Rosie Downes, the organisation’s campaign manager, said: “This is a huge first step towards what the Mayor promised the London Cycling Campaign and our supporters at the last mayoral election.
“We commend him for this bold move that will help tackle congestion, reduce road danger, improve our air quality and make London an even more fantastic city for everyone.”
The scheme needs to receive a final go-ahead by the TfL board before it can proceed.
Cycling campaigners have previously objected to the presence of Peter Anderson, managing director of finance at Canary Wharf Plc, on the board in light of the firm’s opposition to the scheme.
Asked whether he expected the full board to back the scheme when they meet next week, the Mayor said: “We’ll have to see but I’m confident they will.”