Boris Johnson has announced ambitious plans for a network of “high-quality” cycle routes across the capital.
Set to be opened over the next four years, the routes will be built parallel to, and named after, Tubes lines to aid navigation.
The centrepiece will be a 15 mile ‘Crossrail for the bike’, a “substantially” segregated cycle track running from London’s western suburbs through to Canary Wharf and Barking.
City Hall says the route, which will run along the Victoria Embankment and the Westway flyover, will be the longest of its kind in Europe.
Mayor Johnson said: “The Westway, the ultimate symbol of how the urban motorway tore up our cities, will become the ultimate symbol of how we are claiming central London for the bike.”
The routes are part of a new £1bn cycling vision unveiled today by the Mayor and will require the support and co-operation of London’s boroughs which control local roads.
Other measures include spending more on making road junctions safer and funding an eight officer police team dedicated to investigating cyclist collisions with HGVs.
Transport for London will also trial eye-level traffic lights for cyclists which, if successful, it will lobby the Department for Transport for permission to roll-out on the road network.
The vision document also proposes trialling an electric bike hire scheme and working with Network Rail to create a “bike superhub” at a mainline terminus with space for “thousands of bikes and very good cycle routes radiating from it.”
Speaking on Thursday, the Mayor said: “I want to de-Lycrafy cycling. I want to make it normal, something for everyone, something you feel comfortable doing in your ordinary clothes.
“Our new routes will give people the confidence to get in the saddle. I do not promise perfection, or that London will become Amsterdam any time soon. But what I do say is that this plan marks a profound shift in my ambitions and intentions for the bicycle.”
Video: Cycle Boulevard Concept
The Mayor’s vision has been welcomed by the London Cycle Campaign which described it as “one of the most ambitious plans to promote cycling ever produced by a major UK political leader.”
LCC Chief Executive Ashok Sinha said: “Although it could be improved and we are yet to see the details, which will be critical to its success, the Vision represents a major leap in political ambition and funding for cycling over the next three years, and is an unambiguous commitment to learning from international best practice as called for by LCC supporters.”
The Mayor’s plans include a number of recommendations set out in Gearing Up, a recent London Assembly report on cycle safety.
However the Assembly’s Transport Committee has expressed concern that the Mayor lacks the funding needed to deliver his vision.
Committee Chair Caroline Pidgeon AM said: “Far from seeing evidence of a serious commitment to a ‘cycling revolution’, the Mayor’s vision lacks ambition for his pledges to make London safer and more inviting for cycling.
“While £913 million may seem an impressive figure, its impact will be diluted over ten years and is not a significant advancement on current funding levels. To have real impact, we’re calling for the investment in cycling to be doubled.”
Val Shawcross, Labour London Assembly Transport Lead, said: “The schemes announced today are very welcome and will go a long way to increasing cycling in our city. However, TfL announced this £913million investment in cycling in December last year, this is the Mayor re-announcing funding again.
“The proposals detailed today are welcome. It’s a shame it’s taken this long for Boris to announce them, if he’d started them sooner he would be opening them now. We will have to monitor the Mayor’s plans closely to make sure they are actually delivered and don’t become another ‘Boris Island’ that never comes to pass.”