Plans to build an 18 mile segregated cycle lane through central London have been approved by the Transport for London board.
The final proposed East-West and North-South routes were unveiled last week by Mayor Boris Johnson but needed the backing of the TfL board before construction work could proceed.
This morning’s meeting heard objections from a number of board members including Peter Anderson, who is also Managing Director of Finance at Canary Wharf Group plc which says it has “concerns about congestion levels”.
Anderson said many organisations had written to board asking raising concerns which should be listened to, however the Mayor suggested a number of the letters had been co-ordinated by Canary Wharf Group as part of its lobbying against the routes.
Another member, Sir John Armitt CBE, raised concerns about the processes TfL had followed and the time given to board members to consider the case for proceeding with the scheme.
He went to say claim that the biggest danger to cyclists in London “is themselves.”
Transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy later advised the full board, including Sir John who is Chairman of the National Express Group, that a cyclist had been involved in a collision with a National Express coach while the meeting was taking place.
Mayor Johnson told members that the scheme would deliver big boosts to the capital’s economy and health and that it was sometimes necessary to push ahead with schemes that were right but initially unpopular.
He suggested that in five years time the majority of people would “love” the routes.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Johnson said: “We know that Londoners want these routes and that they want them to be delivered to the high standard I promised, as quickly as possible. I will keep that promise and spades will begin hitting the ground next month.
“Thanks to the skill of TfL’s engineers and traffic managers, we have made changes which keep the cycle track and junctions segregated, while taking out much less of the route’s motor traffic capacity. I now look forward to the transformation that these planned routes will bring – not just for people who cycle now, but for the thousands of new cyclists they will attract.”
Sir Peter added: “These schemes will revolutionise cycling in the capital and further demonstrate how London is leading the way in making its roads safe for all road users.
“There will, naturally, be some disruption due to these works but we have some of the world’s leading highway and traffic engineers, traffic models and modellers working tirelessly to ensure that this is kept to a minimum.”
Video: East-West Cycle Superhighway Post-consultation design
Today’s go-ahead has been welcomed by Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Group on the London Assembly, who said: “We need to move into the 21st century and embrace the fact that more and more people are cycling.
“I am certain that in a few years’ time we will look back in amazement at the fuss that has been created over the Cycle Superhighways. The debate over the Cycle Superhighways is now over. TfL must now get on and build them as soon as possible.”
Labour’s Val Shawcross commented: “The approval of these new cycle superhighways marks a massive step forward in the journey to make London’s roads more fit for cyclists.
“Londoners have waited seven years to see this kind of commitment to cycling from Boris Johnson. What nobody wants to see now is for that process to be further delayed by threats of legal challenges. Everyone has had their opportunity to contribute to this debate and whilst it’s clear some people have concerns, the plans TfL have developed enjoy wide public support.
“With work now set to begin to make these proposals a reality, our city will finally be on the road to making some of London’s most iconic streets safer for cyclists.”