The Mayor’s Cycling Commissioner gave an update on the cycle vision to those who attended the rally about the Space For Cycling Big Ride. We’ve transcribed the speech so we can check on progress and share with our members.
As Chris Huhne said to Vicky Pryce, I’ve got three points to get over to you:
First, what we have been doing.
Second, what’s happening next.
And third, what we need from you to make sure that it does happen.
First thing up, six weeks time, is our first zone one, segregated cycle route. Detailed designs published for consultation in July, construction starting in October. It’s the inner section of Cycle Superhighway 5. It will be a fully segregated track from Westminster, across Vauxhall Bridge, and all the way through the nastiest gyratory in London, Vauxhall gyratory. A completely traffic free route, which will make a significant difference for thousands of cyclists. That’s coming in July, construction in October.
Then, in September, our plans for the Oval itself, segregated lanes, on cycle superhighway 7, to be constructed later this year.
Also in September, detailed consultation on a further three, new segregated cycle routes.
The East-West superhighway, that’s the one through the city, Parliament Square, and in front of Buckingham palace. Fully segregating it. The place where you are standing now, will be on a segregated cycle route. It won’t be quite as full of bicycles as it is today, but about a quarter of the road will be given over to protected cycle lanes with a track all the way down this street.
Consultation in September, construction starting next year.
Next in September, the long awaited upgrade to Cycle Superhighway 2. That’s Aldgate to Bow. That will be fully and semi-segregated. Fully segregated for about 65% of the way with kerb segregation, wand segregation for the rest. New cycle safe junctions, fully protected to de-conflict cyclists and turning traffic. That’s September, consultation in September.
And finally, the final one of the three in September is the North-South Superhighway, which will run along here, across Blackfriars Bridge. With this, this, this is going to be the main junction point. This junction is going to be remodeled. It’s going to go from Elephant & Castle to King’s Cross. Also, fully segregated with a bit of low traffic streets at the northern, right at the northern end where the streets are too narrow to get a segregated cycle way in. All those in September, construction beginning next year.
Then in October, Cycle Superhighway 1, from The City to Tottenham. A remodeling of the Apex Junction in Shoreditch and the remodeling of the Old Street roundabout, which is going to be ripped out, and replaced with a fully segregated scheme, whose designs I approved last week.
Next month, too, we are starting to build our first two quietways. Quietway 2 from Waterloo to Greenwich (where I happen to live). Quietway 38 from Bloomsbury via Islington (where the Mayor lives) to Hackney.
And we’re preparing another six [quietways], which we will announce over the summer. But every one of those schemes, I’ve just described has had to be fought for. And that’s my point one as it were, I’m doing it second, what we have been doing. Every single one of those schemes has had to be fought for, negotiated over months with the boroughs ,who own 95% of the roads. With local businesses. With residents. With the people who run the buses, who are going to take significant impact in some of the schemes. With TfL traffic management, with the police. With other stakeholders, including parliament, the royal parks, and indeed with the Royal Family because this is going right past Buckingham Palace.
Now I understand the impatience at this grinding process, but that is the price of living in a democracy. It’s the price of making changes to what are highly contested spaces. This closure itself, we’ve had god knows how many emails about this closure. It’s going to cause traffic jams all over, and this is like two hours on a Saturday afternoon. So that’s, that’s the kind of thing we’ve been fighting on a much larger scale.
I have to say also, consultation, engagement, that kind of thing usually takes a while. But usually it is in practice quicker than trying to bulldoze through change, which risks causing backlash and delay. Now there are people here, I know, who say that because they can’t see the cycling programme happening it can’t be happening at all. But it is happening, and that’s what we’ve been doing. There are no magic wands, there are no shortcuts in any of this.
But it’s not over. Don’t think for a second that it’s over, we’ve taken a time to bring potential opponents on board but some of these plans and others will still I predict cause a lot of opposition. We are taking away road space, we are taking away parking, we are taking away some bus lanes. And that is where we need you. The next six months are going to be a test of strength. We will see whether the forces for cycling are stronger than the forces against cycling. We are already seeing significant opposition building up to some of our schemes. In Enfield, for instance, there is actually a candidate standing in the council elections in Palmers Green next week. Against, specifically against our mini-holland scheme, which is going to give £30 million pounds to Enfield. But that’s the kind of thing you’ve got to fight, you’ve got to get in there. You’ve got to fight the fight where it needs to be fought. Not always City Hall, you can slag us off if you want, god knows, I really don’t mind. But basically you’ve won the argument there. The place you’ve got to fight is on the ground, locally, in the boroughs, starting with the elections on Thursday and I look forward to joining the fight with you. Thankyou.