The Mayor approved the “Crossrail for bikes” protected route through Parliament Square and along the Victoria Embankment and Upper Thames Street after it won overwhelming public support.
A total of 84 per cent of the 21,500 responses backed the plans for the east-west route that will eventually link Barking and Acton, and a linked north-south route between King’s Cross and Elephant and Castle.
Amendments to the scheme mean that “worst case” delays of 16 minutes have been cut to six minutes for morning rush-hour motorists driving from Limehouse Link to Hyde Park Corner.
Mr Johnson said: “We have done one of the biggest consultation exercises in TfL’s history. We have listened, and now we will act. Overwhelmingly, Londoners wanted these routes, and wanted them delivered to the high standard we promised. I intend to keep that promise.
“But I have also listened to those concerned about the east-west route’s impact on traffic. Thanks to the skill of TfL’s engineers and traffic managers, we have made changes to our original plans which keep the whole of the segregated cycle track and junctions, while taking out much less of the route’s motor traffic capacity – and so causing much shorter delays.”
TfL board papers being published this afternoon confirmed that the proposals are set to be ratified at a meeting next week, with “spades in the ground” from April.
The £41m central part of the route, between Tower Hill and the A40 Westway flyover at Paddington, is scheduled to be completed by April 2016 – making good the Mayor’s pledge to deliver a safer cycling infrastructure in the wake of a series of cycle fatalities.
TfL board members will next week also approve an upgrade of the CS2 cycle superhighway between Whitechapel and Bow, with work beginning on February 9, and the £17 million north-south new superhighway linking Elephant and Castle and King’s Cross. Construction will start on this on March 2.
Seven cyclists have been killed in the last 18 months on roads due to be improved.
The east-west route attracted objections from the Canary Wharf Group, the London Chamber of Commerce and the City of London Corporation but was supported by hundreds of major employers such as RBS and Unilever. The NHS trusts running London’s four major trauma centres backed the routes on safety grounds.
Projected traffic delays were reduced by up to 60 per cent by retaining two westbound lanes at three “pinch-points”. This will be done by narrowing the “both ways” cycle lane from 4m to 3m for short sections, at Temple, Tower Hill and in the Blackfriars underpass. Eastbound traffic will be reduced from two lanes to one lane as originally planned.
Mr Johnson was keen to reallocate space on central London roads in response to their changing use – the amount of vehicle traffic has fallen by 25 per cent in the last decade while the number of cyclists has doubled. Cyclists now account for a quarter of all traffic in central London in the morning rush hour.
Plans to extend the cycle superhighway between Paddington and Acton by removing an east-bound lane on the six-lane A40 Westway will be subject to a separate consultation later this year.
Crossrail for bikes is the central plank of the Mayor’s £913 million “cycle revolution for London”.
Mr Johnson said: “I now look forward to the transformation that these routes will bring – not just for people who cycle now, but for the thousands of new cyclists they will attract.
“Getting more people on their bikes will reduce pressure on the road, bus and rail networks, cut pollution, and improve life for everyone, whether or not they cycle themselves.”
Source: Evening Standard