Funding behind Cycle Hire also comes in for heavy criticism

London Assembly sharpens knives for Cycle Superhighways

The London Assembly has issued a critical report on the two London-based cycle initiatives launched this summer: Barclays Cycle Hire and Cycle Superhighways.

The Cycle Superhighway scheme has, in particular, come in for heavy criticism – particularly for failing to encourage new cyclists. In a survey held by the body, just one per cent of respondents were revealed to have started cycling specifically because of the superhighways. One third of respondents used the two Superhighway pilot routes occassionaly, and one third used them several times a week.

TfL responded to the Assembly’s Transport Committee, authors of the report, and said that the first two Superhighways have improved journey times and ‘smoothness of journeys’ for existing cyclists, while also seeing some behavioural changes in increasing cyclist numbers.

The Committee stressed that it supported both schemes, despite the criticism.

“The cycle superhighways do not appear as popular with new cyclists as the cycle hire scheme,” said Valerie Shawcross AM, Chair, Transport Committee. “Users of the pilot cycle superhighways have told us that they do not feel safer using these routes and they are not always respected by other road users. There are clearly lessons to be learned from the design and development of the pilot cycle superhighways. These should be applied before the roll out of the future cycle superhighways to ensure these are safer and attract many more new cyclists.”

Funding concerns
The Transport Committee also called for TfL to be more open about the cost and performance of both the Cycle Superhighways and Cycle Hire initiatives.

The report blasted: "The costs and funding arrangements for the cycle hire scheme remain opaque. TfL has not told the Committee how much Barclays has paid to date for its branding of the scheme. The argument that all details of the relationships between TfL and Serco and Barclays are confidential is not a compelling one.

"The details of these deals determine how much of the costs of the scheme have to be met from farepayers at a time of huge pressure on TfL’s finances. It is in the public interest for these details to be made available to the Committee. This would be in line with the Mayor’s commitment to transparency about public expenditure.

"The Mayor and TfL should publish the amount of sponsorship obtained to date from Barclays and the conditions to be met for future sponsorship. The Mayor and TfL should also set out clearly how the expansion of the scheme eastwards will be paid for and the number of additional cycle trips it is expected to generate."

London Mayor Boris Johnson and TfL have been given a March 2011 recommended deadline to answer the Committee’s criticisms of the Hire and Superhighway initiatives.

Read more on the report here.

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