Scrap the term “Cycle Superhighway”, London Assembly tells Mayor

The term "Cycle Superhighway" suggests and promotes speed and ought to be replaced by another term,  says the London Assembly in a new report. London’s Cycling Infrastructure was produced by the Assembly’s transport committee and was published on Friday. The report recommends that Londoners themselves could be asked to provide a new name for London’s kerb-protected cycleways

The report is also critical of how cycling infrastructure provision has slowed under Sadiq Khan. The London Mayor has done little to “build on the momentum” of his predecessor, says the report.

More cycle parking should also be provided, urges the report, and dockless bike schemes should be more closely monitored by Transport for London.

The committee had requested evidence on cycle infrastructure from cycle and other organisations and had also called from submissions from members of the public. High-Profile cycle champions gave evidence to the committee in person, including Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner Chris Boardman.

Boardman told the committee: "political courage [is needed] to upset the status quo … This is seen as a political issue, and it is not. Every survey that is done says the public wants [cycle infrastructure], but everybody assumes that this is going to be a political problem. That is because we just give way too much emphasis to the vociferous minority … We need to give much more weight to the quiet majority in making decisions."

Clearly, the committee listened to Boardman for its report concluded: "Any change is disruptive, but it is our view that the benefits of new infrastructure – when properly planned and built – outweigh the costs."

The report adds: "London will not become a cycle-friendly city overnight. It will take sustained political effort over many years to build a network that people of all ages and abilities will want to use. Without strong Mayoral leadership, this will take even longer. The Mayor must pick up the pace in getting new cycle infrastructure built across London."

And it would help it terminology was changed, say the Assembly members on the committee:

"We have heard that the term ‘Superhighway’ creates the wrong impression for what this infrastructure is supposed to deliver. It appears to emphasise cycling long distances at high speed, which may not be the best way to attract a wider range of inexperienced people to cycle."

Ask for a new name to a provided by the public, suggests the report.

And provide more cycle parking. Network Rail in particular was singled out for not providing enough cycle racks at some train stations.

Transport for London should set out “clear steps” on how the rising demand for cycle parking will be met, which partners will be involved and how the infrastructure will be funded, said the Assembly’s report

TfL’s director of transport strategy Lilli Matson told the transport committee that Network Rail has been dragging its heels on cycle parking. A new cycle parking ‘superhub’ at Waterloo station, with space for 5,000 cycles, was due to be opened in 2018 but according to reports Network Rail rejected the plans due to "safety concerns". 

The committee called on Network Rail to explain why there is no mention of cycle parking in its latest strategic business plan through to 2024. “It is frustrating London has not been able to follow other cities in delivering more cycling parking at transport hubs,” complains the report, pointing to the facility at Cambridge train station, which provides nearly 3,000 cycle parking spaces.

The Assembly’s report urges TfL to duo more to encourage but also better police dockless bike hire schemes which have the potential to boost cycling levels in the capital. More should be done to make sure dockless bikes are parked in designated spaces, suggests the report.

The committee noted that the previous mayor’s cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan had complained of delays in implementing new Cycle Superhighways. “He has identified nine TfL-led schemes (Cycle Superhighway routes and cycling enhancements to junctions and roundabouts) which have been designed, traffic-modelled and formally consulted on, that were still not completed, and, in some cases, not started or cancelled almost two years into this Mayoralty,” stated the report.

TfL should publish a timeline for the six new cycling routes announced by Khan in January, the report says. More are due to be built by March 2023, and, urges the Assembly’s report, “we ask TfL to set a date by which the detailed schedule for delivery of the 19 remaining routes will be published."

Citing research by Rachel Aldred, reader in transport at the University of Westminster, the report said that more must be done to provide for cycling growth in outer London. In some outer London boroughs injury odds per cyclist can be be up to seven times higher than in central and inner London boroughs. 

The committee highlighted the work done in Waltham Forest, which, thanks to network developments and street calmings, has seen a 42 percent rise in the number of people cycling in the borough in 2016 compared with the previous year.

“Businesses were generally resistant to the Mini-Hollands when they were first proposed but feedback on the changes has generally been positive,” the report says. “A recent survey of Business Improvement Districts found over 85 percent agreed that a good environment for walking and cycling is important to business performance.”

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