Mayor announces final build plans for “Crossrail for the Bike”

27 January 2015

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today set out final plans for the construction of Europe’s longest substantially-segregated urban cycleways, the centrepiece of his £913 million commitment to get more Londoners on their bikes.

The revised plans go to the TfL board next week. Subject to their approval, construction of the routes will begin in March. Two continuous cycle routes, almost completely separated from traffic, will cross central London from east to west and north to south, opening up thousands of new journey opportunities.

Acting on concerns about delays caused to traffic by the east-west route, the final plans now retain two westbound traffic lanes on Upper and Lower Thames Street and Victoria Embankment, while entirely preserving the continuous, kerb-segregated cycle lanes and junctions.

These changes reduce the whole-route traffic delay in the morning peak hour, the worst affected time, by 60 per cent compared to previous proposals.

The Mayor, Boris 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 segregated cycle track and junctions, while taking out much less of the route’s motor traffic capacity – and so causing much shorter delays.

“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. 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.”

An overwhelming number of people – 21,500 - responded to TfL’s nine-week consultation on the proposals, with 84 per cent overall in support. More than a hundred major businesses on or near the routes, including Unilever, Royal Bank of Scotland, Deloitte and Orange, also publicly backed the scheme, as did all parties on the London Assembly.

Opinion polling showed that Londoners as a whole backed the scheme by 64 per cent to 28 per cent. But others expressed concern at traffic modelling figures predicting the scheme would cause a delay for motorists of about 16 minutes, in the busiest morning peak hour, on the worst affected journey – between Limehouse Link and Hyde Park Corner.

This journey is still the most heavily affected by the scheme, but the changes announced today mean that the delay is now reduced from 16 to just over 6 minutes in the busiest morning peak hour. Delays caused to other motor journeys have also been reduced by the changes. TfL is putting in advanced traffic management measures to assist with the management of these delays.

The planned east-west route will start at Tower Hill, where it will connect to the existing Cycle Superhighway 3 which runs east to Canary Wharf and Barking. From Tower Hill, the new route runs along Lower and Upper Thames Street, Victoria Embankment, across Parliament Square, to Hyde Park Corner and through Hyde Park, across Lancaster Gate and up Westbourne Terrace.

As originally announced, the section through Hyde Park will be consulted on next month and the second phase of the scheme, on the Westway flyover to Acton, will be consulted on later this year. Apart from a low-traffic tunnel adjacent to the Upper Thames Street tunnel, never proposed for segregation, the new superhighway is entirely physically segregated largely with bi-directional cycle track.

The amount of segregation will in fact increase slightly under the new proposals, with the superhighway routed away from a residential street at Lancaster Gate and a more direct, segregated route provided instead. Most of the improved traffic performance comes from relatively small changes to the plans which will remove key pinchpoints.

On the section between Tower Hill and Parliament Square, the road was originally planned to be reduced from four to two traffic lanes, one in each direction, at these pinchpoints - Tower Hill, Blackfriars underpass and Temple station - to fit in a 4-metre separated cycle track. ‎

The design of key junctions at these pinchpoints to accommodate this made it necessary to hold westbound traffic at Tower Hill, delaying vehicles coming in from the east on The Highway. Delays on The Highway will be substantially less after the changes to the scheme. The changes narrow the segregated track to about 3 metres over a short distance, in the underpass and at Temple station.

This and other changes will mean that the final plans now retain an extra traffic lane – two westbound traffic lanes - throughout the route. TfL has also acted on concerns expressed by some stakeholders about banned turns and road closures on the east-west route.

The final plans no longer propose a banned left turn into Fish Street Hill in the City, or a road closure at Horse Guards Road in Westminster. There will also be improved loading, disabled parking and motorcycle parking on Victoria Embankment, compared to the original design. Again, these changes do not have any effect on the provision for cyclists. The route in the Lancaster Gate area is being moved from a residential side street, Bathurst Street, to avoid the Hyde Park Stables.

A segregated track will be provided on the main road, Westbourne Street, instead. At the request of some stakeholders, TfL considered providing only painted cycle lanes or “light segregation” on the Embankment and Upper Thames Street instead of the planned bi-directional fully-segregated track. A paint-only or semi-segregated scheme would have required two cycle lanes, one in each direction.

Because of this, TfL engineers concluded that it would have taken a similar amount of roadspace and had a similar impact on traffic as the fully-segregated scheme now proposed, while providing significantly fewer benefits for cyclists and pedestrians. The planned north-south route will run from Elephant & Castle to King’s Cross, with full segregation on St George’s Road, across St George’s Circus, Blackfriars Road, Blackfriars Bridge, new bridge street and Farringdon Street to Stonecutter Street.

The east-west and north-south routes interchange with each other at Blackfriars. As originally announced, the planned route north of Farringdon station to King’s Cross, where Farringdon Road is too narrow for segregation in both directions, will use low-traffic back streets, subject to further consultation with the London Borough of Camden and London Borough of Islington, the highway authorities‎ Changes on this route, made in response to the consultation, include better provision for pedestrians at Ludgate Circus – with straight-across crossings, rather than staggered crossings as proposed, meaning pedestrians would be able to cross an arm of the junction in a single movement.

On both routes, there would be substantial benefits for pedestrians, with thousands of metres of extra footway, 22 new crossings and 35 shortened crossings and 41 crossings fitted with pedestrian countdown.

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, transport commissioner for London, said: “Cycling is clearly now a major transport option in London, with over 170,000 bike journeys now made across central London every single day. We have listened and considered every point raised as part of the consultation and have made design changes to ensure that we can deliver the best possible scheme for London.

“These projects will help transform cycling in London – making it safer and an option that more and more people can enjoy. At the same time, we’ve listened to concerns that were raised and have made changes that significantly reduce the effects that the new routes will have on other traffic. Our task now is to work in concert with businesses and local boroughs to ensure these plans are introduced smoothly with the minimum disruption possible. Subject to the final decision of the TfL Board, we will look to work day and night to deliver them as quickly as possible while ensuring that people and goods continue to move around London easily and efficiently.”

Notes to editors

1. Cycle use in London has doubled in ten years. Almost a quarter of rush-hour traffic on central London’s roads is now bicycles. Over the same period, motor traffic has fallen by 24 per cent on the Victoria Embankment (East-West superhighway) and by 44 per cent on Farringdon Street (North-South superhighway.) Between 60 and 70 per cent of all traffic on these roads is private cars and taxis.

2. Each of the new routes will have the capacity for 3,000 journeys an hour, equivalent to 41 full double-decker buses or five full and standing Underground trains an hour. Experience of previous schemes suggests that the new superhighways will shift substantial numbers of journeys from cars and public transport to cycling.

3. On 4 February, the TfL board will be asked to approve the construction of four new cycle superhighways (east-west, north south, cs1 and the inner section of cs5) and upgrades to the four existing cycle superhighway routes. In the 18 months to December 2014, seven cyclists died on these and other roads proposed to be upgraded in the superhighway programme – 30 per cent of all cyclist deaths in London over this period.

4. The route of the east-west superhighway was first announced in March 2013 and the north-south route in November 2013. The proposed routes were chosen because they have fewer of the usual features which make installing cycle lanes difficult, such as turns, bus services, residential parking, and kerbside activity.

5. Public consultation lasted from 3 September to 9 November 2014. TFL also agreed to requests from some key stakeholders to submit later responses. 44 webpages of detailed information were provided on the plans, including traffic modelling data and eight overview maps. Responses were solicited through extensive print, online and poster advertising, leafleting premises within half a mile radius of the routes, emails, social media and open public exhibitions.

6. Before, during and after the public consultation, there were extensive discussions with all key stakeholder groups. Since March 2013, TfL and the GLA have held hundreds of meetings on the plans with stakeholders, including the City of Westminster and the Corporation of London. Design workshops were also held. Groups and organisations were invited into TfL to interrogate the traffic modelling, with 12 specifically taking up this offer.

7. TfL received a total of 8,847 direct responses to the East-West Cycle Superhighway consultation. 73 per cent fully supported the overall proposals and five per cent partially supported them. TfL received a total of 6,309 direct responses to the North-South Cycle Superhighway consultation. 86 per cent fully supported the proposals and 3 per cent partially supported them. In addition, more than 5,600 emails were submitted to TfL via the London Cycling Campaign, supporting both the East-West and North-South routes. With these, the overall full support rate for both routes is 84 per cent and the total number of responses was 21,465.

8. Further consultations on revised designs for Lancaster Gate gyratory, the East –West route through Hyde Park and Constitution Hill and the junction with Northumberland Avenue will now begin on Monday 9 February.

9. Since the consultations began in September 2014, TfL has been working on the wider traffic management plans for central London to help reduce the traffic impacts of this and other schemes, including those proposed by London local authorities and developers. This includes further investing in our sophisticated traffic signal technology, which allows better management of traffic depending on differing conditions at any given time.

10. TfL will also work with businesses along the route to help manage deliveries in the best possible way, providing advise to enable them to move away from deliveries during the busiest times and help reduce unnecessary congestion across London.

11. The full consultation reports for the East-West and North-South Cycle Superhighways can be downloaded at: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/campaign/cycle-superhighway-consultations