Cycle superhighways

MQT on 2014-10-22
Session date: 
October 22, 2014
Question By: 
Darren Johnson
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


How many cycle superhighways will be delivered by 2016?


Answer for Cycle superhighways

Answer for Cycle superhighways

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Darren.  The answer to your question - the short answer - is that there will be 11 completed or virtually completed, I believe, and one irreversibly begun.  It will be unstoppable!  It will be unumstoßbar, as they say in Germany.  I could give you the list of those if you would like. 

Darren Johnson AM:  No, that is OK.  No-one doubts now the quality of the new Cycle Superhighway plans that are coming forward compared to the original round.  However, in terms of actual completion, you are leaving an awful lot to the next Mayor of London, aren’t you? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I have just explained to you that actually we will do 11 out of 12.  I am sure the next Mayor of London will be a Conservative, but even if by some disaster, per impossibile, there should be a Mayor from some other party, it will not be beyond his or her powers I would have thought to complete one Cycle Superhighway if we have left that unfinished by 2016. 

Darren Johnson AM:  Cycle Superhighway (CS) 1 and CS11 are not due to be built by autumn 2016 and the CS4 extensions not finished until 2017.  The outer section of CS5 will be complete but not the inner extension.  You are leaving quite a lot to the next Mayor, are you not? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No.  My information is that we are going to have delivered all except one by 2016.  Therefore, I think you should rejoice.  Obviously, it is our job to get as much done as fast as possible. 

However, to get back to your first point, which was about the initial round of Cycle Superhighways, I reject the insinuation that they were all substandard schemes.  Obviously, some of them have worked extremely well.  Others like CS2 we have had to revise and to improve.  That will be the case, by the way, even with these schemes.  I do not think Londoners should run away with the idea that you can always model these things right in the abstract first time.  We will do our level best, but every scheme is going to be subject to improvement and revision. 

Darren Johnson AM:  Your own Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, has been quite ‑‑

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  He is London’s Cycling Commissioner. 

Darren Johnson AM:  ‑‑ scathing about some of the original Cycle Superhighways that were put in before he came into office.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It is a feature of those arriving in office not necessarily to be full of praise for everything that has gone before in order thereby to intensify the magnificence of their own achievements!  That is just a fact of human nature that we have to grapple with.  I differ from Andrew [Gilligan] on that.  I think that actually what we did with the Cycle Superhighways was right.  Yes, you could improve them and we are improving them, but there is a great legacy to build on. 

Darren Johnson AM:  You are redoing a number of sections of them and that suggests that you do concede there were major shortcomings with the original round of Cycle Superhighways. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I always approach these things in a spirit of absolute humility because you can never be certain when you embark on an intervention on the roads whether it is actually going to work in the way that you think it is going to work. 

Darren Johnson AM:  People told you at the time ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Some of them are working fantastically well.  On some of them obviously - like at Bow Roundabout - it was necessary to make significant improvements.  Now, as a habitual user, for instance, of CS2 at Bow Roundabout - and I do not whether anybody else uses it a lot - I think it is vastly improved. 

Darren Johnson AM:  People told you ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That junction is now superb and it is infuriating when I see people actually ignoring the very, very useful traffic lights that we have installed and still jumping the lights.  They are absolutely crazy to do so. 

Darren Johnson AM:  People warned you at the time, though, as the plans were coming forward that merely splashing blue paint on the road, not providing segregation and not redoing the junctions properly would actually lull people into a false sense of security and would not provide any real protection for cyclists.  That has been proved right, has it not? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I disagree.  I do have a fundamental disagreement about this with many people.  I do not think that it is actually sensible everywhere to provide full-scale segregation.  You cannot do it on London’s streets.  They are too narrow.  The space is too heavily contested.  It would be disastrous for the economy and it would be disastrous for other road users.  Therefore, it is not a runner.

I do not despise the use of blue paint.  Blue paint can actually make a huge psychological difference to the environment.  It makes it clear to motorists that this is a place ‑‑ 

Darren Johnson AM:  If it is done with other measures, yes.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ where they are going to find cyclists.  All I am telling you is that I just think it is a shot that we need to keep in our repertoire because, if you want to expand cycling in London, you are going to have to continue to be inventive.

Darren Johnson AM:  Finally, huge numbers of cyclists have expressed deep concern about the chairing arrangements for Transport for London’s (TfL) Finance Committee and the fact that the chairman of that committee, which will be making decisions on the funding for the Cycle Superhighways, is a senior director of one of the main companies that have been lobbying against the Cycle Superhighways.  Surely there is a conflict of interest there.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Peter Anderson [Managing Director of Finance, Canary Wharf Group plc] is a distinguished member of the TfL Board and at the beginning of every Board meeting he rightly declares and registers his interest, as do the representatives of the private hire vehicle trade, the taxi trade and everybody who has a very serious interest in this matter.

Darren Johnson AM:  When you have a pecuniary interest, the expectation should be that you leave the room and not take part in the decisions. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It would be very rude if people who knew about this matter were forbidden from discussing it.  Clearly, the taxi trade and the private hire trade likewise could be said to have a direct pecuniary interest in the outcome of the Cycle Superhighway plans because it is their contention - and we have to take it very seriously - that this would lead to substantial delays in London and make it more difficult to get around.  We want a Cycle Superhighway. However we are going to have to get one that is optimal rather than maximalist, if I can put it that way. 

Darren Johnson AM:  It means one that Peter Anderson has to be happy with, then, clearly. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is not necessarily the case.  It may be that into every life some rain must fall, Darren, and that is the way it is sometimes. 

Darren Johnson AM:  Thank you.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Sometimes a city has to do some bold and ambitious things.