Superhighways on the Euston Road?

If only, but it appears to be the latest claim from the increasingly erratic and imaginative twitter account Stop TFHell’s CS11.

There is no proposal for cycle lanes on Euston Road, nor is there one on Finchley Road. CS11 stops at Swiss Cottage. Regent’s Park isn’t having any cycle lanes (instead some gates are closed except between the hours of 11AM and 3PM in addition to existing night-time closures). Baker Street Two-way is showing less (and at that, pretty useless) cycle provision with every revision. Anyone who’d like to explain why “Barracks???” are a problem for having cycles even vaguely near them wins a pint. And as for HS2, well, with Crossrail vehicles having been involved in a series of fatal collisions around London it seems prudent to have an alternative safely engineered route for people to cycle away from those vehicles during peaks of construction. In short, if these are problems, CS11 is in many ways a good solution. And the idea that it’s going to destroy a chunk of London is absurd.

But CS11 is also quite a meagre scheme. It’s the removal of a gyratory, the reworking of a road for bus and cycle priority and the removal of traffic form a park. That’s about it. The sections of actual segregation are tiny. The consultation documents make clear that it won’t even link to another superhighway, such as the East-West or North-South routes.

Why are people getting so excited and imaginative about the proposed cycle network for London? Is it just because they think what’s actually proposed is quite meagre, and hard to oppose? What we are likely to see in the centre of London in the next few years is pretty minimal, and yet vital.

This is the likely situation after the current round of consultations if everything goes ahead (from a slightly tweaked version of the 2016 expectations from TfL for the Central London Grid)

Central London Cycle Grid 2016 - Lambeth - with CSEW2+NS

The blue are the superhighways, not all of these are segregated but the East-West route and the North-South look set to provide a high capacity in higher levels of safety and comfort than cycling has ever known in central London. You can see how isolated CS11 is coming out of Regent’s Park towards the top left. And you can (as I always like to note) see how bad things are in the west where Kensington and Chelsea are only willing to undertake quietway routes (purple), none of which provide a key East-West artery where it is needed around the way past Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens.

In next few years we’ll have a loose grid of incomplete routes, poorly connected with gaps. IF it all goes ahead. But that’s not to say we should be knocking back what’s coming and demanding something else. This is as much as has been possible to negotiate with current levels of political support. Rather, this is a bloody good beginning, and it’s more progress than we’ve really ever seen, but it’s fragile and can fail if progress stops.

 Mapping of the London wide outcomes of three years of Cycle Vision is rather more illustrative, than clear:

London Cycle Vision routes by 2021

But even that’s had things drop off since. CS11 reaches Barnet which is off the table at the moment. Note CS9 stops at Kensington & Chelsea, too. We know why that is. Curiously this map also appears to give up on the idea of CS5 ever reaching Victoria. And poor Havering got nothing. We were hoping to see a legacy plan from Andrew Gilligan before the election on the gaps that need to be filled, but from the map above the scale of the task still to be done is pretty obvious.

So don’t let this be the the weekend you forget to support at least the bits of cycle network near you. There are hours left today to support a range of important schemes. 

If you see a politician make sure you ask them how they will keep the cycle vision going. How would they get mini-hollands in more boroughs than the three above? (even if they’re foolish enough to claim a three year programme is rushed) How would they ensure a high quality network of superhighways and quietways, covering main roads and key routes and navigating busy, dangerous junctions is realised? The goal of the cycle vision is still far away, and it was imagined as an almost ten year strategy. It is the job of the next Mayor, to bring a London where cycling is a choice for everyone ever closer. Boris made a step, and it’s been a good one, but the next Mayor has to keep moving forward.