As Bike Week comes to a close, a new report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows that the central target in London’s ‘cycling revolution’ is fundamentally flawed [1, 2]. The report demonstrates how the Mayor’s Transport Strategy is actually anticipating a slow down in the growth of cycling, and calls for the Strategy to be revised if we are to improve quality of life in the capital and reduce pressure on the countryside.
Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner for CPRE, says:
“The target to increase cycling in London from two to five per cent of all trips by 2026 is as lacking in ambition as it is flawed .
“Transport for London assumes that it is not feasible to cycle for journeys of more than five miles. Yet its own surveys of busy routes show that average cycle commuter journeys are already seven miles long today .”
CPRE’s report, ‘Backpedalling London’s cycling revolution,’ calls for a fundamental change in the way cycling is planned for. In particular, London should not shy away from being as ambitious as big continental cities like Berlin and Munich, which are rapidly catching up with established cycling cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
Much more effort is needed to increase cycling in outer London, where cycling levels are much lower than they were in 1990 , but no funding has been identified to do this. Instead the Mayor’s Transport Strategy has suggested a different way to go by removing strict planning presumptions against road and car parking expansion. Rather than increasing motor traffic and tarmacing over green spaces in and around London, CPRE wants to encourage people to reconnect with them. Increasing cycling to and through the countryside is part of CPRE’s 2026 Vision for the Countryside .
Ralph Smyth continued: “Shifting just three per cent of trips to cycling, which the Mayor claims is very ambitious , would have limited benefits for congestion, health and climate change. With London’s population growing, we need to make more efficient use of available land if we are to avoid building new homes, roads and parking spaces on the Green Belt and other green spaces. Boris Johnson is well known as an enthusiastic cyclist, so we urge him to shift up a gear in his aspirations – at the moment he is in danger of freewheeling if not backpedalling.”
Notes to Editors
1. Campaign to Protect Rural England, ‘Backpedalling London’s cycling revolution,’ 20 June 2010
2. www.bikeweek.org.uk 19-27 June 2010
3. The MTS2 was published on 10 May 2010. The cycling target, which has been downgraded since 2006, is set out in section 5.13, available at: www.london.gov.uk/publication/mayors-transport-strategy
4. Atkins, ‘TLRN Cycling Scheme Monitoring Report,’ July 2007 www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/businessandpartners/final_monitoring_july07.pdf
5. Figure 7.3 on page 117 of Travel in London (2009), shows that cycling levels around London’s boundary are 20% lower than in 1990, while in central London cycling has more than doubled. It is available at: www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/corporate/Travel-in-London-report-1.pdf
6. CPRE launched 2026 - A Vision for the Countryside in May 2009, setting out a positive and optimistic vision for the future of the beautiful English countryside in 2026, the charity’s centenary year. The Vision’s key issues include: affordable, high quality housing; urban regeneration; Green Belts; more walking and cycling; better planning; green energy; local food and farming; quality of life; light pollution and valuing the countryside as a national asset. For further information go to www.cpre.org.uk/campaigns/environment/2026-a-vision-for-the-countryside.
7. Mayor answers to London: mayor.london.gov.uk/mqt/public/question.do?id=31092
• CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is a charity which promotes the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England. We advocate positive solutions for the long-term future of the countryside. Founded in 1926, we have 60,000 supporters and a branch in every county. President: Bill Bryson. Patron: Her Majesty The Queen. www.cpre.org.uk