TfL commissioner Mike Brown made an impassioned plea for Londoners to keep faith with its measures to improve cycling in the city and vowed to continue its plans to develop streets as places as much as for movement.
Commissioner Brown was speaking last night as he opened the NLA’s new show on streets and roads in the capital, ‘Streets Ahead’, during what he branded ‘an extraordinary time for our great city’. London’s roads are the arteries of the city, with more than 80% of all journeys made by people and 90% of all goods made on the road network, said Brown. But it was important to move on from the findings of the mayor’s Roads Task Force, said Brown, building on its recognition that they should accommodate both place and movement. ‘It’s both - a road is not just for movement; it is about space in London.’
TfL has developed streetscape design guidance to this end, while other pressures include a growth in development, online shopping, minicabs and cycling. ‘By 2030, we forecast that there will be something like 5 million extra trips on London’s road networks by public transport’, said Brown, ‘aside from the 30 million we see right now.’ Investment to keep pace includes £4bn to spend on the roads network, maintained through budget cuts.
But on the cycle superhighway scheme, Brown was forthright. ‘I am unapologetic – I am a huge defender of our cycle superhighways. Although they may reduce some road space for motorised vehicles I have to tell you, to avoid a single death or serious injury for cyclists makes all that investment worthwhile. Those who are critique it or are critical of it, I have to tell you, I think you’re wrong. Cycling will continue to grow.’
The background to the show is how to accommodate London’s growth, with the city growing by two busloads of people every day and a whole tube train full every week, said NLA chairman Peter Murray.
Congestion has not been helped by construction schemes, but this is easing off, claimed Brown, while on the tubes, a record 36 trains will soon be running per hour on the Victoria line, and further work will be done on new river crossings to the east.
Ultimately, said Brown, the scale of London’s growth represents a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity to make the changes to the road network that are needed’.