A couple of very interesting meetings with Transport for London recently as part of its stakeholder engagement programme relating to plans for the East-West and North-South cycle superhighways.
One of the messages that came across was clear.
The proposals are not simply about getting people out of their cars in central London – the number of private vehicles in the middle of the capital is already relatively low and unlikely to get significantly lower without a major hike in the congestion charge, and according to TfL “motor traffic in central London has fallen by around 17% per cent since 2006/07” – but generating modal shift away from the buses and Tube.
Public transport is already under significant strain and likely to become more so as the population of London rises by 1.6 million by 2031, a point emphasised by today’s news via the Press Association:
“Transport for London (TfL) has announced that a weekly bus and Tube passenger journey record has just been broken.
“In the week beginning September 22 2014 a total of 76.1 million passenger journeys were made on London Underground (LU) and on London buses.
“This was made up of a record weekly total of 50 million bus journeys, while 26.1 million Tube trips were made.
“The combined total beat the previous bus-Tube record set in the week beginning December 9 2013 when many extra travellers came into the capital to see the Christmas lights.”
Officials recognise (as they’ve acknowledged on the consultation website) that there will be knock on impacts for other traffic, not just on the routes but also on the roads surrounding them.
As a way of mitigating these effects – and those created by 20 or so other road schemes being implemented by the end of 2016 – tens of millions of pounds are being invested to help prioritise buses at certain junctions to help keep bus journey times reasonable and passengers happy.
There are now some broad indications, albeit still provisional and based on an imprecise science, of potential casualty reductions.
Annual reductions of collisions involving injury to cyclists:
East-West 7 serious, 35 slight
North-South 2 serious, 11 slight
Total 9 serious, 46 slight, 55 overall
Approximate annual monetised benefit of reducing cycling collision:
So far TfL not made an accurate assessment of what reduction there might be in fatalities, though say it is reasonable to assume a number of fatalities will be avoided over the full life of a business case, which they emphasise is still at draft stage. (It’s not clear over what period the business case is being made but for most large infrastructure projects it would be at least 30 years.)
The plans form a major part of delivering the Mayor’s vision for cycling. It is worth noting what the other four key points of the roads and street plans to 2020/21 are:
- Ensure roads assets are fit for the future
- Deliver a programme of major highway improvements to: unlock economic growth and regeneration; optimise use of road space (for all modes); improve pedestrian, cycling and bus facilities; enhance urban realm and ‘place’ function; deliver safety improvements
- Deliver a further 40% reduction in fatalities and serious injuries on London’s roads
- Keep London moving
The question is: how compatible are all these aims?