What makes a cycling strategy – Strategy commitment is defined when challenged

Andrew Gilligan

Its up to you

In delivering the objectives of the Vision, the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling gives strong hints as to what is the favoured approach. This indicates that segregation of cyclists from other traffic is preferred, particularly on major roads, that quietways should be as direct as possible, and that the most popular and dangerous junctions for cyclists should be tackled first with a preference to more substantial schemes at a few, rather than smaller schemes at a lot of junctions.

Saying words in a strategy, and saying what they mean in terms of delivery, is fine. In some ways that is the easy bit. But as I have continually said, getting buy-in to what the words of the strategy means is essential. And for that, you need a strong leader.

Ultimately, the responsibility for leadership on the delivery of the Mayor’s Vision rests with the Mayor himself. But much of the leadership responsibility for cycling in London now rests with the Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan. I have yet to experience Mr Gilligan’s leadership or engagement on cycling issues, so I will leave comment on that to other blogs.

What Mr Gilligan will need to show is reasoned leadership. Clearly he will be keen to deliver the Vision, but at the same time he needs to foster debate between different parties who have different priorities on what will be the best solutions to deliver the Vision. Even if decisions are taken that make one or more people or groups unhappy, its better they are unhappy and understanding than ignored and angry.

There is much evidence in the strategy that shows that even within TfL there is still much conflict when it comes down what the Vision means on the ground. No more so when the issue arises of cyclists conflicting with buses.

With the proviso that nothing must reduce cyclists’ right to use any road, we favour segregation. Most main roads in London are, however, also bus routes

Where it is not possible to segregate without substantially interfering with buses, we shall install semi-segregation

London Buses do have some perfectly valid concerns. They operate one of the densest and most popular urban public transport networks in Europe – certainly in the UK. The development of the network over many years has no doubt played a key role in overall traffic in London reducing. The network is prioritised throughout much of the central area, and anything that may delay bus routes is likely to incur extra operational costs due to more buses being needed to keep up the service frequency, and lost revenue. And it is much more desirable to have people travelling around London is buses than in cars.

I get the impression from the strategy that many of the more difficult infrastructure questions are being delegated to the London Cycle Design Standards, and so it should be. As i mentioned yesterday, it is not the place of strategy to outline solutions to every possible problem, least of all more detailed technical issues. So the refresh of this design guidance will be critical to the success of the vision.

But translating this vision even into this guidance will require strong and reasoned leadership, both at senior officer and political level. As Get Britain Cycling rightly states, without this leadership – even in the face of sometimes hostile opposition – any strategy is doomed to fail. Only time will tell if Mr Gilligan is up to the task.

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