Laura Laker reports on how Cyclists make up a quarter of London vehicles, says TfL:
A mass census of cyclists in London shows that the bicycle is no longer the transport of the minority
Cyclists make up an incredible 24% of vehicles in London’s morning rush hour, according to Transport for London (TfL) figures .
The arresting statistic formed from a mass census of cyclists in London – apparently the biggest of its kind to date – is adding weight to campaigners’ and cycling proponents’ arguments that the bicycle is no longer the transport of the minority, and that we need to take the bicycle seriously as a means of mass transport.
The numbers on some headline routes are perhaps not surprising to anyone who has squashed in with scores of cyclists at the traffic lights in London’s morning rush hour, though they do make previous cycling targets look shamefully unambitious.
At Theobalds Road near Holborn, bikes were 64% of all vehicles heading west, while Elephant and Castle, one of London’s most notoriously frightening roundabouts for cyclists (which Boris Johnson once said was “fine” for cyclists) saw 903 cyclists per hour head north to the city centre between 7am and 9am.
Unsurprisingly, the bridges score well (they are the only way for cyclists to cross the river). London Bridge, for example, averaged 660 bikes an hour over the whole day (6am to 8pm), or 47% of vehicles. In Amsterdam, meanwhile, 60% of inner city traffic is bikes.
And yet spending on cycling in London is still a tiny portion of the transport budget.
London’s new cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, told the Guardian: “Cycling is clearly a mass mode of transport in central London and until now it hasn’t been treated as such.
“Nearly all provision for cycling is based on the presumption that hardly anyone cycles, that you can make do with shoving cyclists to the side of the road and that just clearly is wrong.
Since Johnson’s cycling vision was launched in March, there have been fears that the proposed £913m funding for cycling will suffer at the hands of George Osborne’s spending review, due tomorrow.
Gilligan remains optimistic, however, and says although the money is a lot more than previously spent on cycling, it’s not a lot compared to TfL’s overall budget. As Sir Peter Hendy, TfL’s transport commissioner, noted at the cycling vision’s City Hall launch, we get more for our money from cycling infrastructure than for other mass transport systems. He wants to make cycling “one of his highest priorities”.
As campaigners point out, urban cycling is still dominated by a minority. The next goal is surely to get everyone else on a bike.
The London Cycling Campaign’s chief executive, Dr Ashok Sinha, said:
“The latest cycling figures from TfL simply underline that, given the right circumstances, a large proportion of London’s population would opt to cycle to work.
“The ultimate goal must be to enable people of all ages and backgrounds to feel safe enough to cycle for everyday local journeys, not just commuters. The good news is that Boris Johnson gets this and understands that investing in cycling saves money in the long run. That’s why he must resolutely defend his impressive new cycling programme from impending Treasury cuts.”If this many people can get on their bikes in London’s cramped, crowded streets, it seems the sky’s the limit. Perhaps Norman Baker was hasty in saying we’ll never be like the Netherlands.