NLA supports Cycle Superhighways, encourages its members to as well

nla-logoBased in central London just off Tottenham Court Road, NLA (New London Architecture) is a focal point of the discussion about architecture and how it affects the city. Through a programme of conferences, talks and exhibitions, NLA brings professionals and the public together to discuss the future of London’s built environment.

NLA Chairman Petre Murray (FRSA)  released a statement Tuesday supporting the Cycle Superhighway plans and placing them in the context of what it takes to be a world-class city today.

peter-murrayTransport for London is currently consulting on the creation of two new cycling superhighways: an East West route from Acton to Tower Bridge and a North South route from Elephant and Castle to Kings Cross. The consultation period runs to 9 November 2014.

The new routes propose a fairer reallocation of road space, more in line with the actual usage of the road network, and reflect the growth in cycling which currently represents 24 per cent of rush hour traffic. Vehicle numbers in London have been falling in recent years – by 28 per cent on Victoria Embankment and by 30 per cent on Upper Thames Street – while cycling has more than doubled.

However, internationally London is lagging behind in the provison of cycling infrastructure. The latest “Copenhagenize” index of cycling friendliness London does not even appear in the top 20 cities, falling behind major European cities like Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and Dublin. The new super highways aim to reduce conflict between cyclists and motor vehicles and to provide safer, more comfortable journeys for cyclists.

NLA has always promoted the idea of a more human city as set out by Jan Gehl, a city where people rather than vehicles top the hierarchy in central locations. Cycling is a part of a global shift towards active transportation strategies which are healthier, cleaner, quieter and increase social interaction. These new proposals would provide a net increase of over 4,000 square metres of pedestrian space – widened footway, traffic islands, bus and coach stops – along the route.

NLA has presented numerous events related to the development of healthier urban strategies including the FitLondon exhibition earlier this year. If such strategies are to have any real impact it is essential that cycling in London is made safer to allow all those who wish to ride, but are concerned at the perceived dangers.

NLA believes that London’s economy depends on attracting young talent to work in the capital. Cycling to work is a key consideration for many new graduates just joining the workforce, particularly in some of the dynamic young industries, such as TMT sector, that London is seeking to encourage.

While there would be some longer journeys for motor vehicles at the busiest times of day on some parts of the routes, journey times generally would increase only slightly and some journeys would be shorter.

The biggest increases in journey times would occur east of Tower Hill, although TfL will be employing techniques which were successfully used during the Olympic Games to reduce these. Techniques such increased enforcement against illegal parking and loading, a freight management and consolidation strategy, encouraging drivers to use alternative forms of transport, and ‘smart’ travel demand management to provide more comprehensive and specific travel advice to road users. We would urge companies and authorities affected by these changes to work with TfL to generate appropriate solutions rather than seeking to disrupt the progress of the project.

In addition, the proposals would encourage cyclists currently using other roads east-west through the West End and City, to transfer to the new route, reducing conflict between motorists and cyclists on these mixed-traffic streets.

The cycle superhighway is cheap infrastructure: it would have a capacity of around 3000 cyclists an hour in both directions. This is the equivalent of the capacity of around two and a half trainloads on the District and Circle Underground lines that run beneath a large part of the Cycle Superhighway. The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling needs to be seen in the context of a move towards an active transportation strategy for London where cycling, walking and public transport are seen as part of an integrated strategy instead of separate and conflicting silos.

The consultation documents for each of the routes and can be found here and here.

NLA urges its members to respond to the consultation; to comment on detail and support the overall proposals.