East-West Cycle Superhighway, and Transparency Consultation

Our last Newsletter covered the proposals for a new East-West Cycle Superhighway along the Embankment and Upper/Lower Thames Street.  Readers of the last newsletter were urged to strongly oppose the proposal which would reduce a lot of the road to one lane, increase traffic congestion and substantially increase journey times based on Transport for London’s (TfL’s) own predictions. This article is an update on the status of these proposals.

This writer wrote personally to the Mayor, Boris Johnson, on the 5th October explaining what was wrong with those proposals and suggesting he needs “to listen to the general population, not to a prejudiced minority of cycling fanatics”. I pointed out that there has not been a proper cost/benefit analysis of the proposals and the public consultation was grossly defective. I also made it very clear I would not be voting for any candidate for Mayor of London who supports these proposals.

Just before Xmas I got a response from Mr Johnson. Among the statements therein are:

“The route of the East-West Superhighway has been chosen to minimise impacts on other users…”.

“The proposed cycle track would, for the most part, replace only one traffic lane”.

“TfL continues to assess the potential impacts of the proposals…..”.

The fact that not all the route is reduced to one lane surely does not help. If you introduce bottlenecks on a major thoroughfare the overall capacity of the route is reduced.

Meanwhile in mid-November Howard Dauber of the Canary Wharf Group appeared on BBC TV News spelling out the objections to the scheme. In particular he stated that the “mitigation” measures being considered by TfL imply the holding back of traffic on main arterial routes. So for example using traffic light control to reduce traffic entering this route from the East (i.e. from Canary Wharf!). Mr Dauber seems to be trying to generate wider opposition to the scheme, and may be developing alternative proposals.

The City of London Corporation have also considered the matter and raised a number of objections. For example, they expressed concerns about the impact on pedestrians, and that TfL should “consider alternative design measures to ensure a resilient road network and demonstrate how the network will accommodate planned and unplanned road works“. They also asked for more time for consultation and a different approach by TfL when such major proposals are being developed (like everyone else, they don’t like being presented with an almost final design without any prior consultation).

Incidentally on the latter subject, TfL have issued a public consultation on “Transparency” about how they wish to be “open and accountable”. As one of the least open and accountable organisations in this writers personal experience, you may like to submit your own comments as I have done. TfL’s public consultations tend to be more of a PR exercise that real public engagement, with the key decisions already set in stone.

Will TfL and the Mayor listen? We wait to see, and the results of the public consultation on the East-West Superhighway are yet to be published.

Note that I have also taken up this issue with my GLA Member and my Member of Parliament (I think it is a national issue as well as just a London issue when the capital’s road network is being destroyed by political dogma).

Roger Lawson

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