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'Crossrail for bikes’ set for March construction start

Mayor of London Boris Johnson is to press ahead with plans to build Europe’s longest segregated urban cycle lane through central London, with construction work likely to start in March.

A consultation on the scheme received 21,500 responses, of which 84% backed the plans for the east-west route that will eventually link Barking and Acton, and a north-south route between King’s Cross and Elephant & Castle.

Transport for London (TfL) board papers published today confirmed that the proposals will be ratified at a meeting next week.

Construction of the £17M north-south route will start on 1 March. Work on the £41M central section of the east-west cycle lane, between Tower Hill and the A40 Westway flyover at Paddington, is likely to begin in April and take a year to complete.

However, Johnson has agreed to amend the original proposals to appease opponents of the scheme. The east-west route attracted objections from the Canary Wharf Group, the London Chamber of Commerce and the City of London Corporation.

The revised route means that “worst case” delays of 16 minutes have been cut to six minutes for morning rush-hour motorists driving from Limehouse Link to Hyde Park Corner.

Two westbound lanes will be retained at three ‘pinch-points’ by narrowing the ‘both ways’ cycle lane from 4m to 3m for short sections, at Temple, Tower Hill and in the Blackfriars underpass. Eastbound traffic will be reduced from two lanes to one lane as originally planned.

The Mayor explained that the cycle lane is a response to the changing use of central London’s roads; the amount of vehicle traffic has fallen by 25% in the last decade while the number of cyclists has doubled. Cyclists now account for a quarter of all traffic in central London in the morning rush hour.

Johnson added: “We have done one of the biggest consultation exercises in TfL’s history. We have listened, and now we will act. Overwhelmingly, Londoners wanted these routes, and wanted them delivered to the high standard we promised. I intend to keep that promise.

“But I have also listened to those concerned about the east-west route’s impact on traffic. Thanks to the skill of TfL’s engineers and traffic managers, we have made changes to our original plans which keep the whole of the segregated cycle track and junctions, while taking out much less of the route’s motor traffic capacity – and so causing much shorter delays.”

An upgrade of the CS2 cycle superhighway between Whitechapel and Bow will also be approved by TfL, with work beginning on 9 February.

Plans to extend the cycle lane between Paddington and Acton by removing an east-bound lane on the six-lane A40 Westway will be subject to a separate consultation later this year.

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