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Has TfL finally got it right?

26 Nov 2013 London
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Transport for London has announced its cycling plans for Nine Elms, the new quarter on London’s South Bank – and campaigners say the organisation might finally have cracked it.

TfL says that Nine Elms is “a unique opportunity to design-in a high cycling mode share”; in other words, an area which is built for cycling from the ground up, rather than grafting cycling lanes onto existing roads. As their document says:

“Cycling has potential as a mainstream means of transport when every journey in and around the area can be made by bike. This requires a route network that links all origins and destinations and is as safe, direct, consistent and well-connected as possible.”

To achieve this, they promise to take guidance from the Netherlands, the undisputed world capital of urban cycling. On main roads, “continuous segregated cycle tracks will be provided, separated from traffic and pedestrians”. Bus stop bypasses will be provided to reduce conflict with motor traffic.

Meanwhile, on residential streets, 20mph limits will be imposed, and bollards and other blocks placed to stop through car traffic – the “filtered permeability” model popular in Hackney. There’ll also be off-road trails (or Greenways), including a full cyclable path along this section of the River Thames.

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain is jubilant, writing: “The Embassy feels that this is a document which TfL should be proud of, and it should form a blueprint for all cycling projects.”

Cycling academic Rachel Aldred agrees: “I was very happy to see a Strategy that did not constantly hedge its bets with ‘where feasible’ and ‘where practical’.”

And if the reality should fall short of the ambitious plans, one Nine Elms resident will be the first to notice. The Dutch Embassy itself will be moving into Nine Elms in 2017 – and no doubt they’re expecting cycle facilities as good as at home.

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