Connect with Tim PharoahConnect with Tim Pharoah

Why promote cycling in central London?

What problem is the promotion of cycling in central London intended to solve? What impacts does a high volume of cyclists in Central London have on the safety and performance of the transport system, and the quality of street life? Why should cycling in central London be given higher priority than promoting cycling in outer London, where public transport is more difficult to provide, distances on average are longer, and where a looser urban form makes the provision of cycle facilities easier?

The cycle superhighways encourage cycling on the main radial roads into central London, especially for commuting at peak times. Most of these radial roads have insufficient space for segregated cycle facilities, and so increasing the number of cyclists introduces a stronger intensity of competition between modes, and consequently increases the potential for conflict. The focus on commuter cycling in particular fuels the conflict because this category of cyclist tends (in London) to ride fast to overcome the longish distances involved.

The cycle hire scheme (Barclay Bikes or Boris Bikes) is unlikely to reduce traffic levels in central London. Car use forms a small part of movement in central London, and the new cycle journeys will be switched mainly from walking and public transport. 

What is the point of a mode shift to cycling in central London?

  • Reduces public transport revenue
  • Introduces delays for bus passengers when bikes hinder buses (as they frequently do).
  • Increases potentially hazardous conflict between buses and cyclists, which is inevitable on London roads with insufficient room for segregation, and bot user groups needing to use the nearside lane.
  • Increases hazards for pedestrians.
  • Makes little difference to overcrowding on public transport.
  • Makes little difference to car commuting.

Are there benefits?

  • Health benefits - for the cyclists
  • Freedom from public transport overcrowding - for the cyclists
  • Cheaper commuting - for the cyclists

What benefits are there for non cyclists?

LocationLondon England


London, suburbs, central London, cycling, promoting cycling, transport priorities, Boris Bikes, Barclay Bikes, cycle superhighways