The independent London newspaper

Cycle lobby are peddling myths

15 October, 2020

• IN his letter Will Coles repeats three myths perpetuated by the cycle lobby in their efforts to reduce road capacity in London, (The only way to reduce congestion is to get people out of their cars, October 8).

The first is that there would be no problem if it were not for private car drivers. This is simply not true.

The number of private cars on the roads of London has been steadily falling for years, as has the number of people taking the driving test.

The total number of vehicles has increased as a result of the rapid growth in light vans delivering online purchases and Uber-type taxis. Neither are going to be deterred by the recent restrictions.

On February 11 The Guardian quoted Professor Tony Travers explaining that: “London has achieved the impossible by eradicating the private car-and still having desperate traffic congestion”.

The second myth is that the only victims of the recent road measures are “those who want to drive wherever they want”. Tell that to ambulance and other public service drivers.

I do not drive in London but I do walk a great deal and as a pedestrian my welfare is impaired by the increased air pollution on roads forced to carry more traffic, with less capacity, and by the impediments these new schemes impose on my ability to do something as simple as cross the road.

The third myth is that the best way to reduce congestion is to get more people on to public transport. What this forgets is that, before lockdown, the Underground system was already running close to capacity.

The most important part of London public transport is the bus system. This carries far more passengers than the tube. But, by reducing the capacity of our roads traffic in London is now moving at an average of 8mph compared with 12mph in the Victorian era.

The impact on buses is even worse. Thanks to the new cycle lanes and other traffic restraining measures, they now travel at 4mph, or less than the speed of walking, and have begun to lose customers in the last few years.

You only have to go to Euston Road to see the appalling impact of these new schemes on the buses, as cycles now force all other traffic into one lane.

The cycle lobby has actually achieved the opposite of what they claim to be their aim. Even before lockdown there were fewer people travelling by bus and the recent spate of measures has made this situation much worse.

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