Saturday 8 September 2012

Open Submission to West End Commision

The West End Commission are currently asking for submissions on how the West End should develop over the coming years, with a substantial focus on transport issues. Anyone interested in cycling in London should get in touch with them here and have their views heard:

I've coped my submission below here in case anyone (is lazy) and fancies simply copying and pasting something similar to what I've written. A lot of this is ripped of the wikipedia page on Utility Cycling anyway...

Inviting for a cyclist? Not really... On the plus side at least all these taxis and vans are making the West End far more dangerous, polluted, congested, and noisy, than any cyclists would.

Dear Sir or Madam,

My evidence is relatively brief so I have contained it within this email as well as copying it into a word-document that is attached. As a London resident and frequent West End visitor, I would like to express in the strongest terms how much I believe the West End could improve its current cycle provision. 

I will first list the benefits that increased cycling rates in the West End would bring. I will then list a number of ways to bring about this increase.

Potential benefits of significantly higher cycling rates:

- Less congestion on the West End's narrow roads and at busy tube stations during peak times. 1 car takes up about as much space as 4 cyclists on London's roads. Moreover the vast majority of cars in the West End contain only one person, the driver. Therefore, creating significantly higher cycling rates will inevitably lead to an easing of congestions on the West End's streets, and also less of a pressure on already creaking tube services.
- More direct, reliable, and quick transport. Cycling is a very fast way of getting from place to place across Central London. Unless you get a puncture it is also far more reliable than either tube or bus services. Moreover, you don't have to worry about traffic jams so it is also more reliable than taking a taxi. So the West End will also benefit from more reliable transport times by encouraging cycling.
- Less air pollution. This point should need no expansion.
- Fewer deaths in Central London. Though cyclists do pose some level of hazard to other cyclists and pedestrians, they overall pose far far far fewer dangers to either groups than cars do. So for every motorist that you replace with a cyclist you make Central London a safer place to walk and cycle around. This can only help to encourage tourism and spending in the West End and make it a more pleasant (and safer!) place to live, work, and visit.
- Better health of West End residents, workers, and visitors, because they are getting more regular exercise.
- Increased tourism due to attraction of visiting a borough with high cycling rates. Copenhagen and Amsterdam both benefit massively from tourism generated by cycling culture.
- Reduced noise pollution from traffic.
- Increased amounts of local spending since cyclists spend far more at local shops on their route than motorists do.

How to increase cycling rates:

- Infrastructure is the most important factor. This requires political will and financial investment. It includes:
* Safe, protected, cycle paths (in line with international best-practice in countries like Holland and Denmark) on major roads like Shaftesbury Avenue and Oxford Street. I would strongly advise working with TfL to introduce a central London Barclays Cycle SuperHighway as this will give the West End both free publicity and financial aid with building a cycle network through the West End.
* Large, safe cycle parking spots created in key locations near tube stations, big theatres, big squares etc. Cycle Parking provision is currently awful in the West End
* Intensification of the Boris Bike scheme (i.e. increasing existing docks, building more docks to create more bikes and more spaces)
* Creating contra-flow routes through areas like Soho to allow cyclists to take direct routes through the West End without having to follow a circuitous one-way system designed for motorists. This involves taking away one side of on-street parking to allow for a cycle lane to be put in place. The City of London have already done this to many roads in the City to great effect.

This will all take both strong political will and reasonable financial assistance. But the potential benefits for the area are enormous.

Many thanks for your time,

George Johnston

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