January 27, 2011 – By Jen Noelken
London’s newest green initiative is up and working with positive statistical trends. Barclays Cycle Superhighways allow bicyclists a safer way to commute from the outskirts of London into the heart of London. The first two routes launched in July by Barclays Human Resources Director, Cathy Turner and London Mayor, Boris Johnson. With the launch, the Transport for London (TfL) office published figures showing a 70 percent increase over the routes since last year.
Representatives refer to the two part project initiative as “schemes.” The first scheme focuses on construction and use of the Superhighways. The second scheme focuses on development of a bike sharing program. Barclays purchased a London based bike sharing company from Mayor Johnson and will incorporate use into the Superhighways bike options. The bike sharing program based itself off Montreal’s program called “Bixi.” Six thousand bikes bearing the Barclays logo will be available for a daily access fee. Four hundred docking stations within zone one will allow for easy pick up and drop off of shared bikes.
The first launch features a route from Merton to the City (called route CS7) and a route from Barking to Tower Gateway (called route CS3). Each route is approximately 12.5 kilometers or just over 7.5 miles in length. Cathy Turner and others involved in the Cycle project placed bikers’ safety at the forefront of design.
Lanes must meet a minimum standard of 1.5 meters (just under 5 feet) in width, 37 mirrors (called “Trixi”) are fixed at junctions giving drivers better visibility of cyclists before turning, and “84 new Advanced Stop Lines at least 5m [roughly 16 feet] deep at junctions, providing a space for cyclists to wait ahead of queuing traffic.” Bike lanes are clearly marked giving cyclists direct and continuous routes through central London. The lanes are painted blue for easy visibility of routes and for bikers’ safety.
Sponsored by famous British bank, Barclays Bank PLC, the new Cycle Superhighways are intended to attract a healthier and environmentally-friendly alternative to motor vehicles. The heart of the program aims to improve cycling conditions for people already commuting by bike, encourage new cyclist, help keep people fit, decrease traffic congestion, alleviate overcrowded public transport, and reduce emissions.
Mayor Boris Johnson hopes the new Cycle Superhighways will help Londoners turn to pedal power for daily commutes. He goes on to state that he would like London to transform into a cycling city. Mayor Johnson wants people to see the benefits of biking for air quality, transportation issues, and for health and personal finances.
So far, statistical figures from TfL show growing percentages of cycle use in all areas studied. Routes CS7 and CS3 use have risen by 70% with an increase of 100% on some stretches during peak hours. Figures also show an increase of 34% of new cyclists using the routes since Barclays Cycle Superhighways launch. Many bikers remarked the safety standards allow them to feel more comfortable biking. But, as a bonus the bikers explained they commute via bike routes as a means for a healthier lifestyle, to save money, and make the commute more pleasant.
Chief Executive of London Cycling Campaign (LCC), Ashok Sinha, said he is excited to hear more Londoners are biking. He stated TfL and LCC members will continue to work together to increase the quality of the next routes. Sinha hopes the next routes will attract even more Londoners to use the Superhighways.
Barclays Cycle Superhighways are set to expand to 12 highly-visible blue cycle routes by the end of 2015.