We've talked a lot about Boris Johnson before at TreeHugger - he's the London mayor that amazingly escaped death by an out-of-control lorry truck while out touring London's cycling facilties. He's also the man that seems to be trying to bring better cycling infrastructure to London. where cycling grew 117% in the last decade. But as dedicated cyclists such as Gaz, author of the video, try out the new "Cycle Superhighways" as they are called, reports are compiling that the Johnson's "highways" are really just old-style bike paths splashed with blue paint, offering no new safety or ease benefits to city cyclists, especially at the most dangerous points - intersections.Last week, Johnson announced the routes, two of which are expected to officially open July 19 and run from east London to Tower Gateway, and from south London into the City. An additional 10 routes are planned to take cyclists from the outer edges of the city into the center.
Any advances for cyclists are of course welcome news to the commuters braving the streets each day, but advocates aren't entirely pleased with the superhighways' design.
The UK's national organization the Cyclists Touring Club told the Guardian:
"Boris has chosen a nice Tory blue, which he seems to have modelled on the blue cycle lanes you get in Copenhagen.The problem is that he has only taken the colour and not the design. In Copenhagen, bike lanes are often three to four metres wide. Here, the only guarantee is that they will be 1.5 metres in width, which isn't nearly enough." - Chris Peck, the CTC's policy co-ordinator.
The main thing London's cycle superhighways don't do is separate cyclists from cars, especially at intersections. Increasingly in the Netherlands a cycling highway means something quite different, and is a much more ambitious roadway for cyclists, frequently running near a freeway or highway but physically separated from it.
While some commenters to this Guardian story want people to cut the London Mayor some slack as he attempts to make the infrastructure more cyclist friendly, others gripe that it's a case of bluewashing the bike paths cyclists were already using.
But in spite of having to share the road with buses, lorries, and passenger cars, cyclists will be getting 52 new safety features, according to the announcement made by Johnson last week. This is to include identifying high risk areas and creating "preventative" measures. Cycling is now "recognised as a major transport mode," according to the new plan document, which is available for download here. There are provisions for increased secure bike parking on the streets (66,000 spaces by 2012) and in building facilites, and Johnson also promises to make planning for cycling an integral part of city designs.
Read more about London cycling at TreeHugger:
Cycling Mayor Saves Environmentalist
Sneak Preview of London's Bike Rental Scheme
London Needs to Set Walking and Cycling Targets for 2012