London Announces Billion Dollar Bike Plan

Proposed routes for bicycle "superhighways" serving London commuters.

New Yorkers already envious of London’s congestion pricing system have a fresh reason to look wistfully overseas. A few hours ago, London Mayor Ken Livingstone unveiled a £500 million ($940 million) program to build extensive new bike networks and launch a Velib-style bike-for-hire system. Bike Biz has the scoop:

With the introduction of a central London bike hire scheme with 6,000
bikes available every 300 metres, cycling will be accessible to many
more Londoners and will become a fully-funded part of the public
transport network for the first time. This is not quite a Velib scheme, but it’s a start.

There will also be new commuter cycle routes from inner and outer London and cycle zones around urban town centres.

In a statement released this morning, Livingstone cast the program as part of a historic shift away from automobile use, and cited Paris as inspiration:

The aim of this programme is nothing short of a cycling and walking
transformation in London. We will spend something like £500 million
over the next decade on cycling – the biggest investment in cycling in
London’s history, which will mean that thousands more Londoners can
cycle in confidence, on routes that take them quickly and safely to
where they want to go.

The cycle hire scheme in Paris has proved a huge success, and I
have now instructed Transport for London to work with the London
boroughs and interested parties to develop and implement a bike hire
scheme in central London, accessible to all Londoners. By ensuring that
Londoners have easy access to bikes in the centre of the capital, as
well as making our city a safer and more enjoyable place to cycle, we
will build upon London’s leading position as the only major world city
to have achieved a switch from private car use to public transport,
cycling and walking

The Independent, Bike Radar, Reuters, ePolitix, and This is London all have coverage of the plan.

There are five components described in the Mayor’s announcement:

  • A Central London bike hire scheme, similar to the recently
    launched Paris scheme, with up to 6,000 bikes located across docking
    stations every 300m so Londoners and visitors have quick and easy
    access to a bike. This will be supported by a series of easily
    navigable routes so that people can enjoy London’s sights by bike.
  • Around a dozen radial Cycling Corridors for commuters to provide
    high-profile, easy to follow cycling streams into central London.
  • The creation of a series of Bike Zones for shoppers and the school
    run in Inner and Outer London, with cycle priority streets, 20mph speed
    limits and quick, clear and simple routes that link key local
    destinations and open parks and waterways for cyclists.
  • The expansion of the Legible London signage system to help people
    make short trips around the capital on foot, rather than driving, or
    taking the bus and tube.
  • Working with the London Boroughs on the establishment of 200
    Streets of Gold – urban makeovers which link key local destinations
    like stations, schools and shops in inner and outer London with high
    quality walking facilities, delivering improved pavements, seating and
    crossings alongside regeneration measures.

Image: This is London

  • ddartley

    “New York: Encourage cycling and see more leg!”

  • Josh


    I wanna move to London.

  • Byron

    Take note, Mayor Bloomberg! Let’s get something like that here in NYC!

  • Yeah we’re waiting for Edinburgh Council to get the message too!!

  • Gwin

    Please tell me that graphic is a joke. A woman riding a bike in a business suit and without a helmet, clumsily holding something (a briefcase?) in one hand? What a joke.

  • It depends what you mean by a joke.

    Posed? – probably

    No helmet – pretty normal where lots of people cycle –

    Luggage on handlebar NOT a good idea –

  • Andy B from Jersey

    People do this all the time in countries where they don’t have to worry about getting mowed over when they make the slightest wobble while riding. However I agree that there are plenty of practical storage accessories that allow people to keep both hands on the bars.

  • I read about Livingston, I read about Daley, heck I read about Bloomberg…then I realize that it’s considered a miracle when my Mayor (Villaraigosa of Los Angeles) agrees to ride transit once a week…

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Ditto on the practical storage accessories, Andy! For me, a bike without a rack is practically useless, and I’m constantly amazed to see the number of bikes without them in NYC. Especially delivery bikes. WTF?

  • Braddy

    London, don’t forget about bike stations. Indoor bike storage with changing facilities, please.

  • Marcus

    Notice the large gap between Victoria, Piccadilly and Holburn; biggest pain in the arse place to ride in town. That’s where they really need the route.

    My girlfriend rides to work in skirts on her big old dutch bike (albeit with a helmet and panniers). The graphic is from the Evening Standard (newspaper), not from Red Ken.

  • Mitch

    People do this all the time in countries where they don’t have to worry about getting mowed over when they make the slightest wobble while riding.

    Even if there is no car anywhere in sight, there’s always some risk that you’ll fall off your bike and onto your head. If you do get hit by a car, there’s a serious risk that you’ll be injured somewhere other than the head, or suffer such an impact that a helmet won’t make much difference.

    I wear a helmet, but not for protection from cars. I’ve been hit by a car once (got a broken collarbone; a helmet would have been irrelevant), but I’ve had multiple spills (due to snow, ice, gravel, mud on pavement, or my own stupidity), and I’ve come close to hitting my head on a few of those. I used to know someone who got a terrible concussion from riding into a friend’s wheel on a training ride.

    I get the impression that people ride less aggressively in Amsterdam and Copenhagen than they do in the US, and I’ve also heard that the pavement is in better shape in northern Europe than in most American cities, so they might be at less risk from the kinds of crashes that cause head injuries. Even so, it would probably be a good idea for them to wear helmets, too.

  • Brooklyn

    Please, Mitch, you need some handling skills; maybe a bike fit so you’re properly positioned and not thrown off at every bump and hole on the road.

    Not to defend statistics, but there are no statistics by anecdote. Anecdotes, close calls and speculation are _always_ recited by helmet pentecostals. Your self-negligence and poor cycling habits have nothing to do with me.

    There’s risk in every mode of transport. Leave it at that.

  • curmudgeon

    Using your handlebar as a luggage carrying device (unless it’s a center-mounted handlebar bag) is a bad idea, which has little to do with getting “mowed over by cars.” If the object hanging from the ends starts swinging, two things can happen:

    1. The object is heavy enough that slight wobbling or maneuvering will cause the object to start swinging, and thereby “steer” the handlebar on its own against the cyclists wishes, leading to a loss of control.

    2. The object–often a plastic or cloth shopping bag–swings right into the spokes behind the fork, causing the front wheel to lock up, and the cyclist goes over the handlebar. I know an avid cyclist from a local club who was severely injured this way, spending weeks in the hospital.

  • Angus is right about the lack of racks and baskets on delivery persons’ bikes. They often ride around with both handlebars laden with multiple bags of food. The recently enacted law should have required the merchant that employs them to provide racks or baskets.

    In addition, many bicyclist-shoppers will hang a bag or two from the handlebars:

    It’s not the safest thing in the world but certain items (like a cake from the bakery) would get ruined on a rack with bungee cords holding it down. The alternative is holding the bag with one hand and bicyling with the other, which is none too safe either.

    And one sees women riding in skirted suits in NYC, as well–but they do tend to wear helmets:

    All that said, without question there is a strong dose of crass sex appeal in the UK cycling promotion efforts. My favorite example is this video:

    Of course, the Brits are downright prudish compared to what you see on the Continent . . .

  • This photo gives some idea of the amount of shopping that some people are willing to carry by bike – using panniers.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I have a pair of large panniers that come off easily and have shoulder straps. When I lived in Albuquerque, I regularly used them to buy groceries, since it’s difficult to find housing there that’s reasonably priced, relatively quiet, and convenient to jobs and the university – and walking distance from a supermarket.

  • Gary

    After visiting the Netherlands this summer, there is certainly a different culture on helmets in Northern Europe and lots of stuff is carried and stowed on bikes. But separated bike lanes and generally bigger heavier more stable bikes and a less aggressive cycling style are also probably factors.


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