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Bicycle Infrastructure

Cycling London’s Bicycle Superhighways

12:06 AM EDT on September 13, 2018

After years of incremental but frustratingly slow progress, London is making huge strides on creating a safe, all-ages bike network. The big breakthrough was the city's launch of physically protected "bicycle superhighways" that separate cyclists from motor vehicle over long, continuous routes. Two years after the first of these bicycle superhighways debuted, they are clearly making an enormous difference.

People are voting with their pedals. The number of bicyclists entering central London is now approaching the number of cars. At rush hour, people on bikes account for 70 percent of all trips over Blackfriars Bridge.

Under Mayor Sadiq Khan, London has budgeted £169 million per year to build out the bicycle superhighways and other elements of the bike network, according to the mayor's walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman.

The bicycle superhighways are not perfect. The bike lanes, although impressively wide, already can't contain the numbers of cyclists at rush hour. The speed of bike traffic can be so brisk that it intimidates pedestrians and discourages some people from getting into the habit of cycling. And advocates say the city needs to pick up the pace of implementing the bike network so "the brave" aren't the only ones out there.

But there is no denying that the bicycle superhighways are succeeding. Video footage of cyclists streaming over the routes is breathtaking. I visited London in 2015 and at the time I thought the city had a healthy level of cycling, but the bike network was only getting started. Returning to London this June, the changes were truly impressive. Enjoy this Streetfilm and hear from local riders, researchers, advocates, and public officials about London's push to become a great city for cycling.

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