London Announces Billion Dollar Bike Plan

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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