The Guardian is the latest national paper to enter the debate about cycle lanes and congestion – taking a very different view to those expressed yesterday (5 Oct) in the Daily Mail and Evening Standard.
While articles in the Daily Mail and Evening Standard claim specialist lanes for cyclists are having an adverse effect on traffic flow and congestion, the Guardian has decribed the Daily Mail piece as ‘ill-informed’ and an ‘example of post-truth journalism’.
The Evening Standard covers a report by the City of London Corporation which concludes that traffic in the Square Mile is being made worse as a result of Cycle Superhighways.
First announced in 2008, Cycle Superhighways are routes running from outer London into central London and are designed to give cyclists ‘safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city’.
The report, due to be heard by the City’s police and resources committee today (6 October), says there are extra “pockets of congestion” linked to road space lost to cycle lanes.
It says the Superhighways, installed to protect cyclists, result in less space to re-route traffic when problems arise, such as street closures for construction sites and emergency roadworks.
In a separate article, the Daily Mail has described introduction of cycle lanes across the country as ‘lunacy’.
Written by Tom Rawstorne, the report says that ‘from Cambridge to Cornwall, lanes are being marked off for bicycles, and residential streets are being turned into rat runs by desperate motorists looking for a way past the jams’.
The reporter adds that motorists are seeing ‘gridlocked streets bordered by cycle lanes that seem virtually empty outside the rush-hour’.
Focussing on the Embankment in London, Rawstorne says ‘where once it could hold four lanes of traffic, a quarter of the road has now been given over to a dedicated two-way cycle lanes’, adding that traffic has been ‘brought to a virtual standstill’.
The Daily Mail points to statistics which show that average vehicle speeds in Central London have fallen to 7.4mph, slower than a horse-drawn carriage in the 18th century.
However, Peter Walker, in a ‘bike blog’ on the Guardian website describes the Daily Mail piece as an "almost entirely evidence-free, anecdote-based article".
The Guardian article says: "Let’s begin with the idea that London’s bike lanes are useless as they are only used at rush hours.
"They are certainly popular. Both the new so-called cycle superhighway routes have seen cyclist numbers shoot up by 60% since they were built, according to Transport for London figures. On one section, by Blackfriars Bridge, bikes make up 70% of peak-time traffic.
"Yes, at other times the traffic is thinner, though I can’t remember ever being alone on the lanes at any hour. But then, many residential pavements near me are barely used outside certain times. Perhaps the Mail thinks they could be turned over to cars, too."
Photo via DfT