Outer London Is Losing Out On Cycling Funds

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 28 months ago
Outer London Is Losing Out On Cycling Funds
Photo by DAVID HOLT from the Londonist Flickr pool

Most of the money spent on cycling by Transport for London and City Hall is going to inner London, says Assembly Member Darren Johnson.

Of cycling cash spent between May 2008 and May 2016 — the length of Boris Johnson's tenure as mayor — £314m has gone to inner London and £75m to outer London. Projects like cycle hire, cycle superhighways and safer junction reviews have overwhelmingly targeted the inner boroughs, despite outer London being ripe for a cycling revolution. The Green AM points out research that shows half of all London suburban car trips could be cycled in 10 minutes, yet just 133,000 of the 2.7m outer London journeys that are cycleable are actually done by bike.

The focus on inner London is understandable from a visibility point of view, but will mostly appeal to those commuting to work in central London or tourists. It's also not going to do much to address the perception that cycling in London is for white middle-class men. But it's in outer London, where most residents have access to a car, where the real progress into making the capital a cycling city could be made.

Darren Johnson says that the £300,000 allocated to each of 13 outer boroughs for three years wasn't enough to pay for major changes — the engineers to draw up new plans, for instance. So in Brent, the money was spent on road signs and cycle training, but no new cycle lanes or redesigns of junctions. Of the 12 cycle superhighways — announced, lest we forget, under Ken Livingstone — only five are are up and running. CS1 will open later this year; CS5 currently stops at Oval when it was meant to run to Lewisham. Three outer London boroughs will have any kind of cycle superhighway by May 2016.

Johnson, Darren, has several suggestions for whoever succeeds Johnson, Boris. More funding of course, in line with share of journeys — cyclists make 2.5% of all trips in London but cycling gets 1.4% of TfL's budget. This could be because trains are more expensive to run; but many cycling improvements are initially expensive with vastly diminishing maintenance costs.

He also advises closer working between TfL and boroughs, making provisions for confident and less experienced cyclists and not being afraid to set bold targets. There are also a few ideas that will set motorists' teeth on edge (it's sad that London's road users seem to be constantly at each others' throats, but there we go), including TfL taking over borough roads if necessary.

Last Updated 09 January 2016

Continued below.


Simple return on investment. Schemes are decided based on demand or, with predictive traffic modelling, expected demand, and that demand is easier to find focused along particular roads in Inner London. In the outer boroughs cycling is more distributed so lower cost features which cover a wider area like 20mph zones, quiet ways and converting wide footways to shared use will be more likely to have a ROI.

Sam Jones

I feel that TFL have taken a purely logical approach to planning cycling routes. There is as Charles said a basic economics behind it, you have limited funds and therefore have to get the best return you can for the tax payer. It would also appear to me that as the bulk of accidents involving cyclists are where the majority of the work is going on. Equally as you go further out the roads take on a different nature and these large scale lanes may not be what is needed, there is also more "politics" in the outer parts of London by their more residential nature, Few of us complain if a street in Mayfair is dug up but roadworks in your street you may have a moan!

Greg Tingey

Oh no it isn't!
Waltham Forest have been given £30 million of DfT money to completely WASTE on so-called "mini-holland projects, that actually, do nothing for cycling at all, whilst buggering up all the locals.
A total waste of money that could have been well-spent, you know, on CYCLING.
Incidentally, LBWF's moves have been well-hated by the local inhabitants.
[ Oh yes, before anyone shouts "evil motorist" - for short, local journeys - I cycle, & I've been cycling since 1957. ]