Boris Johnson vows to continue with safer cycling streets after judge said authority ‘took advantage of pandemic’ to create car-free zones  

Politicians plan to continue with low-traffic neighbourhoods despite a High Court ruling 

(Image credit: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has vowed to continue with safer cycling and walking streets, after a judge said authorities had “taken advantage of the pandemic” by creating car-free areas. 

In November the government released £175million of funds for local authorities to create safer infrastructure for people walking and cycling, including wider pavements, segregated cycle lanes and the closure of residential streets to through traffic. 

But schemes across the country have faced some opposition, which resulted in a  legal challenge by taxi drivers about a number of projects in London. 

Last month the High Court ruled that Transport for London’s Streetspace programme of cyclist and pedestrian friendly streets was rushed through without proper consultation. 

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson said authorities should “crack on” with making streets safer for those not using cars, The Times reports.  (opens in new tab)

Johnson said: “There is always opposition to these schemes but as the polls show and as I found in London the majority support them and we should crack on.”

Writing in The Times, Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner Chris Boardman said it is a negative minority opposing these schemes with concerns that are “either unfounded or proven to be surmountable.” 

In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Streetspace scheme has resulted in wider pavements and cycle lanes across the city, but the High Court ruling has paved the way for a series of other challenges from taxi drivers.

Transport for London has said it will appeal the ruling. 

 Public opposition to new bike lanes is overestimated by 50 per cent, according to a recent study.

Research carried out by YouGov on behalf of Cycling UK found that more than half (56 per cent) of people supported government schemes to create new cycle lanes and initiatives to encourage people to walk and cycle more.

Only 19 per cent opposed the creation of new bike lanes, while 10 per cent strongly opposed them.

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Meanwhile, when asked whether the public was in favour of these sorts of schemes, 29 per cent of respondents said they thought the general public was opposed to them, while only 33 per cent of people thought the public was supportive of them, compared to the 56 per cent who actually do.

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.