London’s cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, has said the London Taxi Drivers Association would be “wasting their money” on a judicial review over the city’s new cycle superhighways.
This week the LTDA said it is considering legal action over a consultation process on the East-West route it has said was “flawed”, arguing there was not enough time or information given over the effect of the segregated cycle routes on congestion and air pollution.
The segregated Dutch-style East-West and North-South cycle superhighways, which will criss-cross central London, were given approval by Boris Johnson this week following overwhelming support from the city’s employers and cyclists, including rival taxi firm Uber.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly Gilligan said of the LTDA’s judicial review: “I think they are wasting their money – they can try and challenge the consultation process but it was very extensive – we didn’t hold any information back, we had a huge response, overwhelmingly in favour, so I think they will have difficulty.”
Gilligan said he was “very pleased” with the final scheme, adding he will seek final approval from Transport for London’s board on February 4 for four routes, including the CS2 upgrade, the North-South and East-West routes and the Vauxhall section of CS5.
The LTDA, which has 10,500 members and represents the interests of black cab drivers, confirmed yesterday over the phone it is still considering judicial review. An article in the association’s newsletter in December by LTDA executive, Richard Massett, said the consultation was “flawed” and “stifling opposition” of proposals for the East-West superhighway.
Gilligan said as well as thousands of meetings on the scheme stakeholders views were sought from all areas of the community through print advertising, posters and emails.
He added: “We received 21,500 responses with an 84% approval rate, and despite that we have made a number of changes to reflect some of the concerns of the 16 per cent.”
Among these changes include 60 per cent reductions in traffic delays along the route compared to earlier proposals, by reducing the cycle tracks on the East-West route from the original 4m to 3m along the Blackfriars underpass and near Temple station, and keeping two traffic lanes in each direction rather than reducing it to one in places.
Gilligan said the scheme itself is relatively straightforward, the most complicated part of the process has been the politics. The next challenge, he says, is making sure it happens.
He said: “You will hear various people saying we have got to take it more slowly. We announced the East-West route in March 2013, nearly two years ago. Anyone who says we have got to have more consultation is, then, saying they want to stop this.”
“Opposition didn’t want to come out and say they were opposed, and that is quite interesting. I think it is a sign of its popularity.
“Even non-cyclists recognise it is going to be good for them as well – hardly anybody drives a car in central London; increasingly people come in on public transport and by bike and it is time we cater for them.”
If designs are approved by TfL’s board, Gilligan says work will start on the CS2 upgrade on February 9, on the East-West route in April, and the North-South and CS5 route in March. The first to be completed will be the segregated superhighway CS5 through Vauxhall, which will open in October.