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25/03/2020

Cycling pressure group launches plan to ‘decarbonise London’

Cycling / iStock-532408122

The London Cycling Campaign has published its Climate Safe Streets report – a roadmap towards decarbonising the capital’s roads within the next 10 years.

The report authors say that the “car can no longer be king”, and call on London’s next mayor and all London boroughs to make roads zero carbon by 2030.

In Climate Safe Streets the group maintains that making London’s streets carbon-neutral “cannot simply be about making all vehicles electric” and that that people must be helped to travel differently.

It points out that even if all cars were low emission the capital would need to see a 60 per cent cut in car mileage to reach any meaningful targets – never mind that electric vehicles would still cause pollution from brake and tyre dust, congestion and dangerous roads.

Taking note of observations by the UK Committee on Climate Change and the recent Clean Growth report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, and consulting with a wide range of academics and think tanks, the report says the climate emergency demands not just electric vehicles, but “a mass mode shift to make London’s streets safer and more convenient for walking and cycling”.

It also outlines decisions that the next Mayor of London should take to transform travel, as well as the opportunity for boroughs to take “a big leap towards addressing the climate emergencies” they have declared.

Creating “a new, zero carbon, healthier and more efficient system for road travel” would render it unnecessary for most Londoners to own a car again after 2030, it suggests.

Chief among measures towards this system are cheaper, more reliable bus travel, giving people easy access to zero-carbon shared motor transport as an alternative to car ownership, and enforcing the ‘polluter pays’ principle on London’s roads.

The report adds its priorities for change, including delivery of a cycling network so people could plan their daily journeys, introducing road-user charging to discourage motor vehicle trips, supporting the growth of zero-carbon shared mobility options such as dockless e-scooters (if made legal), to give all Londoners local and sustainable transport choices. Such moves would also enable car-free planning, it adds.

The group acknowledges that it means major investment for schemes and initiatives that are likely to be most effective. The eight priorities the group believes must be taken forward rapidly are:  

  1. Expansion of the Strategic Cycling Network at the highest quality;
  2. Coordinated expansion of easy access to low-carbon shared mobility services;
  3. Development and implementation of a London-wide Smart Road User Charging System;
  4. Expansion of coverage of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods to make walking, cycling and using scooters the natural choice for short journeys;
  5. Expansion and optimisation of a network of conventional and demand responsive zero-emission bus services;
  6. Proactive support for transition to low-carbon freight transport;
  7. Enabling shift to low-carbon vehicles; and
  8. Enabling of car-free planning.

It concludes: “If we rise to this challenge, we will not only have met our global responsibility to cut carbon emissions and protect the future for the planet and millions of people, but also will create a better London – one with fewer cars, less pollution, greener streets and much, much more high-quality cycling infrastructure.”

Although the group acknowledges that the report emerged before the London mayoral election was put back a year, it says its arguments and policy proposals still stand.

The full Climate Safe Streets report can be read here.

Image credit | iStock

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