Describing the dangerous roundabouts and junctions as "relics of the sixties which blight and menace whole neighbourhoods", Mayor Boris Johnson released a map of the 33 junctions where gyratories will be tackled committing to remove Swiss Cottage, Archway, Aldgate, Elephant & Castle and Wandsworth roundabout among others. They will be replaced by two-way roads, "segregated cycle tracks and new traffic-free public space", built to the tune of some £300 million, up from the paltry £19 million initially ear-marked for completing the Better Junction Review.
The London Cycling Campaign have more details here, and there's a great summary on Road.CC
This is welcome news indeed - the removal of many of these junctions was a key demand of fellow bike blogger Danny Williams and I when we initiated the Tour du Danger in 2011 around 10 of London's most dangerous junctions. That ride - which was attended by hundreds of you - helped to embolden the London cycle advocacy scene and lead on to other protests, the Love London, Go Dutch campaign and the Better Junctions Review itself.
As Danny explains, the thinking that people who use a city's junctions every day could be in a position to challenge how those spaces are used was apparently quite radical; "At the time, we were met with fairly little sympathy. The Mayor, notoriously, stood up and proclaimed that the horror of the twin Elephant & Castle five lane roundabouts was just fine thank you very much, telling us that “Elephant & Castle is "fine [to cycle around]...if you keep your wits about you”.
Looking after the needs of people in cities is a vote winner - who knew?!
It goes without saying that the evolution of thinking that has taken place at Transport for London is nothing if not substantial, and I think led in no small part by Deputy Mayor for Transport Isobel Dedring and the Mayor's Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan. However, TfL's highest officers are essentially political animals at heart, paying lip service to the prevailing thinking in order to sustain their positions within in a highly politicised organisation. Whilst it is great that the very same traffic engineers who just a few years ago were saying this kind of radical city re-modelling was impossible are now saying they can do it, it is important we begin to see delivery on the ground.
Talk about changes at Vauxhall have been dragging on for too many months now, and as last year's string of cycling deaths demonstrated, people are impatient for change. As Easy As Riding a Bike points out that even the Mayor needs to brush up on his media messaging when it comes to this sort of thing. In a recent report, the London Assembly point out that in the here and now cycling in London is not getting safer and change is taking too long to arrive.
In short, whilst I'm massively enthused by the change in tone from Transport for London, it is time to start delivering change on the ground, too.