South-east London’s first cycle superhighway will only run as far as New Cross Gate after Transport for London abandoned plans to run it as far as Lewisham.

Route CS5, which is due to open next year, is being cut short because “opportunities to introduce Cycle Superhighway-type infrastructure are limited” at the New Cross one-way system and on Lewisham Way, where the route was due to run towards Lewisham town centre.

The Barclays Bank-backed route will run from Victoria, across Vauxhall Bridge, and through Kennington, Camberwell and Peckham to meet the A2 at the Queen’s Road/ New Cross Road junction. It is due to open next year.

A letter from TfL told cycling campaigners it had “decided to concentrate investment in the area of highest potential demand” but would still deliver 700 metres of cycle lanes between New Cross and Lewisham, albeit without the distinctive blue branding.

CS5 will be London’s fifth cycle superhighway, and is due to the the first to head into south-east London. A further route, CS4, is due to run from London Bridge via Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Deptford, Greenwich and Charlton to Woolwich in 2015.

While some parts of the fledgling superhighway network, like the one pictured above on Cable Street in Wapping, are generously-sized, other parts of it have been criticised for being too narrow and too dangerous. Last year, two cyclists died within three weeks at the end of CS2, at the Bow flyover in east London.

If TfL is unwilling to alter roads in New Cross to accommodate safe lanes for cyclists, it remains to be seen if CS4 will run to its full length, since it has the obstacle of the Woolwich Road flyover in east Greenwich to cross – where a cyclist died in 2009 – as well as the Greenwich one-way system.

Mayor Boris Johnson told a London Assembly meeting in May there was “a plan” to introduce Dutch-style cycling infrastructure at Vauxhall Cross – on the route of CS5 – and “in Greenwich”. Six months on, neither he nor TfL have elaborated on what he meant, or where he was talking about.

2.55pm update: London Assembly transport committee chair Caroline Pidgeon says: “Just one week after the Mayor and TfL were boasting about the new Victoria to Lewisham Superhighway we now discover that the plans have been seriously scaled back.

“The excuses for not linking the Superhighway to Lewisham show a total lack of ambition by Transport for London.

“This foolish decision suggests the Mayor of London is not really serious about introducing Dutch-style cycling infrastructure across London.”

9 replies on “Lewisham loses its cycle superhighway”

  1. Route CS5, which is due to open next year, is being cut short because “opportunities to introduce Cycle Superhighway-type infrastructure are limited” at the New Cross one-way system and on Lewisham Way

    Classic. Thanks TfL. Bet giving up at difficult roads/areas was exactly how the Dutch encouraged cycling.

  2. there was a plan to introduce dutch style cycling at vauxhall cross on route CS5,
    the plan has been studied and there is no political will to implement it.

  3. This is a real shame. Transport initiatives like this only work when you collaborate across boroughs so the loss of the extension to Lewisham will have an effect on Greenwich. I think this is really short-sighted. There will always be difficult junctions to address but you don’t sort them by avoiding them and depriving more people from the opportunity to cycle into town safely. It basically implies that there are just some no-go junctions for cyclists and no one will tackle them.

    The ‘highest potential’ argument is flawed in my view. Given the pressure on Lewisham station etc, the addition of a safe CS could have a massive impact on how people choose to travel.

    We need the CS in Greenwich and I hope that happens on time and is a way of addressing some of our more difficult junctions. However, like the hospitals, just because this says ‘Lewisham’ people shouldn’t think that it doesn’t or won’t affect Greenwich. It will.

  4. The Dutch managed it by reducing the width of pavements, removing parking bays and/or making roads one-way, converting one lane to cycle-paths. Let’s be realistic and accept that there is no room for any of these options here.

    Unless we start building very expensive cycle-paths above railway lines, where are we going to put them?

  5. But is just giving up worse than nothing? Given the new development along this stretch of road – not to mention the college and university, the scope to encourage more people to cycle is huge – yet TfL have said its too tricky so lets start by New Cross Gate, just by the tricky to navigate gyratory, large hill to the south and long diversion to the north. The Dutch don’t give up they look for solutions and/or parallel routes. TfL and/or Lewisham haven’t done this just dropped it.

    So what can highway authorities do to encourage people to cycle (which all London boroughs have in their policies to make easier) – its to use imagination and try to implement groundbreaking schemes that make a real difference. There is room for 2 metre wide mandatory cycle lanes along Loampit Vale and the gyratory at New Cross could be removed (private cars and HGV’s around one way and public transport, servicing, bike another. Would make the retail area of New Cross much more user friendly as any retail area should be.
    Or perhaps we give up and carry on using private motor vehicles even with the negative health benefits, roads clogged with parked vehicles, rising collision rates, schools by main roads with air pollution that breaks EU laws and more.

  6. BE great tosee the outer London Boroughs served by Super Highways direct to the centre. A good number of us cycle from Bexley and Bromley to central London everyday – an evergrowing number as the price of trains continues to rise. Perhaps one small concession for those of us trying to get up and back through places like Lee Green might be to make bus lanes longer than the 7 to 10 and 4 to 7 they currently are – after almost cars in bus lanes are generally looking to undertake cars already travelling at 30mph…

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