Meeting the Needs of a Growing Region
This paper presents the development, key components and findings of a cycle strategy for the London Thames Gateway sub-region, an area of major growth, diversity and opportunity. The author led a team commissioned by Thames Gateway London Partnership tha
This paper presents the development, key components and findings of a cycle strategy for the London Thames Gateway sub-region, an area of major growth, diversity and opportunity. The author led a team commissioned by Thames Gateway London Partnership that developed a Cycle Strategy and Action Plan for the sub-region.
For decades, the sub-region has suffered economically, environmentally and socially through the decline of traditional manufacturing industry. Until recently, there has not been a comprehensive plan to regenerate the sub-region. There exist large areas of deprivation, social exclusion and high unemployment. The study area incorporates 13 different local authority areas with a total population of 2.4 million.
The UK Government has published a long-term strategy for significant regeneration and economic restructuring of the London Thames Gateway sub-region. It has been earmarked for major renewal and growth to accommodate up to 190,000 new homes and over 200,000 new jobs and is one of the foremost growth areas in the UK over the next decade and beyond. This growth will be enabled and supported by investment in major transport infrastructure such as heavy and light rail, new mass transit systems, road and bus projects to increase capacity. These include new multi-modal crossings of the River Thames and significant expansion of transport capacity to cope with existing congestion and new demand generated by growth. Even with these improvements, the transport system is forecast as being unable to cope with new demands placed upon it.
The paper will focus on the challenges faced in creating a sub-regional cycle strategy for the London Thames Gateway area. The heart of the work has been to promote cycling as a truly integral and sustainable part of the sub-regions' transport network, deliver quality of life improvements and ease pressure on the transit and highway systems. An understanding of the benefits of cycling to the individual and the population was a whole was required, in order that these could be understood by decision makers.
Although there is a large amount of existing cycling infrastructure, through dedicated routes, cycle-friendly traffic management schemes, the proportion of cyclists has remained almost static. There are significant barriers to delivering major increases in cycling across the sub-region. These can be categorised as physical, financial, institutional and development related. One of the conclusions of the study is that effective removal of these barriers, particularly those associated with physical infrastructure, unlocks real growth in cycling numbers. This was compared with the effects of induced traffic demand in new highway infrastructure. The paper will explore how the strategy has dealt with these barriers in more detail.
Analysis of growth areas and forecasting techniques were used to determine potential demand for cycling across the sub-region. This was used to identify investment priorities throughout the growth period, to assist the individual authorities in preparing financial bids. The strategy was required to convince funding bodies that targeted investment in cycle facilities could bring better value for money than equivalent investment in other transport infrastructure.
Delivery of the strategy is challenged by competing with funds for other major transport projects, inconsistent delivery on the ground, and lack of an existing culture of cycling in much of the region. Constraints imposed by these challenges were investigated to limit their effect on delivery.
Association for European Transport