Cycling campaigners are urging Waltham Forest Council to include proposals to reduce cars' road space and replace a busy roundabout with a cycle-friendly T-junction in its bid to become one of Boris Johnson’s ‘mini-Hollands’.
The authority yesterday announced it is drawing up a bid to become one of up to three London boroughs which could benefit from the Mayor of London’s £100 million pot to turn them into cycling havens.
Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign is being consulted on the bid, and member Simon Munk outlined a range of measures that could be implemented with the funding to transform the nature of transport in the borough.
He said: “It’s very good news they’re applying. Now we need to grasp the opportunity with both hands. There’s not a better chance to boost cycling in Waltham Forest than this.
“The borough has done an awful lot of good in the last year and the bid should expand on those changes. It’s great work but now we have to start looking at the bigger picture.”
The council passed a three-year plan last April to adopt a 20mph speed limit on all residential roads as well as allowing cyclists to travel both ways on one-way streets and tackling dangerous roads.
But Mr Munk said the new speed limit must be introduced more quickly, with only Leyton, Leytonstone and parts of Walthamstow having been affected so far in the 2012-2015 scheme.
He added that the Whipps Cross Roundabout in Leytonstone should be replaced with a T-junction he believes will be safer for cyclists, while more radical measures would reduce danger on streets like Lea Bridge Road and would encourage more people to travel by bike.
He said: “Lea Bridge Road is the most dangerous road for cycling by a mile. It’s the most used road for cycling as well but there’s no infrastructure.
“We need to reduce the amount of road space for cars. We’ve got to stop thinking it’s acceptable to take our kids to school half a mile down the road in the car.
“It’s unpopular but the only way to do that will be take road space away from motorists.”
Upon hearing of the suggestions from the campaigners, Cllr Clyde Loakes, cabinet member for the environment, said: “We will be meeting with Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign members and other stakeholders next week to discuss the shape of our bid to the Mayor’s office.
"The meeting we held last week with Andrew Gilligan was extremely encouraging and he was obviously impressed not only with our Cycling Action Plan, but with the working relationship we have built with WFCC.
"I think it will be a real asset to go forward together and pitch the very best case we can for a significant investment in improving cycling in the borough.”
The funding offer is just one part of Mr Johnson’s plans for London over the next seven years.
A ‘Crossrail for cyclists’ reaching from the western suburbs to Canary Wharf and Barking will be at the heart of the mayor’s proposals to make London the city of the bicycle, and he also plans to establish a new series of bike routes throughout London to mirror the Tube and road networks.
The ‘Crossrail’ project will be built by 2016, according to the Mayor.