Southwark Council has outlined an ambitious plan to completely eradicate cyclist and pedestrian deaths on the borough’s roads in its new £30m cycling strategy.
The ‘Vision Zero’ target was announced just two weeks after Esther Hartsilver, a 32-year-old physiotherapist at King’s College Hospital, was killed while cycling in Camberwell. She was the fourth cyclist to die on Southwark roads since 2013.
The new strategy also aims to get 15% of people in the borough cycling to school or work within a decade, up from the current total of 4% and 7% respectively.
The council hopes to achieve these goals through a two-forked process of improving both cycling infrastructure in the borough and promoting and supporting cycling itself.
The construction of a new north-south cycling route named the ‘Southwark Spine’ will act as the hub for the improved cycling network.
Beginning in Dulwich and ending by St George’s Circus, it will include segregated cycling routes, ‘quiet ways’, better lighting and improved junction crossings for cyclists. It will also spawn a “family of routes” across the borough, boasting similar cycling improvements.
The council is also aiming to convince the borough’s population that cycling is not just for “middle aged men in lycra”, but for everyone. The strategy document reads: “We need to win hearts and minds and change the perception of cycling from something a few people do to something everyone does.” The council plans to do this by working with community groups, running free cycle training courses, promoting cycling for tourists and visitors and working with children, parents and teachers to “ensure cycling becomes ingrained at an early age.”
Donnachadh McCarthy, a cycling campaigner with Stop Killing Cyclists, said that he was cautiously optimistic about the new strategy but urged the council to act on their proposals.
He said: “This is the sixth time I can remember the council changing its cycling policy, and I hope they act on it rather than just making promises. We need protected cycling lanes and improved junctions.”
A spokesperson for the council emphasised that it planned to introduce protected cycling lanes where appropriate based on a number of factors including a road’s average speed and traffic volume, in line with the London Cycle Design Standards.