Wimbledon Could Become A "Mini-Holland"

Town centre shortlisted in cycle-friendly project

Wimbledon town centre could be turned into a "mini-Holland" if proposals to turn it into a cycle-friendly location get the go-ahead.

The revolutionary scheme to re-design the town centre on Dutch principles and build a cycle hub at the Centre Court shopping centre moved a step closer to reality when it was placed on a development shortlist.

Mayor Boris Johnson has shortlisted the plans of eight outer London boroughs who have set out their own visions to make their areas more cycle-friendly.

Three or four winners, to be announced early next year, will receive a share of £100 million worth of funding in the "mini-Holland" scheme.

The shortlisted boroughs are Bexley, Ealing, Enfield, Kingston, Merton and Newham. Richmond and Waltham Forest are also shortlisted subject to addressing certain gaps in their initial proposals.

In its expression of interest, Merton council pledged to create more segregated cycle facilities, encourage underrepresented groups to choose pedal power, bridge cycle ways across railways, rivers and major roads, provide good cycle storage and maintain cycle paths to a high standard. Offering free cycle training to community groups and schools would also form an integral part of ensuring Merton's transformation into a mini-Holland is a success.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "It's fantastic that so many boroughs have embraced the idea of going Dutch. We've seen some really creative ideas – from a floating bicycle boardwalk to cycling super hubs – and they've all got huge potential to revolutionise how we get around on two wheels.'

TfL and the Mayor's Cycling Commissioner for London, Andrew Gilligan, will now work closely with each of the shortlisted boroughs to draw up more detailed final submissions. The plans will be assessed for their deliverability and the benefits they add for cycling. Each finalist's political commitment and delivery capacity will also be examined.

Andrew Gilligan said: "Councils across outer London have stepped up to the plate and we are thrilled with how many want to redesign their town centres around cycling. There is enough money available to deliver dramatic change in the chosen boroughs, and make them places that suburbs and towns all over Britain will want to copy."

Richard Tracey, AM for Merton & Wandsworth, said: "This is very good news for Merton and Wimbledon which I have been pursuing for a long time".

Merton Council cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration Councillor Andrew Judge (left) said: "Being shortlisted is very exciting and a great achievement. We are 100% focused on being one of the final selected boroughs.

"A multi-million pound investment in cycling will be of huge benefit to Merton and will help us not only make our road network cycle-safe, but will also go a long way to encouraging many people, who wouldn’t normally get on a bike, to do just that. Cycling is a great way to get around. It makes you fitter, is often quicker than the car and it’s environmentally friendly too."

Councillor Janice Howard, Merton Conservatives' Transport Spokesman, added: "This is yet another bit of good news for Merton coming from City Hall. With investment in buses and trams announced over the last couple of weeks, the confirmation that Boris Johnson has shortlisted Merton for an investment boost in cycling is very welcome."

The mini-Holland programme aims to move significant numbers of suburban car journeys, which are often short and eminently cycleable, on to the bike. Each outer London borough was invited to submit proposals for:

• A substantial redesign of the main town centre to make it genuinely excellent for cyclists.
• Redesigns of some of the secondary town centres.
• Addressing severance, where this is a problem: new cycle and pedestrian crossings of major roads, railway lines or waterways.
• A network of good cycle routes radiating out from the main town centre, and secondary centres, to other parts of the borough, paralleling all the main local travel routes. Redesigns of problem junctions where they are used by cyclists.
• At least one good commuter route from the borough to central London.
• Cycle superhubs at local railway stations.

Eighteen of the 20 boroughs applied, an exceptionally high response. During September, Andrew Gilligan and TfL officials will visit all shortlisted boroughs for more intensive discussions about the shape and detail of their plans.

Following these discussions, the Mayor and TfL hope to be able to make an announcement of the winners in early 2014, allowing work to begin on detailed designs and consultation by summer next year.

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September 2, 2013