London Mayor Boris Johnson Plans Cycle Highways Crossing City

London Mayor Boris Johnson plans to build two cycle routes crossing the capital from north to south and east to west to encourage Londoners to use their bikes in a city where nine cyclists were killed this year.

The two paths will separate cyclists from other traffic, forming Europe’s longest “substantially segregated urban cycleways,” the mayor’s offices said in a statement today. The north-south route will run for more than three miles from King’s Cross to Elephant & Castle and the east-west path will cover 18 miles from Barking to Acton.

Johnson, who brought London the for-hire cycles known as Boris bikes and is frequently seen riding in the city, is trying to make biking safer as the number of cyclists surges. Bikes account for 24 percent of rush-hour traffic in central London, Johnson said today, and the number of people cycling to work in the city more than doubled from 2001 to 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics.

“Getting more people onto their bikes will reduce pressure on the road, bus and rail networks, cut pollution, and improve life for everyone, whether or not they cycle themselves,” Johnson, who plans to run for Parliament in the U.K.’s general election next year, said in the statement.

The mayor said last year 913 million pounds ($1.5 billion) would be spent over a decade promoting cycling, and the two new routes would use 64.5 million pounds of that, his office said. Nine people have been killed in cycling collisions in London this year, according to Transport for London.

A public consultation on the project opened today and work will start early next year, subject to planning permission. The cycleways are expected to open in March 2016.