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George Osborne claims Cycle Superhighway causes ‘near-permanent congestion and pollution’ in London

The former chancellor and editor and the Evening Standard made the statement in an editor’s reply to a reader’s letter

Peter Stuart
28 Jan 2019

George Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and current editor of the Evening Standard newspaper, has laid the blame for ‘choking gridlock’ and ‘air pollution’ in London squarely at the feet of the Embankment Cycle Superhighway in an editor’s reply in the Evening Standard.

The letter claimed, ‘Some of the cycle superhighways are ill-conceived, causing near-permanent congestion and pollution,’ and added that the result of their construction was ‘a choking gridlock in the heart of our city’.

The reply was published in response to letter from a reader, Jocelyn, arguing that the Thames should be used to create cycle bypasses (how exactly a vast tidal river would be used to such effect was not discussed).

That letter was in response to an exchange of editorial comment pieces between businesswoman and life-peer Karren Brady and London Cycling and Walking Commissioner Will Norman. Brady argued that the Cycle Superhighway should be moved to accommodate the motor traffic on the Embankment.

Speaking in an interview with Cyclist, the architect of the CS3 Cycle Superhighway, former London Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan, argued that alternative plans such as river bypasses were not practical, nor was moving the Superhighway.

‘There are no magic solutions, there are simple solutions easy enough for everyone to support but you just have to have the balls to do them,’ Gilligan said.

He also branded claims of increased air pollution from the creation of CS3 as a ‘lie’. Nevertheless claims that cyclists have increased air pollution have been propagated with no evidence by numerous sources, including influential public academic Professor Robert Winston.

George Osborne finished his letter with a call to action to Sadiq Khan, claiming that if he ‘started again’ he would win plaudits.

Cycling and Walking commissioner Will Norman has confirmed that there are no plans to scrap or move the CS3 route.

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