The FTA has criticised the speed of the roll-out of fully segregated cycle superhighways in London, suggesting the scheme is being rushed through  to coincide with the mayoral elections in May 2016.

TfL announced yesterday that final scheme sign-off for what it calls “Crossrail for the bike” is expected next week, with construction kicking off in March this year. It forms part of mayor Boris Johnson’s £913m push to get more Londoners on their bikes, and features two continuous segregated cycle routes across the capital, from east to west and north to south.

A nine-week consultation was conducted, with 21,500 responses, of which TfL said 84% were positive. However, the FTA has revealed that the environmental impact report and business case were only published yesterday and should have been included in the consultation. It also added that the “final picture” concerning loading restrictions is also still not set.

James Hookham, FTA head of urban logistics, said that while the organisation was not against the principle of the cycle superhighways, more time was needed to thrash out the details.” These projects will be in place for decades and therefore, more time should be spent now getting all of the aspects understood and correct before work begins.”

“The information published on delay times still does not reflect how industry and private motorists actually use these roads.  And yet the first roadworks to build these superhighways will start in just a few weeks’ time.  By this April we will see works underway on all the proposed routes, affecting some key routes into the centre of London.  It seems that the target pushing this is the aim to finish the routes by May 2016 – when the Mayor leaves office.”

He added that the scheme still raised concerns, such as the impact on operators’ journeys not just on the cycle superhighway routes, but also into the capital and around the M25: “Given the tight constraints of drivers’ hours rules, this could result in significantly increased costs to the logistics industry.  And that means increased costs for the businesses and residents in London who rely on them.”

Snelling said TfL had taken on-board the freight industry’s needs in the latest revised plans, adding in extra loading capacity and reducing previously forecast delays, and had also committed to work with industry to refine loading facilities before routes go live, “which we welcome”.

The mayor said he had listened to concerns about the east-west route’s impact on traffic and made changes, which will reduce whole-route delays by around 60% at their busiest times.

The GMB union has also raised concerns over the short time period between the end of the consultation and the start of construction works.

In November 2014, the DfT urged more cycle-friendly measures from operators.