|Cycle Priority Scheme For Hanger Lane|
Radical plans to encourage greener travel in the build-up to the Olympics
Priority traffic lanes for cyclists, charges for drivers and a massive 'park and pedal' scheme at Ealing Common are a few traffic and transport changes being proposed in the run-up to 2012.
Britain's busiest junction - Hanger Lane Gyratory - will be the testing ground for the radical idea aimed at forcing drivers to leave their cars behind and get on their bikes.
A huge consortium involving the Mayor, TfL, The Highways Agency and several London Councils have been involved in the discussions which have been under wraps for the last 12 months but are now close to being finalised.
In the controversial new plan the Hangar Lane underpass will become a single lane toll road with cycle lanes each way.
Taxis, buses, electric cars and the limousines of Olympic officials will be exempt but other motorists will have to pay a charge of £5-£10 or annual passes will be available starting from £500.
The cameras currently employed at the abandoned Western extension of the Congestion Charge Zone will be recyled for use on the scheme.
If a driver does not want to pay they will have to drive up and cross the Hangar Lane gyratory before rejoing the A40 at the other side.
Traffic experts believe the creation of this pinch point on the A40 will act in the same way as the building of the West London tram would have done in that the congestion that it created would discourage unnecessary car journeys and eventually the traffic would 'evaporate.'
David Eales from Ealing's Cycling Campaign has been involved from the beginning. He says ironically the A40 was the UK's first cycle lane and he is delighted to see these plans finally becoming reality:
''This is long overdue and fits so well with Ealing being a TfL Biking Borough. What better way to get into London than along a dedicated cycle lane using the A40 and A406 and with the added bonus and being able to cycle round Hanger Lane with ease."
Consortium spokesperson Damian Prontaprilia told us that commuters will be encouraged to leave their cars on Ealing Common - which will be covered in tarmac -and a fleet of Boris Bikes will be available.
Lanes on the A40 and the A406 will be marked for cycles only and motorists who don't want to pedal will have to pay.
Mr Prontaprilia said:'' The principal reason for doing this is to make sure that London 2012 is forever remembered as the greenest Olympics ever. The millions of pounds that we raise from local people will not be wasted.
''Visiting dignatories will sail through to Central London from Heathrow and will get all the way to Acton before they experience any traffic - giving them an amazing first impression of our city.
''Those cycling from Heathrow to the Olympics will have dedicated highway to allow them to visit the games without damaging the environment - apart from their flight of course.
''Everyone will see how green we are in London.''
As published on April 1st 2011