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London is set to spend almost $1 billion on cycling

A view over the financial district and St Paul's Cathedral towards the west of the city at sunrise in London.
Getty Images
A view over the financial district and St Paul's Cathedral towards the west of the city at sunrise in London.

It may be famous for its red double decker buses and black cabs, but London is pushing hard to become a city of cycling. In an announcement on Monday, authorities there said they were set to invest £770 million ($979 million) in cycling over the next five years.

The investment is part of the Transport for London Draft Business Plan and will see an average of £154 million spent up to 2021/22 on initiatives to promote cycling and infrastructure. TfL's board will consider the plan on December 15th.

While home to a sprawling public transport network, cycling in London can still be an incredibly dangerous – and sometimes deadly – undertaking when compared to other European cities. Part of the new budget is set to be invested in London's Cycle Superhighways, which are cycle routes cutting across the capital.

"Making cycling safe and easier can provide huge benefits for us all – improving our health, cleaning up our toxic air, and helping tackle congestion," London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, said in a news release.

Air pollution is an increasingly pressing concern to Londoners, with cars, taxis, buses and lorries jostling for space on its clogged roads. Just last week, it was announced the city was to become home to the world's first double-decker bus powered by hydrogen.

"By spending £770 million over the course of the next TfL Business Plan, we'll now be spending the same per head as Denmark and the Netherlands – places famous around the world for their cycling," Khan added.

Cycling organizations welcomed Monday's announcement.

"This unprecedented investment in cycling shows the mayor is serious about meeting his promises to triple the extent of London's protected cycle lanes, fix the most dangerous junctions and enable boroughs to implement major walking and cycling schemes," Ashok Sinha, the London Cycling Campaign's CEO, said in a statement.

"It will help make London a better, greener, healthier and less congested city," Sinha added.