By Andrew Gilligan for The Guardian - Cycle lanes reduce pollution, improve health and are incredibly popular. But forget common sense: getting the go-ahead on new schemes is all about politics. Almost four-fifths of people in some of Britain’s largest cities want road space taken away from cars and given to bikes, according to a new poll from Sustrans. I’m not at all surprised. Whenever we proposed the same thing in London, where I was cycling commissioner until last year, we got the same response. Every single one of the cycle superhighway schemes now open in the capital got between 60% and 85% public support, in our own statutory consultations and in independent, professional opinion polls. Once the new routes opened, that support translated into astonishing levels of usage. In the first six months, the number of cyclists on the roads served by the new separated lanes went up by more than half. The bike lane on Blackfriars bridge, which takes up a fifth of the roadspace, now carries 70% of the bridge’s rush-hour traffic. There’s an Eiger of evidence that cycling improvements are popular. Why, then, do they so seldom happen? Partly it’s because politicians confuse noise with numbers. Cycling schemes create a lot of noise. Our opponents would spend busy weeks organising petitions, holding demonstrations and comparing bike lanes to the Luftwaffe in their effects on the capital.