A hospital trust has been accused of spending £10,000 of NHS money trying to block construction of a cycle lane, despite a lack of evidence on supposed risks to staff and patients.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust came under fire in July after it emerged it was opposing a protected cycle route outside St Thomas Hospital on Westminster Bridge Road, citing safety concerns, but later admitted these were opinions, and it hadn't looked into the evidence.
Posters have appeared around St Thomas hospital claiming £10,000 has been spent on legal advice against the planned route, and that more will be spent on it.
The poster says: “Would you like £10,000 for your department with more to come? Yes? Well sorry the board of trustees have just spent the money on legal advice over the planned cycle path on Westminster Bridge Road. They plan to spend more!”
In May St Thomas’ Hospital started a petition calling for Transport for London to review designs for a bike lane across Westminster Bridge because it claimed vulnerable visitors would be put at risk by proposed “floating” bus stops, also known as bus stop bypasses, outside the hospital, in which pedestrians cross a cycle lane to reach the bus stop.
In response to a Freedom of Information request from cycle campaigner, James Avery, however, a Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust spokesperson admitted the “serious concerns” it referred to regarding patient safety were merely opinions and it hadn't looked into the evidence.
The London Cycling Campaign’s Infrastructure Campaigner, Simon Munk, called the situation “baffling” given the evidence on the health benefits of cycling and walking.
“Certainly we view it as baffling that the trust have chosen to spend this amount of money on a campaign that they themselves admit has no evidence base at all,” he said. “And where TfL have been absolutely clear about their willingness to engage with them and look at their concerns.”
“We would hope that the trust would work to actively embrace the huge evidence base on active travel, everyday activity and cycling and walking in improving health – and the experience of European cities with bus stop bypasses and the advantages they offer. We want them to recognise more people cycling as a key way to keep our city healthy, rather than fight schemes without any good evidence.”
A Guy's and St Thomas' spokesperson told road.cc: "We are campaigning against the proposed floating bus stop on Westminster Bridge Road because we are concerned about the safety of patients visiting St Thomas' Hospital, as well as the safety of cyclists.
"Transport for London's proposal could put patients and carers at risk, especially the elderly, disabled and families with children in buggies and wheelchairs. Community groups, including those representing the elderly, and people with visual impairments, share our concerns."
"As such, we have taken preliminary steps to explore the impact of TFL’s proposal, part of which includes taking legal advice."