His own budget cuts to slow Boris' cycling revolution?

Green Party's Jenny Jones says move could lead to "preventable" deaths

by Mark Appleton   January 18, 2011  

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Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, and former Deputy Mayor, has claimed in an MayorWatch article that cuts to local transport funding in the capital may lead to preventable deaths.

Transport for London and City Hall announced last month that the capital’s boroughs will receive £146m for local transport projects in 2011/12, down from £169m in 2009/10 and £155m in 2010/11.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the money would still allow boroughs “to make real improvements to town centres, provide better cycling facilities and make roads safer across the capital.”

But Jenny Jones claims that with funding divided into four main streams, the Mayor has safeguarded cash earmarked for pot holes and bridge strengthening, while the amount available for major projects has risen slightly for the coming year. This, she says, means that the funding for everything else (a category called ‘Corridors, Neighbourhoods and Supporting Measures’), is squeezed even harder.

“The impact will be felt at local level as councillors make hard choices about whether to continue children’s cycle training in schools, or pay for a new crossing on a busy road,” she said.

And she warned the reduced level of funding meant that: “much needed improvements to road safety on local roads will not go ahead” and said that “preventable deaths and injuries are likely to be higher than they should have been.

“London has benefited from a dramatic fall in road casualties due to ten years of increased investment in measures such as 20mph zones which we know work. This record of success is now under threat,” she added.

Andrew Boff of the London Assembly’s Conservative group told road.cc that it was an oversimplification by Jenny to say that what he believes are necessary cuts may result in preventable accidents or deaths.

“It’s down to local authorities to judge the importance of cycling safety and some might even spend more than is recommended on that issue, especially in areas where there is a high number of cyclists”

“It’s a bit of a scare story from Jenny but there is a clear danger to cyclists on London’s roads that can be addressed by improved cycle training, more public information and ensuring better training for HGV drivers in terms of the visibility of cyclists.

"There has been support from the Mayor for better mirrors on HGVs to deal with this issue and we’ve seen haulage companies becoming more aware of the safety of cyclists."

He concluded: “But to simply connect the budget cuts with preventable deaths is not right. However, there is an argument to be had about bureaucracy at local authority level and the way services are delivered at the sharp end.”