Conservatives exit debating chamber shortly before motion on cyclists' safety due to be debated...

A debate and vote due to be held in the Greater London Assembly today on a motion urging Mayor Boris Johnson to reconsider scrapping a 20mph speed limit on Blackfriars Bridge did not take place after Conservative Assembly Members walked out of the chamber immediately before it was due to be debated.

The Green Party’s Jenny Jones broke the news on Twitter, saying: “20mph motion didn't happen as Tories left chamber making Assembly inquorate. Even Boris' cycling champion walked out.”

The motion that was due to have been voted on today was tabled after Transport for London removed a temporary speed limit that had been put in place while roadworks were carried out on the bridge.

It had been supported by the London Cycling Campaign, which had urged the capital’s cyclists to sign a petition asking that the speed limit be kept in place. Protests against the decision included a ‘flashride’ held on the bridge during a morning rush hour last month to highlight the issue.

Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Assembly Members had all pledged their support to the motion. While a vote in favour of it would not have placed any obligation on the Mayor to reverse his decision, it might have put pressure on him to do so.

The motion had read: “This Assembly regrets the Mayor's failure to retain the temporary 20mph speed limit on Blackfriars Bridge in the permanent new scheme for the bridge.

“We note the recommendation for a 20 mph speed limit on four London bridges in a 2008 Transport for London report, and the recent decision of the Corporation of London to ask officers to bring forward plans for the whole of the City of London to become a 20mph zone, including TfL roads.

“We ask the Mayor to reconsider his rejection of a 20mph limit on Blackfriars Bridge, in the interests of the safety of all its users."

As would be expected, the Tory walkout was met with disbelief and anger by the capital’s cyclists on Twitter and among cycling bloggers, with a tweet from the Cyclists in the City blog, which has covered the issues comprehensively in various posts, asking whether the action was tantamount to “Declaration of transport war?”

Ross Lydall, who blogs about cycling for the London Evening Standard where he is chief news correspondent, tweeted: “Cyclists, take note: Tory Assembly members don't give a toss about safety on Blackfriars bridge. They walk out to prevent City Hall debate.”


Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.