Politicians, cyclists and victim's family united in shock and anger at Tory GLA walkout (+ video)

Yesterday's protest by London's Conservatives meant cyclist safety motion could not be debated

by Simon_MacMichael   December 8, 2011  

GLA Conservative Walkout Dec 2011 YouTube still

Cycling campaigners, opposition Assembly Members, ordinary cyclists and the familty of a cyclist killed by a lorry last week have expressed shock and anger following yesterday’s Conservative Party walkout at the Greater London Assembly (GLA), which meant that a planned debate on a motion relating to the safety of cyclists at junctions in the capital could not be held.

At the same time as the Conservative Party Assembly Members were filing out of the debating chamber in City Hall on the south bank of the Thames close to Tower Bridge, a few hundred yards away in Bermondsey the family of the latest cyclist to be killed in London, 22-year-old Ellie Carey, were visiting the location where she died after being struck by a lorry last Friday morning.

The London Evening Standard’s Ross Lydall reports that Ellie’s father, Allister, had told him afterwards that he had urged the deputy chairman of Transport for London, Daniel Moylan, whom he met yesterday, to ensure that something positive might result from the death of his daughter.

Ellie had come to London from Guernsey initially to study an art foundation course at Kingston University before moving onto a course in international development at London Metropolitan University.

“I said to him: 'In your position as deputy chairman, I want you to see what the human agony is rather than just the mere statistics,'" said Mr Carey, who described the behaviour of the Tory Assembly Members yesterday as being "like children in a kindergarten."

Yesterday’s motion, jointly proposed by Labour’s Val Shawcross and the Green Party’s Jenny Jones, also had the backing of the Liberal Democrats, with those parties together comprising 13 of the 25 members of the GLA, the balance being made up by 11 Conservatives and one independent.

Despite that cross-party support, the plenary session in which the motion was due to be debated after the Conservatives walked out in protest at the allocation of chairmanship of committees, just as they had done six months ago today in an action that prevented another motion on cyclist safety, this time relating to Blackfriars Bridge, from being heard. That motion too was supported by parties representing a majority of Assembly Members.

Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Mike Tuffrey said in response to the latest walkout: “Today's childish actions by Conservative Assembly Members have thwarted a key debate on cycle safety taking place. Their actions are an insult to every cyclist in London as well as the democratic process."

The walkout, in which the Conservatives were joined by the sole independent Assembly Member Richard Barnbrook, a BNP candidate at the time of his election, followed GLA chair and Labour Assembly Jeanette Arnold using her casting vote to decide an issue being debated regarding chairmanship of committees, and is shown in the video below.

His party had proposed amending he original motion in a move designed to further ensure the safety of cyclists in London. The full text of the orginal motion and those proposed amendments appears at the end of this article.

Afterwards, Miss Jones said: “The Tory walkout before we could take the cycling motion was perhaps partly based on embarrassment at the Mayor's poor safety record.

"He has consistently ignored cycling campaigners' advice on how to make junctions safe, leaving cyclists vulnerable to the faster traffic.

"This is playing with people's lives, not delivering good government for London.”

Tweeting about the comments to an article he had written for the Evening Standard yesterday after the walkout, Lydall said he “had never seen such anger” as dozens of cyclists and others took the Conservatives to task, despite protestations from the party’s Andrew Boff, in a comment to that article, and James Cleverly, on Twitter, that the walkout had nothing to do with the issue of the safety of cyclists.

Given that this was the second such motion to fail to be debated in recent months as a result of Conservative action, that claim was treated with a mixture of scepticism, derision, anger and outright hostility.

Mike Cavenett of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) which has helped co-ordinate pressure on Mayor of London Boris Johnson and TfL to urgently implement changes at Bow Roundabout, where two cyclists have lost their lives in recent weeks, said:
"Today's events echo the Blackfriars walkout several months ago, which angered London cyclists so much.

"We're calling for immediate action to implement existing plans to make Bow safe, yet the Mayor of London and Conservative assembly members are conspicuously doing nothing to change this killer junction.

"A review has been promised but there's still no timetable for action."

So far this year, 16 cyclists have died on London’s streets, and today The Times confirmed that another, who works as a journalist on the paper, is still fighting for her life in hospital more than a month after being struck by a lorry just 100 yards from her workplace on the morning of 4 November.

Mary Bowers, aged 27, lost consciousness shortly after the incident and is yet to emerge from a coma, reports the newspaper, which describes her condition as “critical but stable.”

Below are details of the Liberal Democrat's proposed amendment to yesterday's motion:

Lib Dem amendment

“This Assembly deeply regrets the deaths of cyclists on London's road network and wishes to express its condolences for the loss felt by their relatives and friends. We are concerned that some cyclist deaths and injuries could have been avoided if the road network designs for the locations where these deaths and injuries occurred had been safer. We therefore call on the Mayor and Transport for London to:

DELETE ALL OF:

  • produce a list of the ten most dangerous locations for cyclists on the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) and all locations in London where a cyclist has died in the last three years;
  • report on any proposals that were put forward by cycling and road safety groups as part of official consultation processes for redesigning roads at those locations; and
  • provide the reasons why any such proposals were rejected.

REPLACE WITH:

  • Provide a comprehensive list of dangerous road junctions across London for cyclists, to include any where a cycling fatality has happened;
  • Carry out a full review of each of these junctions, considering any proposals made by cycling and road safety groups on how to redesign these junctions to make them safer.  These reviews should be publically available and include details on why any suggestions have been rejected.
  • Secure an agreement with the Department for Transport to roll out Trixi mirrors at all major junctions across London, to help ensure cyclists are visible to drivers
  • Look into expanding cycle training across London Boroughs.
  • Bring forward proposals to improve cycle safety at Bow roundabout, King's Cross and the junction of Tower Bridge Road and Abbey Street where recent cyclist fatalities have occurred.

Amendment to be moved by Mike Tuffrey
Seconded by

AMENDED MOTION WOULD READ:

“This Assembly deeply regrets the deaths of cyclists on London's road network and wishes to express its condolences for the loss felt by their relatives and friends. We are concerned that some cyclist deaths and injuries could have been avoided if the road network designs for the locations where these deaths and injuries occurred had been safer. We therefore call on the Mayor and Transport for London to:

  • Provide a comprehensive list of dangerous road junctions across London for cyclists, to include any where a cycling fatality has happened;
  • Carry out a full review of each of these junctions, considering any proposals made by cycling and road safety groups on how to redesign these junctions to make them safer.  These reviews should be publically available and include details on why any suggestions have been rejected.
  • Secure an agreement with the Department for Transport to roll out Trixi mirrors at all major junctions across London, to help ensure cyclists are visible to drivers
  • Look into expanding cycle training across London Boroughs.
  • Bring forward proposals to improve cycle safety at Bow roundabout, King's Cross and the junction of Tower Bridge Road and Abbey Street where recent cyclist fatalities have occurred.

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Incredible. Childish, obstructive and selfish. Surely they are failing in their duties and should be punished.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
8th December 2011 - 14:07

3 Likes

Livid. I hope they do not have blood on their hands. Angry

Ian of Woodford

winprint's picture

posted by winprint [124 posts]
8th December 2011 - 14:16

2 Likes

This isn't going to change when only looking at London in isolation - it needs to be taken to the national level. For instance - a change in legislation to make 20mph the default speed in built up areas with street lighting - would save billions rather than each local authority trying to implement its own small scale schemes. I'll happily join you or anyone else who would consider putting together a petition to Parliament to force a debate on this issue to look at the national context.

Jon, Bristol.

posted by jonusher [20 posts]
8th December 2011 - 14:59

6 Likes

jonusher wrote:
This isn't going to change when only looking at London in isolation - it needs to be taken to the national level. For instance - a change in legislation to make 20mph the default speed in built up areas with street lighting - would save billions rather than each local authority trying to implement its own small scale schemes. I'll happily join you or anyone else who would consider putting together a petition to Parliament to force a debate on this issue to look at the national context.

Jon, Bristol.

I agree with the implementation of such measures but London has its own elected body that is supposed to represent the people of London. If the Tory element of the GLA did its job London could make changes to its roads that might be the inspiration or catalyst for other authorities to make roads safer.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
8th December 2011 - 16:07

4 Likes

how absolutely ridiculous. Petty, futile and totally needless. Yet again the safety of cyclists comes down at the bottom of politicians' lists.

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
9th December 2011 - 11:58

5 Likes

They behaved like sulky teenagers. It is disgraceful and all the more so because lives are at risk.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
9th December 2011 - 12:56

4 Likes

That they chose the cycling debate to walk out on says it all - they regarded it as totally unimportant and could be sacrificed for their foot-stamping little tantrum.

posted by Cauld Lubter [122 posts]
9th December 2011 - 13:09

5 Likes

That is an insult to sulky teenagers. How dare you compare them with Tory politicians.

Really, though?

posted by workhard [389 posts]
9th December 2011 - 17:04

4 Likes

Not strong on numeracy, but 13 out of 25 members = majority. Why didn't they continue the debate without the other f#ckwits and vote? Or is there some asinine rule about every member being present and correct at all times? Democracy, that we pay a fortune for, in action. But on the motion itself, screw spending on more reports, assessments, looking into expanding cycling blah blah blah, get the effing roads mended. Make the basics work (contact between bicycle tyres and what they have to roll on).

On the young woman who was killed last week, tremendously sad, but the junction is not dangerous. Granted it's not easy as it's single lane on Abbey St and double on Tower Bridge Rd, but no junction in the middle of huge city teaming with activity is. It's eminently negotiable with care and attention. Lorries and other large vehicles are a problem, but it's not the case that every junction where there's a fatality is dangerous. It's a kneejerk reaction to a fatality where the victim (no assumption on this particular case in any way) may have been at fault. There is a rush to get people onto bicycles but not to ensuring that they're up to it.

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
9th December 2011 - 18:09

4 Likes

The only thing that surprises me is that people are surprised at the behaviour of these Tory Tw@s. When will you understand that they really only care about themselves?

StevieG

posted by stevengoodfellow [44 posts]
9th December 2011 - 20:35

2 Likes

dullard wrote:
Not strong on numeracy, but 13 out of 25 members = majority. Why didn't they continue the debate without the other f#ckwits and vote? Or is there some asinine rule about every member being present and correct at all times? ....

... On the young woman who was killed last week, tremendously sad, but the junction is not dangerous. ...it's not the case that every junction where there's a fatality is dangerous. It's a kneejerk reaction to a fatality where the victim (no assumption on this particular case in any way) may have been at fault.

(1) The plenary session needs to have a quorum, which according to its standing orders is 13 (ie a simple majority of members).

Three AMs - one Lab, one Con, one Lib Dem - gave apologies for absence. So when the remaining 10 Con and the Independent/ex-BNP walked out, there were only 11 left and the meeting was declared inquorate.

Had all the Lab, Lib Dem and Green AMs been there (and therefore had a quorum and been able to go through the rest of the agenda and vote on issues), would the Tories have walked out? I wonder.

(Likewise I think there were a couple missing at the June plenary session when Blackfriars was on the agenda).

(2) "kneejerk reaction to fatality" by calling junction 'dangerous'.

Not cyclists specifically, but Boris Johnson said in March that he'd asked TfL "to commission a study to identify possible pedestrian accessibility and safety improvements at this junction during the next financial year".

Bow Roundabout where Brian Dorling and Svitlana Tereschenko were killed? TfL had a report that recommended dedicated crossings etc for pedestrians and cyclists. That recommendation was ignored.

Kings Cross, where Deep Lee died? TfL commissioned a report that recommended a series of safety measures, recommendations ignored.

Okay, Kings X and Bermomdsey focus on pedestrians but if improvements had been made, you would hope that some accommodation would be made for cyclists as part of the redesign.

So, the four most recent deaths of cyclists in London happened at three junctions where there was already enough concern that safety recommendations were made (and not acted upon) or a report into safety is supposed to have been commissioned but no-one knows what stage it is at.

Something is badly broken at Tfl, people are dying, and demands are being made that TfL and the Mayor be held to account.

It's anything but a knee-jerk reaction.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8513 posts]
9th December 2011 - 20:45

4 Likes

workhard wrote:
That is an insult to sulky teenagers. How dare you compare them with Tory politicians.

Smile

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
10th December 2011 - 22:37

3 Likes

Walking out on a pretext is a cynical and undemocratic way to avoid losing a vote on an issue they oppose - namely, treating cyclists as legitimate road users and valuing human life over motorists' ability to drive as quickly and aggressively as they like.

posted by Jon [35 posts]
10th December 2011 - 23:52

5 Likes

Hello again, I must have got it wrong again! I thought people went into politics to make a differance? People die through poor, design, behaviour, or training, so why don't they stay to try their best to make the latest death the last! But at the root of all of these problems is the fact that there is no real deterrant for bad Roadcraft. A fine & a few points on the scorecard for needlessly rushing which brings about the death of a fellow human being? Sdaly, the Police have a very warped approach to road safety, to cite one incident "A woman driving a MPV pulls out of a side road, across a traffic lane, causing a cyclist passing stationary traffic to take serious avoiding action"! "Then the driver deliberately drives straight at the cyclist"! But later when the driver passes the cyclist who had made progress in the jam, she calls the Fuzz. So the cyclist stops to talk to them. Well the Police cause a real shock, the cyclist is totally in the wrong? "It is a vulnerable woman in a car, being confronted by an angry male"! Result formal caution for cyclist without him being able to state his side of things. "Bad, Bad 62 year old male picking on 1 ton of metal steered by protected species? Fairness & thoughts of safety? My ar*e! TTFN MM

mersey mouth

posted by mersey mouth [7 posts]
11th December 2011 - 11:06

3 Likes