Mayor of London Boris Johnson has claimed that nearly two in three cyclists killed or seriously injured on the road were breaking the law at the time of the incident. Mr Johnson made the assertion at the first Mayor’s Question Time after his re-election earlier this month. Other issues addressed included his pledge to support the Love London Go Dutch campaign launched by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), and the review of junctions in the capital being conducted by Transport for London (TfL).
Mr Johnson’s insistence that some sixty-two per cent of cyclists who suffered fatal or serious injuries in a road traffic collision were ignoring traffic rules at the time is at odds with the findings of a Transport Research Laboratory report commissioned by the Department for Transport, which found that cyclists were at fault in just 7 per cent of incidents; that same report found that in the majority of cases, drivers of motor vehicles were entirely at fault.
The LCC has said that it will give Mr Johnson 100 days to demonstrate his commitment to the Love London Go Dutch initiative, which has three key demands aimed at creating safer spaces in the city for the capital’s cyclists.
Following the election, LCC’s chief executive Ashok Sinha said that its campaign to get the mayoral candidates to support the Love London, Go Dutch initiative had been a “great success.”
He added: "The first 100 days of the new mayor’s term will be the most important because this is when he will make important appointments, set out new policies and allocate budgets.
"That's why we'll be delivering our verdict on his actions to promote Dutch-standard infrastructure after 100 days. We'll also be asking our supporters where they want the Mayor to deliver the flagship walking and cycling projects that he has committed to building."
During the week before the election, Mr Johnson had pledged to support those demands and yesterday the mayor said that he and TfL were “actively looking at all the steps to fulfil the commitments to Go Dutch.”
However, he went on to state that he was not convinced that his much-criticised policy of aiming to smooth traffic flow was incompatible with the goals of that campaign.
That policy of prioritising traffic flow came under heavy criticism from opposition politicians and cycling campaigners in the wake of 16 deaths of cyclists in London last year, and led to Mr Johnson ordering TfL to conduct a review of the 500 most dangerous junctions in the capital.
Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the London Assembly, claimed during the session that of 39 so far assessed as part of that process, it had been decided that no action would be taken at six locations.
She also took the mayor to task for the lack of speed in making improvements where they were needed, with Mr Johnson replying that with the Olympics looming, “This is not an ideal time to start digging up every road in London.”
He added: “There is much, much more we can do to make London one of the great cycle cities of the world. Believe me, I have that commitment.”
Ms Pidgeon’s figures were later questioned by TfL, with Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport, quoted in The Times as saying: “Caroline Pidgeon’s figures are simply inaccurate.
“She is entirely wrong to suggest that work to progress a review of major junctions is only under way at 39 locations or that it has been decided work will not take place at six junctions.
“Our team have carried out an initial review of the 500 junctions and have identified 150 initial priority locations.
“Detailed design options are being worked up at 93 of those locations so far. No final decision has been taken about any of these locations,” Mr Daniels added.
In a press release issued after yesterday’s Mayor’s Question Time, Ms Pidgeon herself said: "The Mayor might have signed up to the London Cycling Campaign Love London, Go Dutch campaign but there is a huge gap between his pledge and actual delivery on the ground.
"Before the election he promised that 500 junctions across London will be reviewed by Transport for London to ensure they are safe for cyclists to use. To date that review has only looked at just 39.
"The Mayor’s claim to support the Go Dutch campaign also looks hollow when he still stands by the claim that junctions such as the Elephant and Castle are perfectly negotiable for cycling."
"It is also bitterly disappointing that the Mayor is unwilling to provide a monthly update on how he is progressing on making London’s roads safer and more attractive for cycling. I will ask him every month to provide this update.
"All the evidence clearly points to a very poor start by the Mayor in fulfilling the pledges he made to London cyclists during the election campaign."
Meanwhile, Londoners will next week have the opportunity to quiz TfL’s Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy, during a question and answer session being hosted by passenger watchdog London TravelWatch on Tuesday.
Those who can’t make the session, which will start at 10.30am at the body’s offices at 6 Middle Street, London, EC1A 7JA and will last one hour, can submit questions via info [at] londontravelwatch.org.uk (email) or Twitter.
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.